Monday, 31 May 2021

Pause & Walk

 


I am sure that most of us know somebody we would rather avoid.  You know, that one person who seems to always put your back up, or who seems intend on making your life unpleasant.  All of us, at one time or another, have been the victim of slanderous gossip or snide remarks. Most of us, at some point in our lives, have experienced hurt or vindictiveness. Very often our reaction is to stay away from that person's company and to avoid interaction with him, or her, at all costs.  Of course, there is nothing wrong with avoiding somebody who has treated us badly, belittled or bullied us.  However, when it starts to impact on our own lives and our own freedom, it is time to re-evaluate the situation.  

The one thing most of us have learned is that it is impossible to change another person's behaviour.  Nothing we can do, say or explain will change who they are, what they think about us or how they behave towards us.  The way they treat you and other people says everything about who they are.  The way they behave is absolutely their own choice, and they have every right to decide for themselves how they want to behave.  It usually has very little to do with who we are.  The only thing we do have any control over is how we react to them.  Yes, I may choose to avoid them, I may choose to not go to the same places where they are.  I can choose to keep myself isolated from them.  It is my right to do so.  Yet, doing this might in the end prevent me from enjoying my own freedom, it might keep me in bondage and it might prevent me from truly soaring and enjoying life.  By allowing other people's behaviour or opinion to govern your life, to control what you say, how you live or where you go, you in effect allow them to put you in a cage and to walk off with the key.

What should you do if you are being treated badly, betrayed, gossiped about or falsely accused?  First of all, apply my PAUSE method.

P - Precisely determine what has happened. Get all the facts clear.
A - Assess exactly how bad it is?  Is it worth making a fuss about, or is it hardly worth thinking about?
U - Understand the motive or the reason behind it.
S - Set aside your emotions.  It is fine to feel upset, disappointed or hurt, but do not let your emotions         run away with you.
E - Establish your boundaries.  Stay true to your own moral code, but do not allow others to abuse or         disrespect you.


And then, after the pause comes the WALK.

W - Wave and smile.  Allow nothing to steal your peace.
A -  Adjust your focus, keep it on your goal.
L -  Let in go.  
K -  Keep negativity and toxic people out of your life.




Thursday, 27 May 2021

Busy Busy Busy

 


Busy has become a buzz word.  Everybody is busy.  We run around from sunrise to sunset and beyond on a daily basis.  There are hardly enough hours in a day for all our busyness.  Ask anybody out there how they are and more often than not you would hear the answer "Hectic", "I don't have time for anything, I am too busy" or "Sorry, I've got to rush".  The world is in a flat spin to get everything done.  Now.  Our diaries are filled with hasty scribbles and bursting with post-it notes, our timetables have timetables!  Every minute of our lives are accounted for.  Our children suffer the same fate.  They are rushed from school to the one extramural activity to the next.  One can often hear mothers exchange activity lists with one another, as they wait for their children at school. Johnny has extra computer class till three, then it is science club and athletic practice followed by whatever else.  Johnny will probably not get to his homework before eight and he is writing three tests tomorrow. Sigh.

There seems to be a certain prestige to being busy.  A jam-packed itinerary receives a badge of honour and takes you to upper echelon status.  We fear being caught 'not busy'.  People believe being busy equals being found worthy, your life serves a purpose. If you are so busy then surely you must be important.  When we meet new people, they rarely ask us who we are, they ask us what we do for a living or where do we work.  If you want to see them go into wordless shock just give them this answer: "I am a stay-at-home mom" , "I am a housewife" or "I'm retired".  The shock and horror of it!  W-w-what?  You don't work?!"  "What on earth do you do with yourself all day?"  Of course, usually it does not get to THAT question, because by that time they have usually decided that you are not worth much and you obviously cannot have anything worthwhile to add to the value of their lives.  Most put you in the box labeled :
"Redundant".  You see "housewives", "stay-at-home mothers" or slightly more fancy "home executives" are simply not busy enough.  There are no time-checks, deadline meetings, minutes or roll-call registers to document our worthiness and our busyness.

