Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Create Fearlessly!!!

Image courtesy of

On Thursday mornings a few of us get together to paint, draw, chat and doodle.  All week long we rush around, taxi children, do chores, but come Thursday, it is our time, it is the start of our weekend.  For those few hours we create and recharge our batteries.  No critics are allowed, no negative talk and no self-sabotage!  What we all marvel at is the fact that although sometimes one of us might not feel in the mood, or might feel tired or depressed, by the end of our session, we all feel energized and on top of the world.  In fact, we find it extremely difficult to stop what we are doing, the creative sluices are wide open.

Being creative is one of the best forms of therapy, it brings healing and peace beyond our understanding.  I think the reason for that is that through the creative process  we draw closer to God's heart, because He is the great Creator, our creativity is not from ourselves, but from the Lord.  He bestows the gift of creativity on each and every one of his children, with no favouritism, but somehow we allow the world and its critics to steal that gift away from us.  We fall for the lies we are being told by the world - you are not talented enough, you are not creative, your talent is of little use, etc., etc.  
It is amazing to watch little children drawing, painting or doing anything creative.  They do it with such absolute conviction and confidence.  Not for a second do they question that blob of red paint they've put on the paper, it IS a dog, a cat, a cow.  Of course the sky is green, the river purple and a giraffe has three legs.  They do not doubt their artistic ability or criticise their own efforts, and they are equally enthusiastic about their playmates' artwork.  Unfortunately, too soon the words and ideas of the world creep in and plant the ugly seeds of criticism and self-doubt, and that flamboyant young artist becomes an adult that 'cannot even draw a stick figure'!
Pablo Picasso said that all children are artists, the problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.  It is definitely time for everyone to close the doors to the opinion of the world and reconnect with that artist hiding inside.  Life is a canvas - so come on, throw all the paint you have at it!!!  Do it today!

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

* Oops, I did it agian!!!

Yesterday I looked in the red, blotchy face of a little girl.  She's been crying because she spilled red cool drink on her brand new party dress.  "I hate making mistakes", she lamented.  Together we tried to clean up the worst of the damage.  She did not realize it, but I identified with her statement, and I am sure so do you.  Mistakes.  We all hate making them, but it happens to all of us.  Making mistakes are really an important part of life. The only way to avoid making them, is to never do anything, and that will be the biggest mistake you will ever make!

In the School of Life, Mr. Mistake is one of  the staff members!  Every mistake we make comes with a lesson to be learned.  Sometimes we are foolish and we ignore the lesson, or we prefer not to pay attention to the lesson.  The result of this is that when the test comes our way once more, we are sure to fail it again.

 It is important to learn to ask the right questions when we have made a mistake.  Why did this happen?  What can I do to prevent this from happening again, and what can I learn from it?  What is the message behind it?  Mistakes usually go hand in hand with pain, unhappiness or discomfort.  We want to avoid facing them, and we want to rather forget them as soon as possible.  However, by denying them or forgetting about them prevents us from learning from them and growing.  It is important to forgive ourselves as well as others when we, or they, make mistakes.  Forgiving does not mean we condone them, but it means we move past them.

The important thing to remember about mistakes is that you are not defined by your mistakes, you are not your mistakes.  We so easily put people into little white or black boxes, little good or bad cubes, and think that only bad people do bad things and good people do good things.  What a fallacy!!! We are all human and therefore we all make mistakes.  Good people sometimes make bad decisions.  Character lies in how we face up to them, how we react to them.
Here is the simple ABC of Mistakes:
Admit that you've made a mistake.
Bear the responsibility for it.
Carry on, try again.

One of the biggest mistakes we can make is not forgiving others their mistakes, for what forgiveness could there then be for us?
Remember this:
Yesterday's mistakes are tomorrow's experience!

*PS Forgive me the spelling mistake in the title!!! :D

Saturday, 22 August 2015


Did you know that butterflies use their feet to taste? 
Imagine if that were true for humans.  What would we taste when we run through a field of lavender?   Or the taste of warm, rich soil, the saltiness of the beach... Ah, well, just a little bit of whimsy on my part.  Of course, this has gotten me thinking about our feet.  Those very peculiar things at the bottom of our legs.  Strange as they are, our feet are actually extraordinary.  Leonardo da Vinci called them a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art.

I always notice people's feet.
Our feet actually say a lot about us. Reflexologists will be able to tell us what a vital role the feet play in our overall health profile.  Reflexology is the application of pressure to certain reflex areas, especially on the feet, but also on the hands and ears.  Some studies have found that reflexology may alleviate pain and help lessen symptoms of anxiety and even depression.  It can help people to relax and sleep better.

