Monday, 28 June 2021

Take Five - Blessing Jar

Today is the fifth post in our Take Five series of small changes. Due to a technology hitch, this post could not come out on Friday, but here it is for today. Three small changes. Most people think of Mondays in colours of blue. It does not have to be the case. For me, Mondays are always days filled with promise and opportunity.

Firstly, for preparation, I want you to get yourself a jar. An empty coffee jar will do the trick. Next, cut up some paper into 5 cm x 8 cm rectangles. Then, once you get home tonight, I would like you to turn the predictable Monday schedule on its head. Surprise your spouse and children tonight with a comedy night. Yes, make some hotdogs and a large bowl of popcorn, put on your PJ's and settle in front of the television and watch a comedy. You will be amazed what fun it is for the whole family to take a break from the norm.

Once the movie has finished and the children are in their beds, then it is time to pamper yourself. Run a hot foam bath for yourself, light some candles, and put on some relaxing music. Spoil yourself with a mask and pedicure.  Maybe you can ask hubby to give you a foot massage. Enjoy an hour of you-time.

Finally, settle into bed with your pre-cut papers, a pen, and your jar. Write down one thing you are grateful for this very moment, and remember to enter the date. Roll it up and put it into the bottle. This is your jar of blessings. If you do this one simple thing for a year, you will have 365 blessings. How wonderful is that?

I hope you have a wonderful day, be blessed, my dear reader.


Thursday, 24 June 2021

Take Five - Day 4

What a beautiful morning! I hope you are well and excited about the day.  Small changes are what this week is all about. How are you doing with these suggestions so far? Today I thought it a great day to look at our nutrition. There is so much hype about eating clean, intermittent fasting, and keto dieting that it could be very confusing. Well, today's post is not about promoting any diet, but rather a lifestyle suggestion. Regardless of whether you are on a diet or not, there are some changes we could make. My suggestion for today is to make it a meatless day. You may eat anything you like, but no meat.  Replace your meat choices with vegetables, nuts, fruit, or even cheese.  Meat is an excellent source of protein, but too much could make you feel sluggish.  Taking a break from it once a week is a great way to improve your well-being.

The next idea I have for today is to "pay it forward ". Have you ever seen the movie, Pay It Forward, starring Kevin Spacey, Hellen Hunt, and Haley Joel Osment? It is a thought-provoking film and worth watching. The idea is that instead of paying a favour back to the person who bestowed it on you, you pay a favour to three other people. They likewise do the same. Today is your chance to pay it forward. It does not have to be something huge. Maybe you could pay for the parking of the person next in the queue. Perhaps you could get the tea lady at your work a slice of cake or the car guard a warm cup of coffee. Little acts of kindness can make a difference in somebody's life.

After a busy day, give yourself the evening off. Retire to bed an hour earlier than usual. You do not necessarily go to sleep, but you can relax and unwind from the day's stress. Disconnect all electronic devices except for your music player. Listen to soothing music. Write in your journal or read an extra chapter. This hour is yours.

Have a wonderful day, filled with happiness and purpose.


Wednesday, 23 June 2021

Take Five - Day 3

Another day of small changes.  Remember that drawer or desk which you de-cluttered?  Today is the day you are donating that bag.  You may feel embarrassed to donate something old and used, but remember that often what you deem as trash may just be somebody's treasure.  All that may be needed is to give the item a wash or replacing a button.  The action of giving something away is also good for our souls.  When we give to others we also realize how much we have to be grateful for.  That item you pass on may just make a difference in somebody else's life.

Another small change you can do today is something that may be long overdue.  Is there somebody in your life that you wish you could have written a letter to?  Is there some or other unresolved issue in your life.  Maybe you ended a relationship on a bad foot, or maybe you've lost somebody you dearly would have loved to talk to one last time?  Whether the person is alive or not, take the time to put pen to paper.  You do not even have to send the letter.  Just the action of writing it is enough to help you deal with the issue.  Pour your heart out, say exactly what you feel about the situation.  Let your hurt, anger, or disappointment flow out onto the paper and out of your heart.  It will lift a weight off your shoulders and healing can happen.

