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, https://www.babbel.com/ 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.