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!
Last week we were delighted to receive an email from one of our Intentional Health Coaches.
Sarah and her team, from Redeemer Church, had just finished delivering a 10 Session Intentional Health programme to her community in Ealing, West London.
Here's what she said...
We had a brilliant time running Intentional Health this summer at Redeemer. One of our participants Steve Page is an incredible poet and many of the sessions inspired his creative side. He wrote a few poems and agreed that he was more than happy for me to share them with you.
I hope they encourage you as they did me.
This certainly did encourage us! We love creativity and we love that many of the Intentional Health sessions inspired Steve's creative side!
Big thanks to Sarah and Steve for providing today's Motivational content, I hope it inspires creativity in you too!
There's nothing magical
It's the beneficial
Not the permissible
Don't be mindful
Of the infinitesimal
But watch the frequency
Of every mouthful
The size you choose
For your morning bowl full
What you put
On a wholemeal bagel
And then you'll find you'll
Be more healthful.
Consider what to cease
With a view to increase
That margin needed to keep
Your essential level of peace
Maintain a healthy fringe
Rather than pack each inch
With no room to breathe
When circumstances pinch
Protect rest on your pillow
And the rest will follow
Make enough space
For more of your mellow
Registration for our next partner Intentional Health training for community-focused churches like Redeemer will soon be open for training in Oct/Nov 2017.
If you'd like to know more when we open registration, please fill in your name and email address below.
Today's post is from one of our Trustee's Jo, sharing her three biggest takeaways from the recent Intentional Health webinars...Hi, I’m Jo and I hate running.
At school, I would get out of PE whenever I could and walk the cross country course each year (most probably) causing my house to lose the sports cup yet again!
Fortunately, my daughter didn’t inherit my genes. She loves all sport and is very competitive. For the past few years, she has been pleading with me to run a Race for Life with her like her friend and her mum. I have been very good at making my excuses.
Last year my husband ran the Great North Run and we all went to support him. As part of the weekend, they also hold a Mini Great North Run for children the day before. Last year we watched it and this year my daughter is signed up to take part. As she is only 8 she needs an adult with her. To try and earn some Mummy points I agreed to run it with her. It's only one mile! What could possibly go wrong?
For this week’s blog, I want to tell you my 3 takeaways of how the recent Intentional Health webinars have helped me.
1. Set a Goal
So I have my goal. On the 9th of September, I will be running one mile with my daughter. Now if you remember I hate running. I don’t run. I do anything I can to get out of running.
In May this year, I had a realisation that the Mini Great North Run will be full of loving (sporty) parents running one mile with their children as a little warm-up for their big 13.1 miles the following day. They probably won’t even break out into a sweat. Now I had two choices – hand over the mantle to my husband or start some training. I’d made a promise to my daughter so I got training.
For those of you like me who don’t run I’d really recommend a great little podcast. NHS Couch to 5k. The first week all I had to do was run for one minute then walk for one minute and this repeated 8 times. I struggled and I mean really struggled. My legs hurt, I couldn’t breathe but I did it!
The first week all I had to do was run for one minute then walk for one minute and this repeated 8 times. I struggled and I mean really struggled. My legs hurt, I couldn’t breathe but I did it!
Now after that first week I was ready to give up. I was struggling to run for one minute, how was I ever going to reach a mile? My husband knew I was running but I also told some other close friends of my plans. It would be very easy to give up if just my husband knew but letting my friends down would be a different story.
Each week I would message my friends to tell them when I was intending to go for a run. I would then have great delight in sending them a sweaty picture of myself having completed it. I stated this right at the beginning of my training when I was only running for one minute at a time, so no major distances but each time I was accountable to them as well as myself. Some mornings I really didn’t want to go and could have very easily made an excuse not to, however, I had to run otherwise I would also be having to make excuses to my friends as to why I hadn’t gone. In return, my friends would also tell me of their intentional plans to exercise and send equally sweaty and embarrassing photos back!
3. What happens when things go wrong?
Couch to 5k works by increasing your running time by a short amount each week. The first few weeks went really well. Then one week I really struggled with the increased running time. I spoke to someone who is a personal trainer and she reassured me that a lot of factors can influence your running and if I was really struggling to just repeat a week. As it happened I then came down with a nasty virus that knocked me out for 10 days.
I’d now had two weeks out from running and before the virus was only up to running for about 5 minutes, I was still very far off my goal of one mile. I now had two choices. Give up and hand the mantle over to my husband or carry on. Remember in place I have:
My goal – To run one mile with my daughter
My Scaffolding – My friends who know my goal and have been cheering me on and asking how my running is going.
So I put on my trainers again and repeated the week that I had previously struggled with.
I’m really pleased to be able to tell you that with less than a month to go I am now able to run continuously for one mile.
My goal in September is fast approaching. So what else have I done? I have promised some local friends that I will run a muddy 5k with them in 2018 – my next goal.
Do I now like running? No.
Do I look forward to running? No.
Have I noticed benefits to my running? Yes.
I feel generally fitter, I don’t struggle walking up hills as much as I did before and a lovely pair of trousers I bought two years ago finally fit!
If you’ve found this helpful or inspiring we'd love to hear from you, or if you've got any other topic suggestions! – please get in touch here.
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'.
Helping churches save lives & every body live life well