Monday, 21 October 2019

Dare to Fly

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

Saturday, 21 September 2019

Time to See...

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

Monday, 16 September 2019

Time to Let Go!

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

Time for Planting

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Spring!!!

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

Monday, 2 September 2019

Beautiful Day!

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

Have a joyful Spring!

Monday, 26 August 2019

Five Simple Steps

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

Monday, 19 August 2019

Blowing in the Wind

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

Monday, 29 July 2019

Little Lessons(5) - Choose Happy

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

Monday, 22 July 2019

Little Lessons(4) - Pause

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

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

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

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

Monday, 15 July 2019

Little Lessons (3) - Self-care

Most of us have been brought up to be kind and compassionate.  Many of us react with sympathy when shown the photograph of an abused animal or neglected child.  Quite a number of people donate to various charities and serve on committees to help alleviate the needs of others.  Many of us are empaths and many are rescuers.  The world needs each and every compassionate person.  It cries out for kindness and comfort.  However, the downfall of many compassionate people is that they do not take care of themselves first.  They harbour the false belief that taking care of oneself is being selfish.  Subconsciously they believe that other people and their needs are more important than their own.  They will even end up putting the needs of other people above the needs of their own family or loved ones.  However, this finally leads to emotional burn-out.  It drains the carer and depletes their energy stores.  This can eventually lead to the manifestation of physical ailments.  Therefore it is important that we learn to, first of all, be kind to ourselves.  We have to provide in our own needs before we have anything to give to others.  We have to fill our own emotional piggy bank before we can give to others.  One of my husband's quotes is that I can only give somebody ten bucks if I have ten bucks in my pocket. 

So how do I take care of myself?  First of all, make time for yourself.  On a daily basis, set aside specifically allocated time for yourself to do whatever it is which gives you joy.  Whether it is ten minutes or half-an-hour of yoga, listening to music or practicing your hobby.  make time for yourself.
Try to avoid negativity.  The television and newspapers make sure they supply us with a high dosage of terror, disaster and general negativity.  This constant bombardment finds its way into our psyche and weighs us down.  Then, evaluate where, how and in what way can you help others.  Understand what is within your power and ability to do.  Look at your sphere of influence and start there.  Be realistic.  You can most likely not do much about the plight of the refugees in some faraway country, but maybe you can help out at a soup kitchen.  It might not be possible for you to change the global danger of earth-warming, but you can try to live greener in your immediate neighbourhood.
Pick your battles carefully and never at the cost of your own health, or your family's wellness.  Yes, we should all try to make a difference in the world, but you owe it to yourself to practice self-care and compassion.

Monday, 8 July 2019

Little Lessons(2) - Do What is Right

You know that feeling you get? That wriggle at the back of your mind?  That little, almost inaudible voice whispering, which asks Should I or Shouldn't I?  Some call it unease or doubt, some call it their intuition or sixth sense, but whatever you call it, it is a nagging feeling that grows ever louder the longer you try to ignore it and eventually it causes you so much stress that it seems to take over every thought.  We often hope that by inaction it will eventually go away without you having to take any action or make any decision.  The bad news is that often, by not making a decision, you actually do make a choice which may lead to consequences you are not prepared for.

Instead of ignoring it, try to figure out what that nagging feeling is all about.  What was it that triggered that feeling of unease or worry?  Take a moment to listen to your inner voice and pay attention to your intuition or sixth sense.  Write down your thoughts and those things which are worrying you.  Make a list of the possible actions you can take to resolve the issue and what would be the result of each one.  Then take action.  Do what you have to do.  Do what is right.  Right for you, but also morally right.  Let your conscience and intuition guide you.

A Life Lesson my sister taught me is:


Monday, 1 July 2019

Little Lessons - Be Kind

Today is what in our house we call a real Winnie-the-Pooh day, blustery!  It is cold and very windy and wet.  The clouds are moving past at quite a speed, and our spaniels are snugly tucked up in their bed, not even a nose is sticking out.

