words by nerissa

…observations, thoughts and questions

Archive for the category “Observations”

What is heaven like?

smiled todayThis week, a beautiful soul was taken to heaven.

I was proud to call her my friend, even though I had not seen her for some time. I first met Louise when she came to work at our church as a student Youth Worker. I was about 15 or 16.

Back then I took school very seriously. I would spend hours studying, working towards ensuring I would get into my chosen university course. Amid all the study however, I made time for youth group. It was the highlight of my week when I would get together with my closest friends and have some good, honest fun.

Louise always reminded me that there was more to life than study. She showed me that there was always fun to be had, no matter what stresses were present. She showed me there was always something to laugh at, if you looked hard enough.

One of the things I remember most was Louise’s bubbly personality. She was always laughing about something. I can still hear her laugh now. She often had a funny story to tell me — usually about something embarrassing she did, or something funny about herself. She had a way of making others feel better about their world, despite what else was going on. I am grateful to have some great (and funny) memories of Louise.

I lost contact with her for a while (after moving to Melbourne),  but I reconnected with her on Facebook. I am so thankful that I did, because even from a distance, Louise continued to inspire me with her ability to care for and serve others. She still managed to laugh at life, despite an illness that ravaged her body. Louise spent her life giving, and serving, and loving others and was a true example of God’s love.

This week, Louise finally lost her hard-fought battle with cancer.

From the hundreds of messages on her Facebook page, it is obvious that she was a true disciple of Jesus. She touched the lives of thousands of people.

During this week, I have been thinking about Louise a lot. I have also been wondering:

“What is heaven really like?”

Before you read my musings, I would like to clarify that I am not an expert in God, Jesus or heaven. I have no biblical training and I do not know the Bible back to front and inside out. I do love God, read the Bible, and go to church. However, none of those things make me an expert.

These are just thoughts, ideas and imaginings, that have popped into my head this week.

I think heaven is a place where there is no illness or pain. Your body (if indeed you have one?) will move freely. You will love it and be happy with it.

heaven will be beautiful

I’m sure beauty will abound in heaven

When you get to heaven there will be joy. There will be no sadness, envy, pride, competing with others, wishing you had more. There will be no more self-doubt or feeling bad about yourself. There will be no hate or bullying. Instead, people will be smiling, singing, talking, dancing — doing things to add joy to heaven.

There is no judgement, or put-downs or negativity in heaven. And I don’t think that those in heaven can see any of the negative, heart-breaking things that we see here on earth.

In heaven, I don’t think you will ever get tired.

I imagine that all those people who knew each other on earth, are reunited and free to carry on catching up with each other. When my Nan died, I imagined her in her new little house making pikelets and chocolate-peanut biscuits so she could have all her friends over for morning tea. I don’t even know if you get a house in heaven, but that’s what I pictured anyway. And I think that every time one of her friends makes their way to heaven, she puts on the kettle and gets out an extra cup. I’m looking forward to a cup of tea with my Nan.

In heaven, everything is beautiful. There are rainforests and beaches, and bushland and rivers. Waterfalls and ice. I’m not sure of the logistics of how you get around to all of them, but I’m sure God has that side of things sorted out.

In heaven there is peace. I won’t need to multi-task any longer, or follow a routine in order to get things done. There will be no more household chores to do. (Hooray!) Instead, I will be free to just be. Sort of like a holiday at the beach perhaps, but even better because the feeling of contentment will be ever-present, not just there for a while.

I think that in heaven, we get to do the things that make us happy. My Pa loved crosswords. I often think of him sitting in his chair doing the crossword, while Nan brings him a cup of tea and a plate of pikelets, loaded up with jam and butter. I’m quite hopeful there are lots of books and quiet reading rooms.

In heaven there is patience. No one is in a hurry. No one is frustrated or annoyed. Everyone looks out for everyone else and is good and kind.

There is definitely love in heaven. I’m sure it’s such a strong feeling of love that it wraps around you like a warm blanket making you feel warm and fuzzy and protected. I know that the amount of love in heaven is way more than I love my kids. That is kind of hard to get my head around, because that’s an awful lot of love.

There are some things I’m not sure about, however.

Are there cars? How do we get around? Can we fly like angels, or do we suddenly transport ourselves to the place we want to be?

I don’t know if there are houses. I imagine there are, but I’m not really sure.

I don’t think we will get tired in heaven, but I wonder do we need to sleep? And if so where? In hammocks strung between trees? On a cloud, or in a bed?

How big is heaven? It must be enormous to hold so many people. And will everyone know each other? If we don’t all know each other, will we get the opportunity to meet each other? I suppose there is time to meet everyone, because heaven is forever. But that’s still a lot of people to meet.

Does it get dark in heaven like it does on earth? Are there sunrises and sunsets? Nights and days?