The third change for today is to detox from social media.  At least for today, or when you come home this evening.  All-day long, every day, we are attached to our electronic devices.  We can almost not breathe without it in our hands.  However, we need to take a break from it every so often.  Research has shown that people actually spend less time together than they do on social media.  We have even lost the ability to have a sensible conversation without social media.  We spent hours talking to somebody hundreds of miles away, but cannot talk for fifteen minutes to the person sitting next to us.  It is time for serious detoxing.  When you get home tonight, switch off your phone and disconnect your laptop.  Not only will you surprise your spouse and children, or your parents, you will also sleep much better.

Have a fabulous day!!!


Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Take Five - Day 2

Someone once asked a sage what would be the most profound wisdom he could share with the world.  After an extended silence, the old man finally replied.  "Only one thing is constant, and that is change."  Yet, change is the one thing we do not do easily.  We are creatures of habit. We love our comfort zones. However, change can be very good for us. Change brings us new opportunities. In the process, we experience growth and more insight into ourselves and the world around us. Change has the power to transform us. It can take us from living a caterpillar life to the life of a beautiful butterfly.  Talk about radical metamorphosis!

Today, we are going to address three areas of our lives.  The spiritual, relationships, and environment. Firstly, take ten minutes today and find a quiet spot. Clear your mind.  Yes, I want you to meditate.  Fill those ten minutes with calmness.  Let the worry and stress slip from your body.  Fill your lungs slowly with air.  Breathe deeply. Let the air replace the tension in your body.  Slowly breathe out.  Feel how all the negative thoughts flow out of you...

Next,  think about all the people you know.  Which person have you lost contact with? Is there someone you have not spoken to for a long time?  Why is it that you have lost contact?  Was it a dispute or a misunderstanding?  Maybe you simply never had the time?  Reach out to that person today.  Phone them, or send them a nice message.  Don't expect anything in return.  Just reach out and send them caring vibes.  You might just be the reason they smile today.

Our environment can play a large role in the way we feel.  Most of us function better in an orderly and comfortable environment.  When we are surrounded by clutter it works on a subconscious level.  It can add to our stress.  I want you to identify one area of clutter.  It could be your desk, a room, or a drawer.  Sort everything into three piles.  One pile is for recycling and one for donation. The third one is for keeping.  Ask yourself if you really need to keep it. Are you actually going to use it?  Even just the action of de-cluttering helps us to regain our focus.

Three small changes, yet it could open up new opportunities.  Try it.  Have a fabulous day!

Monday, 21 June 2021

Take Five

 A new week, and today, here in the Southern hemispheres, the days are slowly growing longer again.  This week I want to challenge you to make a few changes.  Five days, three daily changes, each one from a different area of your life.  Small changes can add up to big results over time.  Some of these changes may even begin a new habit for you.  So today, how about reading that one book you have been meaning to read, yet somehow you have been putting it off.  I know I have such a book next to my bed.  So, tonight will be the night.  Instead of watching my usual program, I am going to start on it and by Friday or Saturday, it will be done. That takes care of the mental area of my life.  

Now, health-wise, I think it is a good plan to cut out sugar for today, at least for the rest of today. Maybe I will try it tomorrow as well.  It is amazing to see just how much sugar we use daily.  Cutting out sugar can really make a big difference in a person's life.  

The third change for today will definitely be to take a walk.  Instead of collapsing on the nearest chair when you get home, how about putting on a pair of comfortable shoes and take to the road.  You don't need to do more than 30 minutes of walking to experience its invigorating effect.  Take your dogs along for the walk, they will certainly love it.

There you are, three little changes, but they are filled with feel-good effects.  Reading that book, cutting out sugar, and taking a walk, what can be easier.  Have fun!  See you tomorrow for the next three little changes.

Monday, 14 June 2021


Monday.  Again.  Do you also sometimes feel that time is just rushing past at breakneck speed?  The week-end has been merely the blink of an eye.  This day is already past halfway, yet my inbox is still piled high.  Everybody wants their pound of flesh, and I can hardly breathe.  Yes, you know that feeling.  That feeling of overwhelm.  Well, it is time to press the pause button.  No, I am not talking about taking a vacation, that is too far into the future, and chances are you will suffer burn-out before then.  I am also not talking about a week-end breakaway.  I am talking about hitting the pause button right now.  A moment before your next meeting, before answering the next call or handling the next crises.  We usually are so busy tackling our to-do list, catching up on e-mails or scrambling from one deadline to the next that we forget to breathe, we forget to take a moment to just be calm and re-assess our next step.  We run from errand to meeting to telephone call and we grab a coffee on the go.  Pause.  Now!