We seldom think about our feet, we mostly take them for granted.
Yet they are more than just a way of getting us from point A to point B, and definitely more than a display of the latest footwear trends.  Whether we use them to walk, dance, jump or run, they leave behind footprints.  Our feet usually take us exactly where our hearts desperately want to go.  It is important that we look after our feet, that we cherish them.

Feet are mentioned 262 times in the New International Version of the Bible.
In the Bible, we see that clean feet were very important.  There are many references to the washing of feet.  One of the examples we find in Gen. 18:4 "Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree"

 Our feet have a purpose.  At times our feet are followers  (Job 23:11 "My feet have closely followed his steps; I have kept his way without turning aside"), obedient and hard working.  They are long-suffering.  At times they are leaders, showing the way, guiding others to new destinations (Luke 1:79 " to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.")   Sometimes our feet are pioneers,  cutting a path where there has not been one before.  In Romans 10: 15 we see that the feet of those who bring the message of the Gospel, are beautiful.  It is also important that we wear the right footwear; our feet must be "fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace" (Eph. 6:15) .

We must also take care of the feet of others  (John 13: 14 "Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet.")  Many people will take this literally, in fact, I have friends who do exactly this in their church, but I think that the spiritual meaning behind this is just as important.  We have to help others, especially our children, to keep their daily walk clean and free of blemishes and the best way to do this is to set the example, to make sure we walk in the light  (Psalm 119:105 "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.") 

Look at your feet right now.  What do you see?  Is your one foot bigger than the other one, maybe your toes look a bit like Niknaks, or maybe you have perfectly manicured feet.  No matter what they look like, they are worth to be celebrated.
Your feet are wonderful and they are sending you a message:
Be careful where you go, when you look behind you, you might  just find that somebody has been following in your footsteps.  Now ask yourself this question: Are you happy with the place where you have led them to...?

Friday, 21 August 2015

Face the Sun

This morning is beautiful.  Blue skies and a mellow sun.  The birds are happily twittering.  In a month known for its miserably windy days, nothing stirs the air.  It is hard to believe that we are still in the winter season.  The last couple of weeks of Winter in fact.
Yes, it is a beautiful morning.  It is important to say it.  To remind ourselves to see the beauty around us.  The world we live in is often too ready to remind us about everything that is NOT beautiful.  We are besieged by stories of evil and hardship and news reels broadcasting the horrors of wars and murders.  Pessimists flourish around us and it is difficult not to get sucked in by all the negativity surrounding us.  I think it is time to actively turn our faces to the sun, to look for the light and the beauty in everything.  Time for the Optimists among us to stand up and make a difference.

Long ago somebody explained to me that Optimists are the children of the world and Pessimists are the adults.  Of course, it is not quite as simple as that, but if it were true, I'd choose to be a child!  What is an Optimist?  I had a look at the letters that make up the word "Optimist", and here is what I came up with:

  • O - Opportunities:     Optimists see opportunities where others see stumbling blocks and difficulties.  They assess the situation and the facts and actively look for ways to come up with a better solution.  They are ready to take on the challenge.  Through this they also encourage others to look for another solution.
  • P - Possibilities:         An optimist is always open to possibilities.  They seldom look at an object or an idea just for what it is at first glance, they look beyond and see the potential behind it. They either have a plan or they make a plan.  They are willing to take risks.
  • T - Thankful:            They live lives of gratitude.  They count their blessings and give thanks.  They never let a chance pass them by to express their thankfulness.  Their attitude of gratefulness helps them to embrace what life has to offer and to make the most out of it.
  • I - Imaginative:          Optimists are visionaries.  They can envision success.  They have the ability to imagine a better outcome and they will be innovative in their planning to achieve success.  Optimists rarely give up.  Mankind would never have set foot on the moon if it were not for an optimist or two who believed it could be done.
  • M - Motivation:         They have the ability to motivate, not only themselves, but others as well.  Their enthusiasm and energy encourage those around them.  
  • I - Infinite:                 An optimist looks at life and the world and sees infinite opportunities and possibilities.  He believes in the infinite goodness of mankind.  An optimist sees the horizon, but believes there is even more beyond that point.  He believes that if one path does not lead to success there are many others that will lead him there.
  • S - Self-confidence:   Optimists believe in their own abilities and they have a good self-esteem.  They are aware of their strong points and use them to their advantage while at the same time understanding their shortcomings without getting hung up on them.
  • T - Team players:       Every team needs an optimist, because they are team players.  They love sharing their "Joie de Vivre" with others.  They enjoy encouraging and motivating those around  them. They are in their element when they can help in finding a solution to a seemingly impossible problem, or a way to turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones.

