Because we want to!

As my body decided to wake up ridiculously early I’ve been looking through my news feed on Facebook and there seems to be a lot of talk about dieting and getting healthy. The nature of the comments made me think about motivation.

What is the motivation behind the necessity to lose weight? Is it because of health reasons? Is it because of an idea of what size they should be? Is it because of pressure from society, family, or friends? Is it to be able to fit back in to clothes they used to wear? Is it because they want to? In my experience the only successful motivation is wanting to!

As a teacher I see the effect motivation has on a pupil, and I do mean motivation rather than bribery. Bribery works, but not to the same extent as wanting to do something. If a pupil wants to do a subject, and enjoys a subject, they are more likely to try harder and succeed in that subject. 

As I’ve said before, I have tried to get healthy and lose weight before but it has never succeeded, because I never really wanted to! I was happy as a person, I liked what I was doing. I knew that I needed to lose weight, I knew I needed to exercise, there were even times when the Drs told me that they wouldn’t continue treatment/investigations unless I lost a significant amount of weight. None of this was enough. It wasn’t until it was what I wanted to do that suddenly it all clicked.

A pupil once told me “I wish I wanted to come to school”! This 13 year old recognised that if he wanted to come to school he would probably try harder and achieve more.

I have to admit that this is confusing me, because I often teach about the difference between wanting and needing. Eg I WANT chocolate, I NEED food! But I think it is all about mindset it’s not enough to know that you need to do something, you have to want it.

This brings me on to goals. Again at the beginning of the year we look at goals, what do they want to achieve by the end of the year? How are they going to achieve it? A question people keep asking me, when will you stop, what is your goal? Answer… I don’t actually have a goal. I’m just going to keep going, until I’m at a weight/size that I want to then sustain – it really is more about a lifestyle for me. Similarly with running, people have said to me that they have to sign up for races to give them the motivation, that’s fine for them, but I’m actually happy just running. I’m not doing it to achieve anything, I probably will do some races at some point, but at the moment I’m just happy going out and running!

Motivation is important, and you may be a goal driven person, but the success is going to come easier if it is something you want to do. I’ve been given a few opportunities recently, some of which I’ve turned down, others I’ve accepted or even offered to do. The ones I’ve chosen are the ones I want to do, and I know that I will do a better job because I’m excited about them. My excitement has come across, and has been spotted by others, and encouraged them as well.

We can’t always do things we want to do, I know that, but even with the things we have to do we can work out why we want to do them as well! By changing our attitude to things, it then has a knock on effect in all areas of our lives, but also on those around us as well.

I’ve noticed a difference in my classroom this year, I want to be there want to enjoy the day, I want the pupils to learn and enjoy, so far there have been a lot of laughs and we’ve all been enjoying it not enduring it!


Fan ‘flippin’ tastic


On 28th August 2004 I got married, and there was only really one choice of song to walk back down the aisle to – Zipadeedodah – obviously! It expressed everything about the day, and it was Disney!

The phrase I’ve heard myself saying a lot over the last week is FANTASTIC – quite frequently with the word Flippin included as well! This has been used to describe classes, opportunities, the year ahead and even meetings! After the anxiety attack last week I couldn’t have imagined saying this, but it has been a really positive start to the year. I feel in control… Well more in control than usual… And I’m excited about what is to come!

Every year I start afresh, but this year seems different. This is partly down to relationships with colleagues, a recognition of my ability, a renewed love of the job, but mostly the pupils! The joy they have shown in lessons, the excitement for learning, the comments they’ve made including ‘I’m so pleased you’re teaching me’ and a year 11 girl telling me I look ‘flippin fantastic’! I’ve overwhelmed myself at what I’ve accomplished for me, and I really want that to be able to spread into all aspects of my life, especially at work! 

It’s such a blessing and privilege to work with young people, in some of the most formative years of their lives. This comes with a lot of pressure though, which I’ve been very aware of hearing parents say how I’ve impacted their children! I want to make the most of that opportunity, and this year I really am more aware of that!