The first day of July, and the first day of the second part of the year.
I thought it would be a good month to share a few of life's lessons with you, and I will be very happy if this month you would also share a few of your own life lessons with us, or maybe some wisdom passed on to you by your parents or grandparents. I believe that the life lessons passed on to us by our ancestors are far more valuable than any inheritance.

One of the things which my mom had taught me was that if I cannot say something kind it is better to keep quiet.  I always try to keep this valuable lesson in mind.  The times I have regretted most are the times I forgot this lesson.  The husband of a friend of mine says that sometimes we knock the guard in front of our lips out and we quickly get in a few ill advised words before he comes to!  I have to hang my head in shame, I am sometimes guilty of this, are you?

I think I need to put this life lesson in a spot where I can be reminded of it regularly:


Have a blessed day, enjoy the sunshine in your part of the world, and if you are in my part, wrap up warm.

Friday, 28 June 2019

Fierce, but Fragile

Butterflies enchant us with their beauty.  The way they float effortlessly on the breeze captivate our attention.  Butterflies are often depicted in jewelry items, made from delicate silver or exquisite gold.  They are painted in soft pastels or vibrant colours.  They carved from wood or gently formed from clay or porcelain.  It does not matter what they are made from, they remain an object of beauty and they are all a little fragile.
It is a quality we as humans share with these sweet creatures. Fragility.  We are all a little fragile.  On the outside we often seem strong and even a little fierce, but beneath that hardy exterior most of us are fragile to some degree or other.  
However, in this fast-paced, dog-eat-dog world we have become insensitive to people's feelings.  We expect them to handle anything that is thrown their way.  Being rude has become the new "funny".  Our so-called "speaking-the-truth" is nothing more than an excuse for being tactless. We disregard people who are sensitive, and view them as being weak.  
Relationships and friendships are fragile, because they are made up out of flawed and fragile people.  Often we take our relationships and our friendships for granted.  We fail to recognize them as precious and not easily replaceable.  In our easily disposable world we think that we can replace any relationship as easily as we can pick a can of beans off the supermarket shelf.  We believe -erroneously- that being in a relationship entitles us to treat our partner or friend with disrespect, selfishness and abuse, whether it be physically, verbally or emotionally.  We believe it is our right to take and give little in return.  
However, I was brought up to value every relationship for its special brand of uniqueness.  One of the things a dear friend taught me as a little girl was to keep your friendliness cheap, but your friendship expensive.  It took me a very long time to understand that, but today I still apply that rule to my relationships.   I am friendly towards anybody crossing my path, but quite careful when engaging in any relationship.   However, once I have formed a friendship, I try to be a friend for life.  Even when distance separates me from my friends, I keep them in my heart and prayers.  Every relationship, every friendship I have ever had, has been valuable to me.  I carry their fragrance with me, entangled within my soul. I hold them still dear.  I have learned from them, grown through them and celebrate them.

Every relationship, whether it is romantic, parental or platonic, is built on  five cornerstones.  These are:
Companionship - togetherness, sharing similar interests as well as supporting the other person's interests. Mutual respect and trust are key components of any companionship.
Conversation - Being honest and open with one another.  Telling your friend/s how you feel, but also listening.
Compassion - It goes beyond caring about the other person, it involves being tolerant of their faults, forgiving their mistakes and being sensitive to their issues.
Comedy - Laughter is the best medicine, they say.  Relationships need humour. Being able to laugh at ourselves, each other as well as with one another is essential to our well-being.  Laughter relieves stress.  A smile can reach across a divide.  Humour can strengthen the bonds of a friendship.
Counsel - this is a very valuable part of any relationship. Advice from somebody who has our best interests at heart is valuable beyond measure.  Loving guidance gives us a feeling of security and worth.  

