Wednesday, 22 April 2020

Lockdown, Day 27 - The Apple

Last night I made us an ordinary meal of chicken, rice , potatoes and a salad.  It was nothing fancy, but it was wholesome and good.  My family swiped it. They loved it.  They appreciated the warm plate of food and one another's company around the dinner table.  In that moment I was intensely aware of what a privilege it was to share a meal together and to even have food to eat.  We take things for granted so easily.  This period of lock-down  has certainly sensitized us to everything we have to be grateful for.  Even a trip to the store is no longer just something we do without much thought, no, it has become an event to be planned and carefully executed.  Freedom has been merely a thought other people fought for and which we simply took for granted. Now, we appreciate every moment when we can leave our houses and we long for church gatherings.

I want to share this message with you about the tenth apple.  Just click on the link below:

Monday, 20 April 2020

Lockdown, Day 25 - Praise

Today is a beautiful, sunny autumn day.  It is almost easy to forget about the difficult times the whole world is experiencing at the moment.  Many people are suffering illness, despondency and worry is consuming their every thought.  It is easy to get so wrapped up in fear and anxiety that we are unable to see beyond the darkness.  However, if we want to at all find our way out of the maze of despair it is important that we shift our focus.  Today I would like to share with you some music to help you to find a new perspective and to lift your spirit.  Just click on the link below.  As you listen I pray that you will be blessed with peace and hope.

Wednesday, 15 April 2020

Lock-Down, Day 20 - A Beautiful Mind

This morning I woke up to a quiet, misty morning.  I made myself a cup of steaming coffee and sat down at my desk.  I marveled at the silence.  It was as if the mist acted like a sound barrier.  I could just hear the whisper of birds twittering as if they were far away in a land of wonder and their song just managed to filter through a small fissure.  In that moment I was transported to long ago days, when I would be the first person at the ice-rink and a dreamlike mist would float on top of the ice.  Soon skaters would fill up the space dancing like waif-like dream-creatures through the haze. My friend and I would often spend most of the day in this wonderland.
These thoughts lifted my spirits and I could almost smell the wet, magical air of those times.

This brings me to another magical thing - the magic of thoughts.  Yesterday I was decidedly blue.  No matter how hard I tried I could not drag myself out of the mire.  I tried to smile, but it never reached my eyes. If I had wings they would surely have dragged limp and heavy behind me, flight would have been impossible.  The reason for this, however, had only one source.  My thoughts.  You see, nothing changed in my life.  I did not feel sick, the current lock-down situation did not get worse or more difficult and none of my circumstances changed.  It was simply my thoughts.  My focus changed.  I allowed my thoughts to stray and soon my mood followed.

People are living in fear every day..  They worry about what would happen if a nuclear bomb were to be deployed or if a meteor were to collide with earth. They fear disease, drought and hunger.  They worry about the education system, the rise of gangs and the effects of drug abuse on our youngsters.  While these are valid fears and worries, there is one thing more powerful than all of these.  It is the power of our thoughts.  Thoughts have the power to create.  Thoughts can give manifestation to the greatest evil or the greatest good.  They have the power to transform our lives.  

William James, an American philosopher and psychologist, said that the discovery of the power of our thoughts will prove to be the most important discovery of our time. The problem is that most of us do not realize this.  We seldom think about the consequences of our thoughts, oblivious that each thought is steering our lives in some direction or another.  When we grasp this concept we begin to realize how important it is to take control of our thoughts.  Changing our thought patterns does take effort and it does not just happen easily.  They have been formed over many many years, and have literally become a highway, our thoughts easily take the well prepared path. 

So how do we go about changing our way of thinking?
Firstly, we need to re-adjust our perspective, our way in which we view our lives.  In Romans 12:2 we are reminded to not be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewal of our minds.  We have to clear our minds of our preconceived ideas and expectations.  We have to rid our thoughts of our habitual negativity and small thinking.  Negativity is a black hole which sucks the life out of everything.