Optimists are hopeful and cheerful individuals.  Their smiles come easily and sincerely.  Most of us envy their easy and relaxed attitude to life.  Studies have shown that optimists are generally healthier than their less optimistic counterparts.  Are you an optimist?  Would you like to be one?  Unfortunately, there is not a switch in our brains which we can flip to turn on the Optimistic Power Supply.  Most optimists are naturally that way, but there is hope for the rest of us.  It CAN be learned.  We can change our perspective.  We can either turn our backs to the sun, or we can face the sun, and let its warmth and beauty light our world.

Here are 5 Steps to a More Optimistic YOU:
  1. Practise Gratefulness
  2. Smile
  3. Change your vocabulary: cannot becomes CAN!
  4. There is ALWAYS a way. We ALWAYS have a choice.
  5. Find and focus on the positive around you, in you and about you.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015


I am sure that by now you will all agree with me that butterflies are simply exquisite. It is interesting that we usually find butterflies amongst equally beautiful flowers.  In fact, it is safe to say that where there are flowers we will find butterflies nearby.  Butterflies need flowers and fruit to provide nourishment and water for them.  Flowers and plants also provide shelter and a safe home for them in order to lay their eggs.
Butterflies are especially attracted to flowers with a strong scent as this tells them that they will find the sweetest nectar there.  They also prefer flowers with soft petals protected from the wind to land on rather than plants with spikes.  Butterflies are fragile and therefore they choose their environment carefully.
We as humans are very much the same.  We also search out safe havens for ourselves and surround ourselves with beauty.  We look for nourishment, not only for our bodies, but our souls as well.  We need a shelter that can protect us against the storms of life.  Most of us crave "la Dulce vita" - the sweet life.  We yearn for a place of acceptance and loving care, a place where we can simply be.
My question today is this: am I such a place for my loved ones, my friends, the people who cross my path?  Do I give them a safe place to fall, a haven from the storm?  Am I that sweet smelling flower calling them home or do I have sharp spiky words that cut through their souls, tearing them apart?  Do I provide them with nourishment or do I poison them with criticism and negativity?  Am I a gentle green meadow with a softly flowing river where weary travelers can find a moment's rest?  Or am I a cactus, prickly and quick to be hurtful?
In this harsh, rat-racing world, we need to provide a place of  peace, not only for the people we love, but also for the battered and bruised butterflies that flutter through our lives. People are irresistibly drawn to those who exude beauty, kindness and a sweet fragrance.  Unfortunately, it often is in such short supply.  It is sad that many people find it far easier to give a sarcastic or snappy answer instead of words of healing or encouragement.  What a truly wonderful world this would be if we could rather be each others' welcoming shelters, a place where the welcome mat is always out...   

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Shattered Reflections

Some time ago a friend of mine came to visit.  It has been a few months that we have not seen each other.  I knew that she has had some difficulties to work through.  She looked very beautiful, yet I could see that behind her quick smile, the tears were hiding.  After exchanging the usual pleasantries, and catching up with our children's latest capers, a silence settled on us.  Then the dam wall burst.  The sadness poured from her, and she confessed that she felt so broken.  Despite trying to put what happened behind her, and making every effort to forgive and forget, it felt to her as if she was fighting a losing battle.  She told me that she felt as if she would never again be the same person she was before it all happened.

I am sure that as you read this, you can identify with these feelings.  I certainly can.  Most of us have experienced painful situations at some time in our lives.  Events which shook our foundations and left us heartbroken.  Things that wrapped us in a heavy cloak of despair, leaving us bewildered and desperate.
Feelings of worthlessness threatened to rob us of our identity and our confidence.  Depression, self-loathing  and anxiety take up residence in our thoughts.  Denial, anger and feelings of hopelessness all vie for equal rights to our emotions.  Our feelings become our new reality.

