When last did you go on a Soul Date?

In Julia Cameron’s wonderfully inspirational book The Artist’s Way, she recommends having a a regular “Artist’s Date”. You can listen to her describe it here. Essentially, an artist’s date is an hour or two, dedicated to feeding your creativity and doing something that nourishes your soul.

I like to think of it as a Soul Date.

soul
səʊl/
noun
1. the spiritual or immaterial part of a human being or animal, regarded as immortal
2. emotional or intellectual energy or intensity, especially as revealed in a work of art or an artistic performance.
date1
deɪt/
noun
2. social or romantic appointment or engagement.

I’m not particularly regular with my Soul Dates – they’re more impromptu than organised. I really need to make an effort to be more intentional about taking this time out. Playing with beauty, art and design gets my creativity going and makes me a happier person.

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” Maya Angelou

Over the long weekend, I had a soul date with with my friend Jeanette and my sister, Jessica and our kids. As we head into autumn, Cosmos flowers are making Jozi look particularly pretty and a public holiday seemed like the perfect opportunity for some beautiful photos of the flowers. And our girls do so love a photo shoot. Connor loved it too – he’s all about outrageously funny faces and photobombing!

Jeanette is a professional photographer  and Jess and I love to fiddle around with our cameras as a hobby. We had the best afternoon, traipsing through the veld, searching for good photo spots, and experimenting with the light and poses as the kids came up with ideas for shots. Of course, their ideas included tree climbing and some action gymnastic shots.  My nieces tried throwing little bouquets of Cosmos that they collected into the air, and trying to catch the moment as they fell to the ground. I didn’t get great shots, but it was fun trying to time the moment.

I love taking photos on my iPhone, and I am still learning to play with my new toy, a Canon EOS mirrorless camera. The pics I took with the Canon haven’t been downloaded yet (lazy me) but in the meantime, here are a couple of my iPhone pics.

I’d like my next Soul Date to be a First Thursday at the Keyes Art Mile. What will yours be?

 

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Touching base with your team

How is it almost April?  This year seems to be flying by at a ridiculous pace and we are almost a quarter of the year down!

At the speed that we have become accustomed to working at, it is so very easy to get caught up in the urgency of the daily running of our businesses.

The important, but less urgent tasks sometimes fall by the wayside, with all our good intentions of dealing with them later. When they are looked at, it is in a rush and perhaps without the care and attention that they deserve.

One of the tasks that I am thinking of is internal communication, particularly written internal communication.

Keeping your team updated on developments, events, industry news and progress is essential!

The advantages of excellent internal communication

• Encourages trust and ends the rumour mill

• Maintains staff engagement and decreases staff turnover

• Boosts morale

• Builds company culture

• Ensures that your customer has the best possible experience with your brand, through your informed and well trained front-line staff

And most importantly:

It is key to achieving your organisation’s purpose!

Think for a moment about social media. We have become used to receiving a constant, bite size flow of information and feedback. Social media engages us and keeps us coming back for more. Similarly, your team want to know what is happening, why and how they are contributing. Your regular communication with them keeps them engaged and motivated.

But… regular, positive internal communication is tricky and time consuming.

How I can help?

Let me do the writing for you!

I have years of experience in working with various organisations, from the very small to the very large corporates. I have studied strategic business management, so I understand what goes into making a successful business tick! This experience, together with my flair for the written word and my natural ability to adapt to tone and audience means that I can easily and effectively help you communicate with your team.

How do we do this?

I can write your staff newsletters, informational displays, resource documents, event updates and even scripting of oral communication.

I can work with you on an ad hoc project basis, or on an hourly or per word rate, or we can do this on a contract basis, for a reasonable monthly fee.

Let me know what you want to your people to know, and let me figure out the rest!

Contact me now and we can set up a time to discuss your needs.

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2018 – My year of ME

New year’s resolutions are so 90’s, don’t you think? In this age of TED talks and enlightenment, we’re all about setting intentions – choosing a word for a year, a theme. It is so much gentler than swearing off chocolate, or swearing off swearing, for that matter. And more productive too.

This will be the third year in a row that I’ve chosen a word for the year. I can’t for the life of me remember my word for 2015. I had to go back and check my blog archives for 2016’s word.