I’m very curious about how we get to heaven. Does Jesus come down himself to take us? Angels maybe? Is there a large staircase we need to climb that winds its way through the clouds? A tunnel with a light at the end of it that we sort of float through? Do we get a chance to see everyone we have ever known before we make our journey to be with God? Maybe there is a train or a bus? I just don’t know.

heaven is real

I wonder how we get there

However, amid all my wonderings and imaginings there are a few things I am sure of. A few things that I absolutely, 100% know.

Heaven exists.

God is real.

Jesus lives in heaven.

When I die, I will go to heaven.

I also know that Louise is in heaven right now. Her body is no longer fighting disease or feeling pain. She is there laughing and giggling. She will be chatting with her friends and family who have already passed on. She will be talking with Jesus. Most probably telling Him a funny story.

As we say our final farewells to her today (some at her funeral and some from afar), I do wonder however, if she knows just how much she will be missed.

Will she see the tears that people shed today? 

Or will she just know that the world is a better place because she was part of it … if only for a while.

See you in heaven, dear Louise. xx

  

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

 

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Find your bliss

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My daughter made this for me last year.

As I sit here and write this, I am surrounded by a myriad of things.

There are reminders of my children — photos of them when they were younger, their first drawings, paintings they did for Mother’s Days past, handmade coasters and little notes they leave on my desk from time to time.

There are also books. Lots and lots of books on my desk. Some I have read, some are in the ‘to-read’ category. Some of them are related to my work, and some of them are for pleasure. Books give me a lot of pleasure.

I also have calendars, a diary, planners, paper, journals and lots of pens.  I love to plan and be organised. And being an old-fashioned girl, I like to do it the old-fashioned way — using pen and paper.

My favourite coffee cup sits on my desk, next to my hand cream, a candle and my ipod — things that I use on a daily basis.

Also sitting on my desk is my training program for the next 12 weeks, along with the goals I have set myself.

QUESTION: What do they all have in common?

ANSWER: They all make me happy.

One of my most favourite pictures of my kids, which sits on my desk.

One of my most favourite pictures of my kids, which sits on my desk.

Each day, we have choices to make. Very few of us are free to do whatever we like, whenever we like. We all have responsibilities and things we have to attend to on a daily basis — whether that means going to work to earn our living, raising a family, caring for loved ones, ferrying kids back and forth.

However, there is something that ALL of us can do to bring a little happiness to our days. Even if it is only having a coffee in your favourite cup, or listening to your ipod while you clean toothpaste off every surface in the children’s bathroom.

We all have different things that we love. Things we use, things we do, life choices we make that keep us happy.

We may not always understand why something makes someone else happy, but that’s okay.

For example, I don’t understand what part of bike riding is enjoyable. All I seem to get from it is a very sore backside. However, friends of mine are avid bike riders. They just about live in lycra. It’s their thing, their passion. One of my friends rides “Around the Bay in a Day” every year. That’s 250km in a day ‘for fun’. And he rides his bike from home to the start line, and then home from the finish line. So that’s more like 300km. I don’t get it. I admire him, but I don’t get it.

Just like some people don’t get why I love to lift weights. In some ways I don’t get it either. In my younger days I hated weight training. I would start a program but I would perform it half-heartedly, always having an ‘excuse’ not to do it. As I got older I knew I really should incorporate it into my exercise routine, if I wanted to stay healthy but I kept putting it off. When I was ready to tackle it, I told my trainer that I hated weights and that she would have to make it interesting if I was to stick at it.

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I had to include my son’s art work.

More than two years later, I now lift three times a week (soon to be four – WHOO HOO!) and I love it. In fact, I live for it. I love getting strong. I love feeling my muscles working. I love setting goals and working towards them. I love the place I have to go to in my mind before I lift something heavy. I love the feeling of accomplishment I get from lifting something that I thought was too heavy. And the masochist in me loves the sore muscles over the next two days.

(Some of you won’t get it. That’s okay.)

It’s part of my bliss. It’s also something new that I have found that I love.

But it’s not all of my bliss.

There are lots of other things that make me happy, some of which have made me happy for years.

Bliss for me is reading a book while enjoying a good red wine.

It’s a good coffee and some dark chocolate.

It’s planning and making lists and writing with pens and paper.

It’s a day on my own, just for me.

It’s a relaxing massage. Total bliss!

It’s cuddles in the bed with my kids.

It’s a great conversation with a good friend.

It’s sitting at my computer, free to write what I feel like.

My favourite beach.

My favourite beach – Caloundra.

It’s watching the ocean crash on the rocks.

It’s sitting in front of a campfire and laughing with friends.

It’s a warm bath at the end of a busy day.

It’s sitting on the couch, watching a great movie with my husband.

And it’s definitely all the reminders of the two little people in my life.

Bliss can be different things for different people. It’s not our job to judge whether the things that make others happy are good or bad, right or wrong. We just need to accept that sometimes other people do ‘crazy’ things because it makes them happy.

We all have a chance to have bliss in our days, even if it is only for 10 minutes.

The trick is working out what makes you happy, and working it into each day.

Where do you find your bliss?

follow your bliss2

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

7 secrets to weight loss

scales2If you’re reading this, you probably need to lose weight.

This is not a judgement about you, rather a statement based upon obesity statistics in Australia.

You see, the prevalence of overweight and obesity in Australia has been steadily rising for the past 30 years. The latest statistics from the National Health and Medical Research Council, indicate that around 60 per cent of Australian adults are classified as overweight or obese and more than 25 per cent of these, fall into the obese category.

Did you even know that?

Even more worrying is the obesity rates of our children — our next generation — are increasing too. It is estimated that around one in four children aged 5-17 years, are classified as overweight. Six per cent of these are obese.

However, I believe there is something even sadder than being overweight.

And that is the lengths — at best, ridiculous and at worst, dangerous — that people will do to shed extra kilos.

Now I am no expert in medicine, nutrition, exercise or weight loss. I don’t hold any official qualifications in any of those areas. But there are some secrets surrounding weight loss that you may not know.

Today, I am going to share them with you.

Secret No. 1 — Weight loss is not about weight loss

“What do you mean?” I hear you ask. Just that. Losing weight shouldn’t be about ‘weight loss’. Too many people focus on a number on a scale and think if that number is going down, they have lost weight. Hooray!

But what have they lost? Certainly weight. But is it the kind of weight you want to lose? If we are honest, we want (or need) to lose FAT. But most of us avoid using the word fat, because it has lots of negative connotations. So we use the word ‘weight’. It’s a bit more touchy-feely and less confronting, isn’t it?

But when you focus on losing weight, as opposed to losing fat, then you tend to focus on a number on the scale. A decrease in number on the scale can mean fat loss, but it can also mean fluid loss and muscle loss. This is more so the case, when following a fad diet or a ‘quick-fix’, (more on that later). So change your thinking and focus on ‘fat loss’.

Secret No. 2 — Weight loss is not about the scale

Losing weight (and you know I mean losing fat), should never, ever be about the scale. Sure, your doctor may have recommended you lose 20kg to improve your health. But if you lose 19.7kg have you failed? Will you still be striving, obsessing, doing whatever it takes to lose that extra 300g?

I would argue that if you are fixated on a scale, then yes, you would. Why? Because your focus has been on a number on a scale, rather than the health benefits gained by losing excess fat. Is an extra 300g going to make a HUGE difference to your health? I’m not a physician, but I would hazard a guess and say “no”.

So stop obsessing about the scale and the numbers on it. Instead focus on your health, how you are feeling, how your clothes are fitting and how much more energy you have. These are all much more positive things to think about.

Secret No. 3 — Too much weight is put on a scale (pardon the pun).

When you are on a mission to lose weight, what is your focus? I mean, your main focus? Those darned scales, I bet. You jump on them when you wake up to see how much you weigh. You get on them after breakfast to see how much you ‘gained’. You have a sneaky weigh after going to the toilet. Hooray! You’ve lost half a kilo! You have a final weigh-in before bed to discover, (gasp!) you have gained a kilo since lunchtime! And if you are going to a weight loss meeting, you check your weight all day long and avoid drinking in case it ‘shows on the scales’.

Sound familiar?

How does weighing yourself make you feel? I’ll tell you how you feel. One minute you feel ecstatic, then next concerned, then you are happy again, but that soon turns to feeling overwhelmed, depressed, worthless, angry, frustrated and disgusted with yourself. And then the cycle starts again the next day.

Instead of reveling in and celebrating the fact you are making positive changes for your health in your life, you are instead riding a roller coaster of emotions, all day long. scalesAnd there are usually more downs than ups.

Our personal worth should not be caught up in scales, and nor should the value of making a healthy lifestyle change. Scales don’t congratulate us for drinking more water. They don’t clap when you avoided chocolate all day. They don’t say “well done”, for going for a walk. They certainly don’t reflect all the positive things about you — like what a good mother you are, how kind-hearted you are, what a creative thinker you are, how organised you can be or how your sense of humour makes others feel happy.

So the secret is out — get rid of the scales.

Secret No. 4 — To lose weight, you need to eat…and drink…and move!

“No, no, no!” you say. “You have to cut kilojoules to lose weight!”

Well, yes — and no!

Too many people think that cutting back on their kilojoules, omitting food groups and eating smaller portions is the way to lose weight. Wrong.

It might work in the short-term, but just how long can you avoid bread or potatoes? Are you prepared to eat entrée serves of steamed veggies and rubbery chicken for the rest of your life? Prepared to give up chocolate and ice-cream forever, in the quest of being ‘thin’?

Yes, it’s true you do have to cut back on your kilojoule intake if you want to lose fat. But you shouldn’t be eliminate food groups or reduce your food so much that you barely eat a thing. What this will do (along with leaving you tired, lethargic and cranky) is slow your metabolism down. And when you start eating again (because you will), you will gain anything that you lost and then some — only to start the process over again. Sigh!