Sadly, there is a price to pay for all this busyness, and we are setting our children up to eventually pay this price too.  We are losing out on connection.  Real, deep and meaningful connection.  Firstly we miss out connecting with our own authentic self.  That part of us which is so much more than being busy.  Being so busy can blind us to our real priorities.  It keeps us from connecting to our spouse, and from being present in our marriages.  We miss out on connecting to our children, getting to know them beyond the cuteness of toddlerhood and beyond the angry fa├žade of the teenage years.  In the fog of busyness we lose sight of the real meaning of living. 

We get so lost in the gathering of more and more stuff and the ticking off of tasks completed that we miss out discovering our true passions and developing our real talents. We miss out on the beauty there is in stillness, and the calmness of the setting sun. We miss out on the simple joy of just doing nothing much together.  There is simply no time to gather as a family around the dinner table, or play a game of cards. The most common regret of people at the end of their lives is the wish that they had lived lives true to themselves and not what others had expected of them.  They regret the time not spent with loved ones, friendships lost and dreams forgotten.  Suddenly having been so busy has lost its glamour and it is stripped of its importance.

Enter Covid.  This dreaded and destructive virus.  Suddenly the world was halted in its tracks.  Despite the devastation this disease has brought, I can't help seeing some of the good which came with it.  Suddenly families were forced to spend time together.  We rediscovered board games, we tackled projects together as a family, we took up gardening, painting and exercising.  We took part in silly challenges,  and redecorated.  We made plans to make an income and many people discovered their entrepreneurial skills.  Many discovered their passions and talents, simply because they had time.  We had a breather from busyness. When the restrictions relaxed a bit, walking the dogs became an adventure.

Hopefully we will remember some of these lessons. Maybe being busy will become less important and really living, a priority.


Monday, 24 May 2021

Guard Your Heart

 


This morning I woke up with a heavy heart.  This is unusual for me as I am a morning person and I am usually excited to wake up to a splendid new day.  Yet today I did not feel my usual chirpy self.  Last night a friend of ours was attacked and stabbed on his way home from church.  This senseless act of violence saddened me and I tossed and turned most of the night.  Coupled with all the depressing news we are bombarded with on a daily basis, it is small wonder that we find ourselves heavy-hearted.  Then as I did my morning reading I came across this verse:

Proverbs 4:23
"Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it."

It is interesting that in the King James version of the Bible the word heart is used approximately 826 times.  The heart of man is very important to the Lord.  This word in the Old Testament is translated from the Hebrew word "leb".  It is rarely used in the literal sense of heart, meaning the physical organ, but rather metaphorically as the center of our being, the inner man, the heart of our understanding.  Yes, our thought, ideas and beliefs.  When we are told to guard our heart, it does not mean that we must harden our hearts against love, or not feeling sympathy for other people.  Neither does it mean that we should be wary of people trying to take advantage of us. No, to guard your heart is an inside job.  

The very next line of the verse gives away the clue: "..for everything you do flows from it."  We must guard our hearts, our inner being, there where first of all our thoughts originate.  It is what happens within our thoughts.  We have to guard our thoughts at all costs, because these thoughts are the origin of every word we utter and every action we take.  That is where choice also starts.  What do I choose to fill my mind with?  Thoughts of joy, thoughts of gratefulness or thoughts of fear, hopelessness and worry?  I have to guard my heart against negativity and anxiety.  What our hearts are filled with will flow from our lips and will manifest in our actions.

It is what is in our hearts that has a direct effect on the way we view all of life.  If our hearts are filled with bitterness, anger and fear we will be unable to see the beauty and grace our lives are filled with.  These negative emotions will suck all the passion and enthusiasm out of you.  We will suffer under an unbearable burden, our steps will be weary and our hearts will feel heavy and overwhelmed.  We were never intended to live lives of misery, fear and anxiety, but to live life abundantly.  This we read in John 10:10(b) "... I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."  Therefore guard your heart against these cumbersome and negative thoughts.  Focus on your blessings.  It is amazing what you can find to be grateful for once you start looking.  The funny thing is that once you start focusing on your blessings, it is impossible to be miserable.

