Tuesday, 11 October 2011


"Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy." Norman Vincent Peale

When you become a parent for the first time you’re aware of what an awesome responsibility now rests on your shoulders. You want to give your son or daughter the best childhood possible and provide opportunities for them to develop and shine as they grow up. If there is  one thing though that I want to try and inject in my daughter  more than anything else it’s confidence. If someone has confidence life becomes a lot easier . They're not afraid of taking risks,  making mistakes, pleasing everybody  or receiving criticism. They will have belief in their abilities and a conviction that they can achieve whatever they want to.

My daughter, like most small children, appears to have bags of confidence at the moment. She’s  always exploring, touching things, falling over and picking herself up. The world seems to fascinate her and she just wants to get up and explore. This confidence comes from the fact that she doesn't know any different and she's no idea of what she can and can't do, so she just does it. As she gets older though other people and the experiences she has are going to shape her confidence. If her experiences and interactions are positive then her confidence and self belief are going to grow. However sadly the world isn't always a forgiving place and other children, adults and even some teachers aren't necessarily going to always be full of praise. It’s going to be hard for her at times not to loose the confidence she has when she encounters negative reactions and the knocks life inevitably is occasionally going to throw at her. I just hope that the fearless attitude that's she's blessed with now remains and she keeps picking herself up and believing in what she is capable of.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Earning the Cheesecake

There are occasions when a meal or the first sip of an ice cold beer are just that little bit more satisfying than usual. For me those occasions are when I feel I really deserve them. I’ll have delayed having them until completing something and for that simple reason they seem to taste better. I might have worked hard, exercised or completed a long journey and when I’ve finished the need to eat or drink is great. I therefore  appreciate it so much more than I normally would, my senses are heightened and I enjoy every mouthful or sip.

I first remember encountering this phenomenon when I was training for my first marathon, quite some time ago now. Running up and down country lanes for what seemed like forever all I could think about was what I was going to eat when I’d finished.  I’d dream about demolishing  one of my mum’s blackcurrant cheesecakes, such was my lust for calories. It was these thoughts that got me through many of those long long runs. Alas, I never did actually get to devour a cheesecake. I wasn’t that good at planning ahead and there was never one waiting for me when I finished. Any meal I wolfed down when I got back still always tasted amazing though, I certainly remember that.

Since then I’ve somehow, without any conscious decision to do so, adopted a similiar kind of reward system when it comes to undertaking something that's going to be hard. If I’m going to do some vigorous exercise I always like to plan it so it finishes just before I need to eat. The reward of a nice meal helps motivate me as I toil away. The meal I had in the pub recently  after walking 18 miles with some friends was immensely satisfying and delicious simply because we’d walked all that way to get there. Similarly I find that a beer really slides down my throat better if I’ve had a long day, worked hard and I’m back home and ready to relax. 

There’s an argument that life is short and you should try and enjoy every moment, which I wholeheartedly agree with. I also think though that you can have too much of a good thing. You need the tough days and to suffer occasionally to give you a bit of perspective and make you appreciate the good things in life. In this ‘have it now’ world in which we live we can get almost anything we want whenever we want, and rarely have to  defer doing so. Instant gratification is the norm.  If  our treats are commonplace we don’t really appreciate them and sadly they loose the magical quality they should have. I want my cheesecake to remain special, it tastes so much better if I’ve worked hard to get it.