Inspired by the Olympics

It’s a while since I’ve written a post about tearooms, and that’s partly because I’ve hardly been at home recently to do it, but also because I was becoming a little tired of churning out the same sort of thing. I was beginning to think I was not only boring myself to death, but probably also my dear readers.

However, is this genuine boredom on my part, or laziness, or just my usual lack of dedication to something long-term?

Watching the Olympics, I’ve been struck by the dedication of the athletes involved. They spend years of their lives training for this one occasion. Although they attend other competitions as well, for most of them the Olympics is their main goal, the one thing they keep their eye on that inspires them to keep going when they’re getting bored, feeling lazy or just sick of dedicating their entire lives to exercise.

While writing a blog is by no means as arduous as training to become an Olympic athlete, many bloggers use it as a way of disciplining themselves to write regularly, practising a skill they would like to become better at. I don’t know what the percentage is, but a lot of bloggers, myself included, have a desire to become published authors, and even if we are writing other things at the same time, blogging can provide a useful bit of training that contributes to that goal.

I watched a documentary a while ago about Usain Bolt, currently the fastest man in the world (and tonight we’ll find out if he still is). He is obviously very talented at what he does, but he didn’t get where he is today without putting in considerable effort. What appeals to me about him, however, is that he’s not one of these athletes who genuinely enjoys all the training for its own sake, he struggles to discipline himself to do it when he’s not in the mood, and his coach has said that despite his success he’s not a natural when it comes to training.

Usain Bolt hanging off a London Bus – courtesy of The Guardian

In a recent newspaper interview, Bolt had this to say: “The key thing to remember is that hard work does pay off. If you put the work in, it will definitely pay off in the long run”. I’m sure this is something he has to repeatedly tell himself, to remind himself why he’s putting in all this work when he would rather be relaxing with his chums in the Caribbean sunshine and being the laid-back Jamaican that he naturally is.

A good friend of mine recently sent me a card, which arrived on the very day I needed it. I had been sitting at my desk thinking that I needed some sort of motivational text to inspire me, when this card popped through the letterbox. It’s now sitting next to my laptop and reads: “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars…”

I’m sure I had seen the quote before and it hadn’t made a particular impact, but when I saw it that day it hit home and provided the encouragement I needed to keep going. It also relieved me of the pressure I had been putting myself under, the ridiculous notion that in order to be a successful author I needed to become the next J K Rowling. It’s good to be inspired by other people who’ve trodden the path before you, but important to remember that we are all individuals, with different talents and different routes to success, and – most importantly – different definitions of success.

I initially thought that success for me would mean publishing my own book, which I did a few weeks ago. It was a good achievement, but now it feels to me like a stepping stone to other things. I’m glad I did it, and prior to publication I did work quite hard to get it done, but almost as soon as I had it in my hands I wanted to forget about it and move onto the next thing. This is very typical of me, the constant desire to do something else and the inability to stick at one thing for long. I find this aspect of my character immensely irritating, but having had 40 years of getting to know myself, I realise that this is just the way I am.

We all have to make the best of what we’ve got and, as much as I admire Usain Bolt and all the other Olympic athletes competing in this year’s Games, I am never going to be among them in sporting terms. But I have already learned a lot from observing their dedication and will power, and can apply something of that spirit to my own situation.

I’ll be watching the result of tonight’s men’s 100m with great interest, as will many millions of other people. Whether or not Usain Bolt successfully defends his title, he has already inspired countless people, and I hope that makes him feel he’s still a winner, whatever the outcome.


44 thoughts on “Inspired by the Olympics

  1. And here I am – your very own cheer squad!!! *Lorna* clap clap clap *Lorna* clap clap clap clap

    It IS hard work to font up to our blogs on a regular basis, but I do believe it hones our skills, and gets us closer to our goals. What better way to learn a craft than to practice it?

    But please don’t think we would EVER get bored of your tea room delights. Cos we won’t. Okay?
    Much love to you xoxo

  2. Nice post! I’m very like you in that respect, I need to discipline myself and can become tired of things easily, commitment is definitely the key. I liked the bit about us being individuals with different talents and different routes to success, that is so true. πŸ™‚

    • Thanks Eleenie, it’s nice to know I’m not alone! It’s so easy to lose sight of your own talents if you compare yourself with others who have different skills, but we all have something valuable to contribute, we just need to know ourselves well enough to recognise what it is.