When I typed in fantastic to the image search, the flower above came up. It’s a stunning flower but it’s not fully developed yet. I’m developing as a person, I’m growing and changing; and people are noticing. It’s definitely not just a size thing – apparently I’m glowing and have a renewed sense of energy! I’m also still perfecting the awkward dance with the compliments!

I’m no biologist but once the flower grows it will then pollinate, to create more beautiful flowers. I hope not to sound big headed, but I know a few people have started to make changes in their lives after seeing/hearing the difference in me.

I’ve always said I’ve made the changes for me, but I love the impact it has had on my relationships. I don’t teach for me, it honestly is about the pupils but… If the changes I’ve made for me can have an effect on my work for them it’s a win win situation! 

Apologies for the analogy but… If the growth in me can pollinate to a change in them, to then change others -WOW! 

It really is a fanflippintastic time, so exciting! It’s going to be hard work, but I’m up for it!

Zipadeedodah zipadeeay, my oh my what a wonderful day! Plenty of sunshine heading my way. Zipadeedodah zipadeeay! Mr bluebird on my shoulder, it’s true, it’s natural… EVERYTHING IS SATISFACTUAL!

The long and winding road that leads… 

I have been completely overwhelmed by the response I have had to my blog generally, the kind comments I have had from people, but also the really thoughtful advice people have given me – showing that they really have been reading it. Considering it was a bit of a summer whim when I started, I’m loving writing it and I’m loving the learning process that goes with it! 

This was no more evident than with my last post Warning Warning Warning. The responses I got from people, praying for me, encouraging me, and possibly most importantly challenging me were, well, fantastic!

It’s the challenges that have led me to this post. In the previous post I alluded to the vague recognition that the ‘old Helen’ wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, and this is what I’ve been challenged by the most. One friend sent me what was possibly the longest text I have ever received, and it spoke straight to me. 

There is no’old’ Helen, she is just slightly different to the current one, she was essential for who I am today and where I am today. She made it through 34 years, with some pretty tough going at times, and lots of hurdles jumped, as well as loads of fantastic experiences! 

I guess when it comes to looking back we have a tendency to go one of two ways – we can look back regretting who we were, and what we did; or we can look back at how wonderful things were and how we wish it was the same – especially when it comes to children’s TV which definitely was better in the 80s!!!!! Very rarely do we acknowledge where we’ve come from and how that has impacted where we are. Looking back over my blogs I have been doing a similar thing, for which I apologise. I’ve had a fantastic life, with amazing opportunities, for which I am incredibly grateful. 

On Thursday I spent lunch time with the head, following my breaking down on him on Wednesday! As well as boosting my confidence (something he has to do quite frequently) making sure I know there is nothing at school to be anxious about, he also reminded me of 1 Corinthians 13:11 which says “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” The reminder that we change, but at no point are we necessarily a wrong version of ourselves, we are just in a different place. 

The thing I love about September in school is a new start, new books, new stationary. As much as it is a new start, it is still essential that we learn from what we have done in previous years, both what has succeeded, and what could be improved! This is where we finally get to the point of this blog – going on a journey! 

I have become very aware this week that life is a journey, and all parts of it, all people within it, all mistakes, all bumps, all highs, all lows, are an essential part of it. There is no need to worry about what has happened, or worry about what will happen, and I know that is much easier to say than do, but acknowledge that it is all necessary.

For me, I also know my journey is not alone, I am surrounded by people who love, support and challenge me (I cannot stress how much I appreciate the challenging), I also know that I have God. I was reminded of this as I walked to work on Thursday, I was smiling for my entire journey, laughing at times. God most definitely does have a sense of humour.

My journey to work takes about 40-45 minutes, I always start off by listening to a podcast – pray as you go – this is just a daily reflection. On Thursday it started off with a taize chant Bless the Lord – the words of which include “bless the Lord my soul, and bless God’s holy name. Bless the Lord my soul, who leads me into life”, the narrator or the podcast then said “as you approach this time of prayer – let go for a moment, let go of your own fears, concerns, reluctance. Let yourself be led by God, trusting God who loves you will lead you into life” hmmmmm I think that might have been a message I needed to hear. 

