Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Sunlight Along My Way


What a privilege it is to be alive today.  We live in a world filled with wonder.  Many more opportunities than ever before present themselves to us and we have a wealth of information and knowledge at our fingertips.  Technology and science are developing at a rapid rate.  We are constantly bombarded by new ideas, options and opinions.

Not only do we have an abundance of information and technology at our disposal, we are also free to explore and discover without any boundaries.  We are free to pursue and examine any topic, idea or ideology we want to.  There are no limits as to where we may examine or investigate.  We are greedy for more and more knowledge.  It is interesting to note that with all the knowledge mankind is gaining about the natural, as well as the technological world,  the more we start searching for spiritual answers and enlightenment as well.  Mankind is hungry to understand more about the origin, the psyche and the soul of man as well.

Of course there is nothing wrong with learning and expanding our knowledge.  In order to progress it is important to open our minds and vision to broader insights, to look and search beyond what we know now.  However, with all the information, theories and perceptions out there, it is important that we keep our moral compasses in check.  It is very easy to be confused by all the information and different dogmas we encounter.  

Faith is a very personal concept and very precious.  It is worth protecting and preserving.  To me faith is the sunlight falling through the trees lighting up the forest, guiding me along life's path.  Without it I would be lost.  Therefore it is important that I safeguard my heart against the forces that may want to lead me astray, wanting to guide me along a different way of enlightenment.  Whatever belief system you adhere to, it is important to listen to the voice of your faith in order to stay on the path.  Often different religions come to us in the guise of our own beliefs, wearing a similar cloak, saying familiar words and it is easy to be led astray, therefore it is important to test their words and ideas against your own system of faith, to compare it with discernment.  If we fail to do so we could soon find ourselves without a compass, lost in the forest.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Take a Little Bit


As most of us are aware, February is the month of love.  The shops are filled with chocolate hearts, cuddly teddy bears and red roses.  There is a lot of talk about what love is and how to spoil your better half.  However I want to look at love from another side.  I want to ask you if you have shown yourself a little bit of self love?

Most of us have been brought up to think of others first before we consider our own needs.  We have been taught that it is selfish to put ourselves first.  Love is to supply in the needs of others.  Yet the truth is that when we are so busy in meeting the need of others, of our children and husband or wife, we end up neglecting ourselves and we deplete our reserves.  Eventually we have spent all our time, energy and resources on others and we have nothing left to give ourselves and the result is that we have nothing more to give to other people either.

Therefore I want to look at what we can do to restore our reserves in order to be able to give to others as well.  It is time to give ourselves a little bit of love as well.

Firstly, face who you are.  Take a good look at yourself.  You have been created perfectly even if you might think you are not.  Love yourself for who you are, and love your faults too.  Give yourself credit for your talents, your abilities, your achievements and your dreams.  We are so quick to break ourselves down, because we have been conditioned that it is conceited to acknowledge our own successes.  We demand perfectionism from ourselves, and when we fail to make our own impossibly high grade we severely berate ourselves.

Secondly, be kind to yourself.  We are our own worst critic. We punish ourselves for every little mistake. Chances are that if you are not kind to yourself no-one else will be either.  Forgive yourself for the mistakes you feel you may have made.  Laugh at yourself.  Allow yourself to dream.  Give yourself time, and acknowledge yourself.

Next, take a stand.  Your opinion matters.  Believe in yourself and trust your instincts.  Be bold and confident in your decision making.  Speak up for what you believe in, and stand your ground.  

Learn to listen to yourself.  We all have an inner voice guiding us, yet many of us doubt our own voice.  We disregard our instincts and conscience.  Instead of listening to ourselves we convince ourselves that other people know better and we follow them, we allow them to guide us against our own better judgement.  Learn to say no to the voices from outside, but to rather heed our inner voice.  When we start listening to ourselves we start being authentic.

