Monday, 21 October 2019

Dare to Fly

Today the wind is blowing fiercely, yet, despite the wind I have had such a lovely time visiting with friends, that it was well worth it to venture out into the wind..  I normally do not like the wind, especially that kind of wind which howls around the corners of the house.  It usually makes me feel quite vulnerable, maybe because it reminds me of times when I feel fragile, like a butterfly tossed in the wind.  Times that I feel like crawling into my cocoon and hiding.  This feeling of vulnerability is quite scary, but even more frightening is the idea that others might notice my frailness.  Being vulnerable is perceived as being weak, shameful.  Vulnerability is tagged as being emotional, even irrational.  Weakness leaves us exposed and at the mercy of others, therefore we go to great lengths to hide it. 
We become quite adept at concealing our vulnerabilities.  Some people don the mask of cynicism or sarcasm to hide behind.  Others use criticism or hostility to hide their frailness.  Others wrap the cloak of aloofness tightly around their delicate frame.  The consequence of this, however, is that often it is the very mask we wear that end up hurting us even more. The cynic who is yearning to believe, to trust, finds that what he suspected is true, the critic, fearing judgement, ends up being judged because of her judgmental nature, and the aloof who bulletproof themselves from rejection, tends to stay on the sidelines, feeling excluded. 
We armour ourselves with defense mechanisms, strong armour to keep hurt at bay, but the opposite is also true, we keep healing, love and nurturing away from ourselves.  Inside our cocoons we are safe, but also alone.  The bad cannot easily reach us there, but neither can the good.  Tightly wrapped up inside our cocoons, we can never be free, never develop the strength of our wings.
Despite what the world says, being vulnerable is not being weak, it is being truthful to ourselves.  It is facing the true me and accepting myself for who I am.  By climbing out of my cocoon, I open myself up to the chance of being hurt, yes, but I open myself up to so much more.  I open myself up to love, to acceptance, to joy and beauty, to my own uniquely created self.  I expose myself to growth and transformation.  A butterfly can only become what it is destined to be by leaving the cocoon behind.  Its true beauty can only be revealed when it spreads its fragile wings.  Maybe it encounters strong winds, but maybe, it will be carried along by a gentle breeze underneath its wings.....

Saturday, 21 September 2019

Time to See...

This morning I woke up with this thought: we look, but do not see.  Where the thought came from, I do not know.  Maybe it was something I dreamed, or as my daughter used to say when she was small, "Mommy, I saw it in my eyes".
We look at our lives and we think about all the things we would like to have, the things we would like to do and be.  We have bucket lists for adventures, a 100 places we would like to see before we are sixty, five year and ten year goal plans and expectations to be met.  All of that is great.  It is awesome to have plans and goals to strive for.  It is often exactly this which gives us hope and a reason to carry on.  However, sometimes we are so busy looking forward to what we want that we fail to see what it is we already have.
We dream of having a better job, but in the process forget to value the job we do have.  We take it for granted, yet the fact is that just having a job in the present economic climate is very close to a miracle!  It is a huge blessing.  Ask anybody who wonders where the next meal for his family will come from.  If only we realized what a privilege it is to be employed we would go to work everyday with a song of joy in our hearts.
Do you look at other people's beautiful houses or cars and dream of having a similar house or a grander car?  Yet, you fail to see the heartache which they may be carrying with them?  Do you notice the many homeless taking shelter wherever they can find it?  If you did, you would see your humble home for the palace it is, you would give thanks for your feet that can walk and take you where you need to go.
We look at our friends and neighbours jet setting all over the world and we wish we too could go off to exotic places, eating extravagant dishes and sipping martini's on a cruise ship, yet we do not see the beauty of the sunset from our own little stoep, and we are oblivious to the early morning breeze at the break of dawn and the happy song of the birds in our own backyard.  We hardly notice the wholesome home-cooked meal we enjoy at dinner time.
Maybe it is time to remove the "I Want" glasses and rather shout out exuberantly "Thank You! I have!"
Let us take a good look and see, really see, all that we have to be grateful for.  Blessings to you.

Monday, 16 September 2019

Time to Let Go!

What a beautiful Spring day!
Blue skies and birds happily flying from branch to branch.  The trees are filled with fresh green leaves.  The warmer weather is inspiring and the air is filled with joie de vivre !