Secondly, we need to learn to focus our thoughts.  One of the best ways to do this is to determine what your goals are. It is important to set goals which are important to YOU.  We will never achieve our goals if they are somebody else's goals for us.  Once you have determined your goals it is equally important to focus your time and energy on achieving these goal.  Without focus your goals will just stay something which you have written on a piece of paper or day-dreamed about.

Next, in order to help you with your focus you need a plan.  How are you going to achieve your goals?  What steps do you need to take and what resources do you need to make your goals a reality.  Once you have done the planning it is equally important to manage your time effectively.  The difference between a daydream and reality is taking action.  Managing your time will help you to take action at the appropriate time and doing it constantly.  

Throughout all of this it is important to guard your mind against negative thoughts.  It is easy to slip into bad thinking habits such as, "This is impossible", "I can't possibly do this", ""I am not talented enough", "This could never work", "It is too hard", etc.  Watch out for the Procrastination thief too.  He loves to whisper in our ears that there is still plenty of time to achieve our goals, and that tomorrow is a better time to start.  Funny thing about tomorrow...

I leave you with this quote:

“How we think not only affects our own spirit, soul, and body but also people around us.”
― Caroline Leaf, Switch On Your Brain

Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Lock-Down, Day 19 - All in good Time

Today, sitting here at my desk and watching the rain pour down, I am thinking about the situation in which the whole world is finding themselves.  We are all experiencing the effect of the Covid-19 disease in one form or another.  Many countries around the globe are in Lock-Down. We are all worried and wondering when this will all be over.  Many people are so fed-up with the situation that  they even disobey the rules and ignore the laws regarding the lock-down.  And, although  I think that their behaviour is selfish, I can also understand their actions.  This reminded me of a story I have been told a very long time ago.  I would like to share it with you.

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 makes me think of us. We are in a difficult situation, we are waiting for a miracle, a cure. Many are fighting against the bonds which bind them and want to break free before the time is right. Some want to just give up,but it is in the struggle, in overcoming, that our strength lies. We just have to be patient, one day at a time. 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 will all be able to 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......
So, Dearheart, just hang in there, this too shall pass, and we will be stronger for it.

Monday, 6 April 2020

Lock-Down, Day 11 - A Simple Life

I think that there are very few people on this earth who have not been affected by the current Covid-19 situation.  When we switch on the radio or TV we are bombarded by the newest stats and endless discussions about the virus.  Every part of society has been affected by it.  Many countries are in various stages of lock-down.  However, despite the obvious difficulties, the current situation is not totally devoid of good.  For one thing, we are learning how to reconnect with our families and our loved ones.  For many people it is the time to reassess their lives, their marriages, their families and their priorities.  Despite the stress life has become simpler.

Living a simpler life has many advantages.  When we live simply we tend to take better care of ourselves and our loved ones.  We are healthier and less stressed.  We have more time to reconnect with other people and less stuff to take care of.

So, how does one live more simply?  Here are five areas where 
I thought I should de-clutter:

1. My Time
Our diaries are often so full that every line has been filled in.  Meetings at such and such a time, committees we have to attend, church events we have to organize, the PTA, the community fundraiser, etc, etc.  
our time is spread as thin as the butter on an end-of-the-month toast!  In fact, our Time account is seriously in the red.  If this is true for you, then you have to take a hard look at all your commitments.  Weigh each one up against your core values and those of your family.  Is it really important to serve on the committee of Better-Gardens-For-Badgers or would the time be better spent going on a picnic with your children?  Cut down on all the commitment which are not in line with your values.

2. My Possessions
This is a tough one as we all tend to be very attached to our possessions.  However, do I really need towels in every shade of the rainbow and more?  Could I maybe donate some to the homeless shelter or perhaps send them to the charity that makes teddy bears from scrap fabric?  It is amazing what the effect is upon the psyche when you start to de-clutter your personal space.  You suddenly discover the joy of living with less.