Friday, 21 May 2021

Time


Time.  It fills everyday.  Our lives revolve around it and through it.  We moan about it, we wish for it.  Yet, what is it?  To give it one simple definition is something that has made even intellectuals scratch their heads.  Some view time as part of the basic structure of life and the universe, that in time things happen in a sequence.  Others believe that time is not an entity or a happening, that it cannot be measured.
Most people, however, would agree that although we know that a minute holds sixty seconds and an hour has sixty minutes, time has a very subjective quality associated with it.  It is closely linked to our emotions. Waiting for the bus to arrive can make a few minutes feel like an hour especially if you are running late, while the opposite is true when one does not want a period of time to pass too quickly.  Then a week-end of forty-eight hours plus can seem as if it passed in the blink of an eye.
Whether you view time scientifically or philosophically, we all are subjected to its passing. Some of us view it as a gift, while others view it as a curse.  It cannot be bought, nor can it be given away or even captured.  It cannot be unspent or re-spent.
Sometimes we perceive time as a tormentor, when old age is prolonged beyond our understanding.  When time granted is short, we feel it is playing a cruel trick on us and it leaves us with unanswered questions, yet to the butterfly those few hours of life is enough for it to fulfill its life's purpose with such an abundance of joy that it leaves us enthralled.
To me, every moment of time is precious, but even so I find it impossible to engrave every moment in my memory.  What a blessing photographs are!  However, I wish that I could have captured not only the special moments, but also those ordinary mundane moments, those real life moments that link the special moments together. Little butterfly moments. I would keep them in a viewing jar.  How wonderful it would be to every now and again slip into my viewing jar and relive some of those snatches of time.  The first time my parents looked at me, the nights my dad tucked me in.  The coffee-fresh mornings in the game park when the day just awoke.  The day my mom sang at my wedding - what a surprise!  Those moments of silly laughter with my sister in the mall, the day she took me to the library. The first day I held my children in my arms, bundling them up against all the sharpness of the world, their first smiles.  Crossing the street, holding onto their tiny, trusting little hands.  My husband's first look of adoration, the early morning warmth of his embrace. All those days he would make the people around him laugh. The endless days of play with my brother.  The special times when I helped bath my little nephew, now a grown man.  The last day I saw my dad, just so I can have a chance to say all the things I never did.  The day my friend and I sat on a street corner, painting the sunrise.  Those cold winter days when my mom would fetch me from school and we would go get warm pies from the old bakery.  These are but a few.
How precious our memories are, and over time they become more so.  That is surely why the old folk speak about "The Good 'ole Days" even though they were often times of hardship.  Time has a way to glorify even the worst of times and the worst of sinners.  Time, elusive as it might appear at times, is a healing balm and a reflecting mirror.  What moments would you like to keep in a viewing jar?  How about sharing them with us here on my blog?
Thank you for stopping by and reading.  I would love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment.  For reading more about time go to this link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time

Thursday, 20 May 2021

With all your Heart


A couple of weeks ago we had quite a storm here.  I remember standing at the window and watched as the lightning lit up the sky and the thunder rumbled and shook the windows.  I felt quite frightened and very insignificant.  The storm raged for about half an hour followed by hours of drenching rain.  I am in awe of the power of nature.

Whenever we go to the Kruger National Park, we are all very excited to see the beautiful animals in their natural habitat.  We usually make it a challenge who would see the Big Five first.  Each of us has our favourite , but I am particularly fascinated by the elephant.  Apart from its impressive size there is something majestic about its whole demeanor.  When an elephant trumpets it is as if the whole forest listens in a hushed silence.  Whenever we encounter this magnificent animal we would all watch in awe as it makes its way through the bush and effortlessly snaps off a branch in its way.

