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3rd December

Our Reverse Advent Calendar donation today is a bag of sugar.

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Advent

It’s the First of December and the LoveJoinMes are finally beginning to indulge a bit of Christmas!

This morning we opened picture advent calendars (we’re all for tradition here!) and talked through some ideas I had about advent this year. To us as a family, Christmas is about giving, about sharing joy and happy times with family and friends, and about food, of course! To the children, it naturally falls that it’s about receiving, which is ok in my book as to give to others is for them to receive too. But the message in our family is clear: giving and sharing is what it’s all about.

With that in mind we are doing a reverse advent calendar. Each day of advent we will choose something to go into our Advent box. At the end of advent, hopefully on Christmas Eve, we will drop off our Advent Box at a homeless shelter, a refuge drop off point or the food bank.

Here is today’s offering:

Soon the box will be full and we hope it will make someone happy at Christmas time. Of course, giving should be an all year round thing. However, it’s all too easy to fall out of habits of donating. Christmas is a good a time as any to start (or continue!) doing good. So, will anyone share a bit of love and join me?

A runner’s RAK

This morning I stumbled upon a post on a running Facebook group (Run Mummy Run) which made me and many other fellow runners click the ‘angry’ emoji.  This lady was upset because when she showed her boss pictures of her running waist-deep in water and completely covered in mud, his only comment was that she looked big. She used the acronym CW to describe him (Google it) and it is definitely what he is. 

Having only recently got back into running, I’ve experienced some negativity too (I’ve been deliberately rammed by a pram, jeered at, beeped at…) and it can be really demoralising.

What is amazing about this lady’s story however, is that a few hours later she received a bunch of flowers at work (hopefully in front of her CW boss!). A fellow runner had seen her post, looked on her profile to see where she worked and decided to cheer her up. What a lovely thing to do! There really are some kind-hearted people in this world. 

Her boss is a fool. Not only did she not look big at all, she looked strong, fit and bloody amazing! 

Goals

Today my Act of Kindness is one for your mind. It’s giving yourself a shake, a kick up the backside or a good talking to.

It’s become obvious to me that I work best when I have a set goal.  Through the course of Love Join Me last year we had many goals: to do 60 RAK in a year, to grow my hair without a haircut for over 12 months, to run a marathon in a month to name a few.  Each of these goals was met and with it came an unexpected sense of satisfaction.
Since the project ended I’ve been a bit lax on my own personal goals. I didn’t feel the need to set any. However, in the last few months I was lacking in something that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. My life was once again swallowed by work and working-mum guilt and the stresses were starting to get to me.  I’d also read about how sedentary lifestyles are the new smoking, and being sedentary is attributed to an increased risk of many diseases and a shorter life expectancy.  I am far from sedentary, but I decided I wanted to become fitter, to do something that was self-improving . I joined a bootcamp and started going back out for runs. Louise and I decided to do 10,000 steps a day throughout June for no other reason than it was a goal to set and stick to.  Given that we are both active generally, most days it wasn’t hard to stick to. However, it didn’t allow for the odd lazy day that we were used to: those Sundays when it’s raining and you try to stick a film on or do something crafty.  Despite this, I found myself motivated, easily fitting in the steps, choosing to go the long way round when the short way was quicker.

I also made the conscious decision that I would eat better, at least during the week. I have stuck to this also and feel encouraged to keep going and making myself healthier. I didn’t think that any of this was having an impact on me physically but then I ran the park run on Saturday and I found I was motivated and comfortable running.  Don’t get me wrong, it was hard and as I crossed the finish line my hands fell to my knees to prop myself up for a few seconds as the lights flickered due to the heat. But, unexpectedly I had wiped two minutes and 40 seconds from my previous fastest time. I couldn’t believe it.  It has made me realise that activity and eating right have made me do this but also that it’s mostly in the mind.  I wanted to run faster and beat my time and I did.  I really tried.

A few weeks ago, after a similar park run, I was demotivated.  I couldn’t get faster or get a better time. I found it hard and couldn’t see a time when I would be faster. I wanted to stop because I thought there was no point. Now I am spurred on by my time.  I want to get close to that again.  I can’t see me beating it for a long time but who knows?