  3. What’s definitely important, is that you gather inspiration from the things which are most important to you. I too have spoken with colleagues and friends during the Olympics and our thoughts on what it takes for someone to reach the ‘pinnacle’ of their careers on a world wide level.
    It’s that get up & go on the morning when you least want to, or the small quips & quotes that inspire. I think your blog fills a niche perfectly in Scottish Tearooms and your little corner of the world, the most important thing is to recognise and appreciate what you’ve already achieved! πŸ™‚

    • Thank you Alice, I agree with all of that! It is all about doing things even when you don’t want to, getting up and starting each new day with the resolution to do your best. Everyone has good days and bad days, but if you commit to doing your best whatever the situation, no one can ask for more than that. Thank you for reminding me to appreciate my achievements too, we all have achievements we can be proud of, and it’s easy to lose sight of them when wishing for something else.

  4. Lorna
    I watched Bolt last night and was delighted when he won. I was also delighted to hear about his struggle to discipline himself. For many of these atheletes, this is all they have done since childhood. They are driven in a way we can only appreciate, not really share. So I thought, as you did, hey, they’re human too! Maybe there’s hope for me!

    I also tend to have more than one project going at a time when I know it’s better to focus on one thing until it’s complete. sigh…I’m working on it.
    My blog, like yours, is a way to write regularly (!) and stay in practice.Hopefully, there will be readers who can provide feedback to let me know if I’ve hit the mark with something I’ve written. And, with writing being a particularly soltary activity, it reminds me there are people out there.

    I work full time to pay the rent, so I have even less time for writing than I’d like, but I tell myself it’s actually better-forces me to manage my time.
    Keep writing-you’re wonderful. Your dear readers look forward to each post.

    • Thank you Kathleen, you’re a gem, and I know how hard it is to fit writing in when you’re working full time. I applaud your attitude and agree completely that it helps to have that community online that we can interact with. I read something somewhere recently about the importance of finishing one job before starting the next, but it is extremely difficult to do when there are so many distractions and something else looks more appealing. I suppose it’s something to work towards, and when you do manage to complete a project it brings a great deal of satisfaction. I’m glad you’re taking heart from Bolt’s story and that you’re determined to keep on writing.

  5. Sometimes it’s hard to weather the lows of blogging/writing, but it helps knowing some kind of inspiration is around the corner. It certainly helps to know there is a supportive community around you who want you to keep doing what you’re doing and to succeed. Cheering you on to your next goal, Lorna.

    • It is Annie, it can be very hard, and without that supportive community I’m sure I’d have given up before now. I had no idea people would be this encouraging when I started, but I’m so glad I’ve discovered the blogosphere and have had so many positives from it. Thank you for cheering me on, I’m cheering you on too! πŸ™‚

  6. I’m in awe of the athletes too. I remember one of the women rowers – I think one of the first ones to win – said something to the effect that, if she could do this, then everyone else should be able to achieve their dream, too. Believing in yourself – as Colin is always saying!! – that is a secret weapon. It really works!

    • I think some of these athletes do realise what an enormous effect they can have on other people, which is great. Colin is quite right, it’s all about self-belief and confidence in your own abilities, something I need to work on.

      • So do I – it comes more easily to some than others. But you are NOT boring your readers, so don’t be disheartened! Take Jane Austen for example – she wrote beautifully and compellingly about ordinary subjects and ordinary people. Nothing dreadful ever happened! No one got murdered. A lot of tea drinking was done, come to think of it. It could have been very, very boring! But it wasn’t – and it still isn’t. You have got a gift for writing and expression, combined with warmth and humour. If your book is leading on to other things, that can only be good – so like your friend said, go for it!

