About Liz

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So far Liz has created 128 blog entries.

Your brain doesn’t know the difference between being attacked by a sabre-toothed tiger and turning down that second piece of cake.

It still boasts the same physical makeup as our ancestors, you see. And, ok, we do have a much more developed prefrontal cortex – the part of the brain that allows us to reflect and consider, but by and large, it’s pretty similar to how it was way back then. And back then, our brain had one key driver: To survive. To do this it worked on a very simple process. Avoid pain and seek pleasure – which Freud later went to town on when developing his ‘Pleasure Principle‘. Of the two, avoiding pain, such as being mauled by a wolf or sabre-toothed tiger, was far more important to survival than seeking pleasure, and so our brains developed five times more neural networks to look for danger, and ultimately avoid pain. Which is probably why cavemen look miserable in drawings – they were constantly thinking something bad was going to happen.

What we’re now left with, however, is a kind of archaic brain-function that still subconsciously scours the day-to-day landscape of our life, for threats or to avoid pain, up to five times a second. Now, this is a good thing, because it keeps you alive when crossing a road or walking through a shady part of a city where you could experience an actual threat. But for the most part, it’s not helpful at all.

All in all, our wonderful brain, in all it’s delicate intricacy and fine machinery, kind of, well, fucks with us. Big time. And most of the time, we don’t even know it. We just walk around, completely unaware of how our brain works, telling people, “Oh, this is just the way I am” or “I don’t know why I do these things, I just do.”

And this might be correct, you might not know why you do the things that you do, but all in all, on a very simplified level, know this: In the same way that your brain wants to avoid physical pain, whether actual pain (putting your hand over a naked flame and burning yourself) or perceived physical pain (which is why we experience so much fear when we do a bungee jump, for example, even though we logically know that we’re not going to die), it also operates in the same way EMOTIONALLY. Our brain doesn’t know the difference between being mauled by a sabre-toothed tiger and sitting down to paint a picture or going to the gym or having a job interview. All of these things represent a major threat – because they’re potentially emotionally painful – and so our brain starts to send us signals – from which we respond to – that are completely out of whack in relation to what is actually happening.

It’s the reason we don’t do things that are ultimately good for us.

It’s the reason why we find ourselves eating food that isn’t that great for us, or smoking or doing that whole ‘Go on then, I’ll have another glass of wine”, even though we’re already pissed out of our head thing – because it’s emotionally painful to say no to the food or the cigarette or the glass of wine. Same goes for creative projects – our brain perceives these things as fundamentally emotionally painful – because with creativity comes possible failure and disappointment and judgment. It’s far more pleasurable to avoid doing them, to avoid the pain.

Except, well, it’s not far more pleasurable, is it? Not in the long run, anyway.

If a sabre-toothed tiger is about to pounce on you right now, I’d say listen to the message your brain sends you, because it’s probably got you covered.

If, on the other hand, you’re sitting in front of an empty Word document, that will soon host the first few sentences of your new novel, or you’re considering not going to the gym or otherwise not doing something that you know is deep down good for you, I’d say ignore the message your brain sends you.

And get on with it.

(You’re not a caveman, after all.)

By | 2015-10-20T07:58:14+00:00 20 October 2015|

Say yes more. And if you can’t say yes, just do a little nod.

Crying into my Patatas Bravas, she reached for my hand over the table and squeezed it. “Just say YES, Liz, to, like, everything!”

That was the advice from a wonderful friend of mine. We were sitting in a bar one evening, the table full of wine glasses and plates of tapas and greasy napkins. My heart was broken and I was feeling lost and fucking terrified and everything else that crashes in when a relationship screams to an end.

Just.
Say.
Yes.

To, like, everything.

Erm. No.

To everything. No. No. No. I was in a NO place and that’s where I was staying. I was miserable and moping and sad. No. No. No. You want a yes? No. You’re not having one. No.

