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.