Lastly: spoil yourself.  It is okay to spend so time on ourselves by ourselves.  Give yourself a day off and do what pleases you.  Treat yourself to a pamper session, or a new dress.  Take yourself on an adventure, or curl up with a good book.  Recharge your batteries.  Allow yourself a little bit of self-love.  It is amazing how much you have to give to others if you have taken the time to refill your own emotional, physical and spiritual well.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Tear Down The Wall


For the past few months we have been very busy at our house revamping and rebuilding.  Walls have been broken down and other walls have been built.  This morning I woke up and wondered when my husband was planning to erect the next wall of our revamp project.  This sent my thoughts along another pathway.  I started thinking about the concept of walls.  There has been a lot of talk in recent months about erecting walls as a barrier between countries.

The oldest walls in the world discovered thus far are the walls of the temple of Gobekli Tepe in Southeast Turkey.  The longest wall in the world is the great Wall of China which is 8850 km in total with its mainline length measured at 3460 km long.  It is also the largest man-made barrier.  Excalibur in Holland is the tallest free-standing rock-climbing wall in the world.  Walls have a variety of purposes.  Traditionally they have been built to protect a city or demarcated area from dangers and attacks from other tribes or countries.  Walls are an important part of a people's defense systems.  Walls also provide privacy and regulates entry into an area.  Walls can have an impact on the safety of a country as well as on its economics.  

However, more important than physical walls are the walls we as individuals build.  Most people have some or other figurative wall around themselves.  The walls we erect are usually in direct correlation to our upbringing, our life experiences and our fears and expectations.  Every time we are hurt or disappointed we add some bricks to our wall, it is a natural defense mechanism. 
Children usually have very low walls around themselves, and they usually care little for the walls of other people, easily clambering all over them.  They have not yet been conditioned by hurt or pre-conceived ideas.  They look at the world with wide-open, expecting-miracle eyes.  As they grow older, however, they start to build a shelter one brick, one tear at a time.

Building a wall is not necessarily a bad idea.  In fact, in the world we live in today it is important to know our boundaries and to let other people know our boundaries as well.  It gives us a safe place and protects us from the dangers of the world.  We have to be careful, however, how we build our walls.  If our walls becomes an impregnable fortress it could do more harm in the long run.  Walls can isolate us from the world and its beauty, it can cut us off from progress and stifle our growth.  Walls can impede our freedom and eventually we can become prisoners behind our own walls.  We could loose out on friendship and love, and we may become lonely and embittered.  Emotionally we will starve and even miss out on our life's purpose.

Just as we get different types of bricks in the building trade, we get different emotional bricks as well.  There are the bricks we have built to protect us against rejection, betrayal, abuse, disappointment, heartache, grief and low self-esteem to name a few.  

Rejection can often hurt as much as physical pain, therefore we tend to build very strong walls to protect ourselves against feelings of rejection.  The bricks we use to erect this wall consist of convincing ourselves that we are worthless and that we are outsiders, thus we withdraw from the people around us and conversation with others.  We refrain from taking part in group activities and shy away from meeting new people.

Betrayal creates a sense of loss.  We do not only loose trust in the person who betrayed us, but we start to view other people with suspicion too.  We build our wall with bricks of distrust.  Our faith in justice is shattered.

Abuse leads to anxiety and depression.  We often react with anger towards people who want to reach out to us.  We lock our hearts away behind a wall of hostility often believing attack is the best form of defense.

All of us experience disappointment at some stage of our lives.  However, many people cannot deal with the effects of disappointment.  Sometimes a person has been disappointed so often that building a wall against those feelings seems like a good option.  We hide behind a wall of apathy and indifference, pretending not to care.  We become passive observers in life.  We deny having expectations and we give up on our goals and dreams.  We build our wall with bricks of fear, and we withdraw to the land of 'I-Don't-Care'.

Heartache can make us physically ill.  It can bring on depression and we can even start doubting ourselves.  The walls we build to protect us against heartache is often the strongest walls of them all.  We fortify them by lashing out, aggression, revenge and withdrawal from the people who love us and who want to help us.

A loss of anything important can lead to feelings of grief and we build walls around ourselves in an effort to hide our sadness from the world.  We withdraw into a cocoon of grief.  We believe that being alone will help us heal, sometimes we even deny our feeling to ourselves.  Often we lash out in anger to anyone who wants to come too close.  We build walls of around us to such an extent that people believe we are coping when in fact everything is falling apart behind the walls.