Focus on eating whole foods that will nourish you, and get rid of processed foods. And don’t vow to live the rest of your life without the foods you enjoy. Seriously, no fat-free, sugar-free, preservative and chemical-laden food will replace the sensation of eating real chocolate, so eat the chocolate for heaven’s sake, if you really crave it. You’ll be satisfied and less likely to trawl through your pantry munching your way through a multitude of substitutes, only to end up eating the chocolate anyway.

Don’t be afraid of food. Eat it, enjoy it, be creative with it and savour it. Our bodies need REAL food for energy, for nourishment and for enjoyment. Food is your friend if you want to lose fat. And so is water. Don’t be afraid to drink it. After all, it won’t ‘show on the scales’ now you have ditched them!

And don’t forget you need to move. I am not a qualified exercise physiologist or a personal trainer, so won’t be giving advice on exercise. The only thing I will say is our bodies were designed to move. They were not designed to sit in a car, sit at a desk and sit on a couch for the majority of the day.

So seek the advice of a professional as to how to exercise, and then go and do it. The only pre-requisite…you need to enjoy it.

Secret No. 7 — Eating is never about the food

Believe or not, eating is not about food. That’s right. Eating is NOT about food.

Yes, we eat food, but our reasons for eating are purely about our feelings. We eat to celebrate, we eat because we feel hungry, we eat because we feel thirsty, we eat because we are angry, or sad. We eat to mask our loneliness or our boredom. We eat because we feel it’s the ‘right thing to do’ and we don’t want to offend people.

One of the secrets to fat loss is taking the emotion out of the food. This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy eating. But instead try to focus on your reason for eating. If you are physically hungry, then eat, ensuring it is something nourishing that will take you closer to your goals. A whole packet of Tim Tams does not fall into this category!

If you want to eat (but aren’t actually hungry), then stop and  identify the real reason you want to eat. If you are bored, find something to do. If you are sad, phone a friend. Doing these things won’t mean you won’t eat . It just means you are more aware (and are consciously choosing whether to eat or not).

Secret No. 6 — Weight loss takes time

You might think you already knew this, but how many ‘quick-fixes’ or fad diets have you done? Be honest! “I’ll just do the shake diet to kick-start my weight loss” or “I’ve got a wedding in three weeks, and I have to fit into my dress. I’ve heard those body wraps give really good results.”

Seriously, get real. No fad, no gimmick and no quick-fix will work. Accept this as fact. Save your money and your sanity and accept that you didn’t gain 15 kilos in 2 weeks, so you’re not going to lose it in that time.

The best thing you can do is accept that it is going to take time to reduce your girth and then put your head down and get on with it.

secret to weight lossSecret No. 6 — Quick-fixes, fad diets and gimmicks don’t work

Now, use a bit of common sense for a minute. If all of these magic pills and potions and shakes and wraps worked, wouldn’t we all be a healthy weight?

Some of those quick-fixes out there are just plain ridiculous. Some are dangerous. For example, I saw a post on Facebook the other day advertising body wraps as a way to lose weight. Firstly, they cost a bomb, secondly they claimed to “go into your pores and attack your fat cells, releasing toxins which you urinate out by drinking lots of water”. Seriously, that doesn’t happen. And there is no medical or scientific evidence to prove it.

But here is the dangerous bit. While ‘wrapping’, you are supposed to drink half your body weight in water. Yes, that’s right — half your body weight. So if you weigh 80kg, then you need to drink 40 litres of water. Firstly, that’s impossible. Secondly, that’s fatal.

Your long-term health is more valuable than fitting into a little black dress, or having a ‘beach-ready body’. If something sounds too good to be true, then it’s not worth the piece of paper it’s written on. Please, please, please say “no” to these fads and gimmicks and put your health first.

Secret No. 7 — Losing weight won’t make you happy

Finally, you need to know that losing weight losing FAT will not make you happy.

“Sure”, you say. “I’ll be happier when I can do my jeans up,” or “I’ll be stoked to be seen on the beach this summer”.

While that may be true, I am willing to bet that if you are not currently happy with your life and happy with whom you are, then having a body like a model will not make you any happier.

Yes, you might slim down and have people stopping you in the street telling you how fabulous you look. But if you don’t already believe that you are fabulous, it won’t mean a thing. You see, the voice in your head that already tells you, you are useless, will be telling you that you’re a fake, that you don’t deserve these comments. And then any results you have achieved will slowly, but surely disappear as you comfort eat your way through a tub of ice-cream and you will still be the same, unhappy person you already were, only you would have gained back all the weight (fat) that you lost.

This is probably the most under-rated secret of them all. I believe you need to love yourself as you are NOW, to be successful in changing your weight.Weight does not dictate your health or your worth

This is probably the hardest thing to do as well, particularly if you have loathed or at the very least, disliked yourself for a while.

If you love yourself, you believe you deserve the best. You believe that you should take care of yourself. You believe you are important. You believe you are unique. You believe you are worth something and can offer something important to the world.

