I haven’t posted here for a few days. It’s easy when I don’t post to think this site doesn’t really matter to me, to think that nobody would really notice or care if it just fizzled out. But I would notice and I would care. If I gave up on it, I’d have to add it to that list of things I’ve started in my life but haven’t finished. I’m sure we’ve all started stuff we haven’t finished but I think I have a bit of a talent for it. Maybe it’s because I start too many things, or too many things at once. I lose focus, end up feeling pulled in all directions, spread my energy too thinly and end up not being able to sustain everything. So I should confess I haven’t managed to keep up The Artist’s Way – Julia Cameron’s 12-week course in discovering our creativity – that I committed to do on June 1 in my Sleep, glorious sleep post. I did write my morning pages (3 pages of hand-written brain drain upon waking) for about 10 days but then my enthusiasm waned. I still write in the mornings on some days but I’m down to about a page and I’m not following the rest of her suggestions. Never mind, maybe the timing wasn’t right. But it has made me think about the importance of perseverance and persistence. And that has made me think about the theme tune from Roy Castle’s Record Breakers children’s TV show that was a staple of my youth. The tune went ‘Dedication, dedication, dedication, that’s what you need. If you want to be the best, if you want to beat the rest, dedication is what you need.’
I’m not saying I want to be a record breaker but it’s clear perseverance and persistence, as well as passion and self-discipline (as I wrote in my last post Passion alone is not enough) are essential if we’re to fulfill our dreams or ambitions. And I think this applies to all areas of life – personal, professional, physical and spiritual. This brings me to yesterday and my visit to the Wimbledon Championships. I love Wimbledon. My first visit was as part of my school tennis team in the 1980s when we were all obsessed with Pat Cash and Boris Becker. Since I moved back to the UK in 2002 after ten years abroad, I’ve tried to get there as much as possible. This has often meant queuing for hours in the rain or sunshine – although as yet I haven’t camped overnight. That takes real dedication! Often the thought of rising early, travelling across London, standing in a queue for hours and putting myself at the mercy of Britain’s changeable weather is enough to convince me I’d be better off watching it on TV. But like many things in life, once I make the effort, I’m so pleased I did and it turns out to be totally worth it. That was the case yesterday.
It was worth leaving the house at 6:50 am to travel for 50 minutes across London and stand in a queue for 2 hours to get to watch some top seeds playing great tennis on Wimbledon’s outside courts and to soak up the atmosphere. But where persistence and perseverance really paid off was when we decided to stand in another queue at 7 o’clock in the evening, in the rain, to see if we could get return tickets for Centre Court where Andy Murray was playing in the dry, under the court’s roof. The queue looked long and the weather was pretty inclement but within 40 minutes and for just £5 we were inside Centre Court, with excellent seats just to one side of the Royal Box where Sir Terry Wogan and other celebrities and dignitaries were sat.
We caught two and a half sets of Murray’s four-set victory over Spaniard Daniel Gimeno-Traver. And it was worth every moment spent queuing in the rain. Of course, tennis stars like Murray, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer take perseverance and persistence to a whole new level. I can’t imagine the kind of self-discipline they’ve needed to get where they’ve got. But, yesterday, for me, it was enough to have stuck it out in the queue long enough to get onto the court. Perseverance definitely pays off.
The other thing my trip to Wimbledon taught me was the importance of having fun and making sure I make space for it in my week. I was like an excited child when I finally had that Centre Court ticket in my hand and that’s a great feeling and one I don’t have often enough. I’d made space for my Wimbledon trip on Monday by working on Saturday. I’d rather not work on Saturdays but if it means a mid-week trip to Wimbledon, I’m fine with it! I’ve written about the importance of fun a few times on this site in Fight for your fun and in the post Do more of what you love on my ‘Just As I Am’ blog.
Moving on from Wimbledon, I’ve learned a few other life lessons since I last posted here. I’ve learned the importance of setting boundaries with others around my work. If I don’t say what I need and say it clearly at the beginning of a work relationship, I’ll end up feeling resentful about the work and I’ll be the one who suffers. The same applies to personal relationships. If I don’t speak my truth, my feelings will bubble up inside and will eventually come out sideways – either through a burst of outward or inward anger. As I struggled last week with setting boundaries and speaking my truth, someone reminded me of the Janis Joplin line: “Don’t compromise yourself, you are all you’ve got.”
And finally, thanks to Sue Thomason of Beautiful Magazine for highlighting my 40-day challenge to abstain from negative thoughts about my body, image and appearance on her antidieter blog a few days ago. Beautiful, as I mentioned in my Body backlash post, is a glossy women’s magazine that aims to build self-esteem and celebrate beauty and diversity in female shape, size, age and skin tone. There’s no diet or weight loss advice and it only publishes images of women a UK size 12 and over. Note, the magazine isn’t excluding readers who are under a size 12 (I’m under a size 12) – it just wants to celebrate body shapes most other women’s mags ignore. If we’re only looking at stick-thin models, that’s what we’re going to aspire to and, as I’ve learned over the years, aspiring to an unrealistic body shape leads to misery and eating disorders. Take a look at Sue’s post today – Are women meant to be curvy? – for more on why Beautiful only features size 12+ models. And take a look at this brilliant video, put together by Girl Scouts USA and others, for more on why it’s so important we watch what we watch: