Monday, 31 December 2018

What Now?

This is totally ridiculous!  I promise you, I blinked and the year was gone! Poof! If you are like me I am sure you are asking yourself where the time has gone.  There are so many things I did not get to do, a whole host of things that are still in the process of happening.  So what now?

This is the time of the year when most people grab a scrap of paper and a pencil and start jotting down their New Year's Resolutions.  This coming year they are resolute to lose those twelve pounds, they will stop smoking, they will make time for their family, etc.  Sadly those promises often are worth less than the paper they are written on.  They are merely a sop to appease our own conscious, a half-hearted attempt to quiet that little nagging voice which whispers that we have not done enough with the opportunities the previous year had provided us with.  Often these New Year Resolutions do not last longer than the first 24 hours, sometimes they make it into the second month, but mostly, before the first term of the year has passed, our best intentions have dwindled into obscurity.

So, indeed, the question is "What Now?" Do we give up on making resolutions?  Do we just fumble along as usual?  No!!!  The old adage "he who fails to plan, plans to fail" is very true.  So, by all means make those resolutions, but KEEP them. To help you, as well as myself, with them I want to share my Wonder Woman Wisdom with you, the five W tools in my WWW suitcase, you know, the one where I keep my Wonder Woman cape (LOL)!

First of all, you have to determine:

1. WHO you are.  Not who others tell you you are, not who you think others think you are, but WHO you are deep down there where it matters.  Other people are often very quick to put us into a certain category or a little box, because it makes it easier for them to understand us.  The truth is that nobody truly knows us completely, they mostly see only a part of our whole picture.  They might classify you as a cat, but maybe you are actually a cheetah or maybe even a butterfly kitten!  Only you really know yourself.  Do not let anyone define you.  Think of five positive words which describe you best, eg. loyal, determined, adventurous, considerate, ambitious, kind, visionary, supportive...  These are the attributes which make you unique.  Knowing who you are will lead you where you need to go.

2. WHAT would you like to change or achieve this coming year? What will be your main goal, your main focus?  Write down the five things you most often wish to do, attain or change.  Once you have written these down carefully evaluate each one.  Which ones will give you the most satisfaction?  Which one makes your heart beat faster with excitement?  Select the three things which you would love the most to be completed by the end of the year.

3.  So you have selected your three main goals for the year, now it is important to evaluate each one by asking WHY?  Why do you want to do this, achieve this or change this?  What would be the payoff you would achieve by accomplishing these goals.  What difference would each one make to you life?  Write the answers to these questions down next to each goal.

4.  Now that you have a better understanding of WHO you are, WHAT your goals are and WHY these goals are important to you, ask yourself WHERE do you want to see yourself in terms of your goals at the end of this new year.  It is fine to know that you are an excellent manager(the who), your goal is to be appointed as a manager at another firm(the what) and you know that managing people makes you feel inspired and fulfilled(the why), but knowing WHERE you want to be makes your goals more tangible.  Do you want to be a manager at a small retail store, the head of human resources or the district manager of a large company?  Do you want to relocate or move abroad?  Knowing where it is you are headed gives direction to your goals.

5. Finally, the next important tool is the question of WHEN.  Every goal we have can be broken up into a series of smaller steps.  We need to give a time frame to each of these steps.  Some steps could be broken into the daily steps I need to take to achieve my goal, others might take a few weeks or a month or two, but it is important to put these onto a timeline to give myself a clear road map to my destination.  It is when we fail to do this that we can get sidetracked by a variety of detours and we may even end up wandering around the desert, totally lost.

Making resolutions helps to give us something to focus on in the New Year, it lifts our spirit and gives us a sense of excitement.  New Year resolutions also helps us to turn our dreams into reality.  These resolutions is what sets the New Year apart from the old year and it gives us the hope that the best is yet to come.
A blessed New Year to all of you.

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Sunset Musings

As the sun sets on this beautiful October day, my mind wanders into far off places, into the far reaches of my mind.  I do not often wander there as it is easy to get lost in the mazes of my mind.  Those places that are full of questions about life and the many twists and turns it takes with each one of us.  It is a place of many What-If's, Maybe's and If-Only's.  It is littered with Why's and Imaginings of different pathways.  Most of these questions and musings have no answers.  What destinies might we have had if we went left instead of right?  We have no way of knowing.  We might take a wistful guess, but we will never know.

Every choice leads us along a path towards a certain destination.  When we choose the path we may have an idea where we are going, but until we finally arrive we do not really know what the road ahead may be like.  Often we encounter road blocks and detours and we may have to recalculate our direction.

Sometimes we would like to turn around, return to the start and try another route.  Sometimes we can, but often we find that the road back has changed and does not lead back to the same destination.  The one inescapable fact, however, is that we all have a choice to make, a road to travel.  Even not making a choice propels us towards a destination.

I am grateful for the way my journey has turned out, and I am thankful for the people I have had the privilege to travel with.  Despite the many turns, the uphills and gravel tracks the journey is an adventure and the people I have met are treasures in my memory box.  I will choose this path again if it means meeting these special companions again.  The journey is not only about the destination, no, in fact it is much more about the beautiful places and people along the way.  When we meet somewhere along the road, let us tarry a while, share a cup of coffee, tell a few stories and depart best friends.  May our journeys be blessed.

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Happiness is Home

When you ask people what the one thing in life is they would really love to have, you will receive many diverse answers.  The answers range from money, a beautiful face, a luxury yacht or a better job all the way to world peace, but the answer which crops up most often is simply "to be happy".

Most people believe that happiness can be found in needs fulfilled.  Some people are of the opinion that a better job or a bigger house will make them happy.  A friend of mine believed that if she were to drop two dress sizes happiness would be sure to follow.  Many believe that finding a life partner will make them happy, while others think they are doomed to a life of misery because of an unhappy childhood, physical ailments or misfortune.