With this in mind I have thought that it is the perfect week to tackle a little project in the spirit of Spring.  Choose a room or closet this week to de-clutter or revamp.  The size of the project is up to you.  Spend an hour each day to work on it, or even just half an hour a day if time is too tight.  Chances are that before the week is out you will have a tidy, Spring-fresh room or cupboard.  Even just arranging a tired room can spruce it up without having spent a cent on it.  Sort your stuff out into three piles: donate, re-cycle and re-purpose.  Remember that your junk might very well be somebody else's treasure!

While you are busy ordering your room or closet, or even just the corner of a room or your desk do a little bit of mind de-cluttering too.  Think about all the junk thoughts you are holding onto and stuffed into all the little corners of your mind.  Thoughts and toxic ideas, past hurts and grudges we treasure serve only one purpose and that is to stifle our growth and rob us of happiness.  Now is the time to pack them into boxes too and send them off to the rubbish dump.  Let them go.

It is very interesting to note that the clutter we have in our physical surroundings often is a symptom of emotional clutter.  As you organize your space, ask yourself if you really need that box with old make-up, the stash of single earrings or that favourite pair of shoes you absolutely can no longer use?  Does it serve any purpose?  The same goes for the emotional baggage you are lugging around.  Does remembering those unkind words help you to feel better?  That wrong you suffered; does it really make you stronger by reminding yourself of it?  You have learned the lesson, now let it go.

Worries, fears, grudges and bad memories are all emotional clutter that takes up space in our minds.  They drown out the good memories and they steal the happiness that is in the moment.  Clutter gathers dust and makes our daily tasks more difficult.  Go on, grab a few empty boxes, put your favourite music on its loudest and start chucking out the old with gusto!  Have fun!

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

Time for Planting

“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.” 
― Rainer Maria Rilke

Spring is the most beautiful time of the year, the very air is alive with promise.  It is a time of new beginnings.  How about joining me on a journey of  ten little projects to celebrate the arrival of Spring?

First of all, I want you to treat yourself to flowers, but rather than buying a bunch, rather buy yourself a houseplant or a shrub for the garden.  Maybe even start a herb garden or learn about cultivating roses.  Whatever it is you decide to do, just make time to get outside and surround yourself with nature. 

Walking outside, surrounded by plants and flowers has a direct influence on our well-being.  It helps to reduce stress and anxiety.  This in turn helps to lower blood-pressure and decreases tension.  A walk outside helps to replenish out Vitamin D stores which plays an important role for a healthy immune system and the regulation of insulin levels.  Being surrounded by nature restores a feeling of calmness and gives our mood a major boost.  It can even help to counter-act the effects of depression.

So, go to your local nursery today and get yourself a plant to celebrate Spring.  Short on cash?  How about getting to know your neighbours and in the process exchange a plant or two?  That way nature can even help to cultivate a spirit of community!

Happy Spring!!!

Oh, how about sharing with us what plant or flower you have decided to get and in what climate it would flourish.

Monday, 2 September 2019

Beautiful Day!

