No time to exercise? Dispelling the myths

On 1st March, I wrote a blog post about why a man with one leg had inspired me to #MoveMoreInMarch and I pledged to walk 100 miles in March.  I have a fairly sedentary lifestyle – my work involves sitting down all day – so for me, this would involve a big lifestyle change and some careful planning.  Like many people, I work long hours and when I’m not with, or completing work for, clients, I am usually filling my time with things I am passionate about e.g. fundraising initiatives, which also involves sitting down!  I wear a Fitbit and on a ‘normal’ day I usually walk approx 0.5 to 1.5 miles (1192 to 3651 steps) which really isn’t good for my health or well-being, but I’ve always said that I don’t have time in my busy day to exercise.  I’ve also been known to say that if I had a dog, then I would have a reason to walk… and that I wasn’t motivated to go for a walk on my own – that wouldn’t be any fun at all, would it?

Time to dispel the myths! During March, I have discovered:-

  1. It is possible to fit exercise into my life – albeit not every day, but certainly most.
  2. I don’t need a dog to enable me to walk.
  3. Walking on my own IS fun – walking with a friend is fun too.

Other things I have discovered:-

  1. Having started to walk every day, on the days when I literally can’t fit it in I miss it.
  2. The blossom on the trees and bushes smells wonderful.
  3. How much ‘wildlife’ there is to see, even in the suburbs.
  4. Gloucestershire is even more beautiful than I thought it was.
  5. Just how far I am capable of walking.
  6. Meeting a friend for a walk is much more fun than meeting a friend for lunch!

I am delighted to share with you that I walked 112.66 miles in March.  As part of my pledge, I promised to donate £31 (£1 for every day of the month) to Mark Pattenden, Kelly Jackson and Hannah Moore’s #TogetherWeCan fundraising initiative  to fund a running blade for Hannah.  The blade will cost £9,000, so if you’re reading this and you’re in a position to make a donation (small or large) please do.  Mark has pledged to run #10kADay from 1st March to the end of December (or until the £9,000 target has been reached) and whilst I am proud that I have WALKED over 100 miles in March, in comparison to the 310k (192 miles) Mark has RUN in the same period… on one leg and a running blade… well, there is NO comparison!

And there is more… I can’t tell you how lovely it is when friends say “Your #MoveMoreInMarch pledge has encouraged ME to move more too.”  Several have told me that they had been about to get into their car to go to the local shop, thought of me and WALKED instead. 

Finally, I would like to share with you something that happened on the 30th March.  It was my birthday and my friend Pauline (a local amateur photographer) had booked a day off work to help me celebrate.  Pauline has joined me on some of my walks, so I suggested that we drive to Wales to do the Four Falls Trail, in the Brecon Beacons.  We parked in the Gwaun Hepste car-park and set off on the trail in glorious sunshine.  There had been quite a lot of rainfall in March, so the waterfalls were magnificent.  The trail was described as ‘energetic’ which we found quite an amusing term, until about half-way through! Our fitness levels were severely tested, particularly by the ascent after visiting the final fall on the trail ‘Sgwd yr Eira’ which was described as ‘strenuous’, having 170 steps which descended (and of course ‘ascended on the way back up) 330ft (100m).  This wasn’t helped by the fact that I insisted on walking along the track behind the waterfall and got soaked through to the skin by doing so! What an experience! We had also forgotten that the trail from the car-park to the falls was downhill, so walking back up was very challenging. (Understatement of the year.)  But I do believe the amount of walking Pauline and I had achieved in March had really improved our fitness levels, making the day far more pleasurable than it might have been in February!!  I have to say that it was one of the best birthdays I have ever had.

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Photo courtesy of Pauline Roberts 

And in case you’re wondering… I intend to continue walking.  It’s part of my life now and I love it.

 

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I have been shortlisted for the Nicest Job In Britain and given a challenge…

On the 4th September, I wrote a blog post titled ‘Why I applied for The Nicest Job in Britain. (NJIB)
I had submitted my 60 second application video and used the blog post as part of my #HireSali Campaign, to encourage people to ‘vote’ for me.

