Lockdown #2

And so we are back into lockdown again here in the UK. I am feeling a bit weary and tired off it all, mostly because I am missing my family back home in Norway so much. It is the longest I, and my family have gone without being able to see our dearest over there. 1 year 2 months 2 weeks and 4 days, but who’s counting…?!? The way it looks right now the much needed and desperately wanted Christmas back home is also fading into a distant dream.

So maybe I am writing this mostly to myself, but remember to be kind and take care of yourself. Someone wise once said that ‘Self-care is giving the world the best of you, instead of what’s left of you.‘ So I will ponder how to make sure that I am still able to give my best by looking after my mental and physical health this lockdown. I will be setting myself goals (keeping the new restrictions in mind) that will help me stay as sane as possible in these areas in the coming days.

And so lastly, a recommendation for anyone who are into podcasts. BBC radio 5’s ‘How do you cope’ with Elis James and John Robins is a definitely worth a listen.

BBC Radio 5 live - How Do You Cope? …with Elis and John - Downloads

Who do you lend your voice to?

There are so many things going on in the world of politics right now. American election is obviously huge, and the way governments all over the world are dealing with the pandemic is another massive ongoing situation. Most times these days I find politics to be highly frustrating and also full of people I don’t see fit to lead. And I probably for my own sanity will not write too much about such matters apart from one thing that has happened recently that I cannot leave alone.

Over the last week the case of the conservative politicians in government here in the UK voting against feeding vulnerable children one meal a day over the holidays has meant that #endchildpovertynow has trended. And in time of need -up rises a hero. A professional footballer takes on the government and rallies businesses and charities together to give the children a voice. There is many tings that can be said about these politicians, but for me the thing that got me thinking the most this week was the words of Marcus Rashford himself.

He said ‘These children matter. These children are the future of this country. They are not just another statistic. And for as long as they don’t have a voice, they will have mine.’

So the question we should all ask ourselves is ‘who am I lending my voice to?’

Privilege to teach

This week I had the privilege together with Nick, my husband and on this occasion co-worker, to run a Making of a Champion workshop over 2 lessons in a 6th form college here in Surrey.

Over the last few months we have been running this workshop online, and it’s not until this week when we were back into ‘normal’ face to face interaction (socially distanced from the young adults, but still able to see them and feel their engagement), you realise how much you miss something.

The sessions we did reminded me of why from a young age I always thought teaching would be what I would be doing. But it also made me so aware how lucky I am to be able to teach the teenagers not just about a subject (hats off to all the brilliant teachers out there who puts so much time and effort into giving our kids a great education), but to give them time to explore their passions and what they care for, what they are good at and what they love doing. I look upon this as a true privilege, and hope that whatever the 6th formers in the room this week took from our sessions, it will help them embrace a life of purpose and direction that gives them meaning and enjoyment.

Next time we run this workshop will be online again as that is the best and safest way to reach as many as we can with this important message. And in a funny way I have learnt to love doing the ‘look presentable from waist up’ and ‘put your comment in the chat box’ kind of sessions too. Once you have something you are passionate about teaching, any format to do so is a privilege. But the young adults’ facial expressions, note taking and attentiveness that I saw this week will keep me motivated for a long time!

How to care

This post has ben drafted a few times as I found it hard to write, yet as I think the topic is important, and because this blog is about my musings on important things, I still have been wanting to share this. Over the last few days I have been pondering a lot about how to live through life’s challenges without feeling like we are living a second rate life.

My thoughts have been coloured by some family members and friends who have become unwell and started a journey of investigations into diagnosis, as well as the unshakable fact that we are living in the midst of a pandemic where we are not certain what long term effects the coronavirus will have on some of the sufferers. All of this brought me back to the start of my own hard journey of life not turning out like I had envisaged. When pain, illness, and suffering comes our way it is very natural to not want it to happen to us, and to long for life to be as it was. The beginning of the ‘If only….’ stage of this new journey/fight is quite a hard place to be. The self you recognise as you suddenly is in crisis mode, and feels like it disappearing altogether sometimes. But it is even harder if everyone around you also adapt the ‘if only’ attitude. So many, with only the best intentions I’m sure, will add to your feeling of life suddenly having become second best/second rate. I lost count of the amount of people who would tell me of treatments that had worked for their colleagues friends mum and I should definitely try! Friends who wishfully talked about what they hoped life would be for me again one day or who when we met would sooner say prayers for me rather then have an honest conversation about how things actually were. Of course, none of the intentions here are bad, but remember sometimes the challenges don’t go away and what someone is going through may become life as that person knows it. Maybe there is no treatment or prayer, best intentions or good wishes that can take all of this away. And the kindest thing to do is not to keep living in the ‘if only’, but to help and be there for someone who has to learn to recognise themselves in an unfamiliar way. If your faith, hope and strong beliefs for someone doesn’t change anything -imagine how much more crushing that feeling is for the person going through this. Be there, support (practically give your time) and listen. For those whose lives are changing it is far more important to be able to get up thinking how they can make the best of today rather then always waking up with the thought that today might be the day everything changes and goes back to ‘normal’. If normal never is an option you will live life waiting and hoping, only to go to bed every night disappointed. There’s a Proverb that says “hope differed makes the heart sick.” The battle through illness and acceptance is often in the mind, so for those of you who are reading my ramblings, be the friend who let people know and feel they are still them through all they are experiencing, and they are still able to contribute to life if only a bit differently then before, but not of any less importance or value.