We equate getting things or achieving certain goals with happiness, however very often happiness has little to do with receiving, but much more with letting go.  There are five very important things we have to let go of for Happiness to settle into our lives.  You see we have to make space for Happiness.  Our lives are often so cluttered with junk that there is no room for Happiness to move in.

First of all we have to let go of Yesterday.  Our yesterdays are filled with many special memories and these wonderful memories we should celebrate and cherish, however, there are many things from our yesterdays which we need to let go of.  These are the mistakes, the resentments, the disappointments, the heartaches and the fears.  When we carry these with us into the future we become burdened with regret and anger.  We relive the pain and anxiety of the past and we are unable to appreciate the joy of the present moment.  No matter how much time we spend mulling over the past it cannot change a thing about it, but it can steal our joy.  We cannot grab hold of happiness as long as we are holding onto the past.

Secondly, we have to let go of fear.  Fear is a natural instinct to protect us from dangerous situations.  It is ingrained in our reptilian brain where our fight or flight response comes from.  When we are faced with real life threatening situations our natural fear response can save us from disaster.  However, today many of our fears are "socially transmitted" fears, fears that have been passed on to us by our ancestors or imagined fears.  Our fears are quite varied.  We could fear ridicule, rejection, failure, heartbreak or judgement.  Many of our fears stem from our past experiences and our fragile ego's.  Sometimes we are unaware of our own fears.  Therefore we need to take stock of ourselves and our situation and dig into the well where fear is lurking.  Write down what it is that you are afraid of.  The only way to rid ourselves of fear is to face the monster and to stare it down.  You will be surprised to find that it is not as big or as real as you imagined it to be.

Next you need to let go of the reasons why you cannot be happy.  These reasons or excuses are deeply settled in our own self-worth.  I used to believe that I have to do something good or extraordinarily great before I may allow myself to be happy.  I believed that happiness was for other people, not me.  Our own self-imposed rules limit our access to happiness.  The housewife who only allows herself a facial once all her chores are taken care of at the end of the week never gets to the spa, for when are our chores ever done.  The business woman rushing from meeting to meeting, secretly yearning to take an art retreat, believes that the business and everyone else's life is more important than her own happiness.  These are only excuses because secretly we believe that we do not deserve to be happy.

Then there is the Inner Critic.  Enemy number one of Happiness.  We can never take pleasure in a job well done as long as the Inner Critic stands in judgement over us.  As long as he rules our thoughts we are subjected to his harsh and ridiculous judgments.  The Inner Critic is not a friend and it is never on our side.  It is incapable of giving us unbiased feedback and its main purpose is to make us feel inadequate and small.  As long as we listen to our Inner Critic and allow it to stand on its soap box and spout negativity we will be unable to see or hear Happiness' welcoming call.

Lastly, we have to let go of other people's opinions.  Yes, they are entitled to their own opinions, but you are entitled to being yourself.  Their opinions are theirs and not yours.  You are a unique human being with your own unique way of doing things, thinking and abilities.  Make peace with the fact that not everybody is going to like you or approve of you.  So? The earth does not stop its rotation, life carries on. For every person who does not like you or approve of you or your way of doing things, there are at least two people who adore you, admire you and are happy to be guided by you.  What is of much more importance is being the best version of yourself.  It is much more important what we think of ourselves and the values we believe in.  

When we implement these five points in our lives and we learn to let go we discover that Happiness is already residing in our home, he has just been waiting for us to notice him and embrace him.  Go on then, let's be happy!

A final note: I have come across a book by Luminita D. Saviuc "15 Things You Should Give Up to Be Happy".  It is available from Amazon and truly a worthwhile read.  You can also visit her blog at .

Monday, 29 October 2018

Breathe In

Has it taken hold of you yet?  You know, that feeling of overwhelm, of suffocating and feeling frantic because you have so much to do?  Then you are not alone.  This time of the year most people suffer from exhaustion and overload.  We run around trying to get everything done, meeting deadlines and everybody is demanding their pound of flesh from us.  There seems to be a general air of frenzy around us.  The result is that we end up feeling drained and stressed to breaking point.  The good news is that there are some strategies we could implement to reduce the pressure.  Try to weave these twelve ideas into your daily routine and notice the difference they will make.

1. Get up ten minutes earlier.  Often when we are stressed out we believe that we need more sleep, however, getting up earlier seems to have an invigorating effect on early risers.  Those extra ten minutes can help us to feel in control of our time.  The quiet which comes with rising before the rest of the household helps us to feel refreshed and calm.  We are more ready to face the day and its demands.

2.  Put on some music and open the curtains and windows to let in the early morning light and fresh air.  Listening to your favourite music first thing in the morning increases our happiness level as it reduces the amount of cortisol released into our bodies.  Sunlight and fresh air both help to reduce feelings of depression and help to clear our lungs and minds and stimulate our senses.

3.  Most people love a fresh brewed cup of coffee in the morning, however, try to break the habit by drinking a cup of herbal tea first of all.  There are many benefits to drinking herbal teas.  They are full of anti-oxidants and give the immune system a boost.  They can aid in digestion and help to lower blood pressure and feelings of stress.

4. Make sure you have a healthy breakfast.  This is the most important meal of the day, however this is the one meal most adults skip and then wonder why they feel lethargic and binge on fast food come tea time.  A good breakfast helps us to concentrate better and energizes our bodies.  Those who eat breakfast regularly also tend to have faster metabolisms.

5.  De-clutter your thoughts.  A positive mindset is a sure way to beat stress.  When we teach ourselves to think positive thoughts our stress levels go down and we cope better with the demands we face every day.  Positive thinking boosts our confidence and improves our relationships with colleagues and friends.

