Guest Post

Changing Seasons - Tonya's story

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Photo Credit:Jaromír Kavan

As Niky wrote about last week’s blog, in life we all go through different seasons where change comes.

I have experienced times when these changes feel exciting and I am happy with the path of the change I am walking. At other times a new season hits, and I cannot see my way out or the direction I am heading and I feel as though I am in a black tunnel that is so long, I cannot see the light at the other end. Change in itself and the unknown of what it brings can feel a real challenge and very unsettling. I can have the tendency to feel out of control and off balance and this can lead me to struggle to manage my emotions and lead to thought patterns that spiral into panic, anxiety and worry. As a result, I can spend a lot of energy focusing on the ‘what if’s’ rather than the ‘what is’ and catastrophise the worst case scenarios rather than recognising the truth of where I really am in my present circumstance.

I love the song lyrics written by some friends of mine which say ‘Your present circumstance is a gift to behold’. I have found during difficult times this has been a really powerful reminder. To help me cope with the changing seasons, especially when I am in a period that feels dark and cold like winter, it helps me to refocus on the beauty of what is around me - the small things in the present of each day that I am grateful for.

I spent some time in Africa a number of years ago and distinctly remember on a visit to Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned, there was a bus with the words inscribed ‘The journey is more important than the destination.’ This really stuck with me and has helped me when moving through the different seasons of life. Sometimes we do not know where we are heading, things do not make that much sense, but it is what we learn and how we grow through these changes in life that are the exciting bits and far more important than the end place of what we want to achieve.

Niky explained last week, that I and my husband are currently walking into a change of season. As Christians we are walking a path of faith, stepping into something unknown and different to what we thought would happen or perhaps would have planned for ourselves with a move to North Devon. Two years ago we felt God gave us the vision to set up a rest and retreat centre and since then we have been pursuing His journey for us. For me who likes to be very planned and know where I am heading, I had very strong expectations of how it would all pan out. I thought we would reach the destination quickly and easily, finding the property we needed to set it up that and by now we would have a story to tell of how God had slotted it all into place. Of course on hindsight, what I have learnt is that this is a long journey, that we need time to be prepared and equipped for whatever the next season brings and that each of the stepping stones along the way is foundational and significant. I have had to learn to surrender and enjoy the ride of the journey, rather being so caught up with getting to the end destination immediately.

I now recognise it is out of these places of uncertainty where we are less prescriptive about what and how everything needs to be, that we have more room to grow and learn and be transformed and leave more space for ourselves to recognise the beauty of our present circumstance, however hard and uncomfortable it may feel at times.

My time partnering with Intentional Health as a volunteer, as a member on a Programme, as an Angel and over the last six months as an employed team member has been one of those significant stepping stones in my journey. When I took on the job, we all knew it may be only for a short season, but however long that season turned out to be it would be a fruitful one. Through this time, I have been taken on my own journey of transformation, I have learnt to care more about myself, in order to be able to serve others better, have recognised how to take more rest (so that I can help others with this in the future) and have most importantly taken more control over my thought patterns. When I am tempted to catastrophise and focus on the ‘what if’s’ and forget to take notice of the things I am grateful for around me in the present, I am now more able to take captive the negative thoughts for myself. It is all these things that have helped me to intentionally manage my season change as I follow the next steps of my journey, despite not having a clear picture of what it will look like and how I can plan for it!

It has been significant in helping me to see things in different ways, equip and help me gain the confidence and skills for the next part of the journey as well as being able to help Niky and the team move things forward.

Thank you to all the team at Intentional Health, and to you all for the way you have impacted my journey and helped me walk through the changing season. I will very much miss working with Niky and the team, but I am forever grateful for the experience and what it has taught me.

God bless, Tonya.


We have now launched our 2018 training dates for churches who want to partner with Intentional Health. To find out more about this, please click here.

Our next season also requires us to find more Intentional Health Angels just like Tonya. These are people who can support us along our journey as we get our 10 session community programme out into communities across the UK. you can find out more about that by clicking here.

If you want to access our free resource library - including our Free webinars and worksheets, including how we can control our thoughts and feelings please sign up here.

https://www.intentionalhealth.uk/free-resource-library/

This part of the site is still a work in progress, so please let us know if you have any difficulties by emailing info@intentionalhealth.uk. And once again, please let us know how you are finding your current season of life too and please share this with anyone you think might be encouraged.

