From Failure Comes Accomplishment

There’s nothing like feeling a failure for completing something which had been beyond you previously. Do you know what I mean? It gives you a little extra edge, a bit more fight, a bigger desire for success.

The beauty of it is… the failure doesn’t necessarily have to relate to the task.

Tonight I completed one of the “fitness” routines I do in the privacy of the front room…where no one can see me, and no one can laugh when I lose my balance or can’t kick as high as the people showing me what to do! For weeks I have huffed and puffed my way through it… oh the delight of being a writer and sitting all day! Without a dog to take for long walks… I’m sure that must be simpler! 

Tonight was also when I felt intense frustration at what “life” currently looks like, and somehow my sense of utter failure at “it” thus far, was the catalyst for finally completing the routine without needing to pause – for a drink of course!

The two are unrelated, and yet somehow, they came together in a moment of self-accomplishment. When we try to create boxes, or compartments for dealing with life, inevitably there’s spillage. And one area starts to impact on another. We see it with stress all the time. The impact of stress on the body, on the spirit and on the mind is often a spill-over from something which we have attempted to box away. For whatever reason.

  • Maybe it’s too much to deal with?
  • Maybe we can’t see a solution, so it’s better to hide from it?
  • Maybe the answer seems way out of our reach?
  • Or we compare it to others’ situations and think we are being too sensitive, too dramatic, too selfish?

The problem is, when we need to deal with stuff… it doesn’t stay neatly boxed away for a more convenient time. It spills out. Because the more you try to hide from it, the bigger it grows.

I remember when I was waiting for test results from a lump I’d found, my hair fell out in clumps. I also remember when I was in the middle of an abusive relationship, my stomach was permantatly knotted with anxiety and food was a forced necessity rather than enjoyable.

Instead of boxing, and hiding away that “stuff” you don’t know how to handle, find someone who will help you unpack it…either a good friend or a professional. Use one area of life you’re not sure about, to be a catalyst for success in another area.

I know it won’t happen overnight. Tonight is a one-off. And the feeling of failing in life hasn’t just dispersed because I succeeded with a routine. But I feel better than I did before, and know that just as with the small things, God will get me through the big things too. Some of the other boxes I’ve hidden away will need to be pulled out and sorted through – which, like a spare room in a new house, is a much longer project! But when the spare room is finally clear of boxes, the sense of achievement will be much greater.

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Sara and Steph’s Afternoon Tea League Table

It’s been a while since we’ve been able to sample another afternoon tea, for various reasons. But today – we were back in the Tea Rooms and back on the hunt!

Our first Afternoon Tea at Tom Browns Brassiere in Gunthorpe was an excellent choice, and set a very high standard for others to live up to. So when a group of us went for a ladies afternoon at The Cavendish Hotel, in Baslow, Sara and I were ready to test all aspects, and insert it into our league table. Alas….the experience is definitely something to write home about!

Venue: The Cavendish Hotel, Baslow, Derbyshire.

Time of our booking: 3pm
Sara booked a group of 6 of us in for the Afternoon Tea about 10 days before. She confirmed the booking and requested my Gluten Free version about 3 days before we were due to go.

Parking: There is building work currently being carried out at the hotel, so the car park has been reduced. We ended up parking in the public car park next door, and had a short 5 minute walk up to the hotel.

5808020B-CA18-42BB-B23F-0FBFF90668E6First Impressions: When we walked into The Cavendish Hotel, it was like walking into a grand and lavish drawing room, with a real fire place (unlit) and comfy sofas. After a short wait we were led through to The Gallery which is a delightful room with white table cloths covering the tables, and silver tableware with The Cavendish logo. The walls were decorated with old paintings, and the menus we were handed matched the decor. A lot of thought has been put into offering a beautiful impression for a special afternoon.

The tea we were served was “proper” loose-leaf tea, with strainers. I had a berry fruit infusion which was OK. The flavour was more tea than berry, with a slightly bitter aftertaste. The others’ tea was very strong, as was the coffee one of the ladies had. While they tasted smooth, it was a good job lots of hot water was provided!

Presentation: Presentation was just OK for the main Afternoon Tea, it didn’t have the wow factor, as food was served on a black three-tier tray type platter. I was expecting olde style china plates, based on the rest of the decor.