6.  Take your ten minute tea break.  Get up, walk around and stretch your legs.  Taking a ten minute break will do more for your productivity than working for those ten minutes.  Studies have shown that it is a great mood booster and it refreshes the mind and body.  Creative thinking gets a boost as well and it helps a person to return to their work with fresh eyes and they are more open to new ideas.

7. Delegate.  Yes, you are the best at what you do, and yes, no one can do it as well as you, but to help relieve stress it is very important to learn to delegate.  It is impossible for one person to do everything.  Attempting to do it all put a person under tremendous stress and the end result is certain burn-out.  You become more efficient when you delegate tasks as this allows you to concentrate on those things that really need your attention. Delegating tasks also helps to develop the skills of co-workers and thus you become a more efficient group.

8.  Before you leave for home, spend five minutes de-cluttering your work-space, thus you will walk into the office the next day ready to tackle the tasks head-on.  Entering a tidy work area helps to reduce stress and increases work performance.

9.  Leave your work at work.  It is important that we have time to rest and recuperate.  We need to have time away from work, but when we take our work and its worries home with us we do not get the necessary time needed to refresh ourselves mentally or physically.  In the end our health and families pay the price.

10.  Exercise.  Go for a twenty minute walk, or cycle or session in the gym.  Exercise increases the blood flow through the body as well as the production of endorphins.  This has a direct influence on our mood.  Despite the physical effort exercise helps our muscles to relax as well as relieve any tension which we have built up through the day.  People who exercise regularly often sleep better and wake up feeling more relaxed and energized.

11.  Unplug!  In this digital world we are living in people get totally stressed out at the thought of losing their connection to cyber-space.  However, once you take the step to unplug yourself from technology on a regular basis you will be surprised by the benefits you will experience.  It is not necessary to disconnect totally, but rather implement a few rules regarding the use of technology and social media.  A good idea is to disconnect for at least an hour or two once you get home.  Use this time to connect with your family.  Enjoy an uninterrupted meal together and talk about each person's day.  Ban all electronic devices from the bedroom to ensure a good night's rest.  Proper sleep and healthy relationships go a long way in helping to reduce stress.

12.  Before retiring to bed spend fifteen minutes planning your next day.  Just jot down a few key points and goals for the next day.  This way all the thoughts rushing through your head about things you need to remember  has been put in writing.  You can now relax and enjoy a good night's rest.

I hope these ideas will help you to manage the end of the year stress better, breathe easier and help you have a little bit more time for yourself and your loved ones.

Monday, 8 October 2018

It's only money, Honey.

Yep, the picture says it all!  Today I want to put in my two cents worth about the Big Green Monster.  No, I am not talking about jealousy, I am talking about money!  Yes, those flimsy papery things that can have such a stranglehold on every person, the root of all evil, the stuff which makes the world go round and the things which cannot buy happiness.  We cannot escape it and we basically cannot live without it.  The need for it and the lack of it infiltrate every aspect of our lives daily.
Although we are made aware of the power of money and the role it plays in our lives from a very early age, not many children are taught how to handle money effectively and eventually we become slaves to it and we sometimes even sell our souls in the quest of having it.  The real conundrum I want to talk about is where do we draw the line in our pursuit of money.
It is an undeniable fact that in order to survive in the world we need money.  We need it to have adequate shelter, food and clothing.  We need it to provide for our families, for health care and education.  However a life spent solely in the pursuit of money and wealth finally ends up being a life empty of those things which money simply cannot buy.  Oh, yes, money can buy a grand house, but it cannot make it a home.  Money can buy company, but it cannot make it a family.  Money can buy food and exotic dishes, but it cannot give it heart.  What all are we willing to sacrifice for money?  Until we are there we cannot possibly know the answer to that. 
 However, I do believe that life is much more than a strong bank account.  Unfortunately money has a way to claim many victims.  One of his first victims is Passion.  Many artists, musicians and free spirits can testify to this.  Instead of following their dreams they have settled for passionless jobs and sensible careers.  They have promised themselves that once they have enough money they will pursue their frivolous desires to paint, to learn to play the saxophone or travel the world.  They view pursuing their passions as a reward for hard work instead of viewing their work as a way to do what their real passions are.  When will enough money be enough?
Another victim is Family.  Money whispers in our ears that we need to work long hours in order to provide in all the needs of our family.  Many holidays and school sport events fall by the wayside at the demand of work and ultimately that huge bonus. Sadly though our children don't stay small until we have made our millions, they do not put their need of attention on hold until I have been made executive of my company.
The next victim is myself.  Very often, in the pursuit of money, we disregards our own needs.  We neglect our health, our own personal growth and our spiritual needs.  When money cracks the whip we invariably sacrifice our own well-being.  We placate ourselves by promising ourselves a holiday, spa-treatment or leisure pursuit once the deadline has been reached, the project has been a success or I have gotten that promotion, only to put it off when the next deadline comes along.
The interesting fact is that very few people on their deathbeds wish that they had made more money.  Most people wish that they had spent more time with their family, that they had loved more or had done more with they time they had been given.

I leave you with this quote:

“Don’t work for money. work for happiness, work for peace, work for contentedness, work for your passion & money will work for you!” — Arvind Venkat

Thursday, 20 September 2018


I love looking at kites flying high in the sky.  I remember the first kite I ever had was a butterfly kite my dad bought for me one beach holiday.  I loved it, although it was not a good flier.  I could not wait to hold the string all by myself, and begged my dad to let me try it on my own.  In my young mind I thought it would fly better if I were to let go of the string, but although it took off with a great "whoosh", it soon tumbled from the sky and got tangled in the undergrowth.  Painstakingly my dad untangled it and we tried again.

From a very young age we have been raised to do things for ourselves.  Almost from the moment our children are born we encourage them to become independent,  we are ecstatic when they start sitting up by themselves,  we applaud them when they can hold onto their own bottle and we are ready with the camera to record their first unaided, wobbly steps.  Day by day we marvel at how their independence grows.  Of course there is nothing wrong with that, it is the natural way of life.  However, the problem comes in when we become so independent, so self-sufficient, that we start believing  we need nobody else, we can do it all, we are an island.

This type of thinking will lead you on a bitter and lonely road.  "Needing people" is seen by fiercely independent people as a weakness.  They believe that they have to be a Superhero, strong, undefeatable, self-sufficient, powerful.  They never ask for help, never admit defeat and never open up to anybody.  They even experience God as an entity outside of their lives, remote from their lives. To accept and receive anything is foreign to their whole being.  Very often they not only distance themselves from other people, but they even distance themselves from their own feelings.

People need people.  We have to connect with others, learn from others, inspire others and in turn be inspired by them. Independence that is out of control is actually just a mask to hide behind.  Behind the mask often lurks fear, pride and low self-esteem.  It is a way to protect ourselves from disappointment, hurt or rejection.

Looking up at the sky, watching the kites ducking and diving in the breeze, I relate it to the way life is.  Although the kite is tethered by the string, it sails through the air and rides the wind with such freedom, such abandon that it leaves me breathless with excitement.  As my dad explained that day on the beach, it is the very fact that it is held by the string that it can fly so high and so gracefully.  The minute my little hands let go of the string, my kite's future was lost and all it could do was to tumble down and crash.  It needs that connection, that guiding hand to fly.  The same way we need to be connected to God, to interact with others as it is in that connection and that interaction that we find our true strength, new inspiration and freedom.  

I leave you with a quote from a song by Barbra Streisand : "People who need people are the luckiest people in the world!"

If you flutter by here and would like to share your thoughts  please feel free to do so.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Oh my Word!

I have said this before "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." (Post "Words have Wings 02/02/2015)
It is the primary way of communication in a civilized world.  Words are thoughts expressed in sound patterns.  Ideas are brought to light through the words we speak.  Parents eagerly wait for their baby's first word, and note it down in the baby book.  It is a major achievement.  Most people love to talk and to converse with their friends, family and colleagues. Words tumble effortlessly from our lips.
However, the older I grow the more I start to value something else. More than words, I love the actions behind the words.
Words without the action to back them up are meaningless and useless.  They are like empty shells scattered on a beach.  They may be pretty to look at and beautiful to hear but they have no substance.  They are unable to change anything, they create nothing but expectations and their end result is nothing but disappointment.
When our words and actions are out of sync we gain the reputation of being at the very least a yaysayer and at worst a liar, and we lose any integrity we might have had.  Words tell people who we would like them to believe we are, but it will always be our actions which will show people who we really are.  It is our actions which gives form, substance, comfort and hope to our words.  Our actions give true meaning to words such as "I love you" and "I am sorry".  Spoken promises become reality through the actions which back them.
Let us be careful with our words, let us not waste them on idle chatter, senseless gossip and meaningless promises.  Let us be men and women of our word.

Monday, 3 September 2018

One Thing.

September is finally here.  I say finally, because in the Southern Hemisphere September is synonymous with Spring.  It is also the ninth month, meaning we are entering the third quarter of the year.  Incredible! I thought it is an appropriate time to take a little stock.  Remember that pesky little list?  Hmm, you do not remember, do you?  That list of new year resolutions you had made.  Those notes you had jotted down about things you would like to do this year.  Well, it is time to have a look at it.  How many of those things you had planned have you managed to do so far?  Lost weight?  Starting a fitness program?  Painting your kitchen or reading that self-help book?  Chances are, if you are anything like me and the majority of civilization, you may not have accomplished as much as you have set out to do.  Well, it is not necessary to hang your head in shame.  You are just human.  What I do want you to do is to give yourself ten out of ten if you had done just one of those things on your list.  Maybe you de-cluttered your desk, maybe you made contact with one long lost friend or you are drinking water more regularly.  Whatever it is, well done to you.  We are often so concerned with what we did not achieve that we forget about those things, however small, which we did manage to do.  Reward yourself for these.  When we focus on what we have achieved it energizes us to do more.  Now take your list and select the ONE thing you really would like to accomplish or start before the end of the year.  Write it down in big letters where you will be able to look at it everyday.  Do not be tempted to choose more than one thing on that list.  Focus on that one thing, set a date for the completion of it  and every week make sure you do one thing which will take you closer to your goal.  Remember it all starts with the first step forward.  Good luck to you.

Tuesday, 14 August 2018


It is Women's month and a perfect month to share with you my tribute to an amazing woman.
She was wonderful.  She had the look of Olivia de Havilland.  She drew looks wherever she went with her dark hair and perfectly set eyebrows above the bluest eyes you could imagine.  Yet it was never her beauty which lingered in your mind when she left, but her presence.  She walked upright and proud with grace and confidence.  From childhood she was taught to work hard and selflessly. Growing to womanhood during the forties and fifties she was often noted for her stylish clothes and was the envy of her peers.  She made all her own clothes in the style of the latest fashions, and despite working long hours and travelling by train to her work, she was always beautifully dressed.  Yet her hands told the story of a woman who knew what it meant to work hard.
 She put her children and family above her own needs and she was her husband's most adoring fan, raising her children to idolize him.  She was a romantic, yet very practical.  She had the voice of an angel and an unshakable faith, teaching her children how to believe.
She loved the sea, carnations and movies.  She loved chocolates and Turkish Delight.  Sundays were filled with the delicious flavours of  rich, delicious home-cooking.  She drove her car like a racing driver and walked through life with uncompromising principles.  But more than all these attributes it was her kindness which would be remembered by all who crossed paths with her.  It emanated from her like a welcoming fragrance, reassuring you that as long as she was there everything would always be okay.  Her smile was gentle, filled with joy and humility.
She was truly woman, unique and intriguing.  She was one-of-a-kind.  She is still that never-ending song that echoes through every day of my life.
...and I called her Mom.

Friday, 10 August 2018

This Moment

Its quite a chilly day in August.  Just when we thought winter was on its way out it turned back to give us another little pinch. 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 Winter a season to be treasured.
There is a serenity in a winter landscape.  Beautiful, bare trees are etched against crisp pale-blue skies and the sun is twinkling on frost covered lawns.  The sharp touch of the frosty air on my cheeks, white vapour escaping from my nostrils and my fingers tingling right to the fingertips 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.
Maybe the beauty of Winter 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 heat of the fire warming the room?  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. 

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

She's a Woman

It's a brand new month and this month we celebrate women.  Whenever I think of the word "woman" certain thoughts and ideas spring to mind.  Many of these ideas are probably very stereotyped and most men and women will have similar thoughts about this word.  Since the late 1800's women have actively taken action to draw attention to the rights of women, and although women today enjoy the same rights and privileges as men, there are still many instances of unfairness.  Many women are still the victims of abuse and violence as well as discrimination.  I am, however not writing this to continue the debate of women's rights, but rather to highlight the wonder of being a woman.  Although society has come a long way, quite often women still have to compromise their wonderful qualities in order to prove themselves in a male dominated world.

Here are six of the many qualities women possess which make them simply amazing.

First of all, women have natural nurturing qualities.  They give easily of themselves and reach out to people in need.  Women are known for their kindness.  However one would be mistaken to view this quality as weakness.  Women never respond kindly to being taken advantage of.

Women are great motivators.  They instinctively understand how to encourage and inspire those they interact with.  This quality enables people to give their best in any given area.  When people are inspired they work together for the greater good of the project.

Although women are often spoken about as the weaker sex, women possess great internal strength as well as courage..  Women's intellect combined with their bravery helps them to take calculated risks.

 Through the ages women have had to face difficult challenges.  They have had to fight for their rights.  When the men had gone off to war it was up to the women to face the hardships at home and take care of the families, the farms and to make sure there was something for the men to return to.  Women have learned to both persevere and adapt.

Relationships are the web connecting individuals.  Women understand the importance of healthy interpersonal relationships and are often the ones keeping families together.  They will make every effort to mend broken relationships both on the home front and in the workplace.

Women are not afraid of their feelings.  They are often more in touch with their emotions and thus are able to provide comfort and bestow kindness to those around them.

It is wonderful to be a woman.  Don't be shy to celebrate your "woman-ness".  Revel in the beauty of being a woman.  We have the best of both worlds.  We are soft and kind, yet powerful.  We are dreamers and achievers.  We can be anything we dream of being, there are no longer limits to what we may or may not do. 

Have a wonderful Women's Month.

Monday, 9 July 2018

It's cold- be happy!

Today is a bit of a gloomy winters day, overcast and damp.  Not a very inspiring day.  I am looking for my cozy cocoon. Yes, I am one of those people who can be severely affected by the weather.  Of course, my mood can be greatly improved by a mug of steaming coffee!
So, sitting here in the study, the aroma of aforementioned beverage fortifying my spirit, I am contemplating the concept of happiness.  There is so much that can be said about this topic, but I do not really have the time to go into a lengthy discussion, so I will just share a few thoughts on the subject.

We all come into this world as innocent souls.  Our needs are basic and so easily met.  Babies do not contemplate happiness, they just are.  Happy, that is.  They are so quick to smile and they laugh so easily, and with total abandon, at the silliest of things. Yet, as they grow older they smile less and their laughter loses its sparkle.  Happiness becomes an elusive commodity that has to be searched for, researched and the loss of it mourned.  Happiness has become the victim of daily living.  

I have identified a number of culprits responsible for the demise of happiness.
The first one is FEAR.  As we grow older (not necessarily wiser) we become afraid of getting hurt.  We are afraid to show our emotions, we fear ridicule and failure.

The next culprit is our OWN beliefs.  We believe that happiness is meant for others.  We start to attach conditions to our happiness.  We believe that happiness has to be earned or deserved.  If I do this, then I will be happy, etc. We start believing that happiness will come from the fulfillment of my desires.  We think we will be happy once we get that promotion, or when I marry my lover.  We equate a new car or a bigger house with happiness. This is simply not true.  Happiness is free to all.  It has no price tag or a set of rules to comply with.  

EXPECTATION is another enemy of happiness.  We expect our lives to go in a certain direction, we expect people to react to us in a certain manner or we expect a specific outcome and when that does not happen we blame it for our unhappiness.  The extent to which our needs and expectations are met equals our level of happiness.  As long as we have this mindset we will continue to miss out on real happiness.

Most of us have PRECONCEPTIONS.  We have an idea of what our ideal partner should be like, what marriage should be like, what my life at forty should be like.  These expectations are often set in stone and when faced with real life, and that it often sucks, we are unhappy.  We have been so focused on these expectations that we cannot see beyond our disappointment.

SELF-DEPRECATION is a mortal enemy of happiness.  We are often so hard on ourselves.  We torment ourselves with thoughts of not being good enough, not deserving enough and disappointing ourselves.  We have to learn to forgive ourselves and to embrace ourselves for the wonderful, unique beings we have been created to be.  We will never find the happiness we are seeking as long as we run ourselves down.  Instead nurture yourself and make peace with yourself.  Remind yourself that you have been created worthy of love and happiness.  

So, in summary.  Let go of fear.  Re-evaluate your beliefs.  Have realistic expectations.  Relinquish your preconceptions and bury the hatchet you are holding over your own head. Make a conscious choice, not one day, but right now, right where you are.  Choose happiness every moment of the day.  Be happy!

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Be a Weed

Today I read about Trudy Smith, a 102 year old painter from Australia who only started painting at the age of 85. .  She calls herself a loner and does not really enjoy talking about herself.  What a wonderful example she is to all of us who so readily use the excuse of being too old to do this thing or that.  Society tends to put people in categories.  We get evaluated, judged, labeled and filed into little boxes.  Few of us are brave enough to break free from those constraints.  We fear what the world would say if we dare prove their labeling system wrong.   It is this fear which keeps our dreams earthbound, and eventually they die with us.
Almost daily I encounter people who tell me that they have always thought that they would have loved painting, or dancing or running marathons, but that they believed that they are not talented enough, that people would think them silly or that they are too old to do it.  "I have had my chance at life, now it is too late" they say.  What absolute nonsense!  They have bought into the lie society has told them.  The truth is, it is NEVER too late to pursue your dreams, but we have many reasons why we believe we can't.  What is your reason?  Are you too busy?  Is it maybe not the opportune time?  Perhaps you think you have too little knowledge or experience?  Maybe you consider yourself too young/ too old or maybe you feel that it would cost too much to make your dream a reality.  Whatever your reason, and no matter how much you truly believe that it is a valid excuse, I want to tell you that it is a smokescreen.  The real reason is much simpler.
So, what is it that actually stands between you and your dreams?  
It is FEAR!!!!
Everything you dream of, everything you desire and hope for is on the other side of the wall which fear has erected between you and your dreams and your life's purpose.
You are NOT too busy, you are afraid that people will say you are wasting your time.  You are afraid to invest the extra hours it might ask of you.  It IS the best time, because NOW is the only time which is ours.  Postponing our dream ultimately leads to it being packed into a dusty box somewhere in the attic of our minds and ultimately to regret.  Maybe you do not know everything you should, maybe you are inexperienced, but knowledge is the click of a button away, and experience come with time while you are DOING your dream.  Too Young?  Youth is an advantage.  Your zest and energy will more than make up for your youthfulness.  Too old?  Never.  With age comes wisdom, patience and perseverance.  
Something which Trudy Smith said has struck a chord with me.  She said: "Be a weed — then you belong to everywhere or anywhere."
We all know how hardy a weed is.  Its grip on the earth is quite tenacious.  A weed also does not ask permission to grow somewhere, it just does.  It does not care what the other flowers and plants have to say about it.  Weeds withstand wind, rain and drought.  No matter what, they keep on growing.  The bees, butterflies and birds feed on their nectar and seeds, some weeds are even used in the manufacture of perfume.  Interestingly, often what some people may call weeds, others cultivate in their gardens.
So, no more excuses.  What is your dream?  Now, go on, start living it!

Monday, 30 April 2018

Perfect Plan

This weekend I visited a friend of mine I have not seen in a while.  I noticed that she seemed quite preoccupied.  When I asked her what was bothering her she answered that she and her husband were facing a difficult decision.  Neither of them knew what the best choice would be and none of the advice friends had given them made their decision any easier.  What a relief it would be to them if only somebody could wave a magic wand and fix all their problems.
Their situation reminded me about a story I have heard some years ago.

A little boy was walking along and in the veld he found a cocoon, he picked it up and noticed that on the inside there was a butterfly struggling to come out. He immediately took out his pocket knife and cut the cocoon open. Very proud of himself, he helped the butterfly out and placed it on the nearest flower. However, instead of spreading its wings to fly off, it fluttered weakly for a few moments and then fell over and died. Dismayed the little boy ran home and told his father about the incident. The father explained to the little boy that the butterfly needed to struggle its own way out of the cocoon in order to grow its wings strong enough to survive. When the time was right, it would have emerged from the cocoon, delicate yet strong. This story struck a chord with me. So often, when we find ourselves in a difficult situation, we wait for somebody to come along and help us out. Some knight in shining armour to fight our battle for us, some Samaritan to help carry the burden and often we will just give up the fight, but it is in the struggle, in overcoming, that our strength lies. The butterfly is exquisitely and perfectly created by God, and the inborn struggle it has to go through is also part of God's perfect plan, it serves a divine purpose. When the time is right, God's plan will reveal itself to us, and looking back we can see how it all worked together to complete the picture. Without that time spend in the cocoon, the struggle towards freedom, the caterpillar would forever stay just that, a caterpillar. In Jer. 29: 11 the Lord promises that He has plans for us, plans that we may prosper, not plans to harm us, but when the time is right, his perfect time......

Monday, 16 April 2018

Road Trip!

One thing which is a characteristic of most humans is the desire to move from one point in our lives to another.  We all have an inborn need to progress, to achieve more or discover new horizons.  Having goals and aspirations give our lives direction and momentum.  It helps us to feel invigorated and fills us with a sense of hope and anticipation.  
Many people, however, never seem to achieve their goals.  They have dreams and wishes, but eventually their enthusiasm fizzles out till there is nothing left but the mundane and ordinary.  They become depressed and disillusioned.
The reason for this is that they had no clear plan, and no action backing up their dreams.
Life is often compared to a journey.  I absolutely agree with that view.
In order to turn our dreams into reality, we have to approach it as one would when undertaking a journey.
First of all we need to know exactly where we want to go.  We have to know the destination.  We certainly do not just get into our vehicles and aimlessly start driving around hoping we will get somewhere wonderful.  We need to decide where we want to go and why we want to go there.
Without a clear understanding of our destination it will be easy to be sidetracked onto roads meandering nowhere.
Once we know where we are heading it is important to have a map of the road we have to travel to get there.  What is the best way to go about reaching your destination?  Do I have to take a few workshops or enroll for a course in order to better equip myself?  Maybe it is necessary to work for a few years as an apprentice to gain the necessary skills I need before I can venture out on my own.  Whatever it is, do not delay, map your road ahead.
Once we have settled on the route to take it is necessary to gather everything we need for the journey ahead. Just like a car needs oil and fuel for the road ahead, we need the essentials for our journey.  How much money will be needed, what skills are necessary and what resources will be useful along the way.  I also have to plan what pit stops I need to make on my journey.  I have to break my journey up into smaller manageable sections, smaller goals, that will ultimately take me to my destination.
After deciding on the destination, planning the route, gathering all the things needed for the journey and determining where we need to rest along the journey it is time to take action.  This is the stage where many people lose the impetus.  They get caught up in the excitement of the planning, but never go over into action.  We have to get in the car, turn the ignition and step on the accelerator.  Forward is the only way to go, all the time keeping the destination in mind.  However, it is crucial that we enjoy the journey and take in the scenery along the way.  Finally it is advisable that we regularly take a moment to review the journey we have undertaken. We have to take note of what we have learned along the way and what adjustments we have to make.  Were there any detours we had to negotiate?  Are we still on course or do have to recalculate our route?
As we travel along on our journey we have to constantly remind ourselves about the reason we are travelling to our destination and we have to keep our goal in mind.  Although it is important to now and again check our rear-view mirror, we must keep our eyes firmly on the road ahead, because that is the way we have to go.  Above all, enjoy the trip!

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

A Wonderful Legacy

As parents we all know that feeling of wanting to give our children the very best of everything. We would love to give them the moon, the stars and all the world has to offer.  Most of us work hard and often overtime in order to build a nest egg, not merely for our old age, but also to leave our children an inheritance.
However, our true legacy cannot be counted in money or material possessions.  It is found in the things we taught our children, the example of our actions and in the way we loved them.  We leave behind a legacy with every moment we spend with them, gently guide them, listen to them and love them unconditionally.
Every time we encourage somebody instead of criticizing, we invest in them.  The way we make people feel will be engraved on their hearts long after our image has faded from their minds.  Our legacy is every life we have touched with kindness, every person we have inspired and every smile we have sent out into the world.
The greatest inheritance I have received from my parents is the relationship I have with the Lord, their greatest legacy is their words of wisdom which I in turn am passing onto my children.  What will be your legacy?

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Release it

A friend of mine from school was a lepidopterist.  He invited a group of us to view his collection.  He really had quite a variety of butterflies, but I was horrified by it.  Although I knew that the life cycle of butterflies are short, I was saddened by the fact that they could no longer fly around.  Though no longer alive, they were forever held captive by the pins spreading their delicate wings.
This morning I realized that often, we too, tend to be lepidopterists.  We trap our free souring spirits and keep them pinned down with our obsession with the past.  We keep all our past mistakes and hurts neatly pinned down in a display case and we constantly go back there to refresh our memories lest we forget our pain and the lessons learned.  However, the result of this is that we can never be free of the past, we can never soar into the skies of our dreams and hopes. 
Holding onto the past is a sure way to deny ourselves the happiness which can only be found in the now, in this moment.  It prevents us from celebrating what we have today.  Instead of being happy and enjoying what is now, we again read the old newspaper of our lives in the hope that it has something new to tell us.  The past is the past, nothing can change it, it is done.  Let it be.  Make a paper aeroplane  or fold an origami butterfly from it and throw it into the wind.  Let it float away and land in the water.  Let the stream sweep it away.  Release the dead butterflies of the past.  They don't fly anymore.  We have today, we are alive and we are breathing.  Rejoice and be happy.

Monday, 12 March 2018

What is the Point?

An important part of being happy is our ability to take responsibility for our own lives and actions.  We have to be truthful with ourselves.  However, we often deny the role we play in our own lives and happiness. Facing ourselves, our shortcomings and obligations pushes us out of our comfort zones.  It is easier to point our finger at somebody or something else, thus putting the blame elsewhere.  In a way this re-assignment of blame folds us into a cocoon of false happiness, but instead of feeling happy we become more stressed, and more agitated.  When we constantly blame other people or situations we enter a realm of denial.  In this kingdom of denial I become the victim of a "conspiracy".  "Everybody is against me, every situation turns against me and the whole world conspires to make my life miserable."  We are no longer in control of our lives.  This mindset leads as down a slippery road to misery.
In order top regain control of our selves we have to face the truth.  We have to stop pointing fingers at others and start admitting the role I play in my own life.  I have to take responsibility for my own actions.  Nobody can "make" me feel or act in a certain way, because the CHOICE is mine as to how I am going to re-act to their words or actions.  I am not a victim in my life, I am a participant.  It is up to myself to take ownership of my decisions, my actions and re-actions.  I am responsible for my own thoughts and feelings, my past and my future.  It is my choice to ask for guidance and my choice to follow the advice of others or my own ideas.
So, stop pointing a finger at others, because, lo and behold, there are three others pointing back at you.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Be Brave.

