From the moment you meet nurse and disability analyst Maddie Rose, she has a positive energy which you can’t help but reciprocate - a quality which unexpectedly grew out of some of her most difficult experiences as a nurse. An advocate of the importance of gratitude, we sat down with Maddie to discuss her journey into wellness, how she cultivates gratitude and the importance of being kind to ourselves.
Tell us a little bit more about you! What do you do and what are you passionate about?
Absolutely! So hey, I’m Maddie. I’m 24 and am currently working as a nurse, whilst training as a PT on the side. As you can probably tell, I love to constantly be learning, and what better way than to tie in two jobs that will allow me to do just that?! From years of studying academic papers, I definitely have a ‘no BS’ approach to new fads, shakes, powders, exercises, and love to get my evidence from the source and know that what I am ingesting, or training, or teaching, is 100% tried and tested. Over the years I made every mistake in the book with fitness so I want to be the source of honesty I wish I had had when I was younger and more impressionable, in an ever-more saturated fitness industry.
When I’m not geeking out, I absolutely adore any activity that includes water (have been called a ‘surfer’ vibe more times than I can count on two hands), exploring new places, attending numerous bottomless brunches with pals, training heavy just so I can recover at the spa, and eating copious amounts of pick n mix. Wild, I know!
How did you originally get into health and wellness and what has your journey been like?
This question made me laugh. It is safe to say ‘journey’ is quite the word for it! My mum dragged me along to a gym one day when I was 16, much to my dismay. When I was younger I’d done a lot of competitive sport but that all fizzled out at as I went to secondary school and became painfully self-conscious. I often make the joke now when I share my experiences online that “I made all the mistakes so that you don’t have to’: needless to say I tried every diet fad, gadget, quirky exercise, and Instagram challenge under the sun. It was only having muddled through all of these mistakes, and stripping back all the layers to nailing the basics, that I have made immense progress physically and mentally.
What does gratitude mean to you and how do you feel it connects to health and wellness in a broader sense?
What gratitude looks to me in my life will be different to everybody’s reading this. For we all live in different bodies with different abilities. But at its core, it is in the appreciation of everything our bodies can do, everything our minds can process, everything our hearts can love, and everything our souls ever need. It seems our bodies were made for cosmic capacities of grace, of love and ability - the gratitude is how we recognise and harness this to fulfil its maximum potential. Much more exciting than the goal of fitting into a smaller dress size, no?
Was there a specific experience that made you view gratitude in this light and how did this change you as a person?
Where my career has led me so far has forever changed my perspective of what it is to live. Although I cannot be specific, I will say this - I think the magnitude of poorliness that I, and we all, were seeing day-in-day-out throughout the coronavirus pandemic really impacted me mentally. Speaking candidly, it got to the point where it was hard to find positivity at all – online or in real life. I don’t think I’m alone in that. During the stillness forced upon us, I started to seek out small pieces of gratitude each morning that I had never picked up on before, just to discern one day from another. Like the fact that I got to wake up each day to help those who needed it. That my legs that have walked me thousands of miles still get me out of bed each morning for a lockdown walk. That my lungs have the capacity to fill to bursting, and laugh until I cry with my loved ones on Zoom. Most of the time about nonsense. That steaming cups of tea are a thing. That for the first time in my life, I have slowed down to process emotions I had never taken note of before. And grow to master this process and change my life. It truly is in appreciating the seemingly insignificant things, that add up to the life-altering perspectives.
How do you practice gratitude in your daily life?
The quickest and easiest way: grabbing the Notes app on your phone, a notebook and journal, whatever you can find. And write down 1-3 things you are grateful for in that very moment. At first it seems strange, inorganic, and a bit staged. But keep at it every day or so. Some days will be like a drought, other days will be flooding with gratitude. And that is okay. Soon your brain will be subconsciously looking out for things to be grateful for and you’ll notice it outside of holding the notebook in your hands.
My biggest tip: take note of what you write down. Of everything good around you. What gives you energy. The people you love to spend time with. The traits you love in others. The foods you love to cook. What you do that makes you feel joy. That makes you feel powerful, and motivated, and driven. The sights you love to see. The things you do that set your soul alight with aliveness. This is your gratitude, go and get as much of it as you can.
Since you began implementing these practices, have you seen changes in yourself and your life as a whole and what were they?
Since implementing these practices, almost every part of my life has changed. From where I live, what I do for a job, what I want from a career, who I allow in my life, what I do because I want to do it, how I want to challenge myself. And without a doubt, I am so much the wiser, calmer, stronger and more loving. Because in seeking out the glimpses of positivity each day, I have learned to address what brings me true joy, and focus on building a life around those things.
Have you experienced a time when feeling gratitude was difficult and how did you deal with this?
I absolutely have had awful times over the years, and still do experience times when expressing gratitude is difficult. Of course no one wakes up in a good mood every day. Of course no one can have a good day every day.
Like I said earlier, some days it feels like a drought where you feel there’s nothing to be grateful for. Honestly? Ice cream and your favourite Netflix show are a very good shout. Followed by the acceptance that not everything can be peachy every day. Sometimes we just have to give ourselves a break. The sun will rise again.
Finally, what is something you’re grateful for right now?
1st November = Christmas, right? I’m excited for the festivities to begin! All the love, cheer and laughing with everyone whom I adore. What could be better?
To keep up with Maddie, follow her on Instagram.