Unfortunately, some relationships are not meant to last.  Some are only seasonal.  People pass through our lives for a brief moment, like a shooting star.  Even these I value, although they often leave me sad.  They leave with a part of me.  I very seldom forge friendships without caring deeply.  My mother taught us to be careful with people's feelings lest we trample their wings, thus I try to tread softly through their lives. I try to be a balm for their hurt and a breeze beneath their fragile wings.  I always try to let the sun into their lives, and to help them to fly away from the shadows. 

Yet, sometimes that is not enough.  Despite one's best efforts, some relationships have a Best Before Date. I never thought so before.  I always believed that if I give my best, if I am the least, tolerant and forgave easily any friendship should last a lifetime. It seems that I was wrong.  Sometimes my wings are also a bit fragile.  I do not handle rejection well.  Then I came across something Celeste Erlach wrote:
"Not all friendships are meant to endure, and that’s OK. As much as I wish I could make everyone happy and be lifelong friends with everyone, it’s not realistic. I’m going to embrace my lifetime relationships. I will encourage my season relationships. And I’m going to be grateful for my reason relationships." )

Thus, today I would like to say thank you to my Lifetime friends, I love you, you are simply amazing, even if we so seldom spend time together, you are always within my heart, my fondest memories.  To my friends of a season, be it Spring, Summer, Winter or Autumn, the scent of you will always linger, you still fill my thoughts with the beauty of your being.  And those of you who passed through my life for a reason, I hope you, too, met me to fulfill a purpose in your lives.  Be blessed one and all!

Thursday, 27 June 2019

A Beautiful Life

Butterflies always seem so fragile as if a mere breeze could damage their delicate wings, yet they are more robust than what we imagine. Not so life.  Life may seem invincible, yet it is tenuous at best. I realized it anew this week when a beautiful woman, a wonderful mother, a sister, a daughter, a spouse suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. Life lost in the blink of an eye, like the early morning mist hovering above the valley. 

The line separating life from death is a silken thread, strong yet so flimsy.  Despite this we are inclined to take it for granted. In a way this is a good thing, because if we were constantly aware of just how fragile life can be it would be too heavy a burden to carry.  However, when we become sensitive to the fragility of life it changes our perception, and that is liberating.  Suddenly it sets us free from what life is not.  Life is not merely existing, going through the motions.  Life is not stagnant.  Life is not anger, it is not holding onto grudges and it is not petty.  Life is also not to be wasted and neither does it come with a guarantee. Life does not begin tomorrow.

Life is this present moment.  Life is now.  This is what we have. It is this moment that we must grab hold of and celebrate.  Are the neighbourhood dogs driving you crazy with their incessant barking?  Rejoice, you have the gift of hearing!  Whatever you have or experience in this moment, be aware of it, feel it, experience it, it will not stay long, good or less good, it will pass.  When you are overcome by the sadness of loss, feel that sadness, but also remember the joy and the delight you've had.  Recall the funny times and the silent times.  Are you feeling angry or frustrated?  Ask yourself if it is really important enough to rob you of this precious moment.  Is it worth it to allow resentment to devour you?  Take stock and count your blessings instead.  Kiss your child, hug your parents or phone a friend.  Reach out to people in need, share a smile and dance even if you have two left feet.
Be fully alive and aware in this moment.  This beautiful, perfect once in a lifetime moment.

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Let's Play!

Adults are too old to play games, right?  Wrong!  There is a saying that we don't stop playing, because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.  How many of you remember game nights as children?  I recall my parents inviting friends over for Rummy or Monopoly evenings.  I was too small to play along, but I loved to listen to the stories they told and the jokes they laughed at.  Then television happened and game nights got replaced by TV evenings.  Those who had TV's would invite those who did not have to watch Dallas and Dynasty.  The telling of ghost stories made way for speculation about what JR might be up to.
Today children while away the hours with game consoles in hand, their eyes glued to the screen.  It's great for developing their their fine motor skills, it helps them to solve problems and improves logical thinking.  However, they tend to interact less with their immediate environment and miss out spending time with the family.  Board games on the other hand is an amazing way to connect with other people and it brings families together,creating memories.  Board games can help us to develop our communication skills and improves our attention span. It's a wonderful way to relax, have fun while at the same time it improves our cognitive abilities.  Playing board games can even help to lower our blood-pressure and improve our mood.
So, how about inviting some friends over tonight for a bowl of soup and a game of Cluedo!

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

A Little bit of Gandhi

Did you notice her?  The old lady crossing the street with her collection of shopping bags or were you in too much of a hurry to get to the other side?  Did you see him?  The old man, smelling of wintergreen and struggling to read the information on the pill box?  Did you notice the boy in the threadbare shorts, his feet bare despite the winter cold? Did you notice the middle aged woman sitting by herself in the restaurant, avoiding eye contact with the happy couples and boisterous families?  Did you see the pain behind the cashier's brusque answer, the frown that hides the worry on the face of your fellow elevator-traveler, and did you see the mother who counted her cents and then reluctantly put back the six eggs, settling for the half a loaf of bread?  Or were you too busy pretending not to see?

The experts tell us that we are currently living in the most prosperous and privileged time ever, yet we are surrounded by people in need all around us, every day.  No, I am not just talking about financial need, I am also talking about physical and emotional need.  We are all so busy with life on our own island, coping with our own stressful situations and trying to make it to the top of our own little hill that we have no time or energy for the need of others.  We are afraid of what it will demand of us when we start to really notice those around us.  What will it cost us to get involved?  On top of that there is also the question : will I be safe if I dare get involved?  So, instead of reaching out we snuggle deeper into our cocoon of oblivion.

Reaching out to others can be scary and it requires of us to move out of our safe comfort zone.  However, there are so many benefits that it makes all of our initial discomfort worth it.  Studies have proven that there are very real benefits when we help others.  When we help other people we become happier and healthier individuals.  It boosts our self-esteem and confidence.  When we become involved with a good cause or when we volunteer our time we gain a sense of purpose.  It can help to give us a sense of belonging and unity.  Helping others improves our own mood and fill us with renewed hope and vision for the future.  It can help us to live our lives with a sense of gratitude.  We gain a feeling of peace.  When we set an example of helping others it sets off ripples in the community and soon more people start to reach out to others in need.

There is no excuse for not getting involved in some way.  We are surrounded by ample opportunities.  You could become a volunteer at your local community center, you could read to the elderly, assist with their shopping and the local SPCA is sure to need more volunteers.  You can become a mentor at your local church or youth facility or start a city clean-up group.  Does it feel like too much pressure to get involved with a specific group?  Then maybe random acts of kindness is the way forward for you.  Become the person at work that is always happy to spread some cheer or make the staff some tea.  Bake a cake for the old age home or help somebody cross the street.

We are always looking to the government or the world administrations to make the world a better place.  It is never going to happen, the need is simply too great.  However, every one of us can make a difference to our little corner of the world.  Mahatma Gandhi said that we must each one be the change we wish to see in the world.  It is up to us.

Sunday, 16 June 2019

Note It Down

It is Sunday evening and tomorrow is the start of a new week.  Are you feeling stressed at the thought of returning to work tomorrow, or on Tuesday if you are living in South Africa?  Does it feel as if there are a million thoughts whizzing through your mind?  Are you feeling overwhelmed by the masses of things you have to do, the things which are worrying you or all the deadlines looming?  Do you feel lost and not knowing where to start?  What you need is a Brain De-clutter.

The average person thinks about 70 000 thoughts a day.  That is a lot of thinking and a lot of those thoughts are simply brain clutter.  When we leave our mind unattended it tends to wander all over the place and get trapped in mazes, hamster wheels and sometimes dark places.  It looses its focus and we become distracted.

It is for this reason that it is important to regularly do a brain de-clutter.   Just as we need to reorganize our office, our house and our closets on a regular basis, we also need to organize our thoughts.  Re-organizing your thoughts and your mind helps you to feel more in control and less overwhelmed.  So, how do we do it?  I mean, we can't just turn our brain's storage upside down and dump all the stuff out on the floor!  Well, it is as easy as taking "NOTE".

NOTE is my acronym for my brain de-cluttering process.
N - take a pen and paper and note down all the things which are occupying your mind.  What are the things worrying you? What are the things you are afraid of?  What things are you avoiding and why?  What are the most important things going through your mind?  What ideas, plans or goals do you have?  What things are not important but still crowding your mind?  What are the most pressing things you have to deal with and what deadlines are looming?  What things are irritating you and why?  The magic of writing these things down lies in the freeing up of mind-space.  When it is written down where you can see it, it no longer loops through your mind on a never ending reel.

O - Now it is time to organize these things into lists.  I divide them into six categories : Work - Tasks & Deadlines, Daily, Goals/Ideas, Home, Family and Personal.  Once they are all categorized I assign colours to them.  Those things which are urgent, meaning they need taking care of asap, I mark red.  The things which are important, but not so immediate I mark green and assign a date to them.  Next I mark the daily grind must-do's blue and finally those things which are not urgent and not very important I mark with yellow.

T- Next I earmark the three top priorities.  I connect them to a time frame and I write down a short plan of action to accomplish these three items by their deadline time.  After establishing this I critically look at my lists and move or delete those items which are of no importance whatsoever.

E- Finally I start by executing my plans.  Planning now goes over into action.  As soon as a task is done, I mark it off as accomplished.

It is a good idea to set aside an hour one day a week to do some brain de-cluttering.  It is an excellent way to diminish your stress levels and gain control over your life.  It will help you to focus on the important things and also helps to get more things done more efficiently.

Thursday, 13 June 2019

A Little Goes A Long Way

So far this month we have incorporated a daily relaxing walk into our wellness goals for June and we are going to bed an hour earlier.  We have also planned our next getaway and found our go-to phrase.  We have learned it is okay to treat ourselves and to say "no".  How are you doing with these?  Well, it is a work in progress for sure.  Today I would like to encourage you to make exercise a part of your routine.  Wait a minute, before you bemoan the fact that you do not have time, let me point out that you do not need to spend hours in a gym or start training for a marathon.  Just ten minutes of exercise will already be a huge improvement and will get your heart pumping.

Most exercise guru's will tell you that you need at least thirty minutes three times a week to benefit from exercise, but with today's hectic lifestyle and work demands it is hard to find the time.  However, instead of not doing any exercise, rather concentrate on just ten minutes a day, five times a week.  You will be amazed at how easily you can incorporate this into your daily routine and the benefits will astound you.

Let us have a look at your day.  Before you take your shower, put on some dance music and dance for ten minutes.  Your mood will lift and you will feel invigorated and happy.  Do you drive to work or take the bus?  Well, begin by stopping a block or two further from the office and take a brisk walk.  Do you take the elevator or escalator?  Use the stairs instead.  Even better, during your lunch break, walk up and down the stairs for ten minutes.  Do you have a load of e-mails to get through?  While you read through them have some weights at hand and do bicep curls, alternating arms, for ten minutes.  When you talk on the phone, instead of sitting down, do some squats or lunges.

Make sure you add some variety to your work-out routine.  On Mondays you could dance for ten minutes before your shower.  It will be  a great way to banish the Monday Blues.  On Tuesdays you could do the stair routine while on Wednesdays you can work out your arms by lifting boxes of paper, do bicep curls and lateral raises with your paper weights.  Arm kick-backs are great for your triceps.  Thursdays you could concentrate your ten minutes on your legs by doing squats, lunges and calf-raises.  Wind down your week's routine by taking a brisk walk on Friday during your lunch break, doing speed window shopping- a great way to see beautiful things but not lingering long enough to go in and spend your hard-earned cash.  How is that for getting your exercise AND saving money!

Voila!  Every week you will be getting fitter and healthier.  Remember that exercise, even just ten minutes a day, helps to strengthen your muscles and your bones.  It is good for your cardio-vascular system and a wonderful way to boost your mood and self-esteem.

What are you waiting for?  Seize the moment and Just Do It!

Monday, 10 June 2019

And The Answer Is...

Our parents really brought us up so well.  They took great care teaching us all the social graces we need to be graceful and considerate human beings.  It is always wonderful to encounter people with excellent manners who are well spoken, educated, confident and yet humble.  We in turn have made sure that we pass these qualities on to our own children.  

However, there could be a downside to all of this.  In our effort to raise such well behaved children we may have neglected to teach them to also be kind to themselves.  We are sometimes so eager to please and help others that we very seldom really consider our own needs.  Most of us feel guilty to take care of ourselves, to put ourselves first at times or to say no.  Yet, being able to say "no" is quite essential to our own well-being. One of the reasons why we have difficulties saying "no" is because we do not want to disappoint people, especially those who are important to us in our work or personal environment.  We  do not want to seem selfish or unhelpful.  Saying "yes" also feels much less confrontational than saying "no".  We often feel so guilty saying no that we tend to go into long explanations of why we are saying "no".  

If you have difficulty saying "no" it is important to learn to give yourself time before you answer.  Instead of immediately giving an answer tell the person that you will think about it.  That way you remove yourself from the situation and you can calmly think about the request.  Ask yourself if you really want to do it, or need it.  How would saying "yes" make you feel?  How would saying "no" make you feel?  Only say yes if you really want to and not because you feel forced to or guilty.  When you do say "no", however, do not make excuses why you are saying no.  Just say no, and let it go.  The choice is yours and yours alone, your motive needs no explanation.

Most of us like to do things to make other people happy, but if we always put the needs of other before our own we end up denying ourselves happiness.  We may end up feeling that our own life does not matter.  Learning to say "no" gives you control over your choices and is empowering.  It teaches people to treat you with respect and it clearly defines your boundaries.  It helps to reduce stress because you do not end up doing something which you really do not want to do and it also helps you to remain focused.  

It is important to teach yourself to say "no".  People may have become so used to you habitually saying "yes" that at first it might come as a shock to them when you say "no".  They may not take you serious at first and they may end up not being very pleased with you.  Their opinions do not matter.  Accept that your choices will never please everybody.  If people genuinely care for you they will respect your answer and your time.  Saying "no" does not come easy when you have always said "yes", but it is essential for your own self-esteem, happiness and time management.

Thursday, 6 June 2019

Have a Bite!

Are you tired?  Are you feeling totally exhausted and it is not yet Friday?  Well, tonight I want to tell you it is okay to treat yourself.  Indulge yourself a bit. Of course "a bit" are the two key words.  It won't help if you indulge yourself to the point where you have bought yourself a ticket on the "Guilt-Go-Round".  Treat yourself to a small bar of chocolate after dinner, a scoop of your favourite ice-cream or a cup of hot Milo before bed. You may.

It is not selfish to pamper ourselves from time to time.  In fact, the opposite is true.  When we treat ourselves we boost our , often frail, self-esteem, and we feel valued and cared for.  It can infuse us with new energy.  Self-deprivation can lead to feelings of depression and resentment.  It drains us of energy and increase our stress levels.

Treating yourself is not confined to indulging your sweet-tooth, but there are very real benefits to indulging in a piece of chocolate, especially chocolate with a high cocoa content and less sugar.  Cocoa is high in anti-oxidants and it also contains Tryptophan which is a natural relaxant.  Chocolate may also help improve blood flow to the brain helping us feel more alert.  The flavonoids in cocoa may also help to maintain our blood pressure.