When you really, truly believe all these things, then you will be happy, regardless of what your body is like. No number on the scale, no size tag in your jeans can make you value yourself for the remarkable human being that you are.

 

As we move out of winter and into spring, advertising for weight loss companies will begin in earnest. Distributors will begin spruiking the benefits of their latest, crazy and ridiculous products, “guaranteed to help you lose weight”. Magazines will be filled with menu plans and ‘diets’ that the rich and famous have been on with “remarkable” results. And you will be feeling the pull, the temptation to jump on one of these bandwagons, hoping that it will take you into ‘slim-city’.

My hope in writing this post, is to encourage you (if indeed you need/want to lose fat) to go about it sensibly.

Don’t get caught up in the hype. Don’t invest your time and money in something that won’t work. Don’t get obsessive about your weight. And don’t forget this about being healthy, not thin.

Most importantly, remember you are worth something, no matter what your body shape.

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

 

 

Head in the sand? Absolutely!

I’m usually not one for avoiding the facts. Sometimes I might put off unpleasant tasks (just take a look at my ironing basket), but most of the time, my attitude is ‘if it needs to be done, just get on and do it’.

However, there is something I have been putting off, and putting off. I’ve been burying my head in the sand and living in denial. I’ve been pushing the thought of it out of my mind over and over again. For now, it is working. But I know that one day all too soon, I won’t be able to deny it anymore.

You see, my oldest is about to finish primary school.

What a difference 6 years makes

What a difference 6 years makes

I know that some of you reading this have been through this in the past couple of years — and you can empathise with me. Thank you.

I know that some of you have children who haven’t even started school yet, so cannot possibly comprehend them being old enough to head off to high school. But think for a moment of your little one starting primary school. It’s a little like that — only worse.

And then there are some of you who are wondering why is it such a big deal.

I too am wondering the same. After all, my son is ready to go off to high school. He is looking forward to new things, making new friends and beginning a new chapter in his life.

So if he is happy, why aren’t I?

Well, I am happy — sort of. I’m happy that he is ready to go, I’m happy that he wants to go. I’m happy that he has the confidence and sense of adventure that enables him to look forward to high school rather than be afraid of it. But that’s where it ends.

Truth be told, I’m not really ready for my boy to grow up.

I’ll be honest and say that I didn’t enjoy absolutely EVERY single primary school activity. I mean, standing out in the driving rain, watching district cross-country is not much fun. Nor is being squashed in a gym for over an hour in 40+ degree heat watching over 100 kids receive basketball medals.

But overall, primary school has been a wonderful experience for both of us.

Events and activities such as the Prep Alphabet Concert, the Grade 1 Fairy Tale Ball, right through to the annual Christmas Concert, provided us with many laughs and fond memories (despite the headaches involved in sorting out costumes!).

Then there was the seemingly endless array of sporting activities — School cross country, District cross country, School athletics, District athletics, District tennis, Inter-school sport, After-school basketball, swimming, skip-a-thons, fun runs, etc. At the time, it seemed a big chunk out of my week to attend all these things. But really, they have come and gone in a blink of an eye and the only reminder is a bunch of ribbons and medals, and some photographs that showed just how little my boy was when he started school.

If the first year of primary school is a series of ‘firsts’, then the last year is a series of ‘lasts’. The last cross country, the last athletics day, the last school production, the last season of basketball.

I’m trying very hard not to think about these events as ‘the last’. For the most part I am succeeding. However, I know that when the school production is done and the last goal has been scored in basketball, a part of me will wish we could do it over again. I am sure there will be a tear in my eye.

As I sit here and write this, we have just under 18 weeks of school left for the year.

head in the sand18 weeks to enjoy.

18 weeks to savour.

18 weeks to pull my head out of the sand … somehow.

In the meantime, perhaps I’ll go and tackle my ironing basket.

 

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

 

 

The path to success: a leap of faith and a whole lot of trust

leap of faithTrust is something I have been thinking about a lot of late. When you really think about it, all of us exercise varying levels of trust every day. We trust that our train will get us to work without incident.  We trust that the school will take good care of our kids.

Without trust, we would probably spend most of our days incapacitated with worry.

Obviously, there are varying degrees of trust. Yet the ability to trust seems to be related to the consequences of the trust being broken, or the likelihood of something going wrong.

For example, if you trust that a chair will hold your weight, and it doesn’t, then the repercussions are likely to be fairly minor — maybe some bumps and bruises and a bruised ego to boot. So it’s a risk worth taking.

However, one thing that I have realised, is that it can be a lot harder to trust ourselves than to trust other people. Yet in order to begin to trust ourselves, we sometimes need someone to believe in us first.

About seven weeks ago, I completed a 12-week body transformation. It was a fantastic 12-weeks (overall). There were times when I wanted to throw in the towel and just blob on the couch and eat ice-cream. There were times when I really didn’t want to get up at 4.50am to get to the gym for my workout. There were even times when I wanted to quit because I couldn’t see any changes happening, no matter how hard I was working out and how spot on my nutrition was.