Another wall we build is the one which hides a low self-esteem.  Having a good self-image is important to our overall happiness, values and goals.  It impacts every area of our lives.  However, many people suffer from a poor self-image due to various factors.  We instinctively know that it is vital for survival to hide our own low self-esteem from the outside world and thus proceed to build walls to keep prying eyes out.  We often hide our poor self-image behind sarcasm or bullying others.  We hide it behind hurtful words.  Those with a low self-esteem often neglect themselves and make poor life-choices.  They withdraw from people and shy away from anything new.  They constantly fear that other people might discover their weakness and expose their vulnerability.

Whatever wall it is you are hiding behind, it is up to you to break it down.  Physical walls can be bulldozed, the walls of Jericho came down with faith and music and the Berlin wall tumbled because people stepped up and took a stance, but the wall we build around our hearts can only be demolished by self-will.  Take a moment and evaluate your fortress.  Ask yourself if it is really protecting you, keeping you safe or are you actually a prisoner behind it?  If the answer is the latter, then take it down, one brick at a time.  You'll be amazed to see the sunlight falling over the beautiful valley stretching out into your future.

Monday, 30 January 2017

Sowing Seeds


After a lovely breakfast of warm toast with strawberry jam and cheese, I sat in the shade of the veranda and contemplated the origins of the bread I have just had. Bread is made most often using wheat flour.  The bread we eat is a witness to the faith of a farmer somewhere.  When a farmer buys seed, the seed does not come with a guarantee that it will grow, or that it will give a good crop.  He takes care to buy good seeds, he even researches the different types of seeds available and makes an educated choice, but there is no promise from the seller that the seed will produce a good harvest.  The farmer buys the seed believing that it will be good.  He trusts that when he sows it, it will bear a successful crop.  He plants the seed in faith.

In a sense we are farmers too.  Every word we say and every deed we do are seeds we sow in the lives of the people we encounter along the path of life.  Unlike the farmer though, we seldom consider the crop these seeds we sow will bring forth.  We rarely spare our words and deeds any thoughts.  We never wonder what plant would germinate from the seeds we have scattered.  We are often quite careless with our words and deeds.

Words and deeds contain creative force.  Like a seed that is sown in a field, our words and actions are absorbed by the listener or observer, and it germinates and grows.  It becomes a life force and bears fruit.  It can be good for sustenance and growth or it can poison depending on what the seed was that had been sown.  It is our responsibility to take care what we say and do.  The most important consumers of the seeds we sow are our families.  Our children feed on the seedlings we plant in their lives.  They in turn become the product of what they ingest, and they again become farmers sowing seeds in the lives of their own children and the lives of the people they encounter throughout their lives.  The big circle of life, growing ever wider, generation after generation.

The seeds we sow are in fact our greatest legacy.  It is our children's inheritance, and in these seeds we find our elixir of life, we continue living on in the words and deed we left behind.  The question I ask of myself and that I want to leave you with is this:  what seed am I sowing along the way?

I love this quote by Ella Wheeler Wilcox:
"With every deed you are sowing a seed, though the harvest you may not see."




Thursday, 26 January 2017

Words of Wisdom



I love words.
I love the way they feel in my mouth, on my tongue, the weight they carry.  The way they can be sweet, or heavy or sometimes just a gossamer whisper slipping over my lips.

Words can heal, but also hurt.  Words can bring despair or inspire people.  Every word we utter has a consequence.  They have wings.  Once they leave your mouth, they fly away, never to return unspent.  We can easily mop up spilled milk and we can replace a shattered window.  We can glue a broken vase and we can reset a fractured arm, but we can never catch a word once it is set free.  It gets carried from my mouth directly to the listener's ear.  It cannot be unsaid or unheard. 