3. My Thoughts
Every action starts with a thought.  A thought not only gives birth to an action, but it also conjures up emotions.  Emotions such as fear, hatred or bitterness clutter up our lives and poison our minds.  Therefore it is important to rid our thoughts of negativity, to learn to forgive and to forget.  We must replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts and ideas.

4. My Goals
This is one I really have trouble with!  There are so many things which I would like to do and things that I am interested in.  However, it is important to make a list of your goals and then to pick the two you would most like , or benefit from, to accomplish.  Having too many goals to achieve is like trying to shoot at a target with a shotgun.  You might hit it, but you are more likely to make a mess of it.  When you choose fewer goals you will be more focused and have a greater success rate.  Once you have accomplished one of your goals you can get another one to take its place.

5.  My Want-To-Have List
Another difficult one.  Especially if you view shopping as therapy!  It is great to shop, but in all honesty, do I really need another vase, another black skirt, another set of glasses, etc?  The answer is clear and concise: No.  End of story.  Now, to just get THAT into my head.

And then I realized...
watching another news bulletin,

"more than 70 000 people have lost their lives to the virus"

living simply is wonderful, it is a gift

no meetings or committees means I have more time with my family, my husband;
I have more than enough, I have a roof over my head, a warm bed, a bath, enough to eat;
I have love in my heart and I am overwhelmed by gratefulness;
my goal is simply this, to live a simple live with kindness
and I have want for nothing more than family, friends, health, love and joy. 

Be blessed, dear readers.

Thursday, 2 April 2020

Lock-Down, Day 7 - Something Different

It is day 7 of our Lock-Down, whoo-hoo, a third of the way done and dusted, congratulations, you have done it and that without strangling anybody!  It is quite cool and windy today, but it is atill a beautiful day.  it is another day to be alive, to breathe, love and rejoice!  I had a down day yesterday and when I did some stocktaking at bedtime I realized that it was all because of a lack of planning.  You see failing to plan can only guarantee one thing and that is a plan to fail. Don't get me wrong, I am all for being spontaneous, but even spontaneity requires a wee bit of planning.  Yesterday I made no plans, I had no guideline as to how to spent my time and without knowing it I set myself up to feeling despondent.  So this morning bright and early I got my duck in a row and I feel much better already!  But, what is there to do during a lock-down, I can hear you exclaim.  Well there is always de-cluttering (done), deep-cleaning the kitchen (done), reading a book which I never seem to have time for (tick that one) or catching up on movies or TV series (how much TV DO you want me to watch?).  So, you've done the obvious things, now what?
Well this is where you have to start thinking out of the box.  Try to get away from the usual things you want to do or like to do.  Instead come up with an alternative list. Be as wild and wacky as you can think of being.
So here are some of my thoughts:
a. Dress up to the nines, set a table out in your yard and have a three course meal, but start with dessert.  Oh, and remember the photos.
b. Climb onto the roof and watch the sunset/sunrise or have a picnic.
c.  Dress up as a superhero, no this is not just the kids, it is especially for adults!
d.  Get together with your family members, also those staying far away and write a murder mystery together.
e.  Learn to dance the foxtrot.
f. Walk backwards for the entire day.
g.  Learn ten basic sentences of a new language and only use those sentences for the whole day.
h. Play Monopoly in the opposite direction, Pictionary in charades mode or strip-poker but dress-up instead.
i. Write inspiring notes and catapult them all over your close neighbourhood.
j. Set about creating a new world record in something obscure: 
tallest hat -15ft9inches
most consecutive pinky pull-ups - 36
longest plank position - 8hrs15min15sec

There you have some of my ideas.  How about adding some of your own and make this time a time to remember!  Be well, stay safe.