Pour yourself that cup of coffee, and sit down.  For two minutes just savour that warm aroma wafting past your nose,  taste it's warmth, feel it slipping down your throat.  Empty your mind of all the to-do lists, all the hectic talk echoing through your head.  Just focus on this moment, don't rush off into the clamour of your thoughts.  Pause and breathe.  
Take your lunch hour, it is your sacred time and step outside the office.  Take a walk along the pavement, smile at the passers-by, listen to the laughter of children, notice the colours of the sky and the flowers blooming in the cracks.  Clear your mind of any thoughts about work, about the afternoon meeting, the worry about your children's homework or what is for dinner.  Pause and enjoy where you are right now, name your blessings and your joys.
So often we are taken hostage by our thoughts, our fears and our emotions.  They sweep us along on a path of worry, anxiety and destruction.  We loose sight of the shore, of what is real and we are so overwhelmed by it all that we feel as if we are out of control and drowning.  Pause.  Take a deep breath and regain your focus.  Reboot.

Yes, I hear you say, but what if....
What if you take just a few moments, fill your thoughts with stillness.  Be calm.  Psalm 46:10 says , "Be still, and know that I am God."  When life becomes too hectic, when fear and worry threaten to destroy your peace, when your emotions want to overwhelm you, just take a moment and press the pause button.  Breathe.  Let calmness flow into you, envelop you and lift you higher.

Then play again.

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

Like a Tree

 Love.  At some time we are all afflicted by this emotion.  When we are little we are convinced that we will never love or marry anybody.  We are just going to stay at home with our parents forever and ever.  But then, we all start dreaming of the fairytale story of eternal blissful heart-palpitating love, or as the owl in Bambi said "almost everybody gets twitterpated".  

Yes, we grow up and we fall in love with the idea of idyllic love.  The fairytale hype of "living happily ever after".  The truth be told, as my sister, enlightened me, when the fairytale ends with "and they lived happily ever after", that is when real life starts.

Every year when Arbour Day comes around, most of us have the desire to plant a tree that would one day provide us with fruit and shade, so we buy a sapling, and with much ado and care we plant it in our garden.  We can already imagine the beautiful tree it is going to be.  For the first few weeks we ardently take care of it, we nurture it and we make sure it gets the correct amount of water and food, but over time we start to take its growth for granted.  Slowly the sapling grows into a tree, but along the way it picks up scars, drought stunts its growth, winds bend and twist the young branches.  Sometimes this tree withers and dies, or gets chopped down.  However, a loving gardener, will tend to this tree and protect it against the elements and prune it carefully.

Love is like this tree.  When we fall in love we have such high ideals and dreams, but life and time can wreak havoc with this tender tree.  The storms of life can rip its branches off, the sun can scorch its leaves.  The winter frost can destroy its fruit.  Insects can burrow into its core and eat away at its life.  We, as the gardeners tending this tree, must be vigilant and take care of this tree.  We must see to its needs, water it correctly, treat any diseases it might pick up or pests setting out to destroy it.  We have to gently shape it into the way we want it to grow.  All this takes care and effort.  It is a long term investment.  We can't possibly hope to plant a tree today and in a year hope to enjoy the spread of its leaves.  However, when we tend to it year in and year out, we will eventually sit in its shade, and not only us, but our grandchildren and their children as well.  It will be a legacy long after we have passed.  Such is love and marriage.  When we take care of it, it grows into a beautiful tree, providing lush shade and delicious fruit, even if the bark bears the wounds of the elements and the hardships of the seasons.

When I look back, I also see the girl I was with stars in my eyes.  Yet today I see a woman, and I am glad that my love and I can shelter in the shade of our love tree.  Its branches might be slightly bend and twisted, and there are scars in its bark, but it was worth tending to it.  Now we can enjoy the stillness beneath its cool canopy.