But then…….s.l.o.w.l.y, I started to hop around the idea of saying yes a little. Yes to a coffee on a Sunday morning with someone I hadn’t seen in a while. Yes to signing up for a 5K race. Yes to going to the cinema. Alone. (I’d never done that before). Yes to remembering that I liked nothing more than lying in the bath with a glass of red wine and reading a book. Yes to lighting every candle in my house. Yes, yes, yes.

It feels good to say yes. To life. To things you automatically want to say no to. Because that thing might be a little scary or weird or different or woah, it might challenge you in a way you’ve never been challenged before. I said yes to meditation several weeks ago and now, now I meditate every day after years of being royally shit at meditating. I still can’t quite believe it. I am saying yes to daily walks where I take the time to notice the ways the trees are changing from green to brown to the most beautiful golden orange. Yes to writing even though somedays, the fear of being judged for my writing floors me so much I want to curl up in a little ball and never write a single word again. Yes to Netflix documentaries about all sorts of things from Colombian drug runners to 800 kilometre adventures to this guy. Yes to spending next Summer living in France. Yes to buying a big, yellow chair for my office. Yes to looking people in the eye and saying hello (or Hallo in German) and smiling at them. Yes to doing my ankle rehabilitation exercises every day even though they’re boring. Yes to playing with my son, getting down on all fours and crawling around the room with him pretending to be a lion. Yes to leaving my phone at home when I go out for dinner so that I can have a conversation with the person I am with. Yes to openly crying and getting real and telling the truth. Yes to FaceTiming my friends because I get homesick. Yes to deleting Twitter and Instagram because my brain hurt with all the incessant scrolling I was doing. Yes to my Not Another New Year’s Resolution Project that just launched. Yes to learning more about neuroscience because it fascinates me. Yes to signing up for a 5 mile swimming race even though I currently cannot swim 5 miles. Yes to coffee. And red wine. And mashed potato. Big dollops of it. Yes to moving dead mice from the doorstep that my cat brings me, even though dead mice and dead birds give me the heebie-jeebies. Yes to moving to Germany and being scared out of my mind most days but knowing deep down that it was the best decision we ever made. Yes to eating apples straight off the tree. Yes to being me. Which is so hard sometimes. Because I am judgemental and really a bit of a shit to myself at times. Yes to all of that.

And more.

YES.

What are you saying YES, to?

By | 2016-12-29T13:32:02+00:00 20 October 2015|

Me and my meditation cushion.

I’ve skirted around the idea of meditation for several years now.

I’ve given it a go plenty of times but for some reason or another, I’ve never really GOT it, you know? I’d sit, for thirty minutes or so, literally wanting to rip my own head off, completely overwhelmed with all the thoughts racing through my mind. The thoughts I believed I shouldn’t be having that went like this:

“I am so focused right now and oh, this feels so great, I’m meditating and hmm, maybe I should also do more yoga and drink green tea and I really need to add coconut milk to the shopping list and call my Nanna and shit, is the cat still outside? I haven’t seen her all day. Maybe she’s run away, I should probably go look for her, oh I’m supposed to be meditating I am so bad at this, just concentrate on breathing, there that’s it, juuuust focus on the rise and fall of your breathing and I really feel like eating some chocolate cake I wonder how long it will take for me to walk to the shop and buy some chocolate cake and for crying out loud why is meditation so hard and argh my leg hurts and oh, fuck it, I’m fed up of this, I’m going to go and make a coffee.”

Arriving in Germany, just over two months ago, I decided that I wanted to pick up where I had left off with my meditation practice and really give it a go this time. And so, I did what I always do when something is fundamentally good for me: I procrastinated like a pro.

Procrastinating like a pro mostly looked like downloading meditation apps on my iPhone and scouring the Internet for a meditation cushion. It also involved following meditation teachers on Instagram and visualising myself sitting in my meditation corner, wearing all white, eyes-closed, hands on knees, looking calm and serene, just like they did. This time, I would be a proper meditator!