        • Thank you very much Jo, that’s awfully nice of you, but I think I really was boring myself! Or perhaps just feeling frustrated by the lack of excitement in my life at the moment. I don’t miss working long hours on a boat feeling seasick, but I think I do miss the bit of adventure that goes with the territory. However, on balance, I’m glad to be at home enjoying tearooms, I really can’t complain. I had never thought about Jane Austen that way before, but you’re right, there were no murders or terrible events, and yet she created a fascinating world you could completely immerse yourself in. Sometimes I feel I very much miss the point of things, the obvious that’s right in front of me, and I wonder why I’m so dim. I don’t actually know where I’m going next but hopefully I’ll find out soon.

          • Sounds like you could do with a complete break, just for a few days… and things might fall back into place in your mind, or you might discover what the next step is. Sending you lots of positive wishes.

            • Good advice Jo, thank you. I’m sure you’re right that things will fall back into place at some point. In the meantime I just have to exercise a little patience and perhaps do something completely different.

  7. I often chide myself for being a dilettante – partly because although my husband and I started out on the same path, he has doggedly kept to it with great success, and I have wandered off in all directions with no particular professional accomplishments to show for my various undertakings. But in fact, he’s done what’s right for him and I’ve done what’s right for me. It’s great to read that even someone with such huge natural talent like Usain Bolt finds it hard to be disciplined sometimes.

    I will never tire of reading your tearoom reviews, and I have to say that in my mind, the Scottish landscape has a new potential source of delight due to your book. I also agree with others who say that you’re a natural writer – I’ll enjoy reading whatever you want to write about Lorna!

    If you do keep going with the tearooms (Tearoom Olympics?) I’ll love to read more, but if you change your focus, I’ll still love to read what you post and publish.

    • Thank you Christine, it’s a good point that what’s right for one person is not necessarily right for another, and excellent that you’ve been able to see it that way in your situation. I do wish I had the staying power of some of my friends who have chosen a career, stuck with it and worked their way up to impressive positions, but then I would have missed out on the variety I’ve been able to have by not staying in that one lane. You can’t have it all ways, can you?

      You are, as ever, very gracious and too kind with your comments. I’m absolutely delighted that you want to read what I write, I take that as a great compliment coming from such an accomplished author and I don’t think I deserve it. I love the idea of Tearoom Olympics, by the way! πŸ™‚

      • Not too kind at all! (Ha ha, accomplished author – hmph!) I’m completely sincere in my admiration of your abilities. I would expand a bit on what Robin has written, to say that I believe the bedrock of any creative project has to be an acceptance of ourselves. It doesn’t mean we can’t be self-critical, but we have to be as kind to ourselves as we would be to others. (I realise that’s a variable!) I also no longer believe that there is any single yardstick for measuring good writing. People need and appreciate different things at different times in their lives.

        Some days getting out of bed IS a big accomplishment, nevermind crafting something out of words to share with the world!

        • Thank you Christine. I woke up this morning to find a number of encouraging comments on this blog, including yours. I have to say, I think I have been very lucky to meet the nicest set of bloggers in the blogosphere! Everyone who comments here is so encouraging, supportive and lovely that I feel quite overcome by it at times.

          You often have wise words for me, and I’m very grateful that you take the time to share them here. This acceptance of ourselves is something I seem to have a problem with at times. There are occasions when I really believe in myself and don’t question my abilities, but doubts are always skulking just round the corner. I tell myself that’s healthy and it’s good not to be over confident, but then I watch Usain Bolt win Olympic gold and parade round the stadium with utter confidence, never questioning his ability, and I sit in great awe wishing I had some of what he had (and I don’t mean the running skill although I wouldn’t say no to that…)

          You’re right about getting out of bed, but I do remember a period in my life when I used to leap out of bed early every morning, getting up as soon as I woke up, and it feels like a long time since I’ve been like that. I had a zest for life then that seems to be missing a bit now, but maybe if I work on it I can get it back. Well worth a try!