The one thing my friend remarked on  though, is very true.  She will never again be the same person she was before it all happened.  None of us, having gone through some or other trauma, is ever the same person again.  You see, we are like a mirror.  When a mirror falls, it gets chipped, or it shatters.  It would seem as if it is the end of the road for that mirror.  The pieces are scattered everywhere.  Most people will sweep the shards together and throw them away, but a few of us will see the potential lying at our feet.  We will carefully gather the pieces, because we know that, with time, care and a bit of glue, something beautiful can be born from the shattered mirror.  Yes, it will never be the same again.  The spaces in between each carefully placed piece will always tell a story of  pain and hardship.  The once smooth surface will now reflect a multitude of  different angles and images.  In the hands of a craftsman the broken pieces are reformed into something of even greater value than before.  Each fracture is forming a part of a new masterpiece.

It is in this that we find a miracle.  God, the Master Craftsman, takes the broken pieces of our lives and makes something beautiful from them.  Something better than we could ever imagine or even hope for.  He finds a place for even the smallest fragment, and over time, when we take a step back from the pain and sadness, His perfect plan for our lives falls into place.

A mosaic of surprising beauty.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Through The Window

Life is fragile.  We hold on to it for dear life, yet in the blink of an eye it is ripped from our grasp.  We take it for granted, yet it never really belongs to us.  This weekend I have once again realized  how transient it is.  A beautiful young man, vibrant and energetic, alive with laughter and mischief, touching lives around him with his faith and enthusiasm, alive the one moment, then gone...
It is crazy how life and death is so interlinked and entwined.  How life and death walk alongside one another.  I have always been fascinated by how a baby is wrapped up in his mother's womb, yet it is only the moment at birth that he truly comes into existence.  Suddenly he is a living, breathing entity.  His date of birth is registered and celebrated.  It is inscribed with a day, a month and a year.  Suddenly he becomes the center of attention, decisions are made around him.  His cries mobilize people, and his laughter lifts their spirits.  His gurgles and chuckles fill the room.  Yet, at the very moment of his birth, there are others who leave this world.  They have finished with the dash that separates their date of birth from the new date inscribed  on the stone.  It is as if there is a window through which the one soul slips into this world and another soul slips out.  
I think that Death is the most difficult reality we as humans have to deal with.  Most of us do not even want to whisper the word.  Most of us fear it.  Yet it is as present as Life itself is.  The membrane separating it is very delicate.  Fortunately, we are mostly not aware of how close it is, for if we were, death would become the thief of life, it would rob us of our joy, our hopes and our dreams.  We would live in its shadow and we would miss out on the sunlight with which Life fills our days.
The wonderful news is that we have a powerful weapon against Death.  The best way to live in victory over Death is to live everyday to the fullest, to grab hold of each day and squeeze every drop of living from it, to say at the end of the day that we have truly lived our dash.  Our dash is God's gift to us, but what we do with it, is our gift to God.  By a miracle we have all found our way through the window into this life, a room filled with all life has to offer - love, joy, companionship and opportunities to name just a few.  It is ours to explore and to enjoy, to share with others and to guide and help others through it, but someday we will all pass through the window again to where a new world awaits, there where our spirits will soar freely.  Sometimes those we love will pass through the window before us, and we will be so terribly sad.  Yet, when we believe they have not died, but have simply slipped through to the other side of the window, just maybe we can bear it a tiny bit better.  Maybe through our tears, we can see the rainbow spanning the valley where they now soar, where we too hope to be one day.

"Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. "
2 Corinthians 5:1 New International Version

Monday, 3 August 2015

The Cost of Good Manners

While out for my daily jog, I started thinking about eating (this, of course, is a recurring theme while I am running, thinking about how much I am going to enjoy that chocolate when I get back to the house!).  Any case, I was thinking about eating and how eating is best done in company.  It is very much a social activity.  A simple cup of coffee becomes an occassion when enjoyed in the company of good friends or family.

 It is interesting how the act of eating instigates conversations about food.  We share thoughts about favourite foods and recipes we have tried or still want to try.  We exchange information about good restaurants, food choices, etc.  We reminisce about our favourite childhood foods or sweets.  My husband often tells our children about the chocolates he loved way back when, and what all he would be able to buy with half  a crown.  My mom loved Turkish Delight. A few weeks ago I bought a friend of mine a Turkish Delight bar, and although it was still in the same type of wrapper, I found, much to my dismay, that it was half the size it used to be.  I started noticing how many of the well known chocolates have indeed shrunk in size and even the quality is not as it used to be.  
However, we are, mostly, not aware of this.  It usually happens so gradually, that by the time we do start to notice that something is amiss, we feel uncertain whether or not it is our imagination.  The reason why sweets and chocolates become less, while the prices increase, is simply economics.  Instead of just putting the price up, they also cut back on the cost of manufacturing by reducing the size .  It is a gradual erosion of quality and value.  It is not something that is announced or which we are made aware of in some or other way, it just quietly happens.  We accept it, no questions asked.