And so I waited. For the perfect moment to come along. When all would be meditate-y enough for me to start. Maybe I would even receive a sign? A feather perhaps, that I would find on my daily walk, that would herald the beginning of my meditation journey. I dedicated an entire playlist in iTunes to meditation music. Think: pan pipes and violins and those little cymbal things and harps. I was so ready. More than ready! I just needed to find the right meditation cushion, and then I’d start.

Turns out, I never found the perfect meditation cushion. Because, fuck, they all just looked like regular cushions but with sequins and elephants on them. And really? The perfect meditation cushion could have arrived at my house, hand-delieverd by Buddha himself, and it still wouldn’t have been right. Because, of course, this had nothing to do with finding the perfect meditation cushion and everything to do with being too scared to start. Because once I started, it might mean that I would be really shit at meditating again and this would mean I would be disappointed and I didn’t want to be disappointed.

And so, I did what I always do when I uncover the real reason I’m stalling on something. I called myself out on my own shit and made myself start, kicking and screaming, right there and then. I closed the door of my bedroom and sat on the nearest thing that resembled something comfortable to sit on. Turns out that this was the laptop cushion thing I use when I’m writing in bed. I bought it from IKEA last month for 5 Euros. I turned it upside down and voila! I had a mediation cushion. I put my earphones in and chose a meditation from one of the apps I’d downloaded.

I told myself that I only had to meditate for one minute. Just one minute. That’s it. If, after one minute, I wanted to get up and switch off the meditation, I could. It’s a trick that has worked for me time and time again when I have a training run to do and it’s raining or you know, I just don’t feel like running, because who does? I give myself permission to come home if after five minutes, I still don’t want to run.

One minute of meditation. That’s all. I knew I could do this.

I managed to meditate that evening for six minutes in total. The pressure was off, you see. There was no “I’m going to meditate for thirty minutes and feel so serene and wonderful” this time, because I knew for a fact that I wouldn’t feel that way.

Each day since then, I’ve committed to meditating for just one minute or however long feels good to me. Last night, I actually meditated for fifteen minutes and didn’t want to gauge my eyes out once. AND I wasn’t wearing all white. In fact, I was wearing my favourite pyjamas.

Turns out you don’t need fancy meditation cushions and a playlist of chanting monks and positive affirmations.

You just need to start.

Wherever you are.

(Even if you’re wearing your pyjamas).

What is it that you’ve been putting off starting? And can you commit to just one minute?

By | 2016-12-29T13:32:02+00:00 28 September 2015|

How to do difficult things {+ 3 ways you can work with me}

Get comfortable being uncomfortable.

I know I bang on about it a lot. But for a good reason. From running ultra marathons to quitting my 9-5 and working for myself to moving to another country, I wouldn’t have done any of these things If I hadn’t got comfortable being uncomfortable.

I feel uncomfortable 70% of the time these days. And when I say uncomfortable, I’m not talking about discomfort that is emotionally or physically dangerous, or just plain stupid. I also don’t mean that I walk around, day-to-day with a troubled expression on my face, not enjoying life and constantly pushing myself to breaking point. Being uncomfortable for me simply means that I resist resistance.

Resistance comes in many guises, and it mostly shows up when I am about to do something I decide is not pleasurable or important in the short-term. Things like exercising. Or when I’m on the verge of pressing the send button on an email, pitching an article to a website where my writing could be read by millions of people. Or admitting to someone that I am sad or upset or disappointed.

I find all of these things pretty uncomfortable and my initial reaction is to step away or shut down or avoid, avoid, avoid in any way I can.

And yet I’ve learned, over quite a number of years now, that the things I resist the most are the things that are good for me in the long term – things that help me grow as a friend, as a sister, as a mum, as a daughter, as a coach, as a human – and that avoiding them is a such a massive, asshole-y disservice to myself.

One of my lovely clients wrote to me yesterday and asked how she can learn to build up her, as she described it, ‘uncomfortable emotional muscle’.