Our constitution protects our right to freedom of speech, but with this freedom comes the responsibility to use it wisely. Words have to be used carefully.  God created by means of a word.  He IS a word.  Words are to be treasured.As a child my father taught me that cussing or swearing was proof of a poor and inadequate vocabulary, and my sister told me to always choose my words the same way that I would pick flowers for a friend, just the most beautiful.  I have passed these truths on to my children.

A single word can be a poem by itself, it is loaded with suggestion and meaning.  It can calm the storm or ignite a fire.  It is reckless to speak before giving a thought to our words.  To say the first thing which comes to our mind often leads to disaster and hurt feelings, therefore we must consider our words wisely.  Words may be audible for only a split second, but their echoes can last a lifetime.

This year I want to be aware of the words I speak, I want them to be words of affirmation and hope.  Words that reverberate with enthusiasm and encouragement.  Words of kindness and empathy. Words that spread life and beauty.


Please note: The image I used for this post is from the BraveGirlsClub.  It is an awesome, inspiring blog well worth a visit.  Here is the link 
http://bravegirlsclub.com/

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Celebrate!


This year is already eleven days old, and most of you reading here will admit that you are already bogged down with everything and everyone demanding your attention.  It might even feel as if the holiday you have recently had never happened at all.  We have so many roles to fill, errands to run and deadlines to meet that we end up with very little time for ourselves.  We arrange meetings, events, retreats and  parties for everybody else, but forget to invite ourselves.  We encourage, praise and inspire our family, our spouses and our colleagues yet spare no thought for ourselves.  This brings me to my next resolution for this year.

My husband often says that you can only give somebody fifty cents if you have fifty sends to give.  If we spare no time for ourselves we will sooner or later have no time to give to others, we will be physically and emotionally too exhausted to care any longer.  It is essential that we schedule time for ourselves.  This year it is time to give ourselves a pat on the shoulders, and to celebrate who we are.

You have been wonderfully made.  Rejoice in it.  There is nobody like you.  You are unique.  Celebrate the wonder of you, give thanks for your health and be awed by your talents and unique abilities.  Celebrate the woman, mother or daughter you are.  Give yourself credit, smile at yourself.

As women we have been taught by our mothers to put ourselves last, we are the caretakers, the nurturers and the support system for our families.  We feed our families first, and we provide for their needs before we spend time or money on ourselves.  We save the good china for our daughters for one day.  No more!  Take out the silver and fine porcelain and lay the table for Thursday night's dinner, even if it is a humble meal of sausage and smash, pour Oros into those delicate crystal glasses and drink a toast to being alive and being a woman, a mother, daughter, wife and friend.

And remember:  YOU are awesome!

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Attitude of Gratitude


How are you enjoying 2017 so far?  How are you doing with your new year's resolutions now that the normalcy of regular life has returned?  Chances are you have not gotten to them yet, or the pressures at work or school or at home are interfering with your implementation of them.  Don't be too hard on yourself, there are still 355 day left during which you can work on those resolutions!

One of my resolutions is to live 2017 with an attitude of gratitude.  It is very easy to get bogged down in the realities of living in the 21st century.  Life is definitely not the same as it had been twenty years ago.  In some areas it is much easier, but in a great many others life in this century demands a lot from us.  Living has become difficult as we are faced with so many challenges every day.  However, what a blessing it is to be alive!

It is amazing to see the difference it makes to the quality of our lives when we start looking for each little blessing in our lives, when we turn our eyes away from the trouble, the difficult situations life throws at us and start to focus on the good things our whole vision is changed.

This year I don't want to just notice the good things, I want to write them down and I want to talk about them.  I suggest to you to make time for a little experiment.  The next time you join a group of people talking about how bleak the future looks, the state of the country, the exorbitant prices or the lying politicians, don't add your two bits of negativity as well, but rather point out something positive.  At first they might ignore you or pause for a moment before they carry on, but after your third or fourth positive comment the conversation will turn and soon everyone in the group will have something positive to say as well.  Soon you will be cultivating an attitude of gratitude in other people as well. 

