This weeks post comes with huge thanks to a very generous gift of a weekend in Paris with a trip to Disneyland from my brother and sister-in-law!
So far the weekend has been far from restful, with a day of roller coasters and rides at Disneyland yesterday (I'm writing this on Sunday eve), and seeing the sights and taking in the culture around Paris today. Over the past two days, we've stood up for long periods of time in queues and walked over 30km with almost 30,000 steps each!
Despite being hurled around and thrown upside down at ridiculous speeds and G's, this weekend has been a complete rest from thinking about work, and has been replaced with being fully present with my family - especially making memories with my two teenage boys who are growing up far too fast!
And as I reflect whilst I put my throbbing feet up, I remember that rest isn't about stopping and sleeping (though I'm looking forward to more of that type of rest next week when we stay in a cosy cottage in Kent due to another incredibly generous gift), rest can be about a change in rhythm, about re-charging and restoration.
Restoring and recharging can look very different for each of us, and it can also look different at different times.
If I'm honest, I didn't expect to be rested after 2 hectic days, but the change of scenery, company, pace-of-life and activities, means I already feel more mentally rested from work, and emotionally and relationally restored with my family.
This week I'm very grateful for the gift from my brother and sister-in-law of making memories and of quality time spent connecting with my boys, for exertions that have pushed me beyond all of my physical comfort zones, and that a change can be as good as a rest.
I wonder where you might be more intentional about rest this coming week?
Feel free to let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
I'd never met Vanessa, until she bounded up to our table, beaming and bursting with joy about how much Intentional Health had changed her life. Then about 10 minutes later her husband Matt arrived and what he shared moved me to tears...
Vanessa recently went on a 10-session Intentional Health programme run by Helen, another of our amazing trained coaches.
I met Vanessa in August at this years Creationfest, where she came over to tell me just how much Intentional Health has changed her life.
She went on the programme to help her lose weight, and while that part was really helpful (and impressively she has lost around three stone already), she told me that she had not expected the second part of the programme to impact, challenge and help her in quite the way it had! As she was telling me all of this, I asked her to share a quick 30-second testimony, which you can watch below:
A short while after, her husband, Matt, came along and Vanessa said: "Tell them, Matt, tell them what it was like when I came home after each Monday's session!"
Matt, paused for a moment, before he looked carefully at me, and again at Vanessa and simply said... "changed".
He went on to tell me, whilst looking still lovingly at her, "Let me tell you something about my wife... My wife is the most loving person you will ever meet."
He continued... "She loves me, she loves our kids, she loves God, she loves her church, her work, her family... she loves everyone. But! She has always found it really hard to receive love".
"Since she's been at Intentional Health, I am able to love her, as much as she deserves to be loved and she is learning to receive my love in that way, possibly for the first time - It is wonderful"
I was so moved by what he said, I asked Matt to give a brief testimony too, and as he looked at Vanessa and told her just how precious it was for him that she was able to receive his love, tears rolled down his face...
I was crying, the camera was shaking... it was utterly beautiful!
Sadly for the rest of us, I had pressed the wrong button and only managed to take the photo at the top of this page, rather than record a video, but it was such a moving and amazing opportunity for Matt to tell his wife, so lovingly and genuinely, something she needed to hear.
We agreed afterwards that maybe the camera not recording, was divine intervention and that it probably wasn't meant to be a publicly shared moment.
I know that it will be a moment that would not have happened without Helen delivering an Intentional Health programme in their community and one that I will remember forever!
You see, Intentional Health is different because it addresses the whole person's physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health and wellbeing and equips us all to make intentional choices regarding our whole person health and wellbeing.
It might be relatively easy to make healthy choices in today's day and age, but we are so often misled by clever marketing and a western culture, that it is much easier not to!
The consequences are that the NHS is at breaking point, and 3 out of 4 people are dying early or suffering needlessly.
We don't think that this is right!
I had never met Vanessa or Matt before they came and told me about the impact that Intentional Health had on them, but they were exactly who Intentional Health was created for. Normal, everyday people, just like you and I.
Intentional Health has also been designed to have lasting effects way beyond the length of the programme, so it is great to hear that the ten people who met and grew in their community group, now have a strong friendship together and are still supporting each other through all sorts of other difficult life issues.
We have an exciting and ambitious plan to get Intentional Health all over the UK too. We want people just like Vanessa, who we might never meet, to be able to attend a 10 session programme, become part of a loving community and have their lives transformed!