Guest Post - Emma Fowle

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I was inspired by a good friends blog last week, and she was generous enough to let me share it with you, so this weeks guest blog comes from the brilliant Emma Fowle. Enjoy, and be inspired to look up!


As she pressed the book into my hands, I knew it was going to be a good one; let’s face it: this girl has worked in publishing, reads like a rocket, and is singularly one of the most clever and articulate people I know. Let me put it this way: if I were heading to my certain death and I had to choose a book instead of a meal, I’d let her choose for me. That’s how much I trust her.

divine sparks

So as I pondered on its title and flicked through its pages, I was, of course, unsurprised to find there all sorts of beautiful truths, ringing out their clarion call like drops of golden sunlight. And it was there too as I wandered the fields and lanes near my house later that day, soaking in the sun’s unexpected rays and looking out and up and in again.

Autumn Sunshine through the trees.

Divine Sparks.

Those little, tiny, light-life interjections into the mundane and the every day and the ordinary.

Those small, unremarkable moments that remind us we are alive.

This is good.

I can breathe.

So many days and I am positively scurrying through life; head down, toe to the floor – a flat-out sprint of task, next task, next task. And then I flop onto my sofa at the end of the day exhausted, worn out, and worse – uninspired.

I have stopped seeing the beauty. I am no longer taking the time to stop, and pause, and see. And I wonder in these tired-out moments just why it all feels so…. pedestrian?

I am tempted at these junctures to blame my lack of creativity, my loss of joie du vivre on something or someone else. Maybe I need a mini-break. Perhaps if I was living somewhere else, did a different job, was surrounded every day by a commune of like-minded and inspiring writers, immersed together in our art, I would be OK. Writing would flow out of me like a fountain and I would be Inspired. Creative. Brilliant.

But this is just a crutch, I know. Creativity isn’t imparted to us by the Universe, some benign and celestial gift that falls one day from the heavens and anoints us as we stand to one side passively and await its benediction. And contentment does not work that way either. So how do we find those twin blessings that so easily allude us and seemingly conspire in their hidden-ness to conceal themselves from our uncovering?

How do we find inspiration – in our lives, or in our art – in the midst of the everyday? How do we uncover those divine sparks that are already all around us and above us and underneath our feet, lighting up the path that we so readily tread and so thoroughly trample on most every, single day?

Take a break

Breaks are not for wimps. They are carefully constructed moments of pause, reflection, breath that punctuate and slow down and reset. Having the wisdom to learn that sometimes, stepping away from your desk is much better for your brain than sitting there, staring dully at that screen is a lesson well learned. So go change your scenery, take five minutes to sit in the sun – it will do you more good than you know.

Look up

Take a walk, sit outside – and look up as well as down. At the trees, the stars, the clouds passing by. Exhale. Lifting my head never fails to lift my mood, and makes me lift my eyes from my own naval. When I am feeling overwhelmed by expectations or to-do lists, getting out and looking up always helps me re-focus.

Take note

In your head, in a book, however, it works for you. Sometimes we are so plain busy and under pressure that we stop taking note of anything good at all. Take a moment and make a note – of anything that you are thankful for right now. Anything that makes you smile. A family that loves you, friends that make you laugh. The warm smell of coffee, a favourite book, the sun’s warming rays, a sofa to sit on….

Say thank you

And then say thank you. Giving thanks, even for the every day and the seemingly insignificant, cultivates beautiful grace in us, and who couldn’t do with a little more of that? As Ann Voskamp, the doyenne on thanksgiving tells us, eucharisteo comes from the root word charis, or grace. Giving thanks is everyday grace.


If you have any other thoughts or tips on how you capture those little, divine sparks, or want more information about Ann Voskamp or Donna Lazenby, see this article on Emma's Website

 

Guest Post from Gareth!... RE-CREATION

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A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, in fact nearly 30 years, I began my journey of study and enrolled in University. For some bizarre reason, this 18-year-old decided to opt for a Diploma in Recreation Studies, which led to further degrees in the whacky science of recreation and humans, over a 10 year period...

I never really knew why. Why this subject? Why these themes…which has carried me through my working years?

Don’t get me wrong I loved the fact there was a lot of learning about physical activity, health, psychology and society, and as a sporty type, I got to try out lots of things and run around a lot more.

But only in the last few years have I recognised the simplicity of the word RECREATION or better put, Re-CREATION.

And this is my passion, or calling, I love the fact that when things aren’t going well or we are on the wrong track with our health, relationships, our vocations we really do have the option of second chances, and even third chances.