But, my gluten free option was treated as a second-rate cousin, and was served on oversized plates, rather than a three-tiered presentation platter. Disappointing.

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The experience: When the food was finally delivered (see failings) it looked OK. Sara had been a couple of times previously, so had recommended The Cavendish to the rest of us based on her enjoyment in the past. But she was disappointed with the selection which was brought out to us. Even by comparison with some of the other tables and it didn’t look all that great. The sandwiches were served on round disks, and there were only 4 each….less than one slice of bread per pseron. The options were one each of: Cured ham and a tomato sauce, salmon and cucumber, egg and cress, and cheese and onion. I liked the cured ham one, but wasn’t too keen on the cheese and onion. When we spoke to one of the waiters and asked for more, he said he would bring some out…but these didn’t materialise.

The scones, however, were served warm and to quote, “were to die for!” The home-made jam, and cream were delicious.

The cake selection was mediocre, initially. This was redeemed after we had spoken with one of the waiters and he arranged for another tray of cakes which included some heavenly pistachio cakes, and brownies. The gluten free ‘apple crumble’ essentially seemed like a flapjack with apple sauce drizzled over the top. I didn’t eat it beyond sampling it.

Some of the others around us had shot glasses on their trays with what looked like a posset, brûlée type dessert, which would have been refreshing after all the cake. Alas this wasn’t an option for our table.

The GF option: As mentioned, the presentation of the gluten free option was very much second rate. So I wasn’t overly impressed. The bread was dry, as if it had been sat out for a while. But the gluten free scone was delicious… I had two on my plate, and I scoffed both of them, thank you very much! Other than that, I wasn’t impressed with the flapjacks on the cake plate.

The crowning glory: The Cavendish offered some home-made whisky chocolate truffles. They were tasty, but those of us who tried them, couldn’t actually taste any whisky in them.

Failings: When booking an afternoon tea, we expected to be served quite quickly after being seated, and served our drinks. An hour and 15 minutes after we were seated we were served. This wasn’t just our table – a couple who had booked for their anniversary had to wait with their young son. And another couple ended up walking out without ever receiving their food.

When we spoke to the lady at Reception, the team were very apologetic, and did all they could to make it up to us: They brought out a bottle of champagne, but with so many drivers we didn’t drink it, we did however, bring it home with us for a future occasion. The extra cakes which were brought out redeemed the mediocre selection originally brought out. They waived the service charge on our bill, and…this is the biggest redeeming factor for all of us… gave us vouchers for another visit to them, with the request to, “Give us another chance. We normally pride ourselves on our service, and are really sorry we didn’t live up to this for you this time. So please come back and give us another chance.”

The waiters were attentive – particularly after we had complained about the long wait and poor selection. One of the waiters said he was supposed to serve us, but had been sent to another part of the hotel, which indicated a lack of staff. Which was a shame.

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Toilets: The toilets were beautiful and ‘proper’. The double sink offered matching soap and hand-cream, which smelt gorgeous, while baskets of individual hand towels were spot on for a germaphobe like me!

 
Best of Afternoon Tea league table: Unfortunately, The Cavendish hasn’t achieved top place. On this visit. If there were more than one in the current table, it would sadly have gone straight to the bottom of the list. But the fact they are good at customer service, and offered free vouchers for a better afternoon tea experience, could well redeem them as the table changes.

Current position: Last 😔

#1in6 – A positive?

The journey of infertility, for the 1in6 doesn’t seem to have an actual final destination, as I mentioned yesterday. In our hearts, we know what the desired outcome should be, but there are no guarantees. And the further down the road we travel, the further away from the dream coming true it seems.
And if one more person says…. “But you will have the desires of your heart if you just focus on God….” What they don’t know is our strength to face each empty day, comes only from remaining focused on Him.
But I have this, for those of you who are 1in6; who find yourself actually walking on this road. Please believe me when I say, there will be days, even months, when the road feels slightly easier. Not because the results have necessarily changed. But because something within you changes.
It’s the part of the human brain which steps in to protect us from the long-term anguish, protecting us from the ongoing pain. Not that we no longer desire to have our own child, but we start to develop a kind of resilience which allows us to actually leave the house and face the day.
Sometimes when I read Proverbs 13:12, I wonder if some of Solomon’s 700 women would themselves be part of the 1in6… There is a definite understanding of what it really means for the infertile journey. Unfulfilled hope. Heartbroken sickness. These will never really go away, but they become less dominant. Less painful.
YOU become stronger.
I would say, “Don’t lose hope.” But I know if you’re anything like me, you already have. I would say, this, however: DON’T LET GO. Of God. Of who you are. Of the other areas of your life which can be ‘more than’ while you are on this particular journey. There are aspects of your life which will add colour to your life, even in spite of the colourlessness of being 1in6.