Welcome to the next step in our discovery of happiness.
Yes, we all desire to be happy and we want our children to be happy as well.  In fact, we want all our loved ones and our friends to experience happiness. Yet, there are many things which stand between us and our happiness.  One such a thing is fear.  Now, I know that many of you will deny that you are afraid, but even more will ask how, living in the world we are living in today, can we NOT be afraid?
Fear is real and we all experience some form of fear on a daily basis.  Yes, of course the ideal would be to eradicate all feelings of fear from our lives, however, because we live in a real world, with real problems and dangers, filled with real people acting out their own agendas, fear cannot simply be ignored. After all, bravery does not mean the absence of fear, but it means taking action in the presence of fear.  We have to become the master of fear.
Fear has a way to keep us trapped.  It ties us up in knots of inaction.  We cannot pursue our dreams, because we are too afraid.  We cannot apply for that new job, join a new group or go on an adventure because we are simply too scared.  Scared of what?  This is the answer we need to look for.  We have to identify the monster.  As long as we simply say that we are afraid, the monster is faceless and so fierce.  We have to come face to face with it, see its features.  What is it you are afraid of?  Failure, rejection or ridicule?  Do you fear loneliness, attention or commitment?  Maybe you fear disappointment, being caught off-guard or feeling that you are in the dark?
Whatever it is, you have to understand the origin of it.  Knowledge is one of our strongest weapons against fear.  Be Aware of what it is that you fear.
Once you have identified your fear, it is time to banish it from your life.  Renounce it.  Refuse to allow your fear to have authority over you any longer.
Now you need to take stock of your abilities, your talents and your potential.  Acknowledge your strengths.
However, we have to do more than simply recognizing our abilities and strengths, we have to take action and do so with assertiveness. Taking action validates our skills and competence.
 This all in turn empowers us to be brave.  When we are brave we loosen the ties which bind us to the fear monster.  It releases us from its stranglehold. 
Go on, let go of your fear, be brave :
B - Be aware
R - Renounce
A - Acknowledge
V - Validate
E - Empower

... and be happy!

Monday, 5 March 2018


During March we are going in pursuit of Happiness.  We want to look at ways to create more happiness in our lives.  It is not so much finding a path to happiness but realizing that happiness IS the path.  Today I want to look at perspective.  We all know the age old question: Is the glass half full or half empty?  It is actually the same thing.  The liquid level is exactly in the middle, but it is the way we look at it which makes all the difference.
These days one can walk in on any conversation and the overall mood of the group would be one of dissatisfaction.  They would be complaining about anything and everything.  Joining such a group soon affects even the happiest person's mood.  Before long the light at the end of the tunnel is not merely switched off, but the globe has fused all together.
We are all aware that it is important to have a more optimistic mindset, but how do we change this culture of negativity which has taken hold of us?  It is all a matter of perspective, the way in which we look at every given situation.  Whenever we are faced with difficult situations and challenges a positive mindset usually leads to positive solutions and actions.  Negativity has a way of keeping us stuck in one place, it results in tunnel vision and deprives us of hope, while a positive mindset opens our eyes to new possibilities and it sets us free.  
Complaining is the easy way out.  Complaining is passive.  We don't have to do anything except express our dissatisfaction.  However, being positive is a choice and an action.  I have to actively look for the good in every situation and take the appropriate action to make life better.
I share with you this quote by Harry Truman:

“A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties.” 

Come on, raise your glass, it is half full, life is good.

Friday, 2 March 2018

Think Happy

In our pursuit of happiness today,we take a look at the importance of positive affirmations.  Affirmations are basically those things we say or THINK.  Our minds are constantly filled with streams of thought and these flow out from our mouths and into our ears again generating more thoughts.  It is an eternal loop.  Most of this dialogue tends to be negative, and the energy generated by these thoughts become a negative force field draining us mentally, spiritually and even physically. We fall into a habit of complaining about ourselves, our circumstances, our work and colleagues, friends and family and every possible area of our lives.  We start to focus on everything that makes our lives miserable, and nothing is good enough anymore.  It literally smothers our happiness.  The antidote is to fill our thoughts with positive affirmations.  Actively rewrite the negative thoughts into positive ones.  If you wake up thinking "Oh, no, it's Monday again" turn it into "Wow, how awesome, a new week with new opportunities awaits me!"  The more we do this, the more positive energy will flow into our lives, the more happiness we will experience. It is important to notice the negative self-talk in your life and to take note of every time you complain about something.  Write it down, and then re-program your thoughts with positive thoughts and words.  It is necessary to do this regularly through-out the day.  Positive thinking is a choice.  Go on then, be happy!!!

Thursday, 1 March 2018

First of All

Welcome to a new month and a new challenge.  This month we are going in Pursuit of Happiness.  Over the course of the next twenty eight days we are going to talk about ways to have more happiness in our lives.
From a very young age we teach our children not to be selfish.  We teach them to care about other people and we teach them how to take care of their pets.  We place great emphasis on sharing their toys and sweets with their friends.  We often tell them how much we love them and they in turn learn what it means to love and how to show love.  Yet somehow we forget to teach them the importance of loving themselves.  Most of us believe that it is wrong and selfish to love ourselves.  We even think that it is shameful to admit to loving ourselves.  However, it is very clear that it is very important to love ourselves.  It is only by loving ourselves that we can begin to love others, as the Bible says that we are to love our neighbours as we love ourselves.
Therefore, the first way we can be happier is to learn to love ourselves.
Loving ourselves means to be kinder to ourselves, to cut ourselves some slack and to be tolerant of our own shortcomings and inadequacies.  Loving yourself means giving yourself some quality time and pampering yourself.  Make a note of all your positive attributes and celebrate them. Silence your inner-critic and focus on everything which makes you uniquely you.
Once you learn to love yourself it gives your self-esteem a boost, and you will be able to accomplish much more.  You will derive more enjoyment from everything in your life and handle difficult situations with greater ease.  Loving yourself cultivates a positive attitude towards yourself and life in general.  When you love yourself you get up in the morning with a feeling of happiness and an anticipation of all the good things awaiting you.  Happiness is infectious.  Not only will you feel happier, but in turn you will make those people whom you come into contact with happier as well.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Happiness is...

If there is one basic thing most people desire then it is to be happy.  Many many books have been written about it, songs have been composed about it and people are searching for it.  Happiness has been likened to a butterfly, the more we chase after it, the more elusive it becomes, yet when we sit quietly it will come and settle on your shoulders.  During March I would like to take you step by step closer to happiness, and invite you to take the journey with me.  It is not a journey or a path that will lead you to happiness, but it is a journey to show you that happiness is the path.  I hope you will join me.