Our physical bodies and our emotional minds are amazing!

Did you know humans have an inherent ability to renew or re-create? And this is so critical for our health, for our relationships, for our soul.

The word RECREATION has foundations in Latin – RECREATIO – to make new again, and in old FRENCH, to revive.

So here’s the key.

We cannot flip the RECREATIO (make new again) switch unless we are Intentional, that is making a choice to re-CREATE.

It requires some effort, but our bodies are equipped to do this, we just need to adopt an Intentional mind-set, initiate the right support and maybe learn some new skills.

Once we flip the switch, then we need to give ourselves time, time and space is the key here.

We need time to practice being Intentional, to learn and introduce new habits and healthy behaviours, and occasionally the switch will go back to type, so we will need to flick it again. And that’s ok.

And in time we will have RE-CREATED.

(Post by Gareth Dix)

Where could you invest in some recreation? this week?

Until next time,

Niky & Team.


Intentional Health has a stand at Creationfest 2017 with a chat slot in the Arts Cafe On Tuesday at 3 pm, where you can come and find out about 'Transformed Lives'.

Are you GROW-ing?

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I was a little surprised to find myself the subject of an Intentional Health blog last week. I was even more surprised to find that on reading Niky’s blog she’d noticed I’d not been growing around the waistline, but I’d been intentional about my health, and apparently practising a number of habits that are critical to changing my behaviour.

This was largely a result of a different kind of 'growing' conversation I had with myself in December that went something like this…

Goal

I love surfing but I haven't been for ages. I want to surf again and I want to surf specifically on a shortboard!

Reality

I’m not 21 anymore (46 actually). I’m not as fit as I used to be. I eat too much food. I’m a bit too heavy to surf shortboards like when I was younger. I’m still breathing. I still have a body. Who says I can’t?

Options

  1. I could make small meaningful adjustments to my diet and see how it goes, maybe create a simple plan?
  2. I could increase my activity levels each week to support my better nutrition, and see how it goes?
  3. I could set a reward target, like a new Gul Mod-cross 6’3” swallow tail surfboard by say, March?
  4. I could do none of the above and eat more cake.

Way forward

  • I’ll start in January and I’ll drop alcohol for 6 days a week
  • I’ll clean up my eating; by reducing high fat and refined sugary foods and have a ‘no picking’ boundary between meals and while cooking.
  • I’ll aim for three to four times a week of exercise but I’ll be nice to myself, have a day off now and again.
  • I’ll draw a chart to see how I’m doing and create some accountability.

…and so I started… and so far it is working :)

Goal, Reality, Options, Way forward is known as the GROW model.

It is sometimes used it in leadership, business or executive coaching, but it can be applied to any challenge and it’s helped me over the past 3 months.

In conclusion, I’ve still got some way to go, I’ve had some stressful times at work recently which resulted in a few blips, but blips happen. On a difficult week it is just about 2 steps forward and 1 step back…. I’m motivated and making ground.

Today I'd like to thank you!

Last Monday, I probably had one of the worse days I have ever had, and could really have done with a glass of wine at the end of the day. However, because Niky had written that blog, and I knew, that you now knew, that I was being more Intentional!

You provided me with accountability and it was just what I needed and it really helped me be self-controlled on not have a blip when I could so easily have!

That’s the power of growing with accountability! - So thank you!

I hope this now helps you, and maybe you can GROW in a healthy way too.

Gareth :)


Niky and Tom will be running webinars in the next few weeks and one of them will be running through this GROW model. If you'd like to join this or know more, there is a simple form below so we can let you know more details soon. We've also got a copy of the FREE GROW WORKSHEET below!

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Guest Post: Time Please!

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In Cornwall we are blessed to have beautiful old rural pubs, they are often at the heart of the community. What is lovely in our local culture is that these places are not viewed as settings to simply consume lots of alcohol but they are seen as places to meet, eat and be together, sharing time and life.

Christmas is an especially lovely time here in Cornwall …the pub’s log fire will crackle away into the evening whilst people snuggle and listen to the south westerly winds blowing hard outside….

…and you can often hear the Atlantic swells announcing their Christmas arrival onto our local cliffs, applauded by the chiming sounds of safely moored sailboats.

…and as the night closes in you will eventually be caught out by a loud tuneful “ding” from a hand-held bell and a hearty shout from the landlord “Time, please!” denoting it’s closing time. The evening has ended, and our time together has finished.

“Time, please!”….