Remember, however, over-indulgence is never advised.  It could lead to serious health problems, but occasionally treating yourself is part of the enjoyment of life.  Go on have a bite ;)

Wednesday, 5 June 2019


For quite some time now multitasking has been a buzz word and many people strife to be masters of multitasking.  However, it has been proven that there is not really such a thing as multitasking.  Our brains simply are not capable of doing more than one thing at a time.  In reality what actually happens is that although we are trying to do two or more things at the same time we are only switching back and forth between the various tasks.  This requires a lot of concentration and often, instead of being more productive, we end up making more mistakes and this in turn causes us a great deal of stress. Eventually we become less able to really focus our attention on one thing in particular.

 One of the key factors of success in anything is the ability to focus on the task at hand, but also on our goals.  To help us achieve focus it is a good plan to make meditation a part of our routine.  Just five minutes of dedicated meditation can help us to clear our minds and realign our focus.  Meditation does not have to be linked to any specific religion, but it is simply being quiet and being present in the moment.  It is to clear your mind of all the clutter whizzing through it at the speed of light.  What often helps is to find a thought or an idea to repeat in your mind while you are quiet and present in the moment.  Many refer to this repetitive thought, word or idea as a mantra, but this in turn has a religious connotation for many people and thus they veer away from it. I prefer to think of it as a positive affirmation.

Repeating this affirmation guides our thoughts and helps us to focus on the positive.  It can become  the motto or catch phrase of your life and when you think it or say it out loud it can immediately reset your alignment in accordance with your goal.  It can be as simple as "I can do this", or "I believe it will be so" or it can be a specific scripture such as "Be still, and know that I am God".  Quotes are great affirmations to think about.  Write your quote, word or thought down where you can see it and be reminded of it often.  Engrave it on your mind and soon your life will begin to reflect that thought.  It is a great way to inspire yourself to be a better version of you.

I leave you with this scripture:

Proverbs 23:7 (NKJV)

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.

Monday, 3 June 2019

Break Away

Don't you just love Mondays?  Feeling rejuvenated after a great week-end, Mondays invite you to start afresh.  A brand new week awaits filled with new challenges and new opportunities.  However, if you are like most people out there then Monday is not really your favourite day of the week.  Maybe you dread the overflowing inbox awaiting you, or having to sort out all the problems that had accumulated over the week-end.  Then there is no better day to start planning your next getaway!  Instead of working during lunchtime, use that hour to plan a well-deserved week-end away.  No, don't make excuses, now, you do deserve it, in fact you owe it to yourself, your family and your loved ones.  Even your colleagues will benefit from a happier, more relaxed you.

Even if you love your job, working is stressful and stress can break us down, both physically and mentally.  Taking a break, even a short one, has a renewing effect on our body and our mind.  It helps us to refocus and to regain perspective about what is important.  It can even help clear our minds helping us to find solutions to problems we are faced with.  It may even spark some new ideas.

Taking a mini-vacation a few times a year is a great way to re-connect with our loved ones.  It helps to build and strengthen our relationships.  In today's hectic life we very easily start living past one another.  Getting away from schedules, deadlines and responsibilities help us to relax and spend uninterrupted time together.

Taking the occasional break also helps to boost productivity, as well as creativity, as your batteries have been recharged and you have renewed energy for your workload.   

When you plan your getaway remember that it does not have to be expensive or far away.  Even just going to a nearby town and spending the day sight-seeing can be an excellent way to relax.  Take a picnic basket along packet with healthy food and even a decadent treat or two.  There are often very beautiful places right on our doorstep that we pass by and never bother to explore.  However, you will be surprised what gems these places have in store.

Happy planning!

Sunday, 2 June 2019


I hope you have had a relaxing week-end and had some quality time with friends and family.  Maybe some of you give a sigh of relief that the week-end is over, feeling as if you need a holiday to recover from it!  Whatever the case might be I want to encourage you to spoil yourself a bit tonight.  Disconnect from social media, have an early supper, take a long relaxing bath and go to bed an hour earlier than usual.