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Lock-Down, Day 6 - Good Night

Today was not such a good day for me.  It is as if the light was a little dimmer, my sighs a little heavier and the air a bit thicker.  Of course I am feeling so guilty about this, as my life is filled with  wonderful blessings.  My family and friends are all healthy, everyone in my household is well and we have a home and all our needs met.  Yet my heart is feeling just that bit heavier than normal.  I am usually a "find the silver edge" type of a person, eternally positive and optimistic, so what is up?  I am not quite sure.  Maybe it is all the sadness in the world, the constant awareness of people suffering the world over or maybe it is the shadow of fear in the back of my mind.  A fear that I do not want to even give words to.  Have you ever felt like this, or are you maybe feeling like this at this very moment?  Then I want to reassure you, as well as myself, that it is okay to feel like this.  It is okay not to always feel on top of the world, it is okay to sometimes feel as if you want to hide somewhere away from all of this. I am reminded of this verse in the Bible:

Psalm 91:4
He will cover you with His feathers; under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and rampart.

The Lord understands our uncertainties and our worries.  He knows about our unspoken fears and He hears the prayers we do not even have words for to whisper.  He promises to cover us with His feathers and He promises us a refuge with and in Him.

It is okay to be silent, to be still and gather yourself.  It is often in this silence that we can hear the voice of the Lord clearer, and He says:

John 14:27 (NKJV)

 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
When you go to bed tonight, do not be afraid, find refuge in the knowledge that the Lord will never forsake you, and be still in His presence.

Good night, dear heart.

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Lock-Down, Day 5 - Popcorn

So, what to do when it is raining and you are under lock-down?  You watch a movie and eat popcorn of course!  Day 5 and my daughter and I enjoyed a bit of bonding time watching an old movie.  It was while I was gobbling down the simple, but addictive snack that I started to think about what exactly I was putting into my mouth.

The oldest popcorn kernels were found in a cave in New mexico and with carbon dating were found to be about 5600 years old.  It is quite possibly the oldest snack around.  It is a simple snack and merely smelling the warm fresh popcorn immediately makes one's mouth water.  It is low in calories, but it has lots of fiber. However it is the nature of popcorn that made me think.

It is a plain snack, there is noting fancy to it. However, it is its smell which entices people to buy it. The warm buttery odour can reach a person's nostrils from far across a fairground.  It conjures up happy memories of movie nights and game nights at home around the kitchen table.

We should be like popcorn.  We should be a pleasant smell and a fond memory in the lives of others.  We do not need to be special, rich or accomplished to make a difference, we just have to be honest, warmhearted and feel like home.  Our presence should bring with it the feeling of comfort and care, and long after we have gone the memory of us should bring thoughts of happy times.  There is nothing complicated about a bowl of popcorn.  It just is what it is.  Each popcorn is unique in shape, white and fluffy.  The taste of it is lightly salty, crunchy yet fluffy and melts in the mouth.  The same way each one of us is unique, we each bring our own taste to the people we interact with.  Let it be a taste of goodness, fresh and tasty.  Let us never leave people with a bitter taste in their mouths.  Let people look forward to our company.
Be popcorn!

Monday, 30 March 2020

Lock-Down, Day 4 - Something New

Hi, there!  What a beautiful day, everything has been washed clean by yesterday's rain and the sky is a happy blue with postcard perfect clouds.  It is day 4 of Lock-Down.  A brand new day and the beginning of a brand new week!  So, with all this newness, how about doing something you have never done before?  I am sure most of you have a list of things you have always thought you would like to try or do.  Now is definitely the time to do it.  A friend of mine has told me that she's always wanted to spend a night under the stars, not in a tent, just wrapped up in a blanket.  So guess what she will be doing tonight?  Dedicate this day to the new and the out of ordinary.  Sleep on the other side of the bed, learn a foreign language or start to play the piano.  With all the resources at your fingertips or should I say, your Google-friend, there is no excuse to start something new.  I spoke to a friend this morning who told me that she's always wanted to learn how to knit, but she does not have any wool, so her husband suggested unraveling an old jersey!
Do you want to learn to paint, write or work-out?  Now is the time, don't delay, do it now.  I am excited to hear what you have decided to do, so please drop me a note.  Just remember, whatever you decide to do, have fun and be safe.