Often during Christmas I think of some very special people who touched my life at various points throughout my ongoing walk of this Earth….those for whom the Landlord has now said “Time, please!”.

And I wish I could make time return, I wish I could see them again, I wish I could have another go at time, I wish I could have given more of my minutes and hours and days to sit, listen, be with and share…..

I guess I just got distracted, I guess I just got pulled away by the shiny things around me.

And so I dig deep into my memory bank and start remembering, and I’m thankful for the timeless photographs of my mind. And I’m grateful for the faith that I have where I will one day be reunited.

And then I had another thought.

What if the Landlord is not just shouting “Time, Please!” denoting something has ended or been taken away?.

What if behind the shout for closing time He is actually whispering something more profound? something a little deeper? what if He is saying.. ”Time, Please?” suggesting a question, implying that we have a ‘here’ and ‘now’ and for us to make the opportunity of precious, precious Time.

…please make time for those around you and close to you.

By intentionally giving the gift of time you are not only investing into others but profoundly investing into yourself, you are adding life to your years and to the years of others, and science tells us you are also adding heartbeats to life throughout.

This Christmas I’m reminded that God Intentionally sent his son to spend time with us.

In that story the Inn was closed, and the Inn Keeper was about to call time… but wait, there was a knock at the door….and it’s not over yet :)

Have a great Christmas, and like the Cornish culture make the people you're with more important than the alcohol.

Gareth.


If you're thinking about making some New Year resolutions, then why not join almost 200 others and download our FREE Intentional Health journey workbook by clicking the picture below to help get you started on your journey to living a healthier, happier life..

And as always, thanks to those who take the time to email and let me know how much the posts bless you and share it!

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Guest post: A blog about hills...

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I’m honoured to be asked to write a guest blog post for Intentional Health. I should also say I’m honoured to be married to Niky, so I couldn’t really say “no” … but here goes;

Let’s talk about Hills

(you may want to try a welsh accent for effect as you read this blog).

I was brought up in the Welsh valleys… and boy we have a lot of hills!!  Hills everywhere. From age 4 to 21 years I don't think I ever walked on any flat land; it was either up-a-hill, or up-a-hill, and if you went down-hill you could guarantee there’d be an up-a-hill to come.  Even the house in which I grew up was on a hill, I think I was quite cross about this for many years.

In those days you had to walk every where and these hills were steep! it was hard work!

Eventually at the age of 13, I decided I’d had enough!! I went on hill-strike!! That was it! I wasn't going to climb any more hills.

Now this was not a very realistic strike but I really was done with hills! I even made a sign…. 

“DOWN with HILLS!”.

Ok, the strike lasted only 2 days, yet in that time I learned a big lesson, in fact one of the most valuable lessons of my life, a lesson that came back to me very recently at a leadership conference.

Whilst on my teenage ‘END ALL HILLS’ protest a wise older neighbour asked me if ‘I was going play rugby this weekend?’

I loved rugby… I was getting good at it as well!

I said defiantly, and a little sadly, ‘“no”…..”the rugby pitch is up a hill and I’m on hill strike!”

My neighbour laughed and said;

“anything worth while is up-hill”

It stuck with me. It really, really, really stuck with me.

So what’s that got to do with Intentional Health?

This weekend (October 2016) I was blessed to attend the Global Leadership Summit.

New York times best seller John Maxwell stood up to speak, his topic was based on his new book Intentional Living . Half way through his talk he said something very profound….

“anything worth while is up hill”

that is;

“if it is precious, if it is important, if it is beautiful, if it is healthy, it is up hill”.

he went on to say…

“people have up hill hopes but sadly down hill habits. And the only way to break a down hill habit is to be intentional”.

So to conclude, we live in a world where more people live unfulfilled lives in poor health as a result of negative lifestyle choices than ever before.

Yet to have a fulfilled, healthy life is worthwhile.

and, “Anything worthwhile is up hill”.

We know up-hill takes effort, however thanks to the principle of intentionality, up hills can be broken into small well planned and staged goals.

Amazingly, it is possible to move downhill habits to profitable, picturesque and worthwhile up hill journeys by being Intentional about your health…..

…actually the principle is also transferable in business, in relationships, in your faith life and so much more.

So today, which hills are you trying to intentionally overcome or trying to strike from?

And as usual, if you’ve found a way that helps you be more active we'd love to hear about it! – please share it by emailing here.


Download our FREE Intentional Health journey workbook by clicking the picture below to help get you started on your journey to living a healthier, happier life..

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