Monday, 26 June 2017

Take Five

Busy, busy, busy.  We are all so busy, we are like bees swarming around all day and have no time spare for anything or anybody, and even less time for ourselves.  So, since we are so busy, I thought I would like to take five minutes of your time to share five B's with you.  I want you to take these five little B's and try to implement one into each day of this week.

Here goes:


When you wake up, I want you to first of all take a deep breath.  Let it fill your chest, let it fill every space within your body, hold it... hold it... and breathe out.  Empty your lungs and with it also exhale all your worries, that tension in your shoulders and all the stress that has accumulated in your thoughts.  Again, breathe in, let fresh oxygen fill your lungs, allow it to flow into your body and let the morning light follow it into your eyes, your mind and your thoughts.  Hold it... hold it... then slowly let it out.  Let all the negativity flow out with the carbon dioxide.  Do this a few times during the day when you have a quiet moment, whether it is between calls, or answering e-mails or before going into a stressful meeting.  We think of breathing as automatic and we hardly spare it a thought, but the truth is that we hardly ever take deep breaths.  Breathing deeply helps to improve blood flow and reduces blood pressure and it can help to clear our minds.

Be Gentle.

Life is demanding.  We are constantly under pressure to perform better, deliver more and act faster.  In the process, we also demand more of ourselves and there is no harsher critic than the one within.  Be gentle with yourself, give yourself credit for what you have done.  Stop focussing on your mistakes and shortcomings.  Stop comparing yourself with others around you, but celebrate your uniqueness.  Be gentle, also with other people who share your space.  Stop looking at their imperfections, but look for ways to encourage and inspire them.

Be Aware.

We rush through our days at such a speed that life becomes a blur along the way.  At the end of a hectic day we can hardly recall what the weather was like, what we had for lunch or whether that new guy in the office were even at work today.  We never noticed the sad look in our child's eyes.  Slow down and take time to walk through life in the present.  Get off the speeding bus and pay attention to what is happening around you and within you.  Become aware of your heartbeat, your intuition and the space around you.  Be alive in the moment.

Be Open.

We are so occupied with the daily grind and chasing deadlines that we have little time to explore new avenues and we are often too tired to give any thought to new ideas. Do you remember a time when you were filled with enthusiasm and the thought of trying something new filled you with excitement.  Time and the pressures of living have a way of dulling our zest, and we become rigid in our ways.Our lives become stagnant.  It is important to challenge ourselves daily o become more open-minded.  Having an open mind can open up new horizons and give us new outcomes to old problems.  An open mind is invigorating. Being open-minded sets us free from a life of boredom.

Be still.

Life can be demanding and very, very loud.  It can drown out our own voice, the call of our own hearts.  We run the risk of becoming deaf to the voices of our loved ones, and even the voice of our own dreams.  We have to actively step outside and close the door to the demands daily living screams at us.  We have to take a moment to be still, to once again hear our own heartbeat, to listen to the whispers of our hopes and dreams and hear the song buried within our heart. Be still and re-connect with yourself.

Just five little things, but they are sure to make your week just a little more pleasant, a little more focussed on those things that truly matter.  Be blessed this week.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Grab That Crown!

Yes, we all know a person or two like that.  We have all felt that twinge of envy when we look at those people.  You know what I am talking about.  That person who seems to just magically get everything right which he/she ever attempts.  Without even seeming to expend a lot of effort they ace it.  We call them lucky or we refer to them as extraordinarily blessed.  They have it all.  They have been born with a silver spoon in their mouths.  We admire and resent them at the same time.  They appear to have been crowned with victory in all areas of their lives.

When we observe them we easily get despondent.  They manage to achieve success so easily, while we have to struggle to just keep our heads above the water.  We often face obstacles and even failure in our pursuits.  Sometimes it feels as if we are  engaged in a losing battle.  When we compare our attempts to their achievements we often give up in despair, believing that maybe we are just not meant to be successful.

I want to tell you that you are wrong.  It is a lie which we tell ourselves that is so easy to believe.  It gives us a "good" reason to quit.  Often the success, that those "lucky" people seem to achieve so easily, is preceded by hard work and determination.  As Gary Player is know for saying : " The more I practise, the luckier I get."  We usually just see the final result and do not know the hours they have spent on following their dreams, we do not see the pain or difficulties which they might have had to endure to gain the victory.

The wonderful news I want to share with you today is that you too are meant for great things.  Why?  Because you have been born to be awesome!  Stop looking at everyone around you, but look inside.  Look at yourself.  You are unique, there is nobody else like you.  Very often what we experience as failure started with our own thoughts about ourselves and our abilities.  We are our own worst critics.  We sabotage our attempts by negative self-talk and our results follow our own predictions.

Most of us have felt useless and lost at some point in our lives.  We can all identify with that feeling of hopelessness that comes from lacking direction in life.  Thus it is very important to find your own passion in life, that one thing that makes you feel alive and seems to make your heart beat a fraction faster.  The interesting thing is that often when we find our passion, we also find our purpose.  These two combined gives meaning to our lives.

Now, it is time to take action.  When you have stopped looking around at others and comparing your life to theirs, and you have discovered your passion, it is time to put every effort into following your heart.  No more excuses, or negative talk.  Remember the power is in your hands. You are more than good enough - you are awesome.  Go on, grab your crown of success!

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Plea for Peace

Recently there have been many requests for the people of the nation to unite in prayer for some or other cause.  Sometimes we are asked to wear a certain colour to show our support, for example to wear white for peace or black for a political cause to name a couple.