Despite being a relatively new charity, we already have 10 church partners in 5 counties across the south of England and are a recognised Cinnamon Network Course
To be able to inspire more healthy communities, we rely on training and equipping amazing volunteers just like Helen, from the amazing community focused church partners, like Liskeard and Looe Methodist Circuit.
If you can't help in that way, you might be pleased to know you can still help by becoming an Intentional Health Angel. These are a special group of people who give small monthly donations which already make up a third of our necessary income.
The challenge we face with fundraising is that we are not an emergency aid charity and there are SO many other worthy causes to give to.
We don't provide a bag of rice to those who are hungry, and we don't mop up after disasters.
We are a 'root cause' charity: we prevent people needing emergency care, prevent people's lives from being cut short or disabled and help people live well, understanding how loved they are.
If you are one of our, precious Intentional Health Angels, I'd like to personally thank you! We could not do what we are doing without you, and I'm sure Vanessa and Matt would like me to pass on their sincere thanks to you too!
If you aren't yet one of our supporters, we'd love to invite you to be part of this exciting, preventative and life-transforming work today, by clicking here.
If you are or know of a local church who might want to partner with us to deliver programmes in their community, you can register interest for our next round of training in November by clicking here
And if you want to join Helen as she starts her next Intentional Health programme, starting 12-2pm on Thursday at Liskeard Methodist Church, you can contact her directly on 07958 940263.
I'd like to finish by personally thanking Helen, Vanessa, and Matt for sharing their story with us, and letting us share their story with you!
We would like to dedicate today's post to celebrate with the 40,000 walkers, runners, joggers and movers who took part in the biggest ever Great Run Day yesterday in Manchester.
Simplyhealth's 'Great Run Day' is their celebration of running, jogging, walking, or simply moving together. 'The day to walk a little further, jog a little longer and inspire those around you to get active' is a key part of Simplyhealth’s #millionsmoving campaign. Simplyhealth want to inspire individuals, families and communities to simply move more.
Did you know that Celebrating our successes can be motivational for us to try new things and overcome challenges in other areas too?
You may have read in a previous blog, one of our trustees, Jo and her husband Phil, have been encouraged and inspired by our recent series of webinars and signed up to take part in the Great North Run yesterday.
Jo was right at the start of her running journey, running her very first non-stop mile (with her daughter, Eloïse), which was a huge achievement for her as she'd never run before.
If that wasn't enough to celebrate, there were around 40,000 people, just like Phil and Jo, who also ran. Some for the first, and some for the umpteenth time. Some took part for fitness, some for the pure joy, some for personal reasons and some just because they like a challenge! Many also raised money for charities that are close to their heart. All of them challenged themselves to move more.
For everyone who; walked; ran or used any other means of moving more, we at Intentional Health would like to applaud you, celebrate with you, and dedicate this blog to you today!
We also pray that no matter how much your bodies ache right now, that your mental and emotional health and wellbeing will be elated with the pure sense of achievement in being part of something bigger than you.
We'd also like to take a moment and celebrate with other people, like Sarah, who this week, shared with us how she has been out for two runs last week - not as part of the Great Run, but just to be more intentional about her health and wellbeing. Sarah is one of our inspirational Intentional Health coaches and we are being part of her scaffolding. She is being a fantastic role model and living out some of the Intentional Health messages that our 10 session programme explores.
Well done to Sarah, Phil, Jo, Eloïse and the 40,000+ others who took part yesterday or have been more intentional about their health and wellbeing in the past week.
If you'd like to take part next years Great Run, then why not be intentional and sign up today to Simplyhealth's reminder service to receive an email as soon as the 2018 ballot opens.
If you'd like to find out more about running an Intentional Health programme in your community, then get in touch here.
If running is just not your thing, then why not find something else to challenge yourself that helps you move more or connect with someone in your community. And if you let us know; like Jo, Phil and Sarah have; then when you've completed it, we will celebrate with you too!
If you meant to watch some of the series, but have not got round to it yet, next week, we'll publish a list with links to all of the webinar replays, which will be available for you to watch at your leisure.
The week after we hope to feature a guest post while I'll be having a much needed holiday with family - so watch this space!
The week after we'll be at the Creationfest - Do come and say hello if you are attending!
If you missed Tom and Gareth's 30-minute alcohol webinar last week, you can watch the replay by clicking here.
Despite having technology issues at the start, and Tom inadvertently pressing something for a few minutes in between, the lads did well!
There is a free "How many units", and a "true or false" quiz, in the accompanying worksheet. We can send you that if you click here.