This year is a bit different. This year, my word is ME. A reminder to put myself first in all aspects, so that I can be so much more to those around me. I don’t think I will have to go back into my blog archives to remember my word. Why? – I hear you ask

Late last year, I took some “MEtime” to attend Briony Liber’s “Career Women Moving Mountains” workshops. The information that Briony shared with us and the collective wisdom of the women attending the workshops with me was invaluable for my career growth. There is something so magical about a group of women getting together to share.

My highlight was the final session. We took a little time to explore some tough questions about our experiences in 2017 and our expectations for the year ahead. Then the fun began.

Sitting around a vast table covered in magazines, washi tape, coloured pens and glue and other beautiful creative tools, we began to create a vision for 2018.

Using ME as my inspiration, I searched for images that illustrated what putting ME first meant. Things like making time and space for myself for the things that make me happy, getting on top of my budget, looking after my health, celebrating all victories – big and small, and a reminder to remain hopeful and optimistic.

My vision board is now hanging inside my wardrobe, catching my eye as I search for something to wear each morning. It’s a daily reminder to focus on ME.

I am also trying to turn the intention into action by setting myself a little resolution for each day as suggested by Rich Mulholland here. In essence, instead of grand resolutions, he suggests that we set a few good intentions. Then we think about what actions we need to take to make those intentions a reality. And each day, set a little goals for something that you can do to realise the intention. And if you’re doing this 4 out of 7 days in a week, you’re winning.

Little goals, tiny steps and an awesome year. Cheers!

If you are keen for a 2018 on your terms, check out Briony’s website and her vision board workshops.

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The Hanging Gardens of Walkerville

I haven’t been in the most chipper of moods lately. To be honest, I’ve been feeling quite cynical and disillusioned. But the cloud is lifting – it always does – and there have been been a few rays of sunshine this week. The biggest was a little bit of CSI work I got involved with, through the company I work for.

We have this campaign on the go at the moment about “sustainable growth” and how we are all about building better futures and making positive change. There’s been much publicity internally and externally about the various CSI initiatives we are involved in.

The growth thing began with a tiny little box placed on each of our desks with a plant kit inside. After staring at it for a few days, I finally delegated the planting of the seeds to Claire. We were overjoyed when our little Swiss Chard finally sprouted a teensy Swiss Chardling! Now if only I could remember to water the damn thing!

Plants are so not my thing… I could probably find a way to kill a plastic plant if I tried!

Last week we were invited to watch Bongani Bingwa, of Carte Blanche fame, interview one of our CSI partners. We were also invited to participate in a mystery CSI project during the course of this week. I, being the corporate good sport I am, stuck my hand in the air for the mystery project.

The person that Bongani interviewed was an amazingly inspirational woman named Nonhlanhla Joye and her story is just incredible. And while what she does is seriously clever, it involves gardening. Did I mention that gardening is not my thing?

So guess what the mystery project was?  Gardening, obvs! We were building Mama Joye’s raised food gardens in various underprivileged areas around Jozi.

Yay… I guess.

So off I went to Walkerville with a bunch of colleagues who I barely knew, brimming with fake enthusiasm and trying to ignore the fact that I’m now too fat for my purple volunteer t-shirt ignore the sniffly cold I’d developed overnight.

Well nothing like a bit of charity work put things in perspective, right? Right!

The garden-making was pretty cool. The concept really is very clever:

All we really had to do was hang recycled, soil filled bags on the wooden frames and then plant seedlings in each. I hardly even got a dirty hand.

We finished by giving each newly planted seedling a drink of water to bed it down properly. For that part, we had assistance from some little kids from a local care centre. These kids have very recently tragically lost a fellow learner in a road accident and they are going through a very sad time. The sadness was almost palpable.

But whilst they were sad, they were also incredibly sweet and earnest and enthusiastic and they were the highlight of my day! For a while I forgot all my un-chipper nonsense.

We showed them what to do and each child dutifully filled their beakers with water and took turns at watering each bag. Ok, so some seedlings got more water than others – but all is fair in love and gardening. One of the guys who was busy building the frames assured me that once they make the holes in the bags for drainage, the lettuce would be just fine.

I really needed this afternoon of simple innocence to gain some perspective. And I’m almost convinced that I could manage an Umgibe veggie garden in my backyard… almost.

Check out Mama Joye’s website here.