So in order to keep going, I began to trust more. I stopped thinking and analysing and began to trust the process. I trusted the advice my trainer Mel, was giving me, especially when it came to nutrition. I trusted my body would respond if I kept following the plan. And during my training sessions, I trusted my partner to ‘spot me’, especially when I was lifting weights where I knew the likelihood of getting out all my reps was low. Trust was becoming more important the further we got into the challenge.

The most important person I had to trust in, was myself.

Trusting in ourselves is sometimes easier said than done. Too often we doubt our abilities and our intuition, only to find that if we trusted in ourselves in the first place, we would have been a lot better off. Often this inability to trust ourselves can render us paralysed with fear, rooted to the spot, afraid to take the next step.

I clearly remember a training session towards the end of the challenge. Six of us were in various stages trying to master three sets of 12 push-ups on our toes. When Mel found out that I could already do a full three sets she told me to get a weight and put it on my back.

“What! A weight?,” I thought. “How much?,” I asked, expecting her to say 1-2kg.

“5 kilos,” she said.

“5 kilos? That’s heavy!” I said in shock.

“There are heavier ones,” she countered.

So off I went to get the 5kg weight plate, pretty sure that I wouldn’t be able to do one push-up with that extra weight on my back. After all, push-ups on my toes had taken a while to achieve. Besides, push-ups were always the last thing in our training sessions, and I had already increased my weights for every exercise. I didn’t trust my body’s ability to push much further than I had.

“Even if you only get out three or four,” said Mel. “Just try it!”

So the weight went on my back. And I began to push them out. 1-2-3-4-5-

“Keep going,” said Mel.

6-7

“Keep going”

8-9-10

“keep going”

11-…

And then I collapsed, ecstatic but shocked that I had done so many.

I then went on to do another two sets of 12 push-ups with that 5kg plate on my back.

My trust in myself (and my body) was restored because Mel, whom I trusted when it came to exercise and training, believed that I could do it. She felt it was safe for me to attempt it. She also gave me permission to ‘fail’ at getting the full set out, yet encouraged me to keep going in my attempt to get my push-ups out.

Somewhere along the line, we all need people like that. Someone who can see the potential in us that we often fail to see. Someone to help us believe in ourselves when we find it difficult. Someone to encourage us to ‘have a go’. Someone to be there beside us to support us and cheer us. Someone whom we can rely upon to help us out if things go wrong. Someone to say ‘it’s okay if you fail’. Someone you can trust.

success isn't linearThe road to success is never smooth sailing. It’s a bit like a dance where you take some steps forward and some steps back. Sometimes your steps take you back to the start and sometimes they go way off course. At times your steps may be stumbles and may cause you to fall. And depending upon the dance, you may need to take a giant leap of faith.

However, if you have someone beside you guiding your steps, picking you up when you fall, believing in you and giving you the confidence to take that leap of faith, then your chances of success are that much higher.

The question you need to ask is: “Do I have someone like that in my life?”

If you don’t have someone like that…

I don’t wish this blog to sound like an ad, but if you don’t have someone in your life to help you reach your goals (particularly if they are related to health, fitness and wellness), then I really encourage you to contact Mel Cook.

Not only is she a Lifestyle Transformation Specialist and Director at Run With Life, but she is a friendly, positive and happy person who brings out the best in people. It doesn’t matter if you are young or not-so-young, or whether you are fit or not-so-fit. If you want to become a happier, healthier version of yourself, then take that leap of faith and give her a call.

You can also find out more information about our next 12-week Transformation Challenge.

 

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

 

Is there still magic in your day?

IMG_4063As a kid I used to love it when mum cooked a roast chicken for dinner. The skin would be really crispy and she would make gravy from all the lovely juices. There would usually be roast potatoes too — one of my favourite foods. It was always such a special dinner, and usually saved for a special treat.

What made it extra special was the wishbone the next day.

This particular part of a chicken can make all your wishes come true.

According to my research on google (and who knows how accurate that may be), this tradition is thousands of years old, stemming from the Etruscan (ancient Italians) people’s belief that a fowl could predict the future. The birds were placed into a circle divided into twenty wedges, with each wedge representing a letter of the Etruscan alphabet. Grain was placed in each wedge and scribes would note which letters of the alphabet the chicken would eat from. The high priest would then use the order of letters to solve questions and predict the future.

Even in death, the birds had powers. The wishbone (or collarbone) was thought to be sacred and was dried out in the sun. People would gather around the dried bone and make a wish. As tradition spread to the Romans, they began to break the bones with two ‘wishers’ each pulling on the sides of the bone with their little fingers. Tradition says that the person left with the larger piece was to have their wish granted.

Thousands of years later, my brother, sister and I would argue over whose turn it was to pull on the bones. Usually the ‘loser’ of this particular game of tug-o-war would be outraged: “it’s not fair” or “you pulled when I wasn’t ready” or “you used too much force”.