I’m setting myself goals and I’m sticking to them. I’ve now set myself more goals: to complete a 30-day fitness challenge and to continue with running and eating better.

So, if you’re feeling in a rut for any reason, be kind to yourself and make a goal, however small. Make goals that you are motivated towards achieving and that sense of achievement is a real boost.

Manchester

Today I had a conversation with a group of teenagers about the atrocities that unfolded in Manchester on Monday evening. I don’t have memories of such events from when I was their age. The IRA bombings that occurred in my childhood seemed too distant from me and I don’t remember feeling at risk. Even in my late teens when the World Trade Centre was hit, I still felt safe in my little town and would think to myself what would they want in Guisborough? Everything bad in the world seemed so remote and in some ways, you could shield yourself, or be shielded from it.  The young people I spoke to today are so much closer to what’s happened: they know people who were there and they know people who were injured.  They knew of the attack before they even rose from their beds on Tuesday morning, some before they fell asleep on Monday night.  They know details, they’ve seen pictures on their phones, they’ve speculated and debated. Some of them have probably cried. I look at my own children and am pleased they are too young to know what’s happened and, naively, I hope that by the time they are of an age to understand, that acts of terrorism are events in history books.

Perhaps since starting our Love Join Me project I’m more drawn towards the good things that go on in the wake of such attacks but I’ve noticed something. The more terror I see, the more kindness I see. Take away the one man (I won’t speculate on whether he acted alone) and you have hundreds, if not thousands of kind people who are willing to help others.

People held strangers, comforted children, pulled nails out of faces, searched for people they’d never met, offered free rides, food and drink, places to stay, warmth and a listening ear. They gave blood, they gave time and ultimately they gave hope. The ripple happened too.  A homeless man who selflessly ran to help the injured and the dying now has a home, some money and has been offered a job.

When the hubbub goes, the stadium opens again and the Manchester attack takes its place in history, we won’t forget the horror but we mustn’t forget the kindness either.

Pigeon Poo 

“It’s humbling being around a person such as you who despite being hurt can still be kind where kindness isn’t due”. 

This was said to me by a dear friend and it stopped me in my tracks and made me think.  I’d called myself ‘a mug’ and this was this person’s response. 

Sometimes I need to remind myself to describe myself in positive adjectives rather than negative. 

This person also said:

“Arguing with idiots is like playing chess with a pigeon. No matter how good you are the pigeon will sh*t on the board and strut around like it won anyway”

If I didn’t know it already, my friend is wise! Next time I’m feeling bogged down with pettiness, I might just sh*t on the chess board first. Or maybe I’ll just carry on being me. 

If I could turn back time

*HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD SPOILER ALERT*


If I could find a way..

The 1989 Cher song. She had it on an album somewhere and the song reminds me of my early childhood years (perhaps how my children may be reminded of their early childhood through our ritual ‘Friday’ kitchen dance to Coldplay’s Sky Full of Stars).  I thought of the Cher song after having finished reading the latest Harry Potter book, in which Time Tuners are a prominent feature. Would I turn back time and change things if I could? But what effect might that have on my current world? Me trying to get her to get the breast lump re-checked earlier, or insisting she had chemo the first time: would it have changed things? 

My thoughts reminded me of the film About Time (2013 with Bill Nighy) in which a man’s time travelling has massive implications on the future despite his relatively small interferences in the past. The men in the family all have the ability to time travel. His father is dying of terminal cancer but cannot go back to change it but he does have advice for his son: to live each day twice, the second time appreciating the day in a different way to the first. However, when his third child is born, he is no longer able to go into the past as it would mean his third child would not be the same child when he returns. As such, he decides that he should live each day forward as if it were the second time; the time for appreciating the beauty and subtle things that are missed the first time, the rushed time as we go from day to day. Perhaps that’s what we should all do? Seize the day, live for the moment. I am sure that she would want us to. She wouldn’t want us to time travel even if it were possible. But, how nice it would be to see her just one more time!