Tagged: change

Jaded Heart

JadedHeart 3D cover HdBack04

Apologies for my absence on here for a few weeks. I have been working on a new book – Jaded Heart – which came out today!

Jaded Heart is the story of love, loss, grief, addiction and recovery.

After the sudden death of my parents and my son, thirty years ago, I spent decades looking for personal peace.

This book shares my personal journey through trying to cope with loss, addictive behaviour and coping mechanisms.

After three decades I have finally come to a place of greater peace and share the journey in this very honest account.

Jaded Heart will help those struggling with loss, grief and addictions.

Jaded Heart is my story, but it may be your story too.

The book is available on Amazon, on Kindle and in Paperback.

Here is a short video about the book.

Jaded Heart from RSVP Trust on Vimeo.

The book is available on Amazon here…

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Jaded-Heart-story-addiction-recovery/dp/1511954000

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Have a banana!

banana

Over the last couple of years of intentionally trying to improve my diet, one simple habit stands out as the easiest and possibly the most effective change I made. A daily dose of banana.

A banana gives an instant, sustained and substantial boost of energy. Bananas contain three natural sugars – sucrose, fructose and glucose combined with fiber.

There is no question that bananas give us a great energy boost, that’s why they are popular with athletes.

But bananas also help protect us from several illnesses. Blood pressure, anemia, constipation, nerves, and ulcers are all often eased by eating a banana.

According to a recent survey undertaken by MIND, those suffering from depression felt much better after eating a banana. This is because bananas contain tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, known to make you relax, improve your mood and generally make you feel happier.

The old saying, ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ should be updated to a banana a day.

I prefer mine when they are nice and ripe, with a few brown dots on the skin. I have one chopped into my porridge every morning for breakfast, with a spoonful of honey.

I also use them in my fruit smoothie recipe.

Go on. Have a banana!

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Looking for seagulls

seagul

The three short years of my son’s troubled life were torture. I thought the bad days would never end. His deformed heart would suddenly cause his blood pressure to drop and he’d pass out. He was in and out of hospital all the time.

Various medicines had to be taken several times a day to keep him alive. When we went out as a family we took a whole pharmacy with us wherever we went.

After he died, shortly before his third birthday, I entered a dark place of not coping that, thirty years later, is only just coming to an end.

When you are going through something frightening or unpleasant, it sometimes feels that this bad period of your life will never be over. Often it feels like the good times play out too fast and the bad times play in slow motion. Life doesn’t have a fast forward button.

Sometimes it feels like our ship has sunk and we are cast adrift, swimming in an endless ocean with no sight of dry land. How long can we go on? But I have learned to look for seagulls.

We may not see the dry land of hope yet, but seagulls never fly too far from the shore. Even a lone seagull can give us hope. Then a few more appear in the sky. Land must be near. Our trial will soon be over and we will stand on solid ground once more.

I don’t know what trials you may be facing today. But don’t give up. Look for the seagulls. Look for a small sign that something is changing for the better.

You may not yet have what you hope for but the seagull means you’re not far off. Hang in there. Dry land is coming soon.

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dANGER

anger

We all feel angry sometimes. That’s part of being human. Feeling angry isn’t a sin. However, we need to be cautious if it happens frequently. If we have made anger a lifestyle, we are in real danger.

I’ll hold my hands up – I’ve been angry for a long time about the death of my son. It was no one’s fault. It was just a serious health issue he was born with. Those who tried to help did miracles. For the three years he was with us, we are very thankful. But small children should not die. That is just wrong.

I was never sure what to do with those feelings of frustration and hurt. For the most part I tried to block them out. I can think of times when I felt really angry about things that really didn’t matter. I’m sure I was projecting my frustration and anger onto those petty situations.

The word ‘anger’ is one letter removed from ‘danger’ If you fly into a rage, you can be sure of a bad landing. When our emotions are out of control, so is our life. Anger makes our mouth work faster than our mind. We end up saying and doing things we will regret later.

Anger is like a theatre curtain ready to part for the first act of the play. Behind the curtain stand all our lonely feelings – the actors ready to perform – guilt projection, discontentment, discouragement, abandonment, despair, unending feelings of inadequacy. Anger is the curtain that hides all these feelings from the outside world.

It’s easier to be angry than to deal with the real feelings because then people won’t see how much you’re really hurting because anger keeps people away.

Getting into a rage doesn’t make us ‘big’ or clever. In fact, the opposite is true.

Anger and rage are really unpleasant for those around you. If you are just an angry person, who takes things out on your family and those around you instead of dealing with the real issue, you will soon be without friends and your family will look for ways to avoid you.

Anger never accomplishes what you want it to.

In addition to all of that, anger is actually dangerous for your physical health.

Emotional stress and anger trigger the release of stress hormone cortisol in the body. Small releases of cortisol can give the body a quick burst of energy.

However, higher and more prolonged increases can cause lots of negative effects.

Cortisol is public health enemy number one. Scientists have known for years that elevated cortisol levels interfere with learning and memory, lower immune function and bone density, increase weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease. The list goes on and on.

Anger does kill. A study in the journal ‘Circulation’ finds that those who explode with anger are at a greater risk of strokes and sudden death.

Chronic stress and elevated cortisol levels also increase risk for depression, mental illness, and lower life expectancy.

So what can we do?

If we don’t deal with the cause of our anger, we end up projecting that anger onto other people and situations.

After years of feeling overwhelmed by past hurts I think I have somehow come to terms with my grief and anger. Life is a bit poo sometimes. That’s just how it is. Time to move on.

Better to make some new happy memories with those we still have than waste our life with rage.

We do have a choice. We don’t have to be angry. We can change.

What is the root of your biggest frustration? Does it come out as anger to those around you sometimes?