I am delighted to share with you that I have been shortlisted for The Nicest Job, which involves working with 40 charities over 12 months. I, and the other 7 shortlisted candidates, have each been allocated a charity to work (drawn from a ‘hat’ containing the aforementioned 40 charities) and have been challenged – to raise as much money and awareness – as possible, for our allocated charity, by 2nd October. I have been given Winston’s Wish, the charity for bereaved children, which is particularly poignant, as I was a bereaved child myself.

Many years ago, I volunteered at the head office of Winston’s Wish, helping with admin and mail-shots. In addition, I assisted with a few of the charity’s promotions in the Regent Arcade, Cheltenham and took my daughters and one of my friends, carol singing – locally – with Winston’s Wish ‘collection buckets’. My perception at the time was that Winston’s Wish was a very well-known, well-supported charity, so when I was tasked by NJIB to ‘raise as much awareness as possible’ of the charity, I wondered what I could do to further awareness of a charity which was already so well-known.

I have always been taught, and in turn have coached others, never to ‘assume’ so I decided to start my challenge with a straw-pole, asking my Facebook friends whether they were aware of Winston’s Wish or not. They just had to comment with a ‘yes’, or a ‘no’. The results surprised me. There was a very clear 50/50 split, with the friends living in and around Gloucestershire answering ‘yes’ and those living further away (although as close as Wiltshire) answering ‘no’. The exceptions were the friends who had used, or knew someone who had used, the services of the charity. The results gave me a lots of scope to ‘raise awareness’.

Did you know that every day, in the UK, more than 100 children are bereaved of a parent? Winston’s Wish has a vision that every bereaved child has access to support as and when they need it and a mission to ensure the resilience of bereaved children by providing high quality services that meet their needs.

Julie Stokes created the charity in 1992. Julie was a clinical psychologist at the time and it was an interaction with the son of a terminally ill patient, which propelled her into investigating how children with a terminally ill parent and bereaved children could be better served. She travelled to the USA and Canada on a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship and was so inspired by what she saw, that she returned to the UK and set up Winston’s Wish, which has since become the leading childhood bereavement charity in the UK.

So what is Winston’s Wish and what does the charity do? Winston’s Wish supports children, their families and the professionals who support them following the death of a parent or sibling – the most fundamental loss a child can face. The charity provides professional therapeutic support via a National Helpline, face-to-face support and a website.
Not only does their website offer a wealth of information and guidance, which is divided into helpful categories, and translated into several different languages (Spanish, Bengali, Swedish, Arabic and Polish) but it also offers a ‘Helpline’, which is available on 08452 03 04 05 and operates Monday – Friday, 9am-5pm.

Death comes in many forms, and the Winston’s Wish website offers a range of information and advice on topics such as ‘dealing with serious illness’, ‘talking about death’, ‘bereavement from suicide’, ‘bereavement from homicide’,’ supporting children of military families’ and much more. There is also a specialist area of the website for young people, for professionals and also an online shop with plenty of expert publications and resources for free and for sale.

Winston’s Wish is a national charity, which is reliant on voluntary donations – they need to raise £2.5million every year to continue their support for bereaved children and their families. In 2014/15 these donations equated to 93% of their income. For every £1 they spend, 74p goes on direct delivery. Charities are being scrutinised regarding the cost of fundraising campaigns, but I am pleased to report that for every £1 Winston’s Wish spends on fundraising, they raise £4.47 which is an incredibly impressive return on investment.

I have embraced the challenge to raise funds for this wonderful charity and have set up a Facebook page called A Penny 4 Your Memory, where I am encouraging people to leave a happy or funny memory, which not only makes them smile or laugh, but will do the same for others reading the post. When they leave a memory, they also make a donation to Winston’s Wish via www.givepenny.com/apenny4yourmemory Within 49 hours of being created, the Givepenny page reached the £500 target I had set, so I have amended the target to £750. Please do visit the Facebook page, leave a happy memory, donate and take time to read (and interact) with the memories which have already been posted. Warning… doing so may produce a warm, fuzzy feeling.