And speaking of websites… I have exciting news about my blog changes. I’m one step closer to the big reveal. Watch this space 😉

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Inspiration Everywhere!

On a very good day, I spend about 90 minutes in traffic on my commute to and from work. That’s an hour and a half of my waking hours staring at cars in front of me and dodging taxis. Last year, I made a conscious decision to be more discerning about what to do with my ears during that time. I’ve always preferred talk radio to music radio. And as much as I enjoy music, I am not much of a music listener in my car. My commute changed, very much for the better, when I started listening to online radio, podcasts and audiobooks.

In terms of online radio – it’s mostly cliffcentral.com. I can’t lie – I’ve been a fan of Gareth Cliff since his early days on 702. He is the same age as me and I was fascinated back then by how he, as a 21 year old, could hold his own, be so smart, confident and erudite on a prime time show on a popular radio station. I guess you could say I have a crush on his brain. I was super excited to pick up Gareth and his team online. His show is clever and funny, irreverent and sometime totally politically incorrect and so much fun to listens to. I reckon that an evening at a pub with the people on his the team would just be the best evening!

I don’t get to hear the whole show in the morning so I listen live while I am driving to work and often pick up on third hour of the show as a podcast on my afternoon drive home.In the third hour of the show, Gareth mostly does interviews. This week has been particularly cool, with both Monday and Tuesday’s interviews being fascinating!

Monday’s interview was with a guy named Matthew Kanniah who has been picked up by the legends of Top Gear – Clarkson, Hammond and May for their DriveTribe project. I enjoyed the chat with Matthew but more than anything, I was struck by his go-for-it attitude. He is a 25 year old petrol-head blogger and he got picked up by the ex-Top Gear dudes as a result of his tweeting and following the DriveTribe producers and then having the guts to share his work with them. Now that I’ve checked out his work on Instagram, I have followed him and I am super keen to see where he goes! I guess the point is just to put yourself out there. You never know where or who might see you and like what you do!

The next awesome interview I listened to was with Robby Kojetin. Another supercool chat with great banter between Gareth and his guest. I’ve never come across Robby before but wow, what a story! He’s an adventurer and is on his way to climbing all of the seven summits. The really, really amazing part is that he spent over a year in a wheelchair after a really silly and horrible accident. He was so down and out after the accident that he literally counted out the Synap Forte’s to off himself! The only reason he didn’t was because he didn’t have the magic number of pills – the number he was sure would do a thorough job. Even more thought provoking and inspirational than picking himself up from rock bottom and literally summiting Everest, was his talking about about bucket lists. Making a list of things you want to do and then actually doing them. This post sums up the idea beautifully! Please click on the link – you won’t be sorry. I think it’s time I started writing my bucket list down. I really want to read Robby’s book now. From listening to him on the radio, it sounds like he would write a pretty good story!

The final “Aha” moment (yes – I just Oprah’ed) that I’m going to write about was a short little podcast that I picked up while I was driving home last night from my stats class. Rich Mulholland is a really rad speaker that I follow. I’ve heard him live – he spoke at the induction training that I attended when I joined Hollard. He is a regular visitor to Gareth’s show. I think I have a crush on his brain too. I love super intelligent people (that’s also why I adore my hubby!) Anyway, Rich was talking about “curiousity boxes” – the idea that instead of thinking out the box, you think outside your own box. How being curious makes you a more interesting person. Taking time to learn about something you know nothing about.

You know how you start watching a TED talk about something completely random and unrelated to your life and before you know it, you’re drawn completely in and you’re kinda sad when it’s over and you want to tell everybody to watch? That. (Or is that just me?)

This little piece really resonated with me and reminded me to download some more podcasts and audiobooks. Apple and Audible have amazing selections. And maybe I need to be more random in my podcast selection and open more curiosity boxes?

Three very cool lightbulb switching talks and it’s only Wednesday. Imagine what I would be like at SXSW or Design Indaba or a TED conference (which, btw, is definitely on my bucket list!)FullSizeRender

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Matric results day: My 2 cents worth

Congrats to all of the 2016 matriculants who got happy results today!

When I was in highschool there used to be a TV ad about a bunch of kids getting their matric results by hanging out in front of a newspaper office at dawn in a beat up old volksie and cracking open bottles of coke (?) in celebration. I seem to think it was coke? I was always quite disappointed that I didn’t do that. I wonder if anyone did?