How many webinars this week?
This week, Tonya and I are hosting a 3 part mini-series on our emotional health and wellbeing, especially how we can really benefit when we are intentional with our boundaries, communication and healthy positive conflict.
These will run 10 am (BST)on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week.
You can sign up for these by clicking the links below.
Now I understand that giving actually has somethingfor me, and there is actually a lot of truth in that very old statement that originally comes from the bible (Acts 20:35).
Research available today confirms this too, and shows us that giving is especially good for our mental health and wellbeing. In fact, giving is included as one of the top 5 beneficial ways that we can be intentional about our health and wellbeing according to the “NHS Five Ways to Wellbeing”.
Altruistically giving means giving selflessly, seeking or expecting nothing in return, and is correlated with better health, longer lives, and a greater sense of purpose.
This type of giving is also the opposite of the law of reciprocity, where we give in many social situations as a way of paying back what we have received from others.
Some cases of reciprocity may be fine, but if our motivation for giving is to get something in return, we can become frustrated, disappointed or feel inadequate.
Giving with a motivation of reciprocity, therefore, is not particularly healthy!
Giving altruistically can take many forms. Here are 5:
1. Giving Time
This can be also known as Serving or Volunteering.
Though beneficial for all ages, volunteering can be particularly beneficial for older adults or empty nesters, who may have more available time after their children have left home or their formal careers have come to an end.
Volunteering gives us an opportunity to see ourselves, and our happiness in relation to the wider community, and can be incredibly rewarding as we create connections with people around us. The activity gives a sense of purpose and value, prevents isolation and the sharing of years of experience can be life-giving for all.
We all have the same 24 hours available every day, it is the one thing that is common to each and every one of us. How we spend them (intentionally or not!) is up to us.
Giving our time enables us to also share our talents and experiences, and often be part of something greater than the sum of its parts - where one person can do a lot, but more people coming together can devote themselves to different tasks and collectively do something greater than all the individuals could achieve on their own.
2. Giving Grace.
When I say Grace, I mean giving favour to someone who may, or may not, deserve it, and putting others ahead of ourselves. It can come in many forms, and may simply be offering to help someone with their shopping bags, or instead of becoming frustrated by a long queue, chose instead to let someone else in front of you in the supermarket or traffic.
Grace can also be beneficial when we make mistakes or get things wrong.
This week I was hugely blessed by a friend generously helping me out when I committed the ultimate faux-par and forgot an important parents information evening.
Not only did this friend send me all the information I had missed, but she also reminded me that we all make mistakes and not to be hard on myself.
She didn’t have to do either of those things, but I was hugely grateful for both her practical support and encouragement and for helping me keep the situation in its proper perspective.
In the western culture we live in, we are all rich.
We may not feel like it, but the fact that you are reading this blog tells me you have access to the internet and a computer, and probably live and eat indoors.
If you want to see just how rich you are you can check out your global position.
I rarely see people who have lots of money making them truly happy unless they give some away. But I have seen some of the poorest and most generous and joyful people in the world gladly and joyfully give their last cup of rice away to a TV film crew!
There are many ways to give, and many organisations who can all do great good with what we have to offer. We don’t even have to give actual £’s if we don’t want to. We can give unwanted clothes to the charity shop, or give homemade or purchased gifts, or even cut some flowers from our own garden if we prefer.
If we are in a position to give financially and are a UK tax-payer, every gift to a registered charity has the potential to be multiplied through gift aid. That means next time we're donating £10 to charity, that charity could claim an additional £2.50 from the government through gift aid.
Giving a smile.
Smiles cost us nothing but can make all the difference. We were designed to be in relationship, and smiles create meaningful connections between us, even if briefly, that can brighten both our own and another’s day!
This is especially valuable to people who don’t encounter many other people in their everyday lives for one reason or another, for example, elderly relatives or neighbours.
This is an extension of the above really but can make a person feel ten times taller. Have you ever given a child praise or encouragement and see their head lift and chest pop out with pride?
Giving encouragement lets people know that they, or what they are doing, matters.
It is most helpful when we take the extra time to let them know exactly what it is that blessed us!
I know I am always hugely blessed when people take the time to let me know how and that these blogs are encouraging you - It inspires me to write more! Thank you.
I’m sure there are plenty more ways to give and I’d love to hear about how you find ways to give altruistically… message me here….
Lastly, I'd love to share how the comedian Michael Jnr. gives laughter... Check out his story here…