In much the same way, this erosion of quality and value happens in every other aspect of our lives as well.  Just take good manners, for instance.  Good manners these days are quite a rarity and people equate good manners with being old fashioned.  The youth of today scoff at manners and etiquette.  They deem it "uncool".  Reprimanding your children for throwing tantrums and insisting that they be courteous is frowned upon, even considered to be interfering with their "human rights".  
A young man opening the car door for his girlfriend is virtually extinct, as is pulling out a chair for her at the restaurant.  The etiquette of courtship is as dead as the dodo, people no longer want to go through all that  "rigmarole" in today's world of instant gratification.  The use of foul language is no longer the dubious privilege of the sailors, but men and women alike, seem to be unable to join two words together without the use of a horrible word or more.  And we all just go with this flow.  We accept this gradual decline and loss of good manners.  
Yet, the lack of good manners comes at a price.  It leads to the loss of respect.  First of all, respect for ourselves and secondly respect for others.  We do as we please, whatever we please, with little regard for others.  Our lack of good manners also impacts negatively on us.  It affects the way people perceive us.  It can make all the difference in a job interview, or when meeting somebody for the first time. Although we have become used to the shortage of good manners, we still hope for it and when we encounter it, the person displaying good manners, stands out from the crowd.  He or she grabs our attention immediately and we are drawn to such a person.
A  friend of mine, Michelle, calls herself very old fashioned, as good manners and common courtesies are still very important to her.  She makes no secret of it and does not apologize for it.  She has put her foot down and expect others to treat her with respect.  Maybe it is time that we join her in this.   It starts, first of all with us.  We have to set the example in our own homes.  It is up to us to teach our children from the earliest opportunity what good manners are.  Believe me, people will take note of them, and even if they were to be teased by their friends, it will be to their advantage all of their lives.  After all, good manners cost nothing, all it asks is for a little consideration.

I leave you with this quote by Clarence Thomas:

"Good manners will open doors that the best education cannot."

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Heart of a Lion

The first of August.  How this year just flew past!  According to the Zodiac, August is the month of the lion.  As I lay cuddling with my husband for a few extra minutes this morning, I pondered this magnificent animal.  Lions are strong and very powerful.  They are known as the king of the animal kingdom.  Lions are proud and have an air of royalty about them.  Most people are filled with awe when they observe these extraordinary beasts.  Yet, we are intensely aware of the danger they pose to us and other creatures.  Lions are extremely aggressive and possessive.  Even when satiated, they can kill swiftly when they feel threatened. They rule their territory with absolute authority.  Instinctively, the other animals know this, and avoid crossing paths with this huge kitty-cat.  
Often, we as humans, exhibit the spirit of a lion - aggressive, ready to fight and devour those around us.  We are intolerant and unforgiving.  Our anger can be fierce and with devastating results.  We are usually unable to be strong and powerful, yet tempered with kindness.  Being meek and mild is often misconstrued as weakness and therefore we feel it is a trait not to be cultivated.  At no cost must we appear weak.  However, in our lives, the spirit of the lion can wreak havoc on relationships, our work environment and social encounters.  We scratch, bite and hunt down whoever offends us, we rip them apart, often mortally wounding them emotionally.  Those who suffer are usually those who dared come the closest to us.  
The sad news is, that as long as we walk around like angry lions, there can be no peace.  To have peace in our lives, the wildness of the lion within us needs to be tamed.  We need to surrender our fighting spirit and our pride, and we have to stop devouring each other.  We have to learn tolerance.  We have to reach out to others with a gentle spirit.  Within each of us there is the spirit of a roaring lion and a gentle dove.  It comes down once again to choices.  Which is the spirit which we allow to rule?  There is a quote I love, unfortunately I do not know who said it, but I would like to share it with you:

"Only A Fool Mistakes Kindness For Weakness. 

There Is A Heart Of A Lion Within The Spirit Of A Lamb. 

Grace Is Selfless Strength."

When we learn to control our tempers, our reactions, and put ourselves under the control of the Lord, the scripture we read about in Isaiah will come true in our own lives.  The wolf will lie down with the lamb and the lion with the calf and the yearling.  Our lives will be lived in harmony beyond others' understanding.

           Isaiah 11:6 (NIV)

"The wolf will live with the lamb,

    the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the [yearlinga] together;
    and a little child will lead them."