And for those of you who might be interested… my interview for The Nicest Job in Britain is on Monday 3rd October. Please wish me luck and please do share this blog post, to help me raise awareness of, and funds for, Winston’s Wish. This is more than just a NJIB challenge to me. Thank you.

I give… because it feeds my soul

“You give but little when you give of your possessions.  It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”
The Prophet – Kahlil Gibran

 

I follow @michaelchatman on Twitter. Michael is a ‘Global Ambassador of Giving’ and “one of America’s most listened to voices in philanthropy”.  He hosts #WHYiGive, every Tuesday on Twitter, where he encourages his followers to say – in 141 characters, including the hashtag #WHYiGive – why THEY give.  The reasons given are inspirational  – and varied. 

Reading through the tweets made me reflect on why I give and there is only one answer – because it feeds my soul.

I have met a lot of people in life who haven’t quite got the hang of ‘giving’.  Take volunteering, for example.  Someone I thought I knew really well once said to me “I don’t understand why anyone would ever choose to volunteer.  Why would anyone do something for nothing?” The comment made me look at that person in a whole different light.  I realised I really didn’t know them at all.  I tried to explain, but it was futile and that made me very sad.  Why? Because that person will never know the joy that volunteering brings… the warm cosy feeling you get when you know you have helped someone… if you have ever volunteered, you will know what I mean.

‘Giving’ means different things to different people.  For some people it simply means buying gifts for their friends and family, especially on birthdays and other special occasions.  Sometimes they then tell the people who they had so much fun buying presents for, ‘not’ to buy a gift in return.  They can be quite adamant about it.  They may take this stance for a variety of reasons, but the bottom line is that they are depriving their friends and family of the joy of giving, which could be perceived as being a little selfish.  Ben Carson famously stated “Happiness doesn’t result from what we get, but from what we give.” Have you ever had great pleasure in buying, wrapping, giving a gift to someone and then instructed them not to buy for you? Perhaps you don’t really ‘need’ anything, or you may think that they can’t afford to buy you a gift? There can be many reasons for making such a request, but perhaps a kinder approach would be to explain that you don’t really need anything, but you do have a fondness for….. and suggest something that they could make/easily afford, e.g. fruit cake, chocolate truffles, breakfast tea….. Or after explaining that you don’t really need anything, you could add “unless you happen to see any (suggest something unusual and inexpensive) because I can’t buy it anywhere.” This not only relaxes the ‘no giving’ rule, but with most things being available via the internet it will enable them to do a quick search, hopefully find the item and experience the joy of buying, wrapping, giving…. knowing that they have bought the perfect gift for you!

Another form of ‘giving’ is the increasingly popular Random Acts of Kindness (RAK).  In fact, I am a RAKtivist. Social Media is full of tales of RAKs, for example people paying for the groceries which the person behind them in the queue had planned to buy, food and drink being given to homeless people, special messages being written on restaurant bills for the waiting staff and indeed, the waiting staff writing messages on the receipts for special customers.  Acts of kindness towards strangers is not a new phenomenon and many of us grew up with ‘helping others’ as a core value, which was reinforced at Brownies, Cubs, Girl Guides, Scouts, The Girls Brigade and within many other groups to which we may have belonged.  Other core values were to respect your elders, to speak when you’re spoken to, to give up your seat on public transport for a lady, or a mother & child, or an elderly person… the list was endless and sadly many of those values seem to have been diluted with the passing of time.  Perhaps, in the future, all of the old traditional values will become de rigueur, but for the time being let’s concentrate on giving.

My favourite type of giving, is when I give my time and energy to someone who needs help with something, which they would have struggled to have done on their own.  I don’t like to see anyone struggle, so if I have the capacity to help them, I will.  We all have different skills and abilities; sharing them with each other, and giving a little of ourselves, can make a huge difference both to us and to those around us.  I am convinced that everyone has something to give, if they choose to.  Sadly not everyone chooses to, although people like Michael Chatman and organisations such as Kindness UK may encourage them to change.  A banner on the Kindness UK website quotes Princes Diana “Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.”  November 13th is both World Kindness Day & Kindness Day UK – the perfect day for Giving and the perfect day to feed your soul.