Honestly, I don’t know why my mother bothered to keep the jolly bone. It was often worse when my Nan saved us a wishbone. For some reason, her wishbone was extra special. And two pieces of bone never did divide into three children easily.

A few weeks ago I made a roast chicken for the family. It wasn’t the first roast chicken that I’d made, but I realised that I had never introduced my kids to the tradition of a wishbone.

IMG_4065Why was that?

I realised that when supermarkets introduced BBQ chickens (complete with wishbones) to their shelves, the humble roast chicken lost some of its shine. And over time, the wishbone lost its magical properties.

It made me wonder about other special things that blend into the ordinary, once we begin to take them for granted.

 

  • Our children’s (sometimes incessant) chatter
  • A rainy day
  • The first coffee of the day
  • The comfort of our bed at night
  • The warmth of a crackling fire on a wintery day
  • The sound of birds chirping early in the morning
  • Hand-written mail that is just for you
  • Taking off shoes that have pinched your feet all day
  • The soft glow as the sun goes down
  • The smell of freshly mown grass.

This week, I made another roast chicken and I explained to my kids about the wish bone. (I also told them about three children I used to know who fought over the bones!) The kids were quite excited to make their wish.

After a bit of working out how to hold it, and which angle was the better one to pull on, they snapped the bone made their wishes. Of course, one of them was not particularly happy at the outcome. Overall, however they were both excited about the magic of a dried up bit of bone.

I wonder, are there any ‘once magical’ things in your life that you now take for granted?

IMG_4069

 

 

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

How to avoid feeling old

IMG_3836Why is it that a five minutes of running on a treadmill can seem like an eternity, but 10 years can pass in a flash?

Or that 30 minute appointment at the dentist seems like hours, but a night out with friends is over before you know it.

Why is it, that your child’s first day at school seemed to last longer than the many years they actually spend at school?

It truly is one of life’s great mysteries to me. That time can go by at different speeds even though it is a finite entity.

Time is something that continues to tick on, one minute after the next, slowly adding up until a substantial amount of time has passed. It doesn’t slow down or speed up as many of us think it does. In fact, the speed of time passing seems to be relative to its significance or enjoyment.

Albert Einstein (the clever man that he was), summed it up perfectly:

“Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That’s relativity.”

Last week, two things happened made me realise just how quickly time can pass.

The first was when my son lost his last baby tooth. The last visit from the Tooth Fairy left me wondering where did that time go? How did we get here all of a sudden? It wasn’t that long ago we were waiting for his first tooth to come through. It seemed like yesterday when he lost his very first tooth (at his Nana Jude’s house!) Yet here he was, with none of his original teeth left.

The second was the form we received from school for my son to apply to attend high school next year. Hang on! Haven’t we just settled him in primary school? Why is it time for him to think about heading off to high school?

However, the series of school photos on my desk tells me that it is time for us to fill in this form. That he is indeed in his final year of primary school, and time is not playing a trick on us.

Psychologists call this tendency to think past events have happened more recently than they actually have, ‘forward telescoping’. It happens to us all. Often, we are surprised that significant events happened so long ago. Case in point — my son starting primary school and losing his first tooth.

There seem to be a few theories as to why time speeds up as we get older, which are interesting to read. However, the existence of these theories doesn’t change the fact that time marches on.

If the speed at which the last ten years has gone by is anything to go by, I’d say that I will be nearing retirement age before I know it! In fact, while having dinner with friends a few weeks ago, one of them ‘kindly’ pointed out that it is only 15 years until some of us would be in our 60s…. That was truly shocking.

It made me realise that time isn’t an endless commodity that can be squandered. I also realised that thinking about all the things that had already passed, made me feel a little old.

Many of us fail to realise that getting older is a privilege. I know I am guilty of that sometimes. A part of me can’t help wishing my kids would stay little. Sometimes I feel sad that the things we did together when they were small are all in the past, never to happen again. However, the fact that time has disappeared so quickly is surely an indication that we have all had a great time along the way.

While it’s great to look back and relive memories, spending most of our time looking back and wishing things were different is not great. It means we miss a new lot of experiences — things that are happening now, and things that will happen in the future, new friends and new opportunities.

don't regret growing olderMy son is not upset that his last tooth has gone. In fact, it means that he is now a step closer to getting his braces on (which is kind of a cool thing these days). As for going to high school, well he can’t wait to meet a whole lot of new friends and learn new things. He’s more than willing to embrace the next phase of his life.

The challenge for me is to embrace the next phase too — in particular, accepting that my children are getting older. Instead of wondering where my ‘little kids’ have gone, I should be engaged in the new experiences that await them, eagerly anticipating the future alongside them, rather than feeling sad (and old) for what has passed.

And maybe, just maybe, I will be so busy having a ball with them (like I have for the last 10 years), that I won’t have time to realise that I am getting older as well.

