Wednesday’s Wisdom

I can’t actually remember when I first saw this (somewhere on social media I guess) but it was a helpful reminder at the time. I’ve started talking to myself a lot more this year – maybe I am a little crazy 😆. It started back before Easter when I did the Negativity Fast and Positivity Feast that I mentioned before. Then when I was doing the church course that I finished back in June we had a bit of a focus on ‘declarations’ too. Since then I’ve been giving myself a talking to most days – out loud. Telling myself truths about who I am and what God says about me and renewing my mind. Some people would call it positive affirmations. Whatever you call it – it works. I’ve definitely noticed some changes in my thinking since I started doing this more regularly. Do you ever talk to yourself like this? Do you find it helpful or does it sound ridiculous to you?

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

I’m always reading something or other. Books, social media feeds, study notes, blogs and more. Recently I’ve become even more aware of how much wisdom I come across in what I read so I decided to share some of it with you. I’m honestly not sure how consistent I will manage to be with this or how long I’ll keep it up but I’m going to try. It’s all part of the growing I need to do.

Wednesday’s Wisdom

From “The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse” by Charlie Mackesy

This is from another great book that I got recently. There are so many little gems in this one too. I need to remember this often – sometimes just getting up and carrying on is brave and magnificent. If you did this today I’m proud of you.

I’m always reading something or other. Books, social media feeds, study notes, blogs and more. Recently I’ve become even more aware of how much wisdom I come across in what I read so I decided to share some of it with you. I’m honestly not sure how consistent I will manage to be with this or how long I’ll keep it up but I’m going to try. It’s all part of the growing I need to do.

Fitter at 45!

If you’d told me on this date last year that I’d start this morning off in the gym I’d probably have laughed at you.  I don’t know about you but I’ve never really been the sporty type.  Neither have I ever been particularly unfit or too much overweight.  I enjoy walking and am always active just in my day to day activities.

At school I was one of those kids that’s among the last to be chosen for games.  Looking back now I don’t think I believed in myself when it came to sports.  My parents didn’t have much time for them and I’m pretty sure my teachers didn’t know about Growth Mindsets.  It wasn’t all bad – at high school I played right wing in the hockey team ’cause I was fairly fast.  I was pretty good at some random stuff too like archery, shot put and javelin.  I never learned to do a cartwheel though and you wouldn’t have got me doing any sort of flips over a box in gymnastics – I just didn’t believe I could.

Anyway at the beginning of this year I made a decision.  It wasn’t a New Year’s Resolution as such – I don’t bother with those ’cause I know that like 92% of the population I won’t keep them.  It was just a decision to make a change in my life.  I decided that by the time I reached my 45th birthday I was going to be fitter than I was at 44.

Over the years I’ve tried to make myself exercise (I’ve also tried and failed at countless diets 😝).  I’ve never been particularly successful at sticking with anything.  The closest I ever got was swimming 40 lengths once a week (‘Granny breaststroke’ – ’cause that’s all I can do 😂) which I probably kept up for about a year before quitting.  Partly I was busy and didn’t prioritise it and partly I just didn’t enjoy it enough.

So my strategy this year was different – maybe it might even help someone else struggling to start exercising?  I decided that I was going to get into the habit of exercising and I was going to start with something that was really easy for me to achieve.  I’m pretty fortunate that my son is really into his fitness so we have a couple of machines and a bunch of weights already in the house which meant I didn’t even have to go anywhere.  On the first week my plan was just to walk on the treadmill for 5 minutes and do 10 bicep curls every morning (weekdays only).  I knew I could manage that easily before work and it wouldn’t put me off.  The next week I added a second set of bicep curls and over time I built up to about a half hour routine each morning.  Each week I either added a set or a new exercise or increased the weight or difficulty.  Then I started to diversify and do different exercises on different days as I don’t have time to do more than half an hour if I’m gonna get ready and out to work in time.

Now I’m doing a couple of different routines on alternate days.  I’m a little bit limited with the weights I have available but I think I’ve still achieved my goal.  Here’s what I’m doing in case you’re interested:

Day 1
8 minutes on rowing machine
3×10 bicep curls (6kg each arm)
3×10 bent over row (10kg)
3×10 lunges (R&L)
3×15 sit ups
12 press ups

Day 2
8 minutes on rowing machine (occasionally on the treadmill)
3×10 tricep extensions (6kg each arm)
3×10 lateral raises (4kg each arm)
2×10 squats (with 40kg on bar)
3×15 sit ups
A plank (for as long as I can – usually that’s around 2.5 mins but my record is 4.5 mins)