It goes on, to the story of Jesus going out on a boat with disgruntled fishermen who hadn’t caught anything, instructing them to put down their nets, and then having too many fish to be able to carry themselves. The narrator then asks a series of questions and makes a few statements

  • As Peter often spoke without thinking, when have you reacted too quickly and then regretted it?
  • Can you be more open to God thinking about the possibilities in life rather than the problems?
  • What do you want from God at this time in your life’s? What does God want from you?
  • When Peter got it wrong Jesus brought him out of it and told him not to be afraid.
  • In the same way Jesus drew Peter to see so many possibilities, he invites us not to be afraid.

This podcast was directly for me on that day, but then it continued as I turned on genius on my iPod. I listened to four songs, all of which I have listened to numerous times, but on Thursday I paid attention to the words.

  1.  My Lighthouse Rend Collective. The important lyrics here include in my wrestling and in my doubts. In my failures You won’t walk out. Your great love will lead me through. You are the peace in my troubled sea… In the silence, You won’t let go. In my questions, your truth will hold. Your great love will lead me through. You are the peace in my troubled sea…I won’t fear what tomorrow brings. With each morning I’ll rise and sing. My gods love will lead me through. You are the peace in my troubled sea.
  2.  You are my vision Rend Collective. The important lyrics for me here were… You are my wisdom, You are my true word. I ever with You and You with me Lord. You’re my great father and I’m your true son. You dwell inside me, together we’re one
  3. Never once Matt Redman. Important lyrics… Standing on this mountaintop looking just how far we’ve come, knowing that for every step, you were with us. Kneeling on this battleground. Seeing just how much you’ve done, knowing every victory, is your power in us. Scars and struggles on the way, but with joy our hearts can say. Never once did we ever walk alone. Never once did You leave us on our own. You are faithful, God you are faithful.
  4. Relentless Hillsong. Important lyrics… The time is up for chasing shadows. You gave the world a light to follow. A hope that shines beyond tomorrow. Your love goes on. You carry us when the world gives way. You cover us with your endless grace. Your love is relentless. Tearing through the veil of darkness. Breaking every chain, you set us free. Fighting for the furthest heart You gave your own life for all to see.

By the time I’d got to work I’d got the message: I’m on a journey, and always have been, I’m not on my own, I have no need to worry, because God loves me for who I am, what I’ve done, and will always love me. It is not going to be easy but it is going to be an adventure. This last year God has shown me possibilities and given me opportunities I never would have dreamt possible for ‘me’ and I cannot wait to see what lies ahead! And I hope you don’t mind me continuing to share the journey with you!

It’s not about me!



 One of my first blog posts was that I was doing this for me, I wasn’t doing it for anyone else. That is still the case, but what I’m (very) slowly starting to realise is that the effect is having me, is having a ripple effect to others as well!

For those who don’t know, I am teacher. I teach religious studies to 11-18 year olds. I have been told by many that I am crazy, but I absolutely LOVE it! Today was GCSE results day, and as usual I went in to give out results, to celebrate and commiserate. Whilst I was at school I realised how much more I have been enjoying teaching this year. I have had a lot more energy, in order to teach better. Today I was able to actually jump around with pupils in celebration – actually physically jumping! 

A number of colleagues, pupils, and even parents, commented on how well/fantastic I was looking, but also how the pupils have enjoyed their lessons with me this year. I hadn’t realised how tired I was, and how that came across in the classroom, especially as I get stroppy when I get tired.

The choices I have made for me, are having a ripple effect, on friends, on family, but also in my job – without me even trying!

Over the last few years I’ve been exploring vocation, things are rather on hold at the moment, but what I’ve come to realise is that my job is a vocation – I know that because not many people would willingly choose to spend their days with teenagers. 

I know that God has a plan for me, I have no idea what that is, but I know that I have been placed at my school, and have been blessed by the staff, pupils and parents of that school. Now I just have to try to do my best, to encourage the delightful pupils and staff to be able to enjoy the daily manicness that is school life, and to then encourage others to do the same.

We may not feel we are making a difference, but we all are! So many of you who have been reading this have inspired me. Let’s see how far the ripples can travel!