Off course it is ok to wish for life to be different for someone you love and care for, but just ask yourself ‘Am I contributing to my friend feeling like ‘life shouldn’t be like this for me’ or am I helping them embrace now and make the best of life as it has turned out’. Because the latter is definitely the best way to care (in my humble opinion).

What is success?

We live in a society of fast food, swipe right dating and one size fits all. Designed for instant gratification without hard work, and for us not to stand out. But if we are all the same, and don’t learn to work hard, how do we know when we are successful. If my success is measured by others, by their standards and what they deem important, how do I find my happiness?

Dare to dream, find your passion, and don’t be afraid to be yourself. We all have something we are good at, something specifically we love doing and something we care about. What success looks like to you probably won’t be the same as your best friend. Success is not a one size fits all. Success is about overcoming obstacles and doing what you love by achieving your goals and hitting your targets.

‘Success is the progressive realization of predetermined, worthwhile, personal goals.’ Paul J. Meyer

Who doesn’t want to be successful? I love this quote because it makes success such an achievable and enjoyable thing for anyone. It tells defines success as moving in the direction of accomplishing goals that we have decided are important to us. So every step we take towards achieving something important to us IS success! How awesome is that?

So then the question is -What is important to you? What can you do today, this week, this month, to help you move towards what you have defined as success? Whether it’s being a plumber, owning your own business, being an artist or a performer, having a certain number of Instagram followers, getting a PH.D, caring for the elderly or travelling the world. Remember success is not one size fits all, neither can you click your fingers and it magically happen (at least not most of the time). Take time to define what success looks like to you!

Finding your ‘WHY’

Life is a funny mixture of great experiences and precious moments, hilarious adventures and heart-warming memories, intertwined by challenges and real hardship. Sometimes nothing seems to be able to rock our happiness, whilst other times the challenges seems to keep on coming knocking us down over and over again.

One of my favourite books (and I do love a good read) is a book called ‘Man’s search for meaning’. It’s a book that was written by Viktor Frankl, an Austrian psychiatrist and holocaust survivor. (If you haven’t read it yet I strongly recommend it.) Whilst talking about his experiences in Auschwitz Viktor uses a quote by Fredrich Nietzsche.

‘He who has a ‘why’ to live for can bear almost any ‘how’.’

I truly believe in finding your ‘why’ -the reason that makes life worth living. The thing that gives you motivation and helps you find your direction in life. Your ‘why’ makes it worth getting up in the morning, puts a smile on your face, propels you forward towards your goals and helps you through your darkest hours.

To help find your ‘why’, ask yourself these questions:

What am I good at?

What do I love doing?

What do I care about?

Somewhere in the answers you give you will find your inner drive, you will find your ‘WHY’.

Shameless plug at the end: These 3 question we use in the workshop ‘Making of a Champion’ -please check it out, specially if you are a young person or you work with young people.


Introducing Silje -the amputee

As I have decided to start a blog about all things me and my thoughts, one of the things about me that can’t be missed out is that I am an amputee.

For a lot of people loosing a limb (or even more) whether it is through trauma or illness, it can be something that is very hard to deal with. The experience of loss of life as they knew it, having to relearn basic skills most of us take for granted, it really can be a massive challenge. For me this was not the case as I had for 8 years had a foot that was stuck at an awkward angle like in a spasm that didn’t release, it was swollen, super sensitive to touch with a chronic feeling of burning electric shock pain. For years they tried to figure out what it was. Me and my husband started ticking off the hospitals visited like a football fan would tick of football grounds visited, but with less delight and enthusiasm. Procedures, specialists, tests and medication was the constant loop we were in for the first years. And then it was diagnosed as CRPS (chronic regional pain syndrome), which easily explained is a doctors version of ‘hey this really REALLY hurts in this place right here, and it’s chronic’.

My children were all small at the time, and the longer it went on the more I felt like a grandmother who you have to tip toe around rather then a mother. I wasn’t able to concentrate for long periods of time because of pain, and the copious numbers of drugs I was on. After 3 years we explored the idea of amputation, but was talked out of it by different specialist who always had one more thing they could try. After 8 years I finally had a wonderful team of surgeons who decided that my cry for a better quality of life was worth taking a gamble on. The 8.July 2017 my right leg was removed below my knee, and I am forever grateful to the surgeons who helped me get my life back.

Through many failed attempts of saving the leg over the years, I learned not too hope for too much. Better to be surprised beyond expectations then to have your hopes crushed. So as I went in to hospital in July 2017 my hope was to be able to have a little less pain, and be on less drugs, even if I wasn’t able to walk again, having the painful foot off should limit the spikes in pain every time it was brushed against, and make me more able to enjoy the simple things like cuddles with my children and social occasions without tiring too quickly.

Maybe, just maybe, you will exceed your wildest dreams’ Kobi Yamada

So for me loosing my leg was a choice and not actually a loss at all. For me loosing my leg was a win, because I have been able to give my children hugs daily without being scared they will accidentally touch my poorly leg, I have been able to shower and swim again without the water feeling like acid, I have climbed mountains and peaks again, cycled again and can play badminton with my family. I can go out with friends and it rejuvenate me. It exceeded all I dared to cautiously hope for, even if it is not perfect all the time, it is so much more then I dared to dream for.