Well today is my 45th birthday and I think I’ve achieved my goal.  Considering this time last year I didn’t do any regular exercise and couldn’t do one proper press up I think I can safely say I’m fitter at 45!  Don’t get me wrong I’m no fitness freak either – I won’t be posting any pics of my abs on Instagram 😂  (maybe I will when I’m 65 😉 if I’m still exercising) but I’m happy with what I’ve achieved so far.  I actually enjoy exercising now and believe I can get better.  My muscles are a bit more toned and I have less body fat.  A few weeks ago I also started trying a new diet (for health not weight loss).  If I keep it up I’ll let you know how I benefit.  So if you’re like I was give it a go – start small and build up.  It’s never too late to start exercising and you will feel better for it.

Apparently it’s a science!

Sorry I’ve been a bit quiet recently.  I actually started this post around four weeks ago now but it’s been a struggle to complete it.  It seems it’s difficult to write about something you’re not experiencing very much.  When I was on holiday in Tenerife I saw a plaque in one of those little shops that sell souvenirs.  It said:

‘If you choose to be happy no one can take it away from you.’

Well that got me thinking (as these things do) is that true?  I mean what is happiness anyway?  Happiness seems to have been just outside of my reach for a while.  Sometimes I feel at ease but there seems to be an underlying sadness pretty much all of the time.

I know I’m sad (pun intended) but I looked it up 😝  and the dictionary says that happiness is a state of pleasure or contentment.  I guess if you can choose to be content in every situation (that’s biblical right? – Phil 4:11) maybe no one can take happiness from you?  But pleasure??  Nope, I reckon that would be difficult (if not impossible) to maintain constantly, especially if you ever have anything to do with any other human beings.  People have a way of stealing your happiness at times.  I guess maybe we’re (or at least I’m) also good at throwing it away ourselves for some strange reason?

I recently discovered that you can actually do an online course called ‘The Science of Happiness’.  I was even considering signing up as I’m really interested to know what they have to say.  So if that’s true and happiness is a science that would be different from a choice and it would mean all the correct conditions have to be in place – I’m no scientist but I think that’s right.  One article I looked at talks about the 7 habits of happy people.  It says that you need:

  • someone you can share your heart with
  • to care for others in some way
  • to exercise and eat well
  • to find your flow (that’s a whole other post – if you want to know about flow look up Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi)
  • to engage with spirituality (faith?)
  • to find and use your strengths
  • to keep a positive mindset and show gratitude.

Well I reckon I’ve made a good start on a few of those but definitely have work to do on others.  So maybe that’s somewhere to begin – although I think some of them are harder than they sound.  Sharing your heart, for example, requires complete trust in another person, it means being sure that they see and know who you really are and love you with all your faults and failings.  That person can be hard to find and even when you find them it can be difficult to get enough of their time.

Back at the beginning of this summer we were working through a devotional as a family about choosing joy.  Honestly, some parts of it were better than others but while we were doing it we googled joy and found this definition on Theopedia which I really liked:

‘Joy is a state of mind and an orientation of the heart. It is a settled state of contentment, confidence and hope.’  Theopedia.com

Some definitions pretty much put joy down as great happiness but others (especially in Christian terms) highlight some differences between joy and happiness.  Some would argue that you can have joy even in really tough, painful times when you’re definitely not happy.  I guess for me having joy is about choosing to trust God, trusting that He is good all the time and has good plans for you – even when life is pretty crappy.  It’s about turning your heart towards Him and looking to Him for fulfilment rather than looking to people for that.  It’s about being content in the moment knowing that He is in control and will provide all that you need.  It’s about being confident that He has your best interests at heart and is able to accomplish everything that He has planned for you.  It’s about having hope in Him, not an airy-fairy wishful hope but a hope grounded in faith that He will come through on His promises to you.

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
Ps 16:11

I’m not suggesting it’s easy to stay in that mindset but in recent months I’ve definitely found my joy has come from spending time in His presence.  I honestly don’t know where else to go sometimes – when it feels like life is falling apart or just too much and you can’t go on in your own strength He is there waiting to pick you up and carry you through.  So in that sense I guess joy is a choice, a choice to turn towards God, and contentment will come from that choice too, if not pleasure.  Strength also comes from choosing joy (Neh 8:10). I suppose happiness may well be a science – maybe one day I’ll get all those conditions lined up and I can let you know.

In the meantime I guess I’ll keep on trying to choose joy and hope in Papa that happiness will follow.  It’s so difficult at times to trust completely – especially when I want His plans to line up with mine but I know He knows me and loves me better than anyone so I’ll keep trying to surrender to His plans and have confidence that He knows best.

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