  8. This post is outstanding, Lorna. You have touched on so many themes: writing, blogging, dedication, discipline, the Olympic athletes, personal goals–and you have woven them together perfectly. I have thought the same thing myself, that many bloggers (my guestimate is 82.5%) are aspiring authors. I think that many of us have started blogging not only to hone our skills, but also to develop an internet presence and a platform. And I also am finding it difficult to continue posting at the pace I once did (maybe it’s the summer, maybe I’m getting weary of it, myself, maybe I think my followers are getting bored, too), but I do get frustrated in that the blogging tends to interfere with my other writing. As far as you’re concerned, Lorna, dear, trust that your followers are NOT growing weary of you or your posts. Be it tearooms or travels, it doesn’t matter; you could write about brown paper bags and make it interesting.
    And I leave you with two comments: 1. Stop calling yourself lazy! You have accomplished more in 8 months than most people do in 8 years. (I don’t mean to sound like your mother, because I’m not old enough to be. But, I can sound like your big sister.) 2. I went to a writers workshop on developing a platform, and the speaker there said, β€œwriting, like kindness, is never wasted.” I keep those words in mind.
    So, keep writing, Lorna, on whatever topic you like!

    • I don’t know what to say Robin, except thank you very much for your unerring support and belief in me. Your blog is never boring, your photos amaze me and what you write is absolutely wonderful. I love your Quotes challenges, I find them inspiring and you bring them to the table with such grace and lightness of touch.

      That’s a very precise estimate of the number of would-be authors in the blogosphere, and I’m surprised it’s that high but I bow to you on this one as you’ve obviously given it considerable thought. I feel compelled to do a post about brown paper bags now, to test your theory. πŸ™‚

      Re: your comments, I feel you give me too much credit because I really am quite lazy and constantly have to drag myself around by the scruff of the neck, talk myself into getting out of bed every morning, etc. I do get things done now and then, but I sometimes wonder how I complete anything with my initial reluctance in every area bar drinking tea and eating scones. That writers’ workshop sounds like the sort of thing I should attend, and I will remember that quote, thank you. In fact, I’m going to stick it up next to my desk along with my moon and stars card and remind myself of it frequently.

  9. Blogging is hard work and I often wonder how long I will do it and understand when others stop.
    I wanted to say good piece, and big congrats to your homeboy Andy Murray.

    • Thank you Mike, I think a lot of people drop out and just come back again occasionally, but sometimes other things take over and blogging gets lost in the busyness of life. When you do it for a while though, and build up a little group of chums as you’ve done so well, it makes it all worthwhile.

      I was wondering if you were watching the Olympic final today, I thought you might be! Admittedly, Federer was not at his best, but all credit to Andy for a great performance, and for having belief in himself. Maybe he can even win Wimbledon next year, that would be superb!

      • Hi Lorna. We’ll see what Andy takes from this match moving forward. The US Open is coming up and we’ll get a good read there.
        I have lots of followers but apparently they are tired of my work as my numbers are way down. I’ll survive it but maybe I’ll change it up some. Nice to talk to you.

        • When does the US Open start? That will be a good test, as you say. Don’t be downhearted by blog stats Mike, I have the same thing and have tried to train myselt not to look at them so much now. Speaking for myself, I never manage to get round all the blogs I want to look at, and have had to cut back drastically on the number I follow because I simply can’t handle all the email notifications! It’s not that I don’t want to read the posts or like the blogs, it’s just a time problem. I think most blogs have a small number of regular followers and a larger number who dip in and out. It’s nice to have a readership, and I would rather have a few people who comment than hundreds who don’t.

  10. Hello. I sat here a little flabbergasted to read you describing yourself as lacking commitment. I’ve been reading your blog for a little while, (actually meant to say congratulations when you got your book published – which was a fantastic achievement! – but obviously got distracted and forgot to), and, mostly I just wanted to say (because I too tick things off and then keep moving) that I think that’s healthy. We can’t always keep doing the same thing all the time, and nor should we I think. We would stagnate. I don’t mean that it’s not admirable to commit to something and stick at it and carry it through, and do it well. What I mean is that I think it is part of what life is that we keep looking for fresh fields all the time. It is a sign of vibrance. It doesn’t mean that you are lazy, just that you are alive. A change is as good as a rest – isn’t that it? Take a break and come back refreshed. This works with a lot of things we love. Absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that. I seem to know a lot of platitudes! I also have had nearly 40 years to work out that sometimes they can be true. Enjoy your day!