My reply? Start small. Get uncomfortable doing things that don’t have massive consequences. That don’t take huge amounts of effort or time or resources. Things like doing one extra pushup at the end of your workout, or one single pushup if you’re not the pushup type, or making a note of something when you think about it, instead of telling yourself, “I’ll totally remember this later”, because you probably won’t. Upon waking in the morning, instead of reaching for your phone to bog-eyed scroll through Facebook, you can do something else; maybe a five-minute meditation with Buddhify (my favourite meditation app) or some cold shower therapy or drinking a pint of water with some fresh lemon. My good friend, Nicole, in her fascinating discussion with Alexandra Franzen – over on her new podcast – explained that she makes herself do things she doesn’t feel like doing, such as putting her empty bowl in the dishwasher instead of leaving it in the sink for later.

Starting small tricks your brain without it noticing, so that it doesn’t automatically send the message to resist or run. It’s a bit like creeping around a sleeping tiger. Only you’re less likely to get your eyes gauged out.

Step by step. For most of us, it’s how we learn. And as those small steps get easier, as we get comfortable being uncomfortable, we pave the way for the moments when we come up against the big stuff and it’s really time to flex our uncomfortable emotional muscle. Just like Arnold.

 

 

Here’s 3 ways to work with me:
1. I have just 5 one-to-one coaching spots available in February 2016. If you’ve been umming and ahhhing and doing a lot of fence sitting about coaching, here’s your opportunity to take a step. Click here to see my coaching schedule and book a free 30 minute coaching session with me. It’s a bit like buying shoes, let’s make sure we’re a good fit.

2. I’m travelling to the UK in March, to host a group coaching workshop in London. Want in? Grab your space here.

3. Not in the UK but still fancy the idea of some group coaching? My popular group coaching via Skype course starts on the 2nd February. Here’s what Autumn, a member of the August 2015 group has to say about her group coaching experience: “If anyone is hesitant about taking part, just go for it. You don’t have to be in a place where you want to completely change your career or emigrate to the other side of the world. I just wasn’t really sure what I wanted (not unhappy enough) and I have gained so much from this course – I can’t recommend it enough.”

For more information about the course, hop on over here.

4. I said there were 3 ways to work for me, but hey-ho, here’s a 4th way. Let’s call it a pep talk. From me to you. And it’s free.

Ok, that’s all for now.

Wherever you are in the world, remember: Start small. Get comfortable being uncomfortable. It’ll blow your mind.

 

 

By | 2016-12-29T13:32:02+00:00 9 September 2015|

Have you noticed this too?

I slide further and further down my chair. Dreading the moment another person enters the room.

Another person who is late.

I’m sitting third row from the front. I’m at a leadership and development seminar. I never sit in the front row. Do you? The last time I sat in the front row of anything, I was four. First day at school. Sitting in assembly. I remember we were singing ‘Puff The Magic Dragon’ and I was messing around with a pencil. The headmaster dragged me from where I was sitting and made me stand facing the wall in front of the entire school. I felt humiliated.

Anyway.

Third row. I hear the door to the seminar room open again. It’s now eight minutes past one. I slide another centimetre down my chair.

Deathly silence.

The leadership trainer –  Manal – casually eyes the late comers as they walk in the room and just as they’re about to take their seat, she turns to them, one-by-one and says,

“If you can’t even show up on time here, how can you expect to show up in other areas of your life?”

People squirm. Eyes dart left to right. Excuses start – “Yeah, but the queue was so big in the cafe, I had to pay for my sandwich”, “I had to go to the toilet”, “I didn’t know we had to be back here for one on the dot”.

“Bullshit. You just didn’t make getting here on time a priority. And now you’ve held everyone else up.” 

I’m now half off my chair. Second-hand embarrassed for those she’s balling out. But I quietly nod in agreement.

The afternoon seminar starts fifteen minutes late.

This kind of thing is something I see in my own work.