#1in6 – The never ending story

The hardest aspects of being #1in6 is not when people say hurtful things, but living with the fact there is no cure, and no end. There are no guarantees… even though this week there have been lots of good news stories celebrating the 40th anniversary of IVF. This is not a guaranteed result for curing the empty arms syndrome. In fact, only around 20-25% of people undergoing IVF not only conceive, but carry their child to successful full-term.

A huge risk.

And all those amazing diets, healthy eating plans, supplements…. they’re big business, so they have to work? Right?

If they did, would there be 1in6 still?

No cure. No fast-track to success. No guarantees. Each month, for those couples who are trying to conceive, there is a never ending circle of hope, potential, and broken dreams. The emotional impact on them is tough. Especially if she is late. But if she is JUST late, the heartache, the sorrow, the grief, the burden of failing again… this at times feels too much to bear.

No cure. No fast-track to success. No guarantees.

What about those people who had been married, who had been trying, who now find themselves single. Again. A different kind of sorrow. A different kind of hopelessness. A different kind of grief. They know. They’ve been on the road before. Their empty arms feel heavy. To start again, to have to explain what being 1in6 means to someone new, to face the shame of holding back someone else’s dream…how can they even contemplate being so selfish?

And for those who have a burning desire, deep in their hearts, the empty arms burdened with the longing to hold their own, but the right relationship hasn’t been found. And now, it feels like it’s too late. A different kind of sorrow, a sense of abandonment, a never ending grief of what will never be.

No cure. No fast-track to success. No guarantees.

So when this National Fertility Awareness Week is over for another year….remember the 1in6 in your personal friends lists, and in your church, and think about how we can be there for them – even when we may forget.

#1in6 – When people hurt with words

Even though #1in6 is such a prevalent amount of people, as we have discovered over my last couple of posts (our friendship circles & in the Church), the amount of ignorance surrounding infertility and the impact on those who are struggling with it, is also prevalent…. disproportionately so!

Even in the church.

I say “even in” because the amount of women in the Bible who had fertility issues, you’d think people who read the Bible might show a little more understanding? It’s like, they read about one of the women, turn the page and everything is ok.  When actually… Between one chapter and another, years have passed…even decades when you look at how many children other women in the family had conceived.

But they forget that tiny detail.

And then throw out these examples of women who trusted God and then He answered their prayers. For many of the women….newsflash….their prayers weren’t answered for years. For other women in the Bible, they never conceived. Like Tamar who was so hurt by a man’s rape against her, she went to live in her brother’s home, and never fulfilled her own calling as a woman.

I know ultimately, I have personally found my strength and hope in Christ alone. Which is actually pretty good for me, because at the end of the day, people hurt. Sometimes they don’t mean to. Other times they try to represent God, but just try to find the right words thinking it’s what you want to hear. While sometimes it’s just ignorance which causes someone to say what they did to you.

Like those people who “had a dream and you had twins in your arms”. Or who “promise within a year everything is going to be OK”. God is the true source of prophetic hope and assurance, and so please don’t let the words of man distract you from God. The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy…. and what better way than to kill the future hope you have, to steal your faith and destroy your relationship with God. All because someone said the wrong thing.

Like when someone told me, unless I went to church on Mother’s Day, I wasn’t fully healed, and hadn’t let God deal with the hurt and disappointment of being 1in6.

It’s a good job I know God better than that.

He is for me, not for which services I attend.

Words hurt.
People hurt.
This journey hurts.
I know. But I know somehow, you will get through it too.

But I know somehow, you will get through it too.

#1in6 in Church

Hmmmmm…. #1in6 huh?

Yesterday, I posed the question to you about how many people in your social media friend lists could potentially be one of the 1in6. For some of you, I actually hope this is a sobering thought, because too often, those who are on their infertility journey find it too hard, and too lonely.

