Thursday, 28 September 2017

5 things my Dad taught me

I think it's safe to say the last month or so has been a difficult one. After my Dad died in August, adapting to such a huge change in life has been really weird and frankly, confusing. For me at least, it's more than anything been a period of reflection; I don't think you realise how much of an impact a person has on you until they're no longer around. It was this that made me start thinking about everything my Dad taught me; it's amazing how he shaped my life in so many incredible ways. Honestly, this list could be way longer, but here are just the top five wonderful lessons that my Dad taught me.

1) To never be afraid to stick up for myself.

Being a relatively shy person, speaking out and standing up for myself has never been easy. In fact, shy or otherwise, I think this is something a lot of us struggle with; the fear (or hassle) of confrontation easily pushes us towards settling for less than we deserve. Growing up, and seeing the way my Dad always boldly stood up for what he believed was right and fair, certainly taught me a thing or two about making sure I'm treated with respect.

2) That grades don't mean as much as attitude.

As a younger child, I was a perfectionist to say the least. From an early age, I was almost obsessed with doing well at school, and developed an unhealthy tendency to compare my achievements with those of others. My Dad always knew this insecurity of mine, and regularly reassured me that grades really meant very little in comparison to attitude and work ethic. He certainly practised what he preached in this respect. At a young age my Dad left school without sitting any exams, to work as a miner, as many boys in his local area did. However after a few years, he decided he wanted to become a police officer. Through sheer determination and hard graft, rather than amazing academic achievements at school, he did just that. The fact that my Dad managed to have such a successful career doing what he loved, despite not being 'academic', really shaped my perspectives; I'm now much gentler on myself when it comes to grades. Dad proved to me, and always reminded me, that academics are only a part of, rather than the definition of success.

3) That actions speak louder than words.

Anyone who knew my Dad will know that he wasn't the 'emotional type' as such. He would rarely directly say "I love you" or anything along those lines, but he had ways of making it clear without even having to say a word. It was little things like always being the 'soft touch' parent when my brother and I were young, or the way he would always say "watch what you're doing" whenever we left the house as we got older. In fact, even near the end of his illness, he would never fail to tell us to watch what we were doing and to text him when we got home, every time we left the hospital. It's so easy for someone to say that they love you, but the actions that accompany or even replace that are much more meaningful and telling.

4) To never speak down to anyone.

I always used to love listening to Dad's stories about his time as a police officer. What always spoke volumes to me was that in every tale he told there was always one common theme; he would never say a bad word about anyone. It was obvious that in his job, he'd never speak down to people. He didn't ever see himself as any 'better' than anyone else, and I know he was really respected for it. This was one of the biggest lessons of my life; it made me realise that nobody is any 'higher up' than anyone else, and that most importantly we're all just human beings with our own unique lives, stories and experiences.

5) To live life to the full and take nothing for granted.

As anyone who knew my Dad will know, he was very much a 'live in the moment' sort of person, and he would always say "I'm here for a good time, not a long time." It was a phrase that if I'm honest, I never truly understood the meaning of until he was gone. No matter what card life had dealt him, he was always 100% positive, even when things were really bleak. He dealt with things in an almost superhuman way, and his catchphrase was 'crack on' (often accompanied with a smile and wink), no matter how trivial, or how heavy, the issue he was dealing with was.

Friday, 22 September 2017

Autumn/Winter health goals

Ok so if I'm honest, this post is more about keeping me motivated rather than anything else! Firstly, let me get real here - over the past few months I have gained quite a hefty amount of weight. Don't get me wrong, I'm generally not bothered about weight. In fact, providing I'm feeling fit and healthy, I rarely bother to get the scales out at all. Unfortunately over the past few months, despite keeping my efforts up in the gym, a LOT of comfort food has been consumed! All in all I would say I've gained about a stone in the past few months. 

Firstly, I'm in no way beating myself up about this weight gain/slip in my habits. All that lovely comfort food was bloody amazing and well needed, and I don't regret a single bite. However, now I have a bit more time on my hands, it feels right to get my habits back into check. I'm realising now that I don't feel as healthy and energetic as I would like to. Although I'm feeling confident and accepting of my heavier body, I would like to lose a few pounds and get myself back into a healthier shape.

My ultimate goal is to lose 20lbs by Christmas, bringing me back to a healthier weight for my size. This works out at 1.5lbs per week. This is, I think, a doable and maintainable goal. I may tweak this and end up sticking at a slightly higher weight if I get to a point where I think 'yeah, this is right for me'. I say this because I have previously fallen into the trap of losing a lot of weight and ending up in a situation where I'm battling to stay there, which is no fun. I really do believe there always needs to be a balance between sensible food choices and having a GOOD TIME (aka eating what you want without guilt).

Personally, I don't like the word 'diet', and I don't like to go on diets, as they quite frankly make me miserable and worried about the way I look. Due to this, my plan is to slightly reduce my portion sizes, think more carefully about snacking and track what I'm eating on the app 'Lifesum', which I've used before and absolutely love! Exercise shouldn't be an issue as I've been going to the gym regularly for almost a year now, so I'm already in good habits where that's concerned. The only thing I'm doing differently in that respect is adding some cardio to my routines, (which I prefer to avoid like the plague but hey, needs must).

Does anyone else have any goals in mind for the Winter/Christmas period? The next step for me is figuring out some sort of plan for next year. New Year is 100% my favourite time of the year; I think having my birthday on January 1st gives me an extra dose of the 'fresh start' vibes.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017


I'm just going to be honest - I'm struggling to know what to say here. Anyone who reads my blog regularly will know I like to write posts which are generally positive and practical. However, it's also so important, probably above anything else, that the things I write are honest, direct from the heart and really reflect myself and my situation at the time. It's because of this that I'm having a bit of hard time thinking what to write. Positive is not coming too naturally at the moment, so it leaves me in a predicament. In a way I feel as though I either need to sacrifice positivity for honesty, or vice versa.

Just under a month ago, my Dad passed away following a 4 year battle with cancer. In general, I think I'm coping pretty well, I think the whole family are; keeping busy but being careful not to shut out the grief when it wants to be felt. 

Writing is my passion; I love everything about it. I love spilling out all of my thoughts onto a page and then sorting through them. I love making sense of the muddled up sentences I originally draft - organising them into something that is both readable and hopefully, interesting. It's surprising what editing a piece of writing can do for me; it's so much more than moulding it into a quality post. Seeing my thoughts, edited and neatly formed into a concise page of writing really helps me to process them.

It has taken me days to write just this small post, but doing so has made me realise that, although positive may be harder at the moment, I am still capable of blogging. Practical, I can do; I've learnt more life lessons in the past few months than in the rest of my life put together. Honest, I can definitely do, in fact I struggle to be anything but. And you know, in those two things, surely there is some positive too. Although it may be a little harder right now, I'm so ready to get writing again.