Some years ago my husband and I went to an open air concert of Elton John's.  I will always remember the excitement reverberating amongst the fans, it was as if the air was laden with electricity ready to ignite.  When the superstar came on stage the cheering and hand clapping were deafening. When he started to play it felt as if the piano echoed within my very being and the melody swept me off my feet.  I was utterly in awe of his amazing talent.  In that sea of people I felt totally insignificant.

Why am I talking about a raging storm, a gigantic animal and an impressive musician?  What do they have in common?  Greatness.  We look at them with awe and we are humbled.  We become aware of how small we are, how trivial we are.  The world in general are impressed by greatness.  We admire that which is impressive, regal, special and phenomenal.  Like a moth to a candle, people are drawn to celebrities and achievers.  We believe that to be of any importance we must do great things.  We believe we have to perform miracles, achieve top position in our class, win first prize and see our name in newspapers and the media.  We become obsessed by achievements.

However, this belief often sets us up for disappointment and even failure.  We become so lost in the idea of what we should be and what we should achieve that we loose sight of what is important.  Don't get me wrong, it is important that we have a goal to strive for, it is important that we try to improve ourselves.  However, when it becomes an obsession, when we feel that it is all or bust, then we need to reconsider.

I take you back to the storm.  The next day there were still puddles everywhere and the grass certainly looked greener.  Everything looked fresh and clean.  However, the street was littered with broken branches and leaves.  A tree had fallen over onto some telephone lines and a few of the lower houses were flooded.  The storm brought much needed rain to the area, but it was far from perfect.  Compare it now with the gentle moisture the dewdrops bring every morning.  Although we hardly notice them as we rush off to work, they do their job quietly, quenching the thirst of the grass, the daffodils and the insects. 

The elephant, so magnificent and awe-inspiring, yet trees are stripped of their bark and bushes are trampled underfoot.  A dung beetle hastily scampers away, and after the beast has passed, carries on cleaning the forest floor.   A butterfly, barely noticed, flits by, pollinating as it goes from flower to flower.  Insignificant in the vastness of the forest, yet so important.

The cry of a baby, the chuckle of a toddler, the little voice in a choir, and the twitter of birds on the morning air, none of these have superstar status, but they all have their part to play in the symphony of  live.  Each one important and adding their beauty to complete the picture.

We were not all called to be mega stars, not all of us will do great things, but all of us can do little things with greatness. Do every little thing well and one day you will realize that there were no little things.  They were all great things!  That kind word you spoke stopped somebody from ending their life, that smile you gave as you passed gave somebody new hope, that door you held open made somebody believe in goodness.  You will never know what impact you have had on somebody, but they will always remember what your action has meant to them.

Do little things with all your heart, that is where true greatness comes from.

 

Monday, 10 May 2021

Start Today


Through the last few weeks we have learned quite a bit about running.  We have learned that humans have actually been designed to run, we have looked at the benefits of running and we have discovered some reasons people run as well as excuses we sometimes use why we cannot run.  Now the only question remains : how do I start running?

Running is really an easy sport to get into in the sense that no expensive equipment is needed, a basic pair of running shoes will do the trick. There is no need to join a club and pay expensive club fees and there is no restriction on where or when you may run.  However, there are two important things a person should do before starting this running journey.  The first thing is to visit a GP for a thorough check-up.  Once he/she gives  the all clear you are well on your way.  The second thing you have to do is to get yourself a running plan.  Of course you can do like I did many years ago, and just start running, but the chances are you are going to run out of steam before you have really given it a proper go.  A running plan will make all the difference.  For this there is no need for an expensive running coach as the internet is full of free running plans.  The biggest struggle is deciding which running program to use.  If you are a novice runner, my suggestion is to get yourself a walk/run program for beginners.  A solid base of walking/running will set you up with a good foundation.  These programs usually take you from walking to running a 5km in 8 to 12 weeks.  After this you then progress to the next step with another program.  It is important to have an idea of what your ultimate running goal is and then to slowly progress until you achieve your goal.   Beware not to fall into the beginners trap of "too far, too fast, too soon."  This has derailed even experienced runners.