Having a good night's rest is one of the best tonics there is.  It is important for our physical and mental well-being.  Inadequate sleep can leave us feeling easily irritated and bad-tempered.  It can hamper our performance at work, hamper our ability to retain information and even endanger ourselves and others. A good night's rest have several less obvious advantages.  It can help restore our tissues, improve our memory and boost our immune system.  Getting a good doze of zzz's can also help to regulate our blood sugar levels and aid in appetite and weight control.  There are few things so naturally rejuvenating as a good night's rest.  You wake up energized and ready to face the day.

Many people, however, have difficulties in switching off and falling asleep.  If this is your problem then it is a good idea to start winding down an hour before going to bed.  Have a relaxing bath and disconnect from all media, yes, that means SWITCHING OFF your phone.  Try listening to relaxing music and have a mug of warm milk with a dash of cinnamon and honey.  A cup of chamomile tea is said to improve sleep.

Great! There you have it, your wellness tip No 2 for June.  I hope you found this so boring that your are already nodding off.  Sweet dreams....zzzz

Saturday, 1 June 2019

Take A Walk

A new day, a new month.  Open the windows wide and let the sunlight in.  Breathe in the crisp, fresh air.  Take a moment to savour the beauty all around you.  Put this past, hectic week out of your mind and enjoy the wonder of this perfect moment.  Make a date with yourself and take an hour or twenty minutes to go for a walk, maybe through the still sleepy neighbourhood or your local park.  Feel the stress leave your body and endorphins flooding your senses.  Take note of the little things as you walk along.  Feel the sunlight on your skin and the earth beneath your feet.  Notice the wind stirring the leaves or a bird hopping from branch to branch.  Make it a daily event on your calendar.  It is good for your mind, your health and your spirit.  When we take a daily walk outside our hearts beat faster and this improves our blood circulation.  It is also a great metabolism booster plus the effect of sunshine, fresh air and a feeling of well-being all help to counter-act feelings of depression. 
Making time for a daily walk is not an indulgence, but a priority.  Encourage your family to take a walk with you, it is a wonderful opportunity to bond with your spouse, your children, your parents or siblings.

I leave you with this quote:

Psalm 96:11-12 

(New International Version )

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;

    let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them;
    let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.

Friday, 31 May 2019


What a beautiful day it is, a little chilly, but the sun shines and the skies are clear.  Another hectic week has passed.  Do you count the days to the week-end or do you mark the weeks off until it is time for your annual leave?  That's great, we should always have something to look forward to.  However, in the process the ordinary, often hectic days pass us by without much of a memory retained about the day itself.  Weeks and months fly pass in the blink of an eye, and when we look back we can seldom even remember what we have done with the time.  Is this how you feel too?  Then maybe it is time to start celebrating.  No, I am not talking about birthdays or special occasions.  I mean, you only have a birthday once a year, public holidays, weddings and family events only happen so often.  I am talking about celebrating the ordinary, yet, wonderful happenings which fill our lives everyday.  Did you make your deadline?  Celebrate!  Did your toddler wake you up at five this morning boasting a new tooth?  Celebrate.  Is it the first day of a new season?  Yep, celebrate it!  Did you discover a new strand of grey hair?  Oh, what horror!  Celebrate it, you have earned it!
Take out your great-gran's carefully packed tea set, decorate the breakfast table with flowers, bake some fresh scones and celebrate being alive!  What a gift, what a treasure!  Celebrate the people who are alive, but also celebrate the people who have passed on and who have left you with the legacy of their beautiful souls!
Rejoice at the sunrise, toast the sunset, celebrate the heartbeat of your husband or wive there next to you and invite Gratefulness to reside in your every thought.
Yes, life can be tough, terrible, sad and it can leave us mangled, but while we have it, right this moment, whatever the circumstances, look for that little spark of hope, a faint flash of joy and celebrate it. You MAY, but more than that you SHOULD.  Be happy, dearest friends, and may you find something right at this very moment to celebrate.