Today is a beautiful day! It is the first week of Spring. It is the perfect Spring day with blue skies and bright sunshine and just a gentle breeze stirring the fresh green leaves and tender blossoms.  What a blessing, what joy!
I love mornings.  Everything is new, fresh and delightful.  I love waking up to the chatter of the birds just outside our bedroom window. 
Every morning to me is like receiving a gift.  It is all beautifully wrapped up in blue skies,tied up with early morning sunlight and decorated with butterflies. Very soppy and sentimental, I know, but that is really how I feel about early mornings and especially about the early mornings of Spring. Some days the wrapping is a bit gloomy, but still I look forward to unwrapping this mysterious, enticing and gracious gift.
This gift, however, is very different from all other gifts.  Usually the gift we receive is just what it is - a pretty little soap, exquisite jewelry or maybe a beautiful book.  Sometimes it is something we always wanted, but at other times it might be something we already have.  This early morning gift though is a very unique gift.  It is what I decide to make out of it.  If I look for beauty in my day, that is what I will find in my gift, but if I look for the ugly in today, the angry and hateful, that, too, is what I will get from the gift.  What I decide to do with this gift of today is determined by what happens in my heart and in my thoughts, it gives shape to my day and ultimately my life.
We all receive this gift, but what we do with it, what we make out of it, remains a personal choice.  Yes, sometimes we wake up, and we realize that our gift will never be entirely the same again, as life and circumstances have maybe attached a label or two to my gift.  Maybe it is a label of sadness, or regret.  Maybe the gift tag reads "Change", yet I still have a choice about what I am going to do with this brand new day.  Will I celebrate it or waste it, will I use it for good or squander it on insignificant things, because there seems to be an endless supply of it?
Something else about this gift that is different from normal gifts is that where most gifts we can keep and enjoy still for a long time to come, this gift just belongs to today, to now.  I cannot save it for tomorrow, and I if I drag yesterday into it, I spoil it with bitterness, blame or regret.  It has an expiry time.
Graciously God grants us each day another opportunity, another wonderful gift.  It is so sad that in our youth we have little value for this gift, and so easily trade it for nonsense, filling the hours with unnecessary baggage. Fortunately, as we grow "wiser ", so our appreciation also increases and we start to treasure this gift of now and we cram it with everything that is worthwhile and good.
My wish for you is that  you will every morning unwrap this gift with joy and embrace your new today with wide open arms and live it!!

Have a joyful Spring!

Monday, 26 August 2019

Five Simple Steps

Did you wake up this morning and just felt "blah"?  Did the Monday blues descent on you like a ton of bricks?  Dis you feel totally unmotivated to start the new week?  Welcome to the club!  Most of us can relate.  However, I have good news, you do not have to feel that way.  Five simple steps could get you out of the slump.
First of all, take the time to re-discover your motivation.  Why did you take the job you are currently doing? Whatever the reason, write it down in big bold letters and rejoice in it.  Maybe your answer is that it was the only job available.  Well, wonderful, that alone, in our current economical climate, is a great reason to celebrate it!  Maybe it was a stepping stone to another position? Well, awesome, you are well on your way!  You see, it is all about the eye with which we view our situation.
Next, re-evaluate and rewrite your goals.  Is your current job bringing you closer to your goal of a better position, or do you need to make another plan?  Maybe you have to enroll in night school?  Whatever it is, find new goals that will excite you and make your current situation more enjoyable.
A third plan of action to get you dislodged from the rut which you are in, is to ask yourself which goals have you achieved lately?  Maybe you have managed to use your time more productively, or maybe you have joined a gym?  Well, then, treat yourself and give yourself a pat on the shoulder.  Look for something to reward and do it.  Go have a steak, a night at the movies or a few friends over for supper.  Never neglect celebrating the small things as well as the more important things.
Next, do not forget to have fun.  No matter what you do, or what is demanded of you or how snowed under you are, make time every day for a little fun.  Share a joke with a colleague, have a milkshake, go for a stroll in the park or watch a comedy show when you get home.  Whatever lights up a smile, do it and enjoy it.  Lastly, make time for yourself.  Take a break, go to bed early or take an afternoon off.  Whatever it is that you need to do to recharge your batteries, take the time to do it.  You will find that you will return to your daily tasks feeling invigorated and excited to do it.