I am sharing the link to a walk/run program from the runnersworld site: 

 A few tips:

Make running a habit.

Do this for three to four times a week.

Don't make excuses, but listen to your body.

Stick to the program, even if it feels too easy.  If you struggle, repeat the week again before you progress to the next week.

Always remember : It DOES get easier, you WILL improve.

Rest days are important.

Don't think about how far you still have to go, just think about this kilometer, this run.

Don't compare yourself with anybody else.

Enjoy your run, breathe in the fresh air and smile, you are lapping everyone still sitting on the couch!!!

Monday, 3 May 2021

Run?! You want to run?!


I am sure that if you are a runner, or an aspiring runner, you are familiar with exclamations such as: Run?!  Why on earth do you want to run!  Those words are all too familiar to myself.

For many years I have had a secret dream.  It was one which I had buried very deep, and nobody knew about it.  I had at times tried to pursue it, but gave it up fairly quickly.  I was convinced that it was an impossible dream, only meant for people born with the natural ability and correct DNA code.  Then one day I saw somebody I knew, also a woman, more on the mature side, doing what I have always dreamed of doing and a little seed started to germinate.  You see, she was a runner and she had only started later in life.  After a few weeks of watching her, I finally gathered enough courage to approach a coach and asked her if she could help me to at least run a 5km sometime in the future.  She laughed and said that it was very easy, I just had to do it.  This answer did not help much, as I knew that it was not that simple.  After all, I have tried to do that before with poor results.  A few days later I told my husband that I would really love to be able to run a 5k.  My husband, as sweet as he is, burst out laughing at the idea of me running, ever!  So, I decided not to speak of this again.  Instead I started walking seriously.

A few months later we went on holiday with my daughter and son-in-law.  She had started running the previous year.  Every morning the two of us would go for a walk/run.  She would jog next to me while I did some fast walking.  I loved it, but secretly wished that I could run with her.  However, I was too scared to make a fool of myself.  At the end of that year she ran her first 10km.  My husband and I drove all the way to their hometown to support her for the event.  I was super proud of her.

The following year, she called me and said that her dream was to run the Two Oceans half Marathon taking place in Cape Town, South Africa.  However, she did not want to run it alone, but knew nobody who would do it with her.  Well, you know how mothers are?  We will try our best in order to give our children what they want.  Before I could help myself, I told her that I would do it with her!  What?!!!  Yes, you read that right. I, who had never even run a 5km, volunteered to do a 21km race with my daughter!  Man, was I crazy!

Once I came to my senses I realized just what it was that I had promised.  Fortunately I remembered that my sister-in-law had once spoken about a walk/run program which had helped her to start running.  I contacted her and she immediately shared that program with me. My husband was working away at that time, so every morning, sunshine, rain or cold, I set off on my quest.  I started with a 2 minute walk/ 1 minute jog for 30 minutes.  One minute felt like an eternity and I prayed for the sixty seconds to pass.  Two weeks later when my husband returned home, I was well into the program. I never looked back.

Today, six years later, I not only have various half marathons behind me, but have also done many marathons, as well as six Ultra's, two of which are Comrades Marathons.  I AM a runner!  The moral of the story is, never allow anybody to tell you what you are capable or not capable of doing.  If you have a dream, pursue it.  Find a way to give your dream wings.  There is ALWAYS a way.  As a bonus I have found many wonderful friends amongst the running community and I often run with my two daughters and my two sons-in-law.  Running has become a lifestyle and I love encouraging others like myself who think that running is an impossible dream.

In my next post I will be sharing a few ideas on how to start running and having fun while doing it.