I am so exhausted, I get up make the breakfast – mine and for the family, get the kids up, walk the dog, have a shower, get the kids ready, get them out the door and…. BREATH! Now in the car, off to work, manage staff, office politics and egos until lunch time, no time for lunch as I need to catch up on what I should have been doing in the morning! Afternoon blur of activity unhappy customers, deadlines and reports, leave at 6! Home, cook dinner, supervise homework and squabbles, get started on tomorrows packed lunches, tidy dishes away and…… RELAX! No, it is 10 o’clock and past my bedtime and I must get off up those stairs if I am to awake at the alarm buzzing at 6 am tomorrow…... SIGH!

The next part of the above is it must be repeated over the next 4 days!

Sound familiar?

An ex Manager of mine wants made a very important statement.  If you have something important that needs to be completed with a deadline look around your team and assign it to the person who is busy. 

Why you may ask, as I did?

The busy person will look at the assigned task and do one of two things.  They will either pass it back and say it is not achievable in the time provided and give you a deadline they can achieve, they will deliver as they have now taken ownership. Or they will accept the work and complete as you have assigned, again as they have taken ownership. 

Give it to someone who isn’t busy, and they will procrastinate about the fact you have given them the work to do, will not challenge the request because they know you know they are not busy and finally for the deadline to be met you will either have to micro manage or end up doing it yourself.

So, the point to the above is we all have busy lives, but we also can find time to do something new.

But why does the Charity sector need you?

The reason is that we never know what is around the corner and most Charities are established to help those less fortunate than ourselves.  If you volunteer an hour of your time a week or a month what difference could that make to someone’s wellbeing?  If you can sit on a board and share your wealth of knowledge and experience that could ensure the Charity survives, or, they can make life changing benefits for the next client or visitor who walks through their door.  It is not always about raising money with a collection tin it can be a lot wider than this with positively contributing in so many other ways.

We have all heard that funding has been cut, Council’s and Health Boards are having to look at their delivery models and how the third sector plays a significant role in that new service model.  Services can be procured cheaper or more cost effectively.  The closing part to that is, it is only possible because most charities are totally dependent on their army or network of volunteers.  Volunteers claim expenses and not a salary, so the costs are significantly reduced and cut services within the public sector can be delivered differently and, in many cases better if Charities can be responsive to changes and demands.

I now hear you say, “this all sounds great, but I do not have the time” and if I can create an hour of free time in a week I need that to sigh, drink a warm cup of tea and switch off from everything else.  Fantastic you have just articulated that you want some “me time”!  So, after your hour of switching off, nothing has changed other than you have delayed doing the packed lunches or making the dinner or doing that important thing that happens every other day.

What if that hour was spent on a telephone stopping someone making a negative life decision, or, helping someone deliver a workshop that the people attending would not be able to take part in if it wasn’t for your help, or, as a trustee you bring professional expertise to ensure sound governance and controls exist within the Charity?

I think in conclusion we all can have busy lives but there are so many ways you can put something back but at the same time get so much reward. We all can, and do make excuses, but the next time you are sipping that cup of tea and thinking how great it feels having a break consider the short-lived feeling of reward, satisfaction and your emotional state.  Compare that to making positive changes within a Charity as your means of escapism. 

I assure you the latter will have all those happy endorphins doing a little dance in your head for days, making you smile and tackle those routine and daily chores with a spring in your step, for a few days anyway.

Live in Central Scotland, here is a Charity that you might want to consider Reachout with Arts in Mind

Thursday, 19 October 2017 11:53

Yoga – How a sceptic becomes a fan!

Well it is fair to say I have passed the tipping point.  I suppose what I am saying is I am the wrong side of 50 and cooked breakfasts have been replaced by muesli, pints in the pub replaced by spirits beside the fire, and, impact sport replace with just keeping my bits together!

I think in the opening paragraph I have summed up that age is a significant factor on the new outlook. 

I remember years ago singing the praises of stomach crunches and sit ups that were great for your digestion and keeping you regular well twists and bends in a more sedate manner prove equally beneficial and keeps IBS and stomach cramps at a distance.  The body is a wonderful thing but just like a well-tuned engine in a car as soon as it is parked up for a few weeks then the brakes seize on, the lubricating oil solidifies and the dust accumulates on the bonnet.  The car needs to feel the wind arcing over its curves for the internals to perform properly.  So, the car analogy to the benefits of yoga is a good one.