People booking one of my free – or sometimes paid for – coaching sessions and not turning up for it.

What is going on here?

Why did they not make the session a priority? A priority to take that step. A priority to change. To shift. To show up. For themselves. To stop talking about. To quit the excuses. To do the work.

And look, I get it. Life happens. Shit happens. Stuff comes up and you can’t make it. I understand.

But I also understand something else: People are drawn to coaching because they feel stuck and apathetic and indecisive. And yet the same apathy and indecisiveness is the reason people don’t show up for a coaching call.

And behind the not showing up for a free coaching call, I’m wondering how they’re showing up in their career. And in their marriage. And with their kids. And in their friendships. And with their health.

And in their life.

Most people don’t feel happy but aren’t unhappy enough to do anything about it.

Are you one of them?

By | 2016-12-29T13:32:02+00:00 9 September 2015|

I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.

I’m talking about my bullshit excuses.

And I’ve got hundreds of them.

How many have you got?

I spent the last weekend moping around in my pyjamas. There were tears. There were also some very angry runs, especially up the hill back home. I hated that hill.

I’ve been feeling sorry for myself because I feel lonely. I went to a wedding last Friday. My first German one. There were probably 400 people there, I’ve never been to such a big wedding. I sat there, on this long wooden bench looking around at everyone drinking beer and having a good time and I felt the most alone I have felt in a long time. I couldn’t understand a word of what people were saying to me, and over the loud music, my pieced together basic German wasn’t enough and I was met with bemused expressions. So I did what I always do when I feel alone, I withdrew and closed up.

Back home that night, Kristin and I had a big fight. Over stupid shit. You know the type of fight. It had nothing to do with what we were arguing about and everything to do with stuff we weren’t saying. I was angry. Angry that we’d made the decision to live in Germany, to finally live a life we had been planning for so many years, and that now I was here, I felt lonely. Something I hadn’t even considered for a second as we sold our place in London – and literally packed up our life and everything we knew – in to a van driven by a very lovely man named Pietro.

And so I moped. All day Saturday. All day Sunday. It looked like this:

Woe is me. I’m so lonely. Germans are rude and unhelpful. I can’t understand anything anyone says and I never will. How am I supposed to make friends here and just go to a fucking shop and order some fucking bread properly and don’t even get me started on explaining to the lady at the swimming pool that yes I did put a euro in the locker and no it still won’t close properly. I’ll never understand anything and even when I do try and speak German, people don’t get what I am saying and maybe I should just go back to the UK and live with my Dad. Kristin and Franz can stay here and I’ll send them money or something each month. I hate Germany and I am now going to Google things and find forums written by people who also hate Germany and that will make me feel better. I should never have moved here. Kristin is so happy and I am not and this is just awful and Germany is shit.

I mean, really. Just writing it down makes me cringe. And yet all weekend, that stuff felt REAL. Because it was real, in those moments. And whenever anyone tried to comfort me or suggest something that might help, I had excuse after excuse after excuse as to why their suggestion wouldn’t work.

Why? Because I secretly enjoyed the moping.

It gave me a reason to not have to take responsibility for myself. For my own shit.

And we all do it.

I see it over and over again.

Excuses, left, right and centre.

Complaints that something shouldn’t be the way it is.

Blaming others for things not working out for us in life, for our own underperformance.

Whining about things not being fair, how it’s so much easier for others.

Bullshit.

They’re just excuses. And you love them as much as I do.

Come on, admit it.

(And then do something about it).

I just signed up for a learn German course. It’s two times a week until November. Starts next Tuesday. I’m scared and excited and worried about fucking up and getting it all wrong. But I know that this is normal. That this is life. I have to learn German. I want to learn German. And this is how I’ll make it happen.

I’ve shown you mine, now you show me yours.

Email me and let me know what excuse you’re hiding behind. I’ll challenge it (in a nice way).

Let’s do this.

By | 2015-09-09T12:39:49+00:00 9 September 2015|

I had a bone to pick. With a city.