Now for those of you who are in church. How many are there in your church? 50? 100? 500?  That means there are potentially, respectively, 8, 16, 83 people who would be brought under the 1in6 statistic.

Have a look around you. In worship. You won’t know from how we worship, because God is the sole source of our strength, and we know we can’t get through some of our hardest days without Him. And even in the middle of our heartache, we lift our empty arms and still praise Him.

1in6? They’re in our churches as well as on our social media pages.

Does this make the 1in6 issue seem more real to you, yet?

#1in6

Does 1in6 mean anything to you?

To many of you, it doesn’t. For others it’s a reality which is something they live with daily. While once a year, others of you may be reminded of the time you were 1in6, for one reason or another.

1in6. Seems quite an innocuous figure, until I tell you 1 in 6 struggle with fertility issues. That means for every 6 of your friends, 1 of them has or will have problems conceiving, who want to conceive. Or maybe you are the 1in6?

Have a look at your social media friend lists. How many friends do you have? How many followers? If national statistics say 1in6, how many of those connected to you are potentially one of those 1in6?

Every year there is one week allocated to raising awareness about the struggle of infertility, and the damaging impact it has on your life, all those “free” extras, like depression, like grief, like guilt, like anxiety, like feelings of not being good enough, like questions  of your womanhood, of fears about your future to name just a few….not to mention for Christians, the impact of the struggle on your faith.

But more often than not, the struggle is a hidden one. Those 1in6 you personally know, may well be suffering in silence. Mainly because of the shame, the awkwardness, the judgements, the fear of what might be said.

During this week, while many are sharing their stories, why not try to understand what 1in6 really is, for the benefit of the 1in6 you actually know.

4 Life Lessons From My Skydive

4 Life Lessons From My Skydive:

You know that thing where someone says, “You can’t do that!” Yeah…. I tend to ignore them. So when someone said after my skydive, “…but you should be sitting in a cozy chair, knitting or something like that” half-jokingly, I’m like….nah! Life is to enjoyed to the max!

I mean, look at that women a few weeks ago who did a skydive to celebrate her 90th birthday! That’s gonna be me! 90 experiences at 90!!! Hahahah!!

So yeah, yesterday I did a skydive. I had originally thought about doing one in my 20s but the guy who was organising the charity event didn’t manage to get it off the ground!

But now, having actually done it, it is literally one of the best things I’ve ever done! To have seen part of the UK from a very different perspective, putting my life in the hands of someone I’d never met, being attached to him while he threw me out of a plane, and flying through the air, then enjoying the freedom of flying while the parachute brought us into land, was outrageously, audaciously amazing!

Life Lesson 1: Seeing the ground from two miles up, makes you realise how small it really is. When on the ground, waiting, the idea of being anywhere up in the clouds was unimaginable. Being actually “out in the clouds” provides a very different perspective, and vantage point. No problem or challenge is as big as it may seem.

I would so do it again. As long as it was tandem. Not sure I’d quite trust myself in the same way!

The only bit which freaked me out, was the moment at which I was sitting on the tandem guy’s lap, as he sat in the open doorway, over the edge of the plane, legs dangling 2 miles above the ground…. yeah that! Technically, I’m already out of the plane! But only because he was in control of when we jumped and I had no say at all. Not that I’m a control freak…much! Ok I totally am! I hated that!

But had I been in control, would I have jumped at all? 🤔

Life lesson 2: If I stay in control all the time, there are many experiences I might miss out on, because how often do we let fear hold us back?!

The most amazing part of the whole experience – which the others who were jumping with me didn’t have – my tandem guy allowed me to “fly” our parachute! He was so casual about it, too! “Steph, see these red loops I’m holding? Reach up and put your hands through them. Now stretch your arms right up. This is how we steer the ‘chute! If we pull right, we turn right. And pull left to go left. Now over to you! You’re in control.”

Clearly I wasn’t, he still had his hands on the ropes! But it felt like it when I was pulling the ropes. The harder I pulled the faster we went! But I was still attached to my tandem guy, and I know he was fully in control, even when it seemed like I was able to “fly”.

Life lesson 3: Being attached to the one who knew what he was doing, and knowing he had confidence in me, to trust me to take control of steering, gave me the confidence to actually do it. I was connected to him, there was no way either of us was going to “fall” (although technically we were), but we were working together to keep us both safe. And he knew when it was time to take back the reins to lead us safely to ground.