Some of the benefits to the joints and muscles and overall wellbeing are well documented.  The therapeutic side and the placebo effects are significant that they not only minimise toxins within the body but reduce a dependency on the NHS.  Equally it is very easy to perform Yoga at home, so no wasted gym memberships if you want to start gently and easing yourself in with simple stretches.

Once you have mastered some stretches and holds it then means you can build a simple routine for easing those aches and pains.

As some parts of the body regenerate other parts do not so we all have a responsibility to keep things in working order.

Yoga and walking is great as combining the two will lead to a suppler frame, less inflammation and ultimately a brisker walk.  The latter is important as it will increase the cardiovascular impact that is needed to stay fit.

Healthy Body – Healthy Mind, so enjoy life at your pace with some stretches that are good for the brain and release those endorphins to create karma!

So instead of sitting and watching the television tonight mix it up on the rug, stretch those muscles and relieve those aching joints.  Get all the family to join in as well!  Or, if feeling bold look up a local class.

Wednesday, 04 October 2017 17:07

Swimming with the Fishes

We all work and have busy lives but what are the top 10 things you still want to tick off that bucket list.

Following a quick survey of staff in our office here are the 10 things that people came up with, we combined a few that were very similar.  Also in no particular order.

  1. Swimming with dolphins or with colourful tropical fish off a reef or wreck.
  2. Taste every Gin, or, Whisky ever produced.
  3. Balloon flight over the Serengeti with Kilimanjaro on the horizon.
  4. Thrown out of Raffles in Singapore, obviously after having a Singapore Sling.
  5. Trek to the North or South Pole, or climb Everest.
  6. Save someone’s life.
  7. Road trip across Canada, USA, down the West coast of the Americas, or, the Grand Tour of Europe.
  8. Travel on the Orient Express.
  9. Watch my favourite sports club win the league, world cup or win an Olympic gold.
  10. Negotiate World peace.

We did have a few that we could not publish but it poses the question what would be on your bucket list and what is the most amazing thing you have ever done?

Wednesday, 07 June 2017 16:58

Rugby Rugby Rugby

After dinner speeches, songs and banter on the coach trip, the end of season tour, or, just that post-match banter are all sources of anecdotes where some will be told for years to come and often be the source of the odd free pint along the way.

So, a few stories from one aging ex rugby player.

The Presidents Order

On a distant rugby 7’s tournament the decision was made to look after the club president who had not been able to make the 6-hour trip.  At our hotel, a decision was made whilst eating our sustenance prior to hitting the towns bars and nightclub (there was just the one) we would phone the president and let him know how we got on. It was then suggested as he had missed out we would order him some food, home delivered and he would enjoy it having missed out on the rugby and beers.   In principle, a nice gesture but it was taken to the next level, that for the next 6 hours at hourly intervals a delivery was organised from a different eating establishment or carryout restaurant.  None of these were paid for in advance and he probably saw the funny side for the first two but at 1am in the morning having an irate delivery driver demanding money for a meal he did not want did wear a bit thin.

The France Tour

On a hot night in Orleans and after copious amounts of French lager (drunk out of vases but that is another story) the three who had stayed out past the curfew decided they knew the way back to the hotel and started walking in what they believed to be the right direction. After 45 minutes of brisk walking it was obvious that the city district entered was not right one and the buildings and streets where more like a ghetto.  Solution appeared coming towards us, a taxi, although the “for hire” light was not on, driving down the empty main street.  Three drunk rugby players stepped into the road and waved furiously.  As the taxi approached it was not a taxi but a police car with a collar in the back; handcuffs on!  The gendarmes were more than helpful and started trying to locate a taxi for us. Then with the pending wait for the taxi and the area we had walked into they decided to give us a lift across the city to the hotel (opposite direction to that which we had walked).  Got the picture? Three drunk rugby players crammed into the back of the police car with a less than happy restrained criminal seated in the middle.  I am sure the gendarme had a story to tell at shift handover as did we over croissants at breakfast.