It was pretty stupid.

To be angry with a city. Well, maybe not angry, but let’s just say I had some big feelings going on with Manchester.

Manchester is my home city. A city I turned my back on. I was always running away from it, you see. From all sorts of stuff. But mostly me. I did not like who I was when I lived in Manchester. And living in other countries, other cities, made it easy to disconnect somehow, to not have to face up to life and all that had happened in my past.

Manchester was the place my mum had died. And Manchester was also the place, seven years after her death, I mentally broke down, consumed by horrific anxiety, panic attacks and the relentlessness of obsessive compulsive disorder.

Just two years ago, I ran the Manchester Marathon. I was gunning for a sub-4 finish. My hip blew at mile 23. I was pissed. And although I hobbled along for another two miles, I walked off the course at mile 25. Fuck the medal. I was done.

I never went back to give it another shot. I flew to Frankfurt with friends the following October, achieving my marathon goal there instead. My friend Laurapaced me. The pressure was off and I gave everything I had over those 26.2 miles. It felt good. We drank beer at the finish line.

Something kept niggling at me though.

Unfinished business.

Big stuff I needed to resolve.

Deep discussions.

And so in a chair. Opposite my coach. We talked it out. She asked me questions and I found my answers. A new way of looking at what had happened. An acceptance that worked for me.

Her: “Liz, I’m going to give this to you straight up, no bullshit. Categorically, your mum took her own life, that is a fact. That is what happened. Everything from that point on is a result of your thinking about that fact.”

Me: No reply. I was too busy having a LIGHTBULB MOMENT.

I called a truce with Manchester, sitting in that chair. I was tired of being tired of running away. Of dragging around years worth of shit. Of not living my life, and instead just kind of aimlessly lolling, – with absolutely no sense of direction or what I wanted – day-to-day, month-to-month, year-to-year.

I was blissfully unhappy. 

And it was time to do something about it. I had this deep-down fear, you see. That I’d get to seventy, eighty, ninety, and look back at my life and think, “Was that it, Liz?”

It took a lot of work. I had to ask myself some big questions. And really fucking look at myself – at my life – and be honest. I had to learn some serious emotional discipline. To push through the challenging stuff, the resistance. And most of all, I had to get clear on what I wanted in life. I wanted to know how to know what moved me. What shifted me. What it meant to really live. To feel. To be. To do. I had to figure out how to make things happen.

And now I know, if you’re feeling like this, I want you to know too. And here’s how:

Manchester and me, we’re getting together again this October. On the 17th. It’s a Saturday.

And you’re invited.

By | 2015-09-09T12:36:05+00:00 9 September 2015|

If you do this, you’ll never get what you want.

I sprained my ankle last September. A bad sprain. I couldn’t walk properly for 8 weeks, and running. Ha. Running didn’t happen for months and months and months.

I saw a physiotherapist regularly during my rehabilitation. He gave me ankle strengthening exercises to do each day as well as stretches and standing on one leg, re-remembering how to balance and a stepping forward thing with a thera-band thing and God knows what else. I had a list. To do: 3x a day, 15-30 repetitions.

At first, I followed the exercises religiously. I was motivated. I wanted to run again. And the sooner I could, the better, and if the exercises would get me there, then I would do them a hundred times a day if I had to.

That is, until I got bored.

I didn’t notice at first. But I’d started to not do so many repetitions. Or I’d do them with my iPhone in my hand, haphazardly performing the exercises, but not concentrating fully, scrolling through my Instagram feed. Completely checked out.

I still wanted to run. So much. And yet I’d lost interest in the strengthening exercises that would ultimately get me back on my feet and into my running trainers again. Which is an odd thing, really. To sabotage my rehabilitation when the end goal of running again was so important to me.

And yet it’s not that odd, really. Because we constantly do this with our lives, don’t we?