Monday, 19 August 2019

Blowing in the Wind

It's quite a windy day in August.  Just when we thought the day was going to be as clear as Spring with beautiful blue skies, nature reminded us that it can be quite fickle, and surprised us some with a blustering day. Most of the people I know cannot wait for the winter to pass and I myself long for the warmer days, especially when I walk into my deep-freeze kitchen.  However, it is sad that in the process we do not appreciate the beauty which makes each season a period to be treasured.
There is a serenity in an August landscape.  Beautiful, bare trees are bending in the gusts and wind swept clouds are moving across the sky.  The wind tossing my hair and whipping at my clothes actually invigorates my thoughts.
So often we are so focused on what comes next that the beauty of today, this moment, slips by us unnoticed.  Often we are wrapped up in the past with its pain and failures that we pay little attention to the present.  Even our worries about the future rob us of the simple pleasures to be found in this moment.  Every moment is a capsule of perfection and every breath a miracle.  We are surrounded by beauty.  Petals dancing in the wind, the dust motes floating in a beam of sunlight, the curl of a kitten's tail against your leg and the smell of freshly turned earth are all precious moments of beauty which pass by unnoticed in our rush to get to the next important thing.  Yes, maybe we are going through a hardship at the present moment, and it seems impossible to find any joy right now.  We pray for this moment to pass in order to get to a better time.  Yet somehow, even in the darkest hour, a moment of gratefulness can be found, if only in the thought that I still have a breath left, that this, too, shall pass. Maybe in hardship the beauty is the memories of good times, a hand holding mine or a prayer said by a loved one.
Maybe the beauty of this blustery day is the seeds carried on the wind to a new place of re-birth.  Maybe it is in the moments we linger just a little longer over a cup of coffee, savouring its heat, and noticing these glimpses of beauty that is best enjoyed at the very moment they are happening.  Maybe we should all take a deep breath, feel how it fills up our lungs and feel the warmth of it as it flows over our lips.  Just for a moment forget where you have to be in the next five minutes or what you have to cook for supper, just be present in the moment and observe, really see, where you are right now.  Do you feel the fabric of the chair you are sitting on, do you hear the hum of the florescent light and the smell of coffee brewing?  Do you hear the laughter of your teenage daughter as she talks on the phone to her best friend or feel the warmth of your puppy snuggled against you?  Don't let the moment pass by unnoticed.  Be aware of it and treasure it.  Be alive right now and be blessed. 

Monday, 29 July 2019

Little Lessons(5) - Choose Happy

Today's life lesson I want to share with you is one which my dad taught me when I was about ten.  I was the baby of the family, so I often found myself in the company of older people and it was at this time that I often heard conversations about growing older and the resulting wrinkles.  It seemed to be a major concern, especially for women.  I asked my father about this problem which seemed to be a product of growing older.  I specifically asked his advice on how I could escape it since I was definitely planning to grow up.  He laughed at this and his answer stayed with me all through the years.  He explained that wrinkles were simply a part of life and that we do not really have much of a choice in the matter (of course he had no idea what an amazing skin my sister would have one day).  His advice to me was that it came down to choice.  No, not a choice about whether I would have wrinkles or not, but a choice about what type of wrinkles they would be.  Would they be angry wrinkles or wrinkles of laughter?  After some deep thought, I decided that every line would tell a story of joy, happiness, and contentment.
I am not really ecstatic about my acquired 'character lines', but whenever I observe them, I remember my dad's words and I remember the lines of merriment on his handsome face, and I hope he would be smiling at mine.  Every moment is precious, enjoy each one.  Find the joy, look for reasons to laugh, smile at people passing you on the street, share a joke with the weary workers behind the counters and even smile at those who greet you with long sullen faces.  Let happiness leave its mark around your lips, next to your eyes and in your heart.

Monday, 22 July 2019

Little Lessons(4) - Pause

This month I have been sharing a few life lessons with you, things I have been taught by my mom, my sister and my friends.  These little jewels of wisdom often help to guide us along the path.

We are living in a very fast-paced world, jam-packed with deadlines and the quest for ever-higher productivity figures.  Words like "now", "immediately", "instantly" and "at once" constantly ricochette through our minds.  We are bombarded by salespersons to immediately respond to their "once-in-a-lifetime" offer and service deliverers barely have time to make eye contact with their clients.  We are forced to make snap decisions.Is this your life?  Are you constantly in a hurry?  Then it is time to press the PAUSE button.  Take a breather.  Eat that wafer chocolate!

Yes, life is brief.  Yes, we might miss the bus.  That is exactly why we need to pause before we rush headlong into something we might regret.  Life is too short to make forced mistakes.  The pause button is a valuable asset. The time it affords us can save us from the regret which comes from hasty decisions. When you are pressured into doing something or when you are forced to make a decision, it should be a red flag.  Say no, pause and reflect.  Give yourself a moment.  Ask yourself if you really need it.  Do you really have to do it? If you really need it, then you will still need it tomorrow, and then you can say yes.  It would have been worth the wait.

It is important to practice the pause. Pause before you react, pause before you speak and pause before you decide.  Pause when you are in doubt, pause before you judge or condemn and pause before you dismiss.
Finally, pause before you panic.