The Club Dinner

 After an early start the drinks had been flowing for quite some time before we were respectively escorted to the function suite to take our seats.  One of the coaches, a rotund and bearded chap had the pleasure of sitting at the top table and assigned the task of providing the opening address.  Well getting back to the drinks in the bar beforehand and this stalwart of the club had maybe had one or two too many.  When ushered to his seat he had poured himself a large glass of wine and before the scotch broth arrived he had consumed a bottle or two.  Although he finished his soup he decided to get forty winks and had faced planted into his bowl.   Subsequent courses arrived and were consumed, laughter and jollity across the assembled and yet this rugby stalwart was left to his slumbers.  Time for the speeches. Opening address? A prompt elbow to the ribs and a startled rabbit in the headlamps arousal and rising to his feet! What followed from the mouth of barley laden beard was, and is still, the best rugby speech I have ever heard…… RUGBY RUGBY RUGBY!!!  He sat down to applause and faceplanted the soup bowl again. 

Growing up in the 70’s rugby was played by a right bunch of misfits but in those individuals, you got players that shone across all age grades, club, district and international level and you got pure individual brilliance.  The debate will always be would the likes of Jim Renwick (Scotland), Barry John (Wales), Jean-Pierre Rive (France), Serge Blanco (France), Fran Cotton (England), etc. make it into an International side today?  The debate across generations will always be can you compare different eras but controversially I would say now size matters so much and backs have become forwards and forwards backs.

The last 20-years of women’s rugby has seen the sport develop, increase in popularity and honouring those rugby values as the game is played to physical constraints.  I remember watching the Women’s Rugby World Cup when it was held in Scotland in 1994 when England won with a pack that drove the length of the field and were physically so much bigger.  But even then, the Scotland team showed glimpses of what was to come with the likes of Kim Littlejohn and Pogo Paterson in the centre. Not physically big but athletes that had natural flare and ability with skills in abundance.

Since the early 90’s the men’s professional game, and even through the amateur ranks bulking up, hours in the gym and protein diets have become the norm.  Ball skills, speed, agility and cardiovascular fitness are all becoming secondary to bulking up.  What does this all mean in terms of injuries, recovery and sadly the exclusion of individuals as they are not the 6’5” 19 stone Centre, Wing, or Flanker.  It also does not attract the late developers who have played other sports. The men’s game needs to change for a number of reasons!

So why do I make the statement about women’s rugby? 

The clubs across the country have introduced women’s rugby teams and they are attracting youths and adults who have never picked up a rugby ball before.  In rugby, they have found that they don’t need to be a certain size they are included in to the rugby family and enjoy putting on a pair of boots at the weekend and playing with and for their team mates.  In amongst these new starters you come across some gifted individuals who have not been coached to the point of doing things in a metronomic fashion and suddenly do that something special during a match.  Not saying coaching is not important but a good coach will allow the individual brilliance to become part of their game and not try and coach it out of them!

Certain areas of the women’s game have adapted and have added to the spectacle of the game.  Not limitations but differences such as kicking to touch versus the quick tap and go.   A 50-metre touch finding kick in the men’s game replaced with a pick and go, ruck and grubber kick in the ladies’ game making the most of physical attributes and providing more time with the ball in hand.

An argument might be as the sport is relatively new it is still developing and attracting individuals but this can be countered by the argument that people develop at various stages and ages and girl’s rugby in schools is not a mainstream in physical education classes.  How many of the young boys on a weekend morning at mini rugby get to a certain age and as they perceive they do not have the right shape or size stop doing something they have enjoyed and end up in front of an Xbox or Playstation? 

I would suggest any reader make the time to go and join a club, pick up a ball and get involved.  If you are unsure spend an afternoon and go and watch a female rugby game, see the skills, camaraderie and most importantly the smiles on the faces; ENJOY!

To finish off I thought I would share some of the recent comments of the University of St Andrews Women’s Rugby Team on why they play.

I PLAY RUGBY BECAUSE…..

  • I am Stronger than I Look
  • I know my Friends have my Back On and Off the Pitch
  • It Makes me Feel Alive
  • Netball Never Did it for Me
  • I Can
  • I Like Mud
  • I’m Good at It
  • My Strength is an Advantage and Celebrated
  • Of the Ladz, Bantz and Booze
  • I am Stonger than I Ever Thought I Could Be

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