You start the healthy eating plan, excitedly filling the fridge with greens and juices and all the good stuff you read about in that book you bought. You throw out the sugar and the bread and the white pasta. You’re ready! This is it! You start off well, day 1, day 2, day 3 pass by and you’re a master at whizzing up a green smoothie in your new Vitamix and woah! You can’t believe how good you feel! And then, then it all kind of goes to shit. Someone brings some cake into the office and before you know it, you’re tucking into a slice. You get home that evening and you order a takeaway, “Fuck it”, you think, “I had the cake this afternoon, I’ll just start again with the healthy eating tomorrow.”

But you don’t. You’re back in familiar terrain again. Everything just slips and a week goes by and you’re scratching your head, wondering where and why it all went downhill.

And the reason is: You also got bored.

Your motivation waned. The reality of drinking green smoothies, of laboriously chopping up vegetables and making salads and thinking ahead and being disciplined to make a meal instead of throwing a pizza in the oven, became dull. The end goal, the one surrounded by bright lights! and feeling good! and making that change! was slowly sidetracked, by the day-in-day-out bottom line steps of what has to happen to make the end goal happen.

This is why businesses fail.
This is why relationships fall apart.
This is why gym memberships remain untouched.
This is why blogs have two whole blog posts and then nothing.
This is why marathon finishing lines aren’t crossed.
This is why those 3 extra kilograms don’t budge.
This is why I’m still not back running properly.

I’m probably 4 months behind where I should be. I can still only run 3 kilometres before my ankle hurts and I have to walk the rest of the way home.

All because I got bored. Of the day-in-day-out bottom line steps towards the end goal of being able to run ultra marathons again. Something that I absolutely love doing.

I chose to not do the work, to not follow the steps.

Ridiculous, isn’t it?

By | 2016-12-29T13:32:02+00:00 17 August 2015|

Do you do this too?

You know when you’ve got a bill to pay, or a form to complete or a dentist appointment to make, and you put it off? You put it to one side. “I’ll do that tomorrow/next week,” you tell yourself. But you never do.

We kind of do that with our lives, don’t we?

We wait. For the right moment. For The Motivation to arrive like a green light: GO. For the children to get a little bit older. For the mortgage to be paid off. For the weather to change.

We kid ourselves. “When I’ve lost the weight, I’ll start dating again.” “When the merger happens, if they don’t agree to the salary increase, then I’ll leave.” “I’ll start on January 1st.” “If he does it again, then I’ll definitely tell him it’s over.”

But you won’t. Because you never do. Ever.

Excuse.
After.
Excuse.

You have tonnes of them.

And they feel good, those excuses. Right there in that moment, as you’re tying your shoelaces and you notice it’s pelting down with rain, it feels good to tell yourself that you’ll start running tomorrow. Of course it does. Because it means you don’t have to try. Because it means you don’t have to be uncomfortable. Because it means that you can hit the snooze button one more time.

The excuses keep you safe.

Or, more to the point, they keep you thinking that you’re safe. Because, ha! nothing is safe. Not even your steady job, the one your boss could let you go from with just 4 weeks notice.

We’re born with an inner resistance. It’s evolutionary, it’s hard-wired in our brains. It’s there so that you stay with the pack. It stops you wandering off the path. And the excuses? They’re the faithful servants of the resistance. Doing everything in their power to keep you on the couch with your big dreams and ideas and desires tucked safely inside of you.

“One day” you tell yourself.

But one day never comes.

The year is flying by. You even remarked on it last week to your friends in the pub, “HOW is it August already? Where did the year go?”

But you know where.
(Nowhere).

Until now.

This is a kick up the ass. From me to you.

To go for that fucking run right now. To pick up the phone. To get up from the couch, turn the television off, sit down and write that email. To fill in that form. To make that dentist appointment (and start flossing while you’re at it). To say it. To ask the question. To make the change. To fling yourself at whatever it is that you’ve been resisting.

Go on.

Do it.