My dad drove me to my school that day. I’d already landed my first insurance job by then, so I’d taken the morning off to collect my results. The receptionist wouldn’t hand them to me and I had to go into the principal’s office to request them. I was terrified. But it was only because they couldn’t trace one of the text books I was supposed to have handed in.

I passed. My dad dropped me at work. I took the bus home. I’m sure we celebrated but I can’t remember those details. Oh and my mom insisted I sort out the text book misunderstanding with the school myself because I was officially all grown up now. Adulting 101.

The thing that I’m reminded of today is how fortunate I was to fall straight into a job. I often have wished that I had taken more time off, but in retrospect it was probably a good thing that I grabbed that first job. I’d been for the interview while I was still writing finals. When they asked if I would be happy to start mid-December, I said yes. I was willing and eager and took the gap given. Maybe if I’d been less eager to start, they would have been less eager to employ me? That first job sucked in so many ways, but it led to my second job. The one where I met Nick and created a real grown up life.

I was lucky. Not everyone landed a decent job with only a matric back then and it’s even less likely to happen now!

If studying further is not in your immediate plans or beyond your budget then take whatever else you can find! Seriously guys, just do SOMETHING. It all counts toward a bigger picture and you never know where a seemingly menial job may lead you. Who you may meet and impress along the way. Even unpaid volunteer work or interning can lead you to places you can’t imagine. And work hard at whatever it is you find to do. You’re never too good for the job you’re in!

You need to know that Grade 12 is not the end of your education. It’s the end of a phase, just like pre-primary and primary school, but it’s not the end! It will continue. And it absolutely must continue if you want to keep moving forward. Take any opportunity that you may stumble upon to improve yourself. I’ve been fortunate to work for companies that have paid for me to study and I’ve completed a couple of insurance related courses which have helped me in each subsequent job I’ve applied for. I’ve now reached a point where not having a degree has proved to be a huge barrier in my career aspirations so at the ripe old age of 39, I’m one third of the way to getting a Bachelor Degree.

Oh and you may not know what you really want to do for the next five, ten, twenty years of your adult life. I certainly didn’t. I’ve had a thousand career ideas and it’s only in the last few years that I have gained a little clarity. Apparently I’m not a freak and it’s quite common… So while you’re figuring it all out, do whatever comes your way and do it to the best of your ability.

I could ramble preach chat for hours on this subject because it’s really close to my heart, but I won’t.

Good luck kids!

Love

Aunty Hilly 🙂

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That time I signed up for a full marathon

If you’re hoping for a super motivating post about achieving the impossible… I suggest you turn back now! This isn’t that sort of post! This story is about changing my mind and deciding not to go for a particular goal.

A couple of weeks ago I had this crazy notion to sign up for a marathon. A full 42.2k race. Even though I said a gazillion times to all that would hear that I was never going to run further that a half marathon. The reason for signing up was honestly a bit loopy. My friends had signed up for the Capetown Marathon (see Jenty’s blog for her story) and Nick signed up too… and I suddenly felt massively left out and grumpy about it. FOMO x 10000. Grumpy because I suddenly felt like a useless runner again. I felt like I used to feel when I trudged behind the last of the pack whenever I walked. Gradually, my grumpiness gave way to an inkling of an idea – what if, instead of feeling sorry for myself, I tried to join them. I tested the waters by throwing the idea out to a few running friends and the responses I received were mixed, to say the least. Some agreed that the idea was crazy and others said if I put my mind to it, I could do it. I’m grateful to both camps for both the honesty and the faith. I went with the latter opinion, paid the entry fee, signed up for a full marathon. I did some research and convinced myself that even if I walked the entire race at 10 minutes per kilometre, I could still finish it. I found a 12 week training plan, which seemed sort of doable. Although I told my close friends about my decision, I couldn’t quite bring myself to post about it here or talk about it to too many people because even with the plan, it seemed like such a far fetched idea! 

I loved the idea of feeling the elation that I felt when I finished my first half marathon and doing what I never believed I could, but the reality of running that sort of distance was scary as hell!  