When we practise gratitude we become less self-centered, we start focusing on others and become open to new ideas, we smile easier and we become more enthusiastic about life.  This in turn has a major impact on our self-esteem and energy levels.  When our hearts are filled with gratitude we become infused with feelings of optimism and in the process we rid ourselves of the heavy load of gloom which accompanies feelings of depression and dissatisfaction.  The added benefit of all these good feelings is that it has an effect on our health as well.  When we feel optimistic and energetic we are able to exercise more and eat healthier.  It is my humble opinion that Gratitude should be listed as a hormone for all the wonderful benefits it has on our physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.

Are you with me in my quest for achieving an attitude of gratitude this year?  Please drop me a line, I would love to hear from you, be blessed.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Look Out


Sometimes I think we tend to go through life with blinkers on.  We are so focused on what we have to do and occupied with everything demanded and expected of us on a daily basis that we have no time to look around us.  In the process we are missing out on opportunities.

I know that when most people hear the word 'opportunities' they immediately think of it in terms of a chance to make more money, to get a better job or career opportunity or maybe getting a bargain somewhere.  However, while those opportunities are important too, I am talking about opportunities which do not actually have monetary value.  

The opportunities I refer to is the chance to do something good, to really see the need of people around us, people we encounter in our day to day lives.  I want to open my eyes and see where it is that I can make a difference in somebody's life.  Maybe a few words spoken with kindness could make all the difference to somebody's life.  Perhaps it is a simple smile which could encourage someone who feels he can't cope. On my new year's resolution list is that I want to have an open mind to see the opportunities around me so that I can make a difference somewhere.  

So often we prefer to pretend not to see another person's need, we say we care, but we look past the needs of our society, the needs of the environment and the pleas for help in the eyes of the animals at the animal shelters.  We look without noticing, because we are afraid that if we were to really see it, we would have to get involved, and we fear what it would ask of us, what it would cost us.  Maybe it is time that we stop hiding behind our busy schedules and our excuses and start looking for opportunities to give something back to the world we are living in. 

It is amazing how many chances there are to do something worthwhile once we start looking for opportunities to serve and not just consume.  Look around you and make a list of the people or places where you can make a difference.  It need not be a huge thing to make a difference.  Something as simple as putting your small change in the tin at the till for the society of the blind can be a step forward for change.

I pray that we will all start looking around us and will really start seeing.

May you be blessed in whatever you do.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Love Life








 As I have said in yesterday's post, I would like to share some new year's resolutions with you during the month of January which I would like to implement in my own life throughout the course of the year.

This year I would like to open up and love life.  In the very busy world we live in we have very little time for ourselves and even less time for other people.  At times we live our lives as if we are living on an island.  We are completely absorbed in our own lives.  We seldom reach out to others, and rarely allow new people into our inner circle.  People live years next door to each other, but never get to know their neighbours.  We simply have no time to make new friends.  As a society we have also become very suspicious about strangers, and we have cocooned ourselves into a net of safety.  The result is that we become more and more isolated and lonely.  While we are living together with our immediate families, surrounded by our spouses and children and maybe grandparents we are not really aware of all the lonely people we pass by on a daily basis, but once our children grow up and leave the house, or divorce or any form of separation happens, we start realizing that we miss close interaction with other people, and it is then that we discover that although we might know a great many people by their first names, we do not know them at all.  The closeness of friendship is non-existent.  Therefore I would like to reach out more to the people I pass by, I want to take time out of my busy schedule to spend a few minutes in the company of somebody I have promised to visit every time we walk past and exchange a hasty greeting.  Maybe this year we can go have that cup of tea at the old lady sitting alone at the back of the church, maybe invite the new couple who moved to our corner of the world and desperately miss their family and friends.  

The truth is that humans are pack animals and as such we need people, we need each other.  When we reach out to others and we open the doors of our lives to them we not only do something good for them, but in the process we also enrich our own lives, as we can learn something from everybody we meet.  Look around you, make a list of all the people you have passed by during the past year and have thought for a brief moment that you would like to invite them for coffee or lunch or pay them a visit.  It is your subconscious sending you a message, so maybe this is the year to listen to that voice and reach out and make a connection.  Come on, let us open up and spread the love.