Sunday, 29 March 2020

Lock-Down, Day 3 - It's a Choice

It is the third day of Lock-Down here in our country.  The novelty of this strange situation is starting to wear off and people are starting to get edgy.  Many look to the future and wonder how they are going to survive this lock-down for another  eighteen days! 
Life has a way to take us by surprise!  Would you in your wildest dreams ever have imagined at the beginning of the year that this year we would face an invisible enemy that would cripple the world on every conceivable front?
When we find ourselves midst difficult circumstances, faced with obstacles or experiencing a crises, it is easy to be overcome by fear and to become despondent.  However, despite the situation we are faced with, one thing remains.  We still have a choice.  No, it is neither a choice as to whether we could avoid the situation nor a choice of a different set of challenges.  It is a choice of where do I turn my focus.  Do I focus on the storm, or do I look beyond the storm at the faint rainbow in the sky, because there will always be a rainbow, no matter how little sunlight there is.  Apostle Peter wanted to walk on the water towards the Lord, and he did.  He kept his gaze on Jesus and he walked on top of the waves.  However, the moment he turned his gaze from Jesus and looked at the storm, he sank.  Why?  He went under because looking at the dark, stormy skies, the sheer magnitude of it and the howling wind whipping up the frothy waves, he started to doubt and fear took hold of him.  Despair grabbed hold of him and he could see nothing else, no way out.  He became a victim of the storm. Did he have a choice?  Yes, he did.  If he were to turn his gaze back to Jesus, the storm would no longer have been his focus and his downfall. 
Viktor E. Frankl, a Holocaust survivor, said that the last of human freedom is to choose one's attitude in a given set of circumstances and to chooses one's own way.
It does not mean that the storm will disappear, or our circumstances will change, but it means that we will be able to handle it differently and we will be able to make better choices.  We are very rarely in control of all aspects of our lives and circumstances, but what definitely is in our control is our reaction to these events.  When we take control of our attitude you inevitably open yourself up to more creative thought processes. Instead of finding excuses, you find solutions and you become more energized.  This results in better self-esteem and doors to new opportunities seem to appear. 
What is going to be your focus for the next 18 days?  What will you choose?
I leave you with this quote by Charles Swindoll:

"Life is 10% of what happens to you
and 90% how you react to it."

Saturday, 28 March 2020

Lock-Down, Day 2 - Thank You

Day 2 of Lock-Down.
I woke up this morning with such an intense feeling of gratitude.  Another day to live, breathe and love.  The early morning air was cool with a definite nip of Autumn.  Yes, the virus has not disappeared, the reality is still making every one uneasy, filling our minds with dread, but we are alive today.  Today I am healthy, my loved ones and my friends are healthy and I thank the Lord for this gift.
My husband and I made a delicious breakfast for our children and ourselves, creatively making use of left-overs.  I did the usual chores of cleaning and washing and I contacted some of the older members of our church just to make sure that they were doing okay.  All along I was filled with gratitude.  Life is fragile and precious, we have to treasure it, live it.  We dare not sit and wait for anything to pass, we must use the time we have today.
Sit outside, or on your steps, or hang your feet out of the window.  Watch the clouds move along on the wind and savour a cup of coffee.  Taste it, smell it and feel it fill your mouth with its warmth.  Be aware of every beautiful moment.  Look!  See!
And tonight, before you fall asleep thank the Lord for the gift of today.  Don't ask for anything, just say 'Thank You'.

Friday, 27 March 2020

Lock-Down Day 1

Today is Day One of a 21 day Lock-Down here in South Africa.  It is a totally strange experience and most of us are unsettled and quite a bit apprehensive.  All over the world people are experiencing the effects of the new Corona virus.  Thousands of people are infected and thousands have passed away.  We are unable to really grasp the severity of all of this.  Sometimes I wake up and for a moment think that it is all just a very bad dream.  I often wish it were just a hoax, but it is very very real.  It is easy to fall into despair when we hear about the staggering number of people affected in every country around the globe and here in our own country.  Therefor it is important to stay active and creative even while in quarantine or lock-down.  There are still so many things we can do, but it is important to have a plan.  What should you do during this time?  