“The most valuable land in the world is the graveyard. In the graveyard are buried all of the unwritten novels, never-launched businesses, unreconciled relationships, and all of the other things that people thought, ‘I’ll get around to that tomorrow.’ – Todd Henry

By | 2016-12-29T13:32:02+00:00 5 August 2015|

How begging a magazine editor taught me a lesson about life.

It was 2012. I was lying on my living room floor, flicking through a copy of Women’s Running Magazine when I saw the feature.

“Going to miss your long runs now your marathon training is done? Then maybe, just maybe, ultra marathoning should be your next goal.”

I didn’t even really know what an ultra marathon was. A quick Google search delivered pages and pages of 50 and 100 mile adventures over mountains and along rivers and in exotic locations all over the world. There was no maybe about it. In that moment, with only 1 full marathon under my belt, I decided that I was going to run an ultra marathon.

The Women’s Running feature was a project. They’d choose four women to run an ultra marathon of their choice. They’d be trained by two of the UK’s best running coaches, and brands such as Salomon, would kit them out with running shoes and clothes and sports nutrition. There would be sports science testing in laboratories and photoshoots and interviews and articles in the magazine.

I wanted to be one of those four women.

And so I applied. Right then. Typed up an email, filled in the application form and pressed send.

Fuck.

I’d never done anything like that before. On such a whim. I was always too scared. I had a big life-long story about not being good enough. Always staying in the shadows, never stepping forward, keeping quiet – not saying what I really wanted to say. I’d been digging deep in therapy for a while, working through it, and this, this was the first time I had really grabbed that big life-long story by the throat, pinning it against the wall and looking it square in the eyes and saying actually, I am good enough.

I remember sitting in the chair opposite Sue, my therapist – the woman who picked me up when I was on my knees and dusted me off –  telling her that I’d applied for this ultra-marathon feature and shit! what if they choose me, Sue?

She smiled and looked back at me, hands in her lap, “Well, then they choose you, Liz.”

I waited.
And waited.
To hear back from Women’s Running Magazine.
It was a long time. Enough time for me to know that they didn’t want me. That they’d thrown my application away. That they’d found someone better.

And then. An email. Sitting in my inbox. From the editor.

“If you were chosen for the ultra, would you be willing to forego your place in the Berlin Marathon? Maybe defer it until 2013? We have to think about your health and wellbeing.
Let me know. Kind regards, Christina.”

Ah. The Berlin Marathon. It was a week before the ultra-marathon. I’d already signed up. I didn’t think it would be a problem. I’d told them about it in my application. I was running the marathon for charity. In memory of my mum. There was no way of foregoing it. I didn’t know what to do.

I wanted to be part of the feature so badly, and yet the Berlin marathon was incredibly important to me. People had sponsored me to do it. Thousands of pounds for charity. No way.

I opened my email and hit reply. Ready to back out, slink away like I always did, back into the arms of my big, lifelong story.

You are not enough.

And then. No. No. I wanted this. And you are enough. Kind of. I think. Don’t back out, come on, Liz. Come on.

Deep breath in. I replied. Fingers frantically hitting the keyboard. I told her why she’d be crazy not to pick me, that I looked after myself, that my legs were strong, that I was strongand that I wanted a challenge. That I wanted to be in the ultra marathon team.

And then I did something I had never done before. I followed up that email with a phone call. Like, real human to human speaking. I got her voicemail. Relief. And then waivering. Now what? What do I say? I pretended to be confident, maybe I was confident? and literally begged her to pick me. Banging the phone receiver done so fast afterwards, heart beating, holy shittttttt what am I doing?

I opened up my email again, new message: “Hi Christina, I just left a garbled message on your answer machine. To follow up from my last email (and garbled message), I just wanted to add that I aim to run the Berlin marathon extremely slowly.”

She emailed the next day.

I was in.

“You can’t just sit there and wait for people to give you your dream. You’ve got to get out there and make it happen for yourself.” – Diana Ross

By | 2016-12-29T13:32:02+00:00 31 July 2015|