A couple of weeks have passed since I completed that online entry and I’ve had some time to think about the idea and why I wanted to attempt the run and honestly, FOMO is just not a good enough reason! The truth is, right now, I’m not physically strong enough and three months is just not enough time for me to build that strength. 

Even if I somehow managed to get my legs and lungs fit enough, I really don’t think that my feet can cope with that sort of distance. The commitment to training is another issue. I’ve signed up for a bunch of modules for my degree course and they have to take priority. Training to run a marathon whilst trying to complete my assignments, study for year-end exams, work full time and be a wife and mom just seems like more than I can deal with. 

This past weekend, I ran the Northgate 10k, and it was a pretty good race. I enjoyed the run and I realised that having made the effort to run more regularly in the last weeks felt awesome but that I was completely okay with deciding not to run the Capetown Marathon. Although it felt good to have a goal which gave my running some focus, it didn’t feel great to have a goal so huge that I got palpitations everytime I gave it any serious thought. Deciding not to do it felt more right than trying to do it. I’m no longer saying never to anything longer than a 21k, but I am saying not right now. 

Maybe knowing my limits is winning in its own way? 

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The Anti-Diet Project

It’s Sunday, the 1st of May. I’ve spent the last few days contemplating how I would restart my diet food plan for life today. Debating whether it was viable to start today, considering it’s a Sunday and a long weekend and all. It would have been so much better if this first day of a new month fell on a working Monday…everyone knows it’s better to start a diet way of eating on a Monday. But August (when the 1st of the month does actually fall on a Monday and that’s three months away, by which time I may have put on another ten kilograms by eating last suppers before the diet healthy way of life begins. images

I wish I could say I was just trying to be funny in that first paragraph, but that really is how my head works. I plan to start my diet eating well almost each week and sometimes I succeed for a few hours or days and sometimes I succeed for a few weeks and even months. Sometimes the will is strong and sometimes it is non-existent. Sometimes I try to make the changes holistic and I journal, support group etc etc. Sometimes I toy with the idea of a quick fix, a crash diet kick start. Even though I have learned my lesson and gotten the XL t-shirt from those supposed miracle cures, I still catch myself looking twice at an advert, or pricking up my ears when I hear a conversation about how great Mary looks after trying *insert wonder obesity cure here*.

Okay, so back to my pondering about the best way and day to start my diet way of life. It may sound a bit hippy trippy (my friends know know that I am a bit of a wannabe hippy anyway) but I’m a bit of a believer in the universe sending me messages. This week, as I searched through my Kindle app (which I haven’t touched in a while) for something new to read, I came across a book that I had bought and never read called “Intuitive Eating”. I found an unread novel too, but this book caught my attention and I kept thinking about it… that maybe I should actually try reading it. This morning, I read the prologue and a bit of the first chapter. And then I decided to do some internet research… and came across the anti-diet project  and got to reading some of the many blog posts and I suddenly feel inspired, and a little, no actually a lot, terrified.

The basic idea is re-teaching yourself the very basic, and what should be obvious, skill of eating instinctively. Eating what your body craves, when it craves it, and as much, or as little as it craves. It sounds pretty straight forward, but when you have spent over half your life dieting, it really isn’t. It’s a complete paradigm shift – away from the legal/illegal foods, the cheats, the points, the good carbs and bad carbs, the good fats and bad fats.It’s not about losing weight. That is probably the most terrifying aspect of all. I want to be thin. There! I said it. Yes, I want to be healthy and wise, but I also really want to be THIN. And this is not about being thin. It’s about being at peace with yourself, your body and your mind. And that… that is just so appealing!

I have no idea whether this new idea will bed down, take shape, grow and no promises about whether I will ever even post about this again, because it is a mere seed of a plan at this stage, but I am going to hit “Publish” on this post, and go to bed and read a bit more of the book. And for tomorrow, there will be no diet, no legal or illegal food. Somehow, I feel a little more peaceful knowing that.

If you have any thoughts on this, I would absolutely love to hear them.

 

 

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Hello 2016!

New-Year_Resolutions_list
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My first work week of 2016 is done. Another festive season done and it’s time to pack away the tree and it’s tinsel. Smokey the cat will miss the baubles to play with!

So I guess it’s time to think about what I want from 2016, right? As I said here, I am not big on serious resolutions, but I do think the beginning of a new year is a great time to sit down and think about what I want out of the coming months.