Firstly, and most importantly: stay safe!  Follow the guidelines provided by the WHO.  Practise social distancing, wear your mask and wash your hands regularly.  Drink plenty of fluids, eat healthily and stay active even if it means walking up and down your own passage.  Listen to your body and be aware of changes like a sore throat, coughing and/or fever and contact your doctor to find out what medicine you can take to treat the symptoms, but don't delay to get medical help.

Secondly:  get up every day and get dressed.  It is important to practise self-care in order not to slump into lethargy or depression.

Then, do your planning.  Twenty-one days mean we have three weeks of seven days stretching ahead of us.  I have made a list of seven areas to focus on each week:  Health, Home, Hobby, Harmony, Help, Hunger and Happy Hour(s).

Health - it is very important to take care of your health during this time.  Very often people tend to just sit in front of the TV all day and at the same time they binge on a variety of unhealthy snacks.  The result is that you may come out of the lock-down a few kilograms heavier!  Therefor it is vital that we establish a healthy routine.  By all means catch up on a few movies or episodes of your favourite show, but make sure that you get enough exercise.  Download a do-at-home workout and spend at least 30 minutes three times a week doing it.  Once a day take a walk in your garden, or run up and down your steps a few times.  Believe me, you will thank me for this advice after twenty one days!

Home - being cooped up in your house or apartment all day, every day can often make us depressed and we may start to neglect our daily chores.  Maybe your house have a few equally frustrated and emotional guests visiting.  Now it is very important to keep your chores up and give out tasks for each family member to do.  Make turns washing up, making food and  doing the laundry.

Hobby - now is a good time to dust off those hobbies you have been meaning to take up again, or perhaps learn a new hobby.  Have you always wanted to learn to sew?  You Tube abounds with tutorials.  How about learning a new language?  Do not wait any longer, is a good place to start.

Harmony - during a period of lock-down it is essential to  pay attention to your mental health.  It is often a period that can really put a lot of strain on our emotional well-being.  Spent some time every day to read your Bible or a spiritual book, take time to pray or meditate and record your thoughts in a journal.  In fact journaling is a great way to help manage your stress levels, it keeps your memory sharp and it can help to improve your feeling of well-being.

Help - most people need to feel like a valuable part of society.  When we are of service to others we derive a sense of  value and purpose from the action.  Although we may not be able to visit anybody or come into contact with people outside of our household we can all make sure that we stay in contact with other people via cellphones, voice messages or video calls.  Reach out to elderly people or people staying by themselves.  If you suspect that they may be unwell or are in need of medical or nutritional supplies contact your local council member or the police to reach out to them.  When you do go out for groceries find out if you could maybe get them something to.  Deliver it to their door if possible.

Hunger - It is important to make nutritious meals for your family and if you are by yourself it is equally important to not neglect making yourself a proper meal at least once a day.  Crisps, cookies and popcorn do not qualify as nutritious food, although in my household cake is a strong contender as it contains dairy, protein, fiber, fat and sugar!  Now is the perfect time to try our some new recipes as the brood cannot order take-away!

Happy-hour - it is very easy to fall into the trap of super-woman, and be so busy catering to everybody's needs that you do not make time for yourself.  It is very important to take an hour or more a day to do something which gives you pleasure.  Read that book while sitting out on the balcony, take a long leisurely bath or write your memoirs.  Filling your own well is as essential as food and water. 

For this period, I personally have committed to running 2km a day.  2km x 21 days = 42km !  What challenge are you taking up?  Please let me know in the comments.

Monday, 10 February 2020

A bit of Love

They call February the month of love.  The shops are filled with chocolate hearts, cuddly teddy bears and red roses.  There is a lot of talk about what love is and how to spoil your better half. We go to great lengths to  arrange the perfect evening for our loved one. However I want to look at love from another side.  I want to ask you if you have shown yourself a little bit of self love?

