If you’ve read my earlier post at the beginning of February (2020), you’ll know that I feel compelled to continue through this month with the theme of ‘Rest’. If you haven’t read my earlier post, in summary I had a great January, yet at the start of February I have felt tired, ‘under the weather’ and not in the best of health. As such, as I often ‘theme’ my months to help me have a better focus and direction, as well as to feel more positive as I move through the year, I am honing in on the idea of rest.
Well friends, ‘life as it happens to be’ is happening as it is, unfolding one step at a time, and I hope you’ll journey with me as I discover more about rest this month. If you’ve been following me for a while, or have looked back at my posts over the past few years (since mid 2017 when I started this blog), then you’ll know that I do like to have myself an at home ‘retreat’ or two throughout the year. Sometimes these have a particular focus such as faith, or a writing retreat, or creativity. I hadn’t planned to start thinking about one so early on in the year, but it seems that I need to for my own wellbeing.
At home retreats can be fairly simple, with relatively little planning and preparation depending on how organised you generally are, or you can put more time, thought and effort into things depending on your needs. I have written about planning retreats in the past. With where I am at right now, I think the planning process itself is something that is good for my mental health, if that makes sense. It helps me not to allow myself to feel overwhelmed or give in to the lack of energy, or to feel ‘frazzled’ that I can’t keep up with things at home what with working full time and feeling a little less than my best at the moment. Some people have holidays coming up at this time of the year, but as I haven’t got anything in the diary just yet, the planning gives me those similar kind of happy ‘vibes’ and something other than the day to day routine to put my attention and focus into.
Do you ever find that planning even the simplest of things, trying to make something special out of the ‘ordinary’ helps to keep you in a positive and healthy frame of mind? I think the process of doing a little bit at a time with the build up to something, even if it’s a weekend of restfulness, is quite special, particularly after the Christmas and festive season for which there was the lovely build up and collective nostalgic feeling which with the season has now passed.
Therefore, I’m inviting you to journey on planning a restful retreat one step at a time, easy does it, no stress, more rest! If you like, please join in and carve out your own little pockets of rest this month. xx
I had a pretty great start to the year with a successful and productive January. However, February so far has seen me feeling not quite my best, and struggling a bit with it.
In January I managed to re-establish a work routine, keep in touch with my family, blog consistently, exercise, meal-prep healthy meals, get back into reading regularly, meet up with friends, go to live music events, go out to dinner, persevere with spiritual pursuits and maintain my home.
The first day of February was pretty great too, despite me feeling a bit drained and tired. I saw a good friend and her baby, after 7 months, so it was a lovely time to catch up and get lots of cuddles from the little one. I know it’s only 5th February, but I have been feeling a bit out of sorts since then, and trying to re-establish some kind of balance.
Initially feeling physically drained and tired, I was unable to keep up with all of the things around the house I wanted to do, which in itself I find a bit frustrating. Added to that I just haven’t had the energy to keep up with healthy habits such as meal prep and exercise, and shopping for healthy food. Oh how nice it would be to have another pair of hands to help out with all the day to day things in life, but I live alone and have to take responsibility for myself. On top of this I’ve been experiencing dizzy spells again, fatigue, restless and sometimes sleepless nights or nights of disturbed sleep, fever, cough / cold and shivers.
My body and mind need a rest, and yet there is so much to do that just isn’t getting done.
I usually like to ‘theme’ my months. It looks like February’s theme requires to be around revisiting rest. Physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally, the signs are there that I am in need of refreshing.
It isn’t quite what I would have had in mind for this month, but needs must, and if we don’t have our health and wellbeing then we can’t fully enjoy what we do have.
Sometimes our bodies and minds let us down be it in big ways or just the smaller frustrations of life and we need to listen to them when they tell us to rest.
And so for February I will be revisiting the idea and theme of rest, in the hope of finding some rejuvenation in the process. Perhaps it will be small steps, but hopefully we will mutually find some encouragement along this journey.
Do you ever try to set a theme for your months or weeks? If so, what is February looking like for you? x
If like me you’ve suffered from health struggles over the years, then you know how valuable good health is. Thankfully I have persevered through these challenges and am now in a much better and healthier place, yet I know it’s not something to take for granted. Being healthy physically necessarily affects almost all aspects of our lives from our mental and emotional health to our mood, energy and activity levels, as well as our general outlook on life.
Wherever you are in terms of your health, you can improve your wellbeing. Perhaps you face major health challenges, which require specialist support, and I hope and pray you find all the help that you need. Yet we all on a daily basis need to think about two aspects of our health and wellbeing: nutrition and activity.
Good health isn’t maintained by accident. It takes thought, time and planning. And it starts with a single step, so don’t be discouraged if this feels ‘too much’ for you for where you are now. Make a start and keep going.
What we put into our bodies impacts our quality of life. Isn’t that a sobering thought? Often we get so busy we just do what is convenient and this has often been the case for me. However, yesterday I took a small step, that has set me up for a week of healthy eating, stress free: I meal-prepped! This is something that I used to do more regularly but fell out of the habit of. Although it takes possibly half a day of time, effort and preparation, it takes the stress off you for the rest of the week. You’ll be far less likely to make unhealthy choices because you’ve made healthy choices ahead of time. You’ll have less decisions to make and you’ll have more free time to use for other things because you won’t have to think about preparing a meal each day.