Personally, although I think it is a wonderful idea,  I am very skeptical of such days.  We have hundreds of days like that - AIDS day, Women's Day, Anti-Abuse Day etc.  I understand the concept of such days, but the problem is that 9 out of 10 times, that is exactly where it stays.  For one day a year we become ultra aware of the problem, we focus our energies on celebrating the day, make pledges, but the very next day it fades away again, and only occasionally I'll find myself fleetingly (and guiltily) thinking about the plight of the thousands of AIDS orphans, the countries at war, the local unrest and my neighbour across the street's swollen and black eye.

I am not saying we must not have such days, but I am saying that maybe we must not rely on such days to bring about the change we are hoping for, we must each one take the burden on ourselves to make the change happen.  Peace is not something only for super powers to negotiate, it is not the signing of peace treaties or hippies to chant about.  No, Peace is very personal.  It starts with me.  Talking about peace is beautiful, it falls comfortably on the ear, but it is time to stop talking about it, and time to actively start living peace.

From the earliest times people have been in search of peace, chasing after happiness, hoping that by finding it their lives would be changed.  Yet despite peace treaties and the hoisting of white flags, peace stays ever elusive.  The simple answer is that peace will never be found elsewhere, but in the human heart itself.  Before we can negotiate world peace we have to first of all be at peace with ourselves and at peace with our Maker.  When I am at peace within, then it is easy to pass it on to those around me.  Inner peace cannot be contained, it becomes like a fountain bubbling out through my words, my actions and even my smile.

My whole life will become a testimony of the peace I have within my heart.  A person at peace with himself and God will also live in peace with others.  Such a person will spread peace wherever he goes, and become an instrument of peace.

Am I such a person?  Do I silence those who incite others to aggression, or do I keep quiet, or even talk along?  Is my idea of peace to keep quiet when I hear others instigating dissent?  To live a life of peace does not mean sitting back and not doing anything. To live peace is to actively DO peace, to be an instrument of peace.  To quote St Francis of Assisi : "Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:  Where there is hatred let me sow love."

Monday, 19 June 2017

Run Like A Butterfly

Good Morning to all the followers/readers of my blog.  First of all I have to apologize for neglecting you all for a while, but as you will read in a minute or so I have a reason why I have been so scarce of late.  Some of you may remember a post I placed on the 5th of May 2014.  I quote:

"I am not, I repeat, NOT an athlete.  Although I love walking, and can even walk at quite a pace, I am not athletic at all.  We are not an athletic family.  We love art.  We are regulars on the culture scene.  My idea of running is that the engine is here to stay!  Yet I have a dream, one that I have kept quite well hidden, well that is until now.  Deep down, in the very darkest recesses of my heart there is this desire to run at least a 5 k. There I have said it, now I want to hide!  
So, that is how I find myself at this point in my life where I have bought the shoes and actually donned them.  Now it is time to set out on the journey.  Time for the unwilling athlete to step up!"

and on the 5th of January 2015 I wrote:

"So, how did it go with this resolution?  Well, I did it.  Not only did I do it, I went on to the 1ok and the 15k!  "

I was so excited by this.  My daughter and I went on to run many more 10k's, and quite a few 21k's as well.  Fifteen months later my daughter gave birth to her first child and after being in labour for 33 hours proclaimed that she could now conquer anything.  Thus a new dream was born: to run the Ultimate Human Race!  What a goal for "non-athletes" like ourselves!  It is a race of approximately 87 km known as the Comrades.  I was excited yet apprehensive.  I had no idea how I would ever be able to do it, but we both agreed to give ourselves two years to train for it.  Eight weeks after her daughter's birth, we started our training program.

Our single focus was to constantly improve our running and to religiously stick to our training program.  Several 21k's became 32k's and the prospect of doing the Comrades in two years time got pushed forward to six months!

On the 4th of June 2017 our dream finally became reality.  We ran the Comrades from Durban to Pietermaritzburg in a time of 11:47.  Unbelievable!  We had to pinch ourselves, it felt like a dream!

How did we do it, I can hear some of you ask.

First of all: Faith.  No, not faith in ourselves, but faith in God.  We would not have been able to do it without Him.  Every training run was an opportunity to spend time in his presence.

Philippians 4:13 (NIV)

13 I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission
Secondly: A singleness of thought.  We had to exclude all reasons why we should not be doing this.  We refused to pay any attention to any of the excuses we thought up as to why we could not do it.

Thirdly: we refused to listen to negative talk.  Very few people really want a person to succeed.  Most people feel it is their duty to point out the reasons one should not attempt to do something, they feel obliged to point out the dangers and the futility of your quest.  They mean well and they are concerned, but very few people are there to just encourage somebody in their "foolhardiness". Some people had tried to discourage us with horror stories, others openly laughed when they heard about it.  Many thought we would eventually come to our senses and quit.

This brings me to the fourth point:  Enter real friends and family...
They are the ones who get up while it is still dark outside, and sane people are all snug in bed, and drive behind you while you put on long and lonely kilometers.  They are the ones who join you on your run just to encourage you even though they have no race to prepare for themselves! They are the ones who encourage you, but keep their doubts to themselves.  They are the ones who wait for you to come past to give you the sandwiches they have prepared for you the night before the race.  They are the ones who follow you every step of the race via live-tracking and carry you with their prayers.  Without them we would not have been able to achieve this.

Lastly, but certainly not the least: we did it together.  We encouraged each other.  We did it as a team, as one organism.  We did it as Comrades in the spirit of the Ultimate Human Race.  We did it as mom and daughter.  This song says it all...

It was without a doubt one of the most amazing experiences of my life, and I thank the Lord, my daughter, my husband, my children, family and friends who helped to make my dream a reality.

To my girl: with you by my side, I ran like a butterfly...I love you.