If so, what are you going to do about it?

My friend Paul McGee has a lot of helpful advice on this issue. Check out his books or watch his short videos at SUMO (Shut Up Move On).

Whatever you do, do something! Don’t let anger become a lifestyle!

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Avoid Kodak moments

kodak

A quick glance at nature now and then will tell us that living things are always growing and changing. The world changes. Society changes. Our lives change from one season to the next.

When I left school (years ago!) someone advised me to get a job with a big successful company and work for them for life. That was the route to security apparently. But since that conversation those jobs have all evaporated. Big companies have downsized and reduced employees to a bare minimum.

Wiser advice today would be to work out what your gifts and skills are, develop them, and then see who is willing to pay you to do those things. And it may be several people or jobs rather than just one these days.

One danger with success is that it feels so good we don’t want that season to change. But it will, so get ready.

Kodak dominated the photographic world for over one hundred years. It had a 90% market share of photographic film sales in America. Almost everyone used the brand.

What followed was a colossal story of failure and missed opportunities. Kodak was a gigantic casualty in the wake of digital photography – a technology that Kodak invented!

Kodak engineer Steve Sasson invented the first digital camera in 1975. But it was filmless photography, so management’s reaction was, ‘That’s cute, but don’t tell anyone about it.’

As a result the company entered into decades of decline, unable to perceive and respond to the advancing digital revolution.

In 2012 Kodak filed for bankruptcy.

Simple steps to avoiding your Kodak moment:

Understand your passion

Kodak’s leaders thought they were in the film business – instead of the image business. They misunderstood the essence of who they were. When you boil it right down, what is your passion in life? Write it down. Stick it on your fridge.

Embrace change

Kodak thought their success was fixed. Life and technology are changing all the time. They made a lot of money from selling film so it was hard for them to think of a world where no one used film.

How is your world changing? What trends are happening in society? True, we don’t always want to be following the crowd but, if a sea-change is going on that affects you, shouldn’t you try and understand it?

Don’t be paralysed by fear

Kodak was so afraid of losing their lucrative film sales they buried their head in the sand. Don’t cling to the past when the past way of doing things is already passing away. Find someone who knows about the new way and learn from them.

Take some risks and experiment

In 1994, in my spare time, I set up a charity to develop my work in Africa and the UK. I wanted to see lives transformed and people rescued from poverty. Four years later, in 1998, my job contract came to an end. I was about to lose my home, which went with the job, and my monthly income.

I decided to try and go full time with the charity I had founded. I’m glad I experimented and set up the charity four years previously. I didn’t have to start from scratch. Although it was a big risk and a scary time, it worked. We now employ three people and are not only still viable but also still growing, these seventeen years later.

As we start 2015, is it time to do an audit of where you are going in life?

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No one remembers the half time score

loser1

Some days are a bit poo. Nothing really works, someone yells at us, someone else doesn’t bother to turn up to an appointment you made.

Some days are devastating. A relationship breaks down, you lose your job or your house.

So here are two steps to improve your life:

If today is just a bit poo, embrace it – the day not the poo! Some days are a bit like that and we all have them. Don’t waste too much emotional energy being frustrated by things. There’s a new day coming tomorrow and it probably won’t be as poo as this one was. In fact, it could be one of those days when everything goes right. So, do your best and know that tomorrow is a new day.

If today is devastating, that’s a different thing. Years ago I was chatting to a man whose wife had left him. The kids stayed with him but all he could see was that everything was finished. It was all over. The pain of his situation told him so. I didn’t know him that well so I wasn’t emotionally attached but I did empathise with his situation. It was awful.

But from where I sat, this was only a half-time defeat. He was young, good looking, motivated and a great Dad by the sound of things. He couldn’t see a way forward.

I said to him, ‘No one remembers the half-time score.’ He thought for a moment and hope seemed to flood his face. He repeated the saying.

‘That’s really powerful!’ he said.

That was years ago. He’s doing really well now. His marriage was over and that was devastating, but everything wasn’t over. He moved on to a better life after that day one step at a time.

I don’t know what you are facing right now, but no one will remember the half-time score in your life either. Until the final whistle blows, there is a new day to make a difference.

Make a few plans to improve your future. That’s a much better use of the limited emotional energy we get each day. Don’t waste that energy on frustrations and regrets.

The best is yet to come.

‘Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?’

– Jesus

A quick fix when you feel low

walk All of us get down from time to time. It’s hard to get back to a positive feeling about life sometimes. If we get depressed about life there’s a few things we can do. Don’t get me wrong – it’s stupid and hurtful to tell someone who is depressed to ‘snap out of it’. I’ve been depressed myself in the past and I know that is just not possible.

Neither am I talking about clinical depression. I am talking about when we get really low and just can’t seem to break that feeling. I’m going to cover each of these aspects in more detail in the book and on the blog but here’s a quick rundown of a few things that will start to improve your life from day one.

Sleep. Eat properly. Walk.

Sleep cures a lot of stuff. Try to get a good night’s sleep.

Eating junk food can cause feelings of depression and flatten our mood. Eat only healthy stuff for a few days. Try a week. Eliminate or seriously limit alcohol consumption. Alcohol is a depressant. Drinking to drown your sorrows will only make you feel worse in the morning.

Go for a walk for an hour. Walking is simple, free and available to most people. It has many health benefits and can lift your mood quickly.

If you feel low or depressed, do these three things everyday for a least a week and you will start to feel better about life. Sleep. Eat. Walk. Make them your daily rituals.

There may be all sorts of reasons for why you feel low, but I am convinced these three things each day will help 95% of people when they feel stuck. Often it just takes one small change to our daily routine to significantly change things for the better.

‘One thing you lack.’ – Jesus