I won’t offer particular advice on what to eat, as that can be very personal. However, I can only recommend eating as many healthy, non-processed, natural foods such as fruit and vegetables, nuts, grains, seeds and plant based food.
Wherever you are, if you dream of a ‘healthier you’ this year, try taking this small step of preparing your meals ahead of time and even if you can’t do this every week to start off with, at least it will improve your intake of healthy food somewhat. Make some small and healthy changes, and keep going with them until they become part and parcel of your routine. I’ve started but need to continue, so let’s keep each other going!
Have a happy, healthy and blessed day and look after your health, it is of more worth than you know. x
Around this time last month, I wrote a post reflecting upon autumn, and also that I was making a start on creating an autumnal vibe in my home décor. I left you with a messy picture of the beginnings of ‘tidying away the spring’ in my home, and I almost immediately got to work on ushering in autumn into my home. The only thing is, I didn’t get around to posting it, so my apologies for that. You can look back at my previous post here:
I’m well into my ‘Winter Survival Guide’ series, so I thought I’d better share my autumn home décor updates with you before it’s time to post my Christmas and winter home updates! 🙂
So here goes with a little glimpse into my home.
Gathering in what I already have:
I think with most of us wanting to be environmentally aware, and responsible, a good place to start when changing your décor from one season to the next, is by looking in your home to find what you already have rather than immediately going out to buy new things.
I did just that, and I didn’t actually buy anything new to update my home for the autumn season. I just gathered together what I had that might have been hiding away in the back of cupboards, or stored under the bed or wherever I had put my autumn and winter things, or just things that I hadn’t really noticed for a while.
Here is what I came up with. I hope you enjoy a little glimpse into my home.
I have a few more pictures I’d like to share, but that I can’t upload at the moment, which means you can look forward to a part 2 with the finishing touches 🙂 x
1. Looking through my home and gathering together what I already have, rather than buying anything new.
2. Organising and ‘redecorating’ with minimal fuss, to usher out the spring, and bring in some Autumnal vibes, that can easily be added to or changed up when Christmas and winter comes around.
This morning, the sun is shining, and there is a chill in the air. I was woken by the sound of machinery outside, and as I peeped out of the window I saw that someone was operating an industrial leaf collecting machine – I’m sure that there is a technical term for such a contraption, but I don’t know what it is!
This is a sure sign of autumn! The heavy leaf fall is a sign that summer has passed and we are approaching winter. Perhaps wherever you live in the world, your seasons differ. You might have a more intense autumn with vibrant, ever changing colours as the leaves transform and then fall. Or maybe you have subtler transitions into the latter part of the year. Nonetheless, we are in mid-October which means the year is drawing gently to a close, and leaves are being gathered, and pushed aside as more continue to fall.
An Autumnal Shift:
Within the home, many people are beginning to make a shift as well. I like to modify my home décor to reflect the changing of the seasons as many other people also do. In recent years, there have been trends to embrace the Danish concept of hygge, in terms of lifestyle as well as in the home. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, hygge can be described as follows:
“Hygge (pronounced hue-guh not hoo-gah) is a Danish word used when acknowledging a feeling or moment, whether alone or with friends, at home or out, ordinary or extraordinary as cosy, charming or special”.
Think of the feelings of cosiness sipping a hot drink on a cold evening, while curled up on the sofa in a cosy blanket while wearing your ‘toastiest’ socks. Or the wonderment of looking at the fairy lights in a beautiful Christmas market, and enjoying the scents of cinnamon, of hot chocolate, and bonfires. Think of a relaxed evening in with friends and family, playing board games and enjoying life together. Think of a reading a good book in your favourite ‘cosy corner’, of that warm glow of fully living in those special yet simple moments of a life appreciated for its gracious simplicity and well lived. Think of warm lighting, starlight, candlelight and soft music, or a hearty home cooked meal – the ultimate ‘comfort food’. And the possibilities go on as far as your warm heart and imagination can reach….
Photo by Mark McCammon on Pexels.com
We move from the vibrancy of spring to the muted tones of autumn and the cosiness of winter time.
Homeliness, Hospitality and Reaching out to those in Need:
Although the sun is streaming through the blinds on this crisp, cold, autumnal day, days like this are becoming fewer and further between. Yesterday was a day for warm coats, and the day previously we saw lashing rain, incessantly beating down upon us, as we huddled indoors or under grey skies. It is a time when, if we are blessed to have a home of our own, a roof over our heads, we can make time and space to allow our winter seasons to be more cosy, homely and inviting.
Not only can we create a warm and pleasant environment for ourselves, but it opens up opportunities to be hospitable to others, and when we are relaxed and things are in order, then we can also invest our time, efforts and energy into reaching out and helping the poor and others less fortunate that ourselves materially. We can create a quiet space to pray for those in need, including the homeless, we can gather our friends together and begin preparing toys, gifts, hampers and wellbeing packages to distribute perhaps at Christmas. We can make crafts and home-baking to sell to raise money for charity, and we can invest our time in creating a little more community spirit, and of going out to meet people who may be lonely with no one to talk to. Once more, the possibilities only end where your imagination does…
When the leaves are piled high all around you!
However, while we sit together and dream of such inviting days, you like me may find that you have a whole heap of leaves