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A Week Of Inspiration: What I’m Taking Away

7 Jan

As 2011 drew to a close, a gave myself a mission to start off 2012 on the right note. To do that, I would approach some women who I found to be inspirational, and I would ask them to post something on my blog that would send a positive message. It started off as a simple resolution for me to start the year in a positive way to get myself out of the funk I have been in. By the time I was scheduling the posts, it had become a project to help everyone: I realized that many people – including a couple of the writers – were in need of a dose of the good stuff that life has to offer.

This would be my small way of trying to make the world a better, happier place filled with possibilities and motivation.

I took something valuable away from all of the posts this week – things that I will take forward with me as I navigate my way through the jungle of life in 2012. For that, I want to give heartfelt thanks to all of my contributors.

I am battling with some personal demons right now, and it’s hard. There are days when I can barely see my way through to getting out of bed. Ultimately, though, I have support. I have my family, I have friends, and I am in good enough health to put on running shoes and pound the hell out of the pavement when I need relief from the stress. On Monday, Kerry White gave us a reminder on perspective. It does me good to remind myself that no matter how difficult things may be, I will muddle my way through it all, aided by the support system that I have around me.

A few minutes ago, my son George – autistic, eight years old, and very long and lanky – clambered into my lap for a hug and a cuddle. As I held this treasure in my arms, I reflected on the fact that special needs parenting is sometimes as hard as hell, but life without this amazing child is just unfathomable. Sara Morgan expressed this on Tuesday, when she said that yeah, we have kids with autism, but at least we have them.

How easy is it for us to just lie down and quit when we’re faced with a personal tragedy? On Wednesday, Phaedra Kennedy took us through her heartbreaking unsuccessful quest to have a baby, and her subsequent resolve to make 2011 the best year of her life. Not only does Phaedra’s tale inspire me to set goals for this year and really work towards them, I am honoured to have her mentoring me through my next stage of evolution as a runner.

Perhaps there is truth to the idea that the fluttering of a butterfly’s wings can ultimately cause a storm on the other side of the world. In the same way, a handful of women blogging about motherhood can result in impoverished children receiving life-saving vaccinations, and fewer babies dying of pneumonia. On Thursday, Jennifer Burden told us about an idea that started small and morphed into something huge. Over the next year, I will endeavour to follow my dreams, no matter how silly they may seem. Who knows where they will take me?

There have been times in the past, when things have been rough, that I have succumbed to the temptation to just let myself go. I have asked myself what the point of it all is. If Margie Bryant had given in to that kind of negative self-talk, where would she be today? She survived addiction, a string of meaningless, emotionally empty relationships, and time in a federal prison. She kicked low self-esteem in the butt, and has turned her life around. She leads a life anyone could be proud of, and she’s found true love to boot. If she could make that kind of U-turn, surely I have it in me to control the direction of my own life.

My personal mission this year is to focus on taking care of myself. I am going to find some balance in my life and do more things that I want to do.

Will this take away the time and energy that I have always unquestioningly devoted to my husband and children? Or will doings things for myself inject me with more energy, and lead to a more enriched, satisfying life for all of us?

(Thank you again to Kerry, Sara, Phaedra, Jennifer and Margie. I am sure your tales of inspiration have touched the lives of many people reading this blog.)

 

 

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True Heroes: Guest Post by Kerry White

2 Jan

I go through phases where I spend a lot of time whining about how tough my life is. I’m working too much, I’m commuting for too long, I have too much to do when I get home, I get too little sleep. In the end, though, I’m always able to give my head a shake and reflect on the fact that I don’t have to do it alone. By the time I get home at the end of the work-day, the kids are home and fed. I have a husband who carries laundry baskets up and down the stairs so I don’t have to do it myself. I have someone to talk to at the end of the day, and when I go to bed at night, I have the physical and emotional warmth of another human being – one who may drive me nuts from time to time, but who I love and trust and wouldn’t want to trade for anyone in the world.

I have all the respect in the world for single parents, and often I wonder: how the hell does anyone do this alone? It’s hard enough to parent when there are two of you. Today’s post comes to us from one of those people I respect and admire so much. Kerry White is, like me, a transplanted South African. She lives in Texas, where she works as a freelance writer and raises her adorable little son. I am honoured to start of 2012 with this message of inspiration from a mom who helps us keep it all in perspective.

Thinking about what to write for this great and upbeat post was giving me a bit of a headache. I truly wanted to find that inner positive spirit I know I’ve got somewhere! I’ve been feeling so very Grinchy lately because it seems that the entire Universe has conspired against me to give me no end of grief in many areas. My son was sick with repeated rounds of ear infections, bronchitis, and a stomach virus, all in the span of 30 days. It was his 3rd birthday this month and I was so tired with a definite lack of funds in the bank so we sort of just didn’t do anything. I lost several high-value clients due to my need to put my son’s health and care first over their projects. I had someone steal my bank card information on the eve of Christmas Eve. Well, the list goes on and my own blog is filled with angst… but I am going to stop right here, right now.