Mostly, these are things I strive for every day of every year. But I guess it’s good to remind myself of the goals every now and then.

Actually, having looked at the dictionary definition for “resolution”, particularly the synonyms, maybe I am big on resolutions, after all:

resolution
rɛzəˈluːʃ(ə)n/
noun
noun: resolution; plural noun: resolutions
1. a firm decision to do or not to do something.
“she kept her resolution not to see Anne any more”

So without further ado:

My house:

  • Spend some time and (a little) money each month on prettifying my house – especially the outside areas. Even if it’s just a small purchase each month, I want the outside of my home to be an extension of the décor inside that we have been working on for the last few years.
  • Spend a little time each week doing small organising jobs to maintain some control on the clutter.

My work:

  • To be positive and upbeat wherever possible.
  • To look for opportunities to excel.

My family:

  • To be present and in touch.
  • To communicate well.

Me:

  • I am hoping to begin something that I have wanted to do for all my adult life. I want a degree and although I have started studies before, I have never seen them through. I labeled myself as a bit of a quitter. My experiences in the last two years of running have proved to me that maybe I am not so much of a quitter after all. Which means maybe it is time to start again and achieve the that one goal that has eluded me all these years. More on this to follow.
  • Run… just keep running, get my pace to under 8:00 min per km, finish Two Oceans (dare I hope for under 3 hours?)
  • Carry on with my LCHF/Banting lifestyle and hopefully say good bye to a few more kilograms.
  • Find time to be a little creative everyday. I’ve started a #drawsomethingevery day challenge – I am hoping that I manage to keep it up and produce something little each day. More on that later!
  • Read more
  • BE GRATEFUL and AWARE.

Over to you – what are your thoughts for the year ahead?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What’s your reason?

You know you’re a runner when you listen to podcasts and read loads of articles about running. Earlier this week, whilst on my dreary commute to work, I listened to a couple of podcasts by Comrades Coach Lindsey Parrie. You know you’re a South African runner when you know who he is!

The podcasts were about final preparation for the Soweto Marathon. One of the tips that stuck out for me wasn’t about physical preparation at all, but mental preparation. He spoke about getting to a point in a marathon, somewhere around 35 k’s, where you have to rely on your mental strength to push through. He suggested that for this point, that you need to have absolute clarity about why you are doing this crazy running thing and further, you have some sort of tangible, visible reminder of that reason. He suggested a card with the reason written on it, or something written on your arm… something that symbolises your reason for running.

If you want to listen to the podcasts, they’re available here.

So I’m not doing a full marathon, nor am I likely to ever try, but I know from my one little half marathon experience that at around 17/18 k’s, I hit a similar wall where I was so tired and emotional and just wanted it to all be over. I thought that Coach Parrie’s tip would be a useful one to employ for my next big race.

Last night, after our training session, I heard a story from one of the members who is a cancer survivor and is building up her fitness from scratch as she waits anxiously for her one year remission results. She was visibly emotional as she told us about how a year ago, she didn’t know if she would be here today, and what a miracle it is to be around, walking and how we need to just make the most of each day. I got a bit teary, listening to her. I was inspired and so immensely grateful for my health!

I started walking because it seemed like a the right thing to do for my health. “They” say getting exercise is important and the structured RWFL sessions seemed like a good place to start. My reasons are different now.

You know that slow kid at school athletics days who comes last in all the races? The one who never chosen for the team. I was that kid! I stopped doing sporty stuff as soon as I could in high school and opted instead for drama, debating and public speaking. I didn’t suck as much when standing in front of a room full of people as I did on a sports field, so the nerdier cultural stuff was the safer option. As I grew up, I added “fat girl” to the “slow kid” label. Years of overeating, wrong eating, and emotional eating helped the kilograms pile on.

22 months back, when I joined RWFL, at my heaviest weight ever, I identified as slow and fat! It has been months of consistent run/walking and real efforts at improving my eating and my relationship with food and I can finally see visible progress. On a gentle (read not uphill) stretch of road, I can now run a kilometre or more in a go. I have lost a few dress sizes but mostly I’ve discovered that there is joy in pushing my physical and mental boundaries.

I run because I didn’t think I could.

I run to say I can run.

Oh and I run because it  gives me something to write about and I really like writing!

What is your reason?

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