    • Hello, welcome, and thank you very much for taking the time to comment, and for reading my blog. You’ve used a phrase I grew up with: ‘a change is as good as a rest’. I do believe that, and agree with you that change often helps to renew and invigorate us. Thank you for turning my ‘bad point’ into a good one, and pointing out that looking for new things can be a sign of being alive. That’s very true, and I know that I wouldn’t be happy sticking at one thing all the time. I think I sometimes feel I wish I fitted into the mould a bit better, so that when people ask me what I do for a living I have a definite answer and a career path to back it up. My CV is a complete mess of different things with no obvious progression towards a goal, and employers have often commented on that. Thankfully, I’m not applying for jobs any more, but I hate to think what any employer would say if they could see my CV now! It was difficult enough a few years ago but the more time goes on, the more disjointed my life appears. However, I do enjoy the variety and if you don’t enjoy life then what’s the point? You’re the second person to suggest I take a break, thank you, I am listening and will take note! πŸ™‚

  11. Well, first of all, I wasn’t *really* trolling for complements, but thank you kindly just the same. Second of all, I suspect that the percentage of people who have to talk themselves into getting out of bed every morning exceeds my estimate of the percentage of bloggers who wish to be published. Third of all, if you keep talking about how lazy you are, I am going to have to fly over there and beat you with a scone. ( πŸ˜‰ ) Finally, do seek out some writers’ groups and workshops. That will take you to the next level, and your time has come.

    • Ha ha, I wonder if I should do a poll about getting out of bed. That makes me feel better, thank you. I promise you I will try to stop banging on about my laziness, although being beaten with a scone doesn’t seem too bad a punishment. It would be great to attend a writers’ workshop, I’ll certainly look out for that, thank you – my time has come! Just like Usain Bolt’s did yesterday. πŸ™‚

  12. I was thinking about ALL the same ideas this past week. Looking into the athletes eyes right before they compete you see nothing but one-pointed determined concentration. Just love that… thanks for articulating everything I was feeling. Bolt is a great role model for us too!!

    • Thank you Moira, it’s so nice to have a bit of fellow feeling, isn’t it? I think the Olympics brings out a sort of community spirit, which is often missing in modern life. I know what you mean about looking into the athletes’ eyes. They’re so focused and determined, it’s a really useful life skill to have, to be able to centre on that one aim and go for it. I’m sure Usain Bolt has his down sides but from what I’ve seen of him I think he’s a great role model, I find him very inspiring.

  13. as much as I enjoy the thought of writing and I love words and how they communicate something that’s in our head or our hearts, it is sometimes difficult to push those thoughts onto paper (or on the computer :)). thanks for the reminder to keep at it, to discipline ourselves. I wonder if writers ever feel that they have written their last book or that they get too tired to write any more? I appreciate your honesty. I have to admit I also get distracted easily and have trouble finishing a project at times. I can relate to the feeling you have of finishing something and wanting to begin something different right away.

    • Thank you Alison, I think a lot of people will be able to relate to what you’ve written. It takes energy and effort to release what’s inside you in a coherent way onto paper. I have several ideas for posts that I haven’t written yet because I just can’t muster up the energy required, but I take heart from the thought that lots of other people struggle in the same way at times. I’m sure even great writers sometimes wonder if they can produce another book, and even if they never write another whole book I think most of them feel an an urge to keep writing in some form or another. This is one thing that’s great about blogging, you can fulfil that urge to write, but do it in small doses on topics that interest you at the time, and it’s all worthwhile doing. I like what Robin said about it above: “writing, like kindness, is never wasted”.

  14. Wow Lorna, look at all the responses to this blog. It’s really touched a nerve in so many of us, hasn’t it? Which is a tesitmony to the effectiveness of your writing. I love your blogs about tea rooms (and will happily read however many you choose to write), but you certainly are a compelling author regardless of the subject matter. Although I’m totally in favor of developing discipline and follow through (only good can come of it), I think most people who shift from one thing to the next do so because they have a restless mind due to an excess of intelligence. –Lucinda :0)

    • That’s very kind Lucinda, thank you, and I agree that these responses are amazing, I have been quite bowled over by them and feel really pleased that people want to leave their considered comments. Whether it’s here or on Facebook, you always make me smile. I actually laughed out loud at that last sentence of yours, I’ll have to remember that defence! πŸ™‚

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