This isn’t about being down and out. Because the truth is that, while things might be a bit of a challenge for me right now, I am still doing pretty okay considering everything else. My son’s health problems, while irritating and frustrating for us both, are fairly minor. My bank account will recover with a bit of hard work and a few nights of missed sleep for me. My son’s health issues do tend to clear up, with time and antibiotics.

Our house is warm, we have one another, and we have support from those who care about us. There’s even a special fella I’d love to make a much more prominent factor in our lives.

So often those supportive friends of mine tell me that I am a hero in their eyes, a supermom, and a super mom. However, I don’t feel it. I truly don’t. This led me to two other trains of thought.

There are parents who go through so much more with their darling children. Illnesses from which they will never recover, incredible and never-ending financial strife, endless trips to doctor’s offices, trips to the hospital from which their children may never return to their home, parents living in their cars or otherwise relying on the kindness of others to help them and their family. I have friends who were blessed to hold their babies in their arms, but for such a short amount of time before letting them go. I have friends who are parents without children in their arms yet.

Those are the true heroes, the super moms, the super dads, the superparents. They deserve the credit, they deserve the respect, they deserve the love, and the help. Truthfully, every parent needs to hear that they’re doing a pretty okay job at this parenting gig.

As parents, as people who care, we need to recognize in each other the greatness and the pure selflessness of loving parents. Sure things can be tough, rough, and overwhelming. But it seems to be the rare parent who doesn’t find things to be a challenge in one way or another. We need to support, encourage, and help one another realize that this is a big ole job and that it’s okay to not get everything perfect sometimes.

We’re going to feel like we’re at the end of our rope, we’re going to fall on the ground sobbing and begging whatever Powers That Be who may be listening to please friggen help us! But, with the support and help from our friends who may have been there, we can get through it! Maybe not with our sanity intact and our hair brushed, but get through it we will.

It takes a village, right? I think it goes a little bit further than that for parents; it takes a worldwide network of parental support to raise these kids we’ve been blessed with. 2012 is a great opportunity for us to start over, make resolutions to eat less, love more, and just be the support we need to be for others who are perhaps struggling just a little bit more than we are today.

I, for one, am counting my blessings now. I am counting my amazing friends and family members, including my amazing grandmother who is always there to answer the phone when I need support after a particularly challenging day. I wish for you nothing but strength, love, support, and the wisdom to know when you need to reach out to someone for support.

(Photo credit: Jorge Diaz1)

A Dose Of Happy For 2012

1 Jan

The calendar has clicked over into 2012. This is the day on which thousands of people are quitting smoking, going on diet, starting an exercise program, or finally starting to write that novel they’ve always been talking about. I myself will be participating in the 5km Resolution Run later on today.

Although I’m not really big on the idea of making major life changes just because of what day it happens to be, New Years Day is a convenient time for us to re-evaluate our goals, see where we’re at, and maybe give ourselves a bit of a kick-start. For some people, it may indeed mean starting over, like pressing the reset button on the back of a mobile device.

2011 was an eventful year for me. Despite a poor season of training, I had some success in my races. I worked hard on my writing, and in the last couple of months of the year, I finally started to find some traction in the writing community. And of course, there was my wedding in April – a fantastic event that included friends and family from far away. Having my mom there, and my brother to walk me down the aisle, made it all extra-special.

Despite the good stuff, I found myself sinking towards the end of the year. I have, for several weeks now, been dealing with depression. It is something that I have chosen not to write about, because it’s such a painful, private thing. But it is something that I should at least acknowledge, if only to let other people suffering from this problem know that they are not alone.

I have been reading these articles about how the simple act of laughing releases natural happy-drugs into your brain, how the biggest single predictor of happiness is the degree to which a person does good for their fellow man, and how being around proactive people can spur you on to action in your own life. In other words, positivity breeds positivity.

In that spirit, I decided that I would start off 2012 on a positive note in my blog. I would host some guest writers: inspirational women who have done amazing things. A couple of the women I approached told me that writing something positive might help lift them out of their own states of psychological disequilibrium. So much the better! This became a little project to raise everyone’s spirits – mine, my guest writers, and any readers who need a lift.

I am excited about this week. For the next five days, my blog is given over to some women who inspire me and remind me that anything is possible.

We lead off tomorrow with single mom Kerry White, who tells us that although things have been kind of turbulent for her, life isn’t all that bad. It’s a wonderful reminder about perspective.

On Tuesday, we will hear from Sara Morgan, an autism mom who has also experienced the trauma of pregnancy loss. She brings these two things together and reminds us that where  there’s life, there’s hope.

On Wednesday, Phaedra Kennedy (who has the distinction of being the first friend I had in Canada) tells us about how she rose above some deeply sad and traumatic events in her personal life to have a phenomenal season of running.

Thursday is given over to Jennifer Burden, whose idea for a group blog for moms has ballooned into an entire project for social good that includes the United Nations.

And on Friday, we hear from my friend Margie Bryant, who gives a whole new meaning to the idea of turning your life around. Margie describes how she made the transformation from someone with no hope into someone with huge possibilities for great things.

I want to take this opportunity to thank each of these women for giving of themselves to contribute to my quest to start off the year on a positive note. I wish them all continued success in 2012.

And for everyone reading this, may 2012 be a year filled with love, peace and happiness, as well as just the right dose of adventure.