The bit I had been dreading was the landing. I had visions of broken legs or something, so wasn’t sure about this bit. But it’s like with anything isn’t it. Wearing the right gear, and listening to the right instruction makes life easier. We had training before going up, and while we were flying down, my tandem guy did a practice run. Legs up, like your sitting with them stretched out in front of you. In fairness…he did the hard work! He landed first, and I smoothly glided bottom-first along the grass! No problem at all.

Life lesson 4: Sometimes we don’t know what to do… so we need to have someone teach us or show us. Don’t expect yourself to have all the answers to life, because you’re putting too much pressure on yourself. Find someone ahead of you, and ask! They know either from training or from experience, so avoid breaking your back trying to work it out alone!

IMG_8920So are you ready to make the jump into adventure? It might not be a skydive, but whatever it is, don’t let fear hold you back! Who knows what you might gain from the experience!

Just step out and do it!

Red Flag Relationships: More Than Arm Candy

“I just think you should maybe reconsider how you might look to them?”

“But if they’re your friends, won’t they just accept me as I am? For making you happy?”

“Yeah, babe! Of course! But you want to make the best impression, don’t you?”

“But I don’t want to look too over-dressed next to you – you’re just in your baggy jeans and a t-shirt that’s two-sizes too big!”

 

Double-standards, when linked with control, isn’t a healthy combination for a relationship. While it is true, that sometimes we have to dress a certain way to be perceived a certain way, to have a guy try and dictate to you how you look, when he slums it in baggy jeans, or joggers, is not exactly a balanced relationship.

There are men who like to have a beautiful accessory on his arm, and I’m not talking about some kind of gold or silver bracelet! And, yeah…. I know….there are some women who are OK with just being an accessory. I don’t get why – because God did not make women to just be a bit of “arm candy” for men, but to reflect Him as man’s equal. Oh my days, I literally just want to shake those girls by the shoulders and say, “Hey! You’re so much more than an accessory! Have more faith in who you are and what you can achieve!”

And have you seen some of those blokes?!

Seriously, if some guy is coming all up into your life, and wanting you to be his “arm candy”, maybe he needs to make sure he is living up to being attached to your arm in the first place!

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the kinds of men I am not interested in. Not that I want to dictate to a man what he can or can’t do – but basic psychology says that we make a judgement about someone within three seconds of meeting them. Not that I expect I will live to my dream guy’s expectations, because we’re all a work in progress, but I know if I’m going to make a good impression within those first three seconds, part of that does involve my wardrobe choices.

But what I find increasingly annoying are those guys who have a double-standard about how they step out of the house, and how they expect women to step out of the house.

If a man can’t accept you for who you are, wardrobe and all, even if that’s walking around in Ugg boots or crocs **shudder**, or some other such hideous pair of shoes; what’s to say he won’t start trying to change who you are on the inside too, so you start to fit his ideal of what a woman should be? Or to fit his perception of what he thinks you should be.

The way we dress is important….for us! We can’t dress in a certain way in the hope we will be more acceptable, more lovable, more attractive, or whatever. It’s the same as in the work place when a woman’s appearance is judged to be more important than her capabilities.

Outfits change. Our dress sense changes. Our style changes. What doesn’t ever change, is who we really are – but how we reflect that in any given moment should be our choice as women, and not because of how a guy wants to fit you into his agenda. You were made for more! If a man – especially if he hasn’t “put a ring on it” – consistently starts trying to tell you about changing how to dress, maybe it’s time to change your man instead.

Don’t conform to make him accept you more.

Find your own style, and live in the freedom to just be you.

What Am I Doing?!

😱 I’m doing a skydive in two days!!! 😱

What am I doing???

I know…I know! I’m going to enjoy it when those doors unnaturally open, and my legs are dangling over the edge! Allegedly! But it’s the now!! This bit leading up to it!

Trying to not think about it. Especially when I should be sleeping.

Oh, and if that’s not enough….. in two weeks, I am going to be on my way to Iraq. 😱

As one of my old school friends recently said, “Your crazy life!! I never thought I’d hear a sentence like, ‘I may be free after my skydive before I go to Iraq’ from you!!! Awesome!”

My crazy life, indeed! How on earth did this become part of my 40 experiences?!

And wait…what did she mean by, “from you”?! 🙄