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, copy writing, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.

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

Life is like….hurdles!

IMG_3512

Sometimes you fly…

Today I attended our school Athletics Day, which also doubles as our District Athletics selection trials. Grades 3 to 6 children compete in up to five events that they select, and the winner of each event goes on to represent our school in the District Athletics competition held each year.

This was the first year that my daughter was old enough to be involved. My son, had participated in previous years and had been selected to represent the school in high jump and triple jump in the past. Being an ‘old hand’ at it, he knew what he wanted to achieve for the day, the events he knew he was good at, and what he enjoyed doing.

My daughter on the other hand is somewhat more hesitant, and is happy to be involved in anything really. However, she’s not particularly gifted when it comes to athletics. I’m not saying she’s hopeless, because she’s not. She’s just happy to stand around and chat to her friends and ‘have a go’, when it’s her turn. She doesn’t have natural talent, and she doesn’t have a passion to improve her skills. And that’s okay, because her talents lie elsewhere. Her goal for the day was ‘to maybe win a ribbon, and not fall over’.

When she told me she had selected hurdles, I couldn’t believe it. She knew my opinion of that particular track event (and it isn’t very favourable, having had a bad experience at high school. But that’s another story).

“Why hurdles?” I asked.

“Because I like jumping,” she said. Fair enough.

It soon became clear that the grade 3 kids were going to jump the same height hurdle as the grade 6 kids. None of these ‘little’ hurdles that they used to trot out. I felt sick to my stomach.

You see, the track they were doing the hurdles on is very unforgiving. In past years, many a child has come to grief doing hurdles, limping off with patches of skin missing from various parts of their bodies. My daughter fell during the 800m on that track about 18 months prior. Not only did she end up with bandages on most parts of her body, including her chin, but there was a visit to the hospital afterwards to make sure she hadn’t broken a finger.

No wonder her goal was to ‘not fall over’.

So as time ticked by, I watched the groups of kids run their hurdles race.

Some of the kids were like gazelles. Running fast, leaping gracefully over hurdle after hurdle. It really was a beautiful thing to watch. I for one, was amazed at their courage and ability.

Then there were others who were a bit more hesitant. They’d run, get to the hurdle, slow down, psych themselves up and go over it. Sometimes they’d take the hurdle with them and sometimes they wouldn’t. There were even children who stopped and walked over them.

And then there were the poor kids who tripped and fell, and lay bleeding and broken on the track.

But the most inspiring were those who tripped, fell and picked themselves up again, only to keep going. They didn’t care that they were last. They didn’t even care that they were bleeding. They just wanted to get up and keep going.

It occurred to me that life is sort of like a hurdles race. We all have hurdles to get over. Sometimes we fly over them, hardly noticing they are there.

Sometimes we need to psych ourselves up because all we see is this barrier between us and where we need to go. However, the hesitating and psyching ourselves up is sometimes what causes us to fall and in hindsight, we’d be better to just run fast and take a leap of faith.

But other times, like those kids today, we fall. We trip and land with a thud. Sometimes the fall is brutal. We may feel like our whole body is bleeding. And the easy thing would be to just lay there and not go on.

But those who do go on, despite their ‘failings’, despite the fall and despite the embarrassment, are the ones who are the true winners. They are the ones who get the most applause and admiration. They are the ones who show us that it’s okay to fall over. They are the ones who bring tears to our eyes as they continue the race, despite the pain they are in. Despite the fear that they may fall again, and again.

For the record, my daughter’s experience of her hurdle race was a combination of the above. She flew over the first hurdle, and just missed tripping over the girl who fell in front of her. She hesitated a moment while she asked the girl if she was okay, and then continued on. She walked over the second hurdle, jumped over the third, and then tripped and fell on the fourth. I watched her, knowing that she would be hurting, yet wondering what she would do next.

She got up, looked at her knee, brushed her hands together, and kept going! She stepped over the next couple of hurdles, taking one down with her, but she finished with a smile on her face!

I was so proud of her.

IMG_3513

…and sometimes you don’t

When I tucked her in bed tonight, I asked her what was the hardest thing about today.

“The hurdles,” she said.

“Why?”

“Because I fell over and it really hurt.”

“So why did you keep going then?”

“Because I wanted to be brave. I like being brave, and when I’m brave, it helps other people be brave. Anyway, lots of people fell over today and some of them kept going, so I knew I could too.”

“Do you think you’ll do hurdles again, next time?” I asked, fully expecting an emphatic ‘no’.

“Well, maybe,” she said.

WHAT?!

I had to ask why she would volunteer to do them again.

“Because I want to get better at them. Because if I’m better at them, I won’t be so scared of them.”

My daughter is 8. They are some wise words from an 8-year old.

So what will you do, next time you fall over your hurdle? Will you lay there and pull out of the race because you’re hurt and afraid? Or will you brush yourself off and finish the race, no matter how far behind the others you are? No matter how scared you are, to carry on?

The choice is yours.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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