Most of us have been brought up to think of others first before we consider our own needs.  We have been taught that it is selfish to put ourselves first.  Love is to supply in the needs of others.  Yet the truth is that when we are so busy in meeting the need of others, of our children and husband or wife, we end up neglecting ourselves and we deplete our reserves.  Eventually we have spent all our time, energy and resources on others and we have nothing left to give ourselves and the result is that we have nothing more to give to other people either.

Therefore I want to look at what we can do to restore our reserves in order to be able to give to others as well.  It is time to give ourselves a little bit of love as well.

Firstly, face who you are.  Take a good look at yourself.  You have been created perfectly even if you might think you are not.  Love yourself for who you are, and love your faults too.  Give yourself credit for your talents, your abilities, your achievements and your dreams.  We are so quick to break ourselves down, because we have been conditioned that it is conceited to acknowledge our own successes.  We demand perfectionism from ourselves, and when we fail to make our own impossibly high grade we severely berate ourselves.

Secondly, be kind to yourself.  We are our own worst critic. We punish ourselves for every little mistake. Chances are that if you are not kind to yourself no-one else will be either.  Forgive yourself for the mistakes you feel you may have made.  Laugh at yourself.  Allow yourself to dream.  Give yourself time, and acknowledge yourself.

Next, take a stand.  Your opinion matters.  Believe in yourself and trust your instincts.  Be bold and confident in your decision making.  Speak up for what you believe in, and stand your ground.  

Learn to listen to yourself.  We all have an inner voice guiding us, yet many of us doubt our own voice.  We disregard our instincts and conscience.  Instead of listening to ourselves we convince ourselves that other people know better and we follow them, we allow them to guide us against our own better judgement.  Learn to say no to the voices from outside, but to rather heed our inner voice.  When we start listening to ourselves we start being authentic.

Lastly: spoil yourself.  It is okay to spend so time on ourselves by ourselves.  Give yourself a day off and do what pleases you.  Treat yourself to a pamper session, or a new dress.  Take yourself on an adventure, or curl up with a good book.  Recharge your batteries.  Allow yourself a little bit of self-love.  It is amazing how much you have to give to others if you have taken the time to refill your own emotional, physical and spiritual well.

Monday, 27 January 2020

Venture Out

I hope you have all had a wonderful Monday.  Now, please take a moment to sit back and relax.  Enjoy that cup of coffee and reminisce about the beauty of life.  Hygge is most often associated with cold days, warm cozy blankets and comfort food.  However a hygge lifestyle is not bound to just one or two seasons, it is an everyday lifestyle and a year round mindset.  This week I want you to take yourself outside.  Here in the Southern Hemisphere we are blessed with the most beautiful summer nights yet we tend to spend our lives inside.  When was the last time you sat outside in the garden at twilight and watched the sun set in the distance?  When was the last time you counted the stars and searched for the different constellations?  I remember the many hushed conversations my parents had as they sat on the stoep after dinner.  Their voices were carried on the night air and found their way in through my bedroom window.  I would fall asleep to my dad's voice as he pointed out the stars to my mom.  Over weekends I would join them outside and tried to count as many stars as I could.  I usually fell asleep before I got to a hundred!  The scent of warm balmy nights still transport me back to those idyllic childhood days.  I treasure those memories of soft music coming from the hi-fi and the intoxicating smell of jasmine.  A warm feeling of belonging and safety, an uncomplicated life.  I invite you to take a trip to the outside this week.  Stroll through your garden at dusk, drink a beverage of choice under the stars, enjoy a meal out on the grass or stroll through your neighbourhood and great your neighbours, especially those who have also been enticed to venture outside by this post (wink wink)!

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

A Taste of Hygge

We have been blessed with wonderful rain.  The sound of rain on the roof and the scent of it wafting in through the kitchen window always makes me think of warm, sweet cinnamon pancakes.  In fact anything baking and filling the house with its delicious, warm aroma does the trick.  It is the smell of hygge.  That feeling of contentment associated with childhood memories.  This week I want you to fill your home with the comforting smells of precious memories.  Bake something which reminds you of home.  Fill every corner of your house with its warm scent.  Dish it up in pretty china and linger over it with a warm cup of coffee and treasure a moment of bliss.  Let the it take you back to times of long ago. Absorb every second of this one perfect pause in time and allow calm and contentment to be your companions.  Relax and enjoy.

Monday, 13 January 2020

More "Hygge"

In my previous post we spoke about the concept of 'hygge' and I promised that we will discuss ways in which we can bring more 'hygge' into our lives.   Therefore today, I want you to take a look around your home, or maybe just one room.

Take the one room in the house where you spend the most time.  Maybe it is your bedroom, or your lounge or maybe the kitchen.  Really look at it and evaluate it.  Is it a place that makes you happy?  Look at the space, the objects in it, the lights and the layout.  Does it fill you with joy being in there, being surrounded by all the things in there?  Does it give you a feeling of coziness or does it suffocate you, or maybe make you feel claustrophobic?  Maybe it makes you feel that there is something missing, or maybe it feels too clinical or empty.  Evaluate these feelings and perceptions.

Remember hygge is all about a feeling of comfort, wellness and simplicity.  Does your room make you feel cozy and content?  If not, what is it that you should change to feel more at ease in your space?  Maybe there is too much clutter?  Or maybe the lighting is too harsh?  Carefully take stock of your surroundings and make a list of the things you could change.  Perhaps clutter is not the problem, maybe you prefer clean modern lines but it feels too cold? Then all you might need is the addition of a few scatter cushions or a grouping of candles.  Does the room make you feel claustrophobic?  Perhaps it is time to let go of the things and objects which do not really fill you with joy.  Only keep those things which you love and which contribute positively to your mindset and space.  Let go of the clutter.

Do not mistake clutter for rubbish.  Your clutter may be somebody else's treasure, their hygge.  Clutter are those things which do not belong in a given space and do not serve a purpose, whether it be practical or aesthetic.  Clutter contribute to untidiness and messiness.  Very often our lives are overrun by clutter because we have simply not taken the trouble to decide what to do with something or finding a place for it.  However, clutter is often the very thing which contributes to our anxiety and irritations.  It takes the joy out of our living spaces and they become places of disorder.

This week I want you to take that one room or even just one area of a room and restore it to a place of comfort, happiness and a feeling of well-being.  Let go of the unnecessary stuff, replace it with a warm cozy blanket or a delicately scented candle.  Fill your whole being with a sense of calm.

Monday, 6 January 2020

They call it "Hygge"

A happy 2020 to all of you!  May it be a blessed and spectacular year for each one of you!  Today I want to share a new word with you.  Some of you may be familiar with it, but although I have seen the word around, I have only learned its meaning at the end of last year.

It is a Danish word and it is used to refer to a moment in time, a feeling of coziness, contentedness and of simplicity.  The feeling of being comforted, happiness, of feeling that all is well. The word is "hygge" pronounced hue-guh. The Danish people invented hygge in an effort to make the many long dark and cold days tolerable.  The simple act of drinking a cup of coffee or lighting a fire became something to celebrate and to treasure.  It is a way to turn the ordinary of each day into something memorable, something special.

The basic concept is simplicity itself.  You do not need to go buy anything or change anything.  You just have to be completely present in the moment, to be aware of what is happening around you.  It is being aware of the ice tinkling against the glass, noticing the way the sunlight falls through the window, the motes dancing in its light or the smell of the coffee in the cup, the steam against your face.

Hygge is about being aware, being alive and feeling the moment.  It is to celebrate the wonder of each ordinary perfect moment, this now we are in.

I want to encourage you to make this January, this year, with the perfect fullness of 2020, a year of hygge.  Be aware, observe, really notice the things around you and savour each moment.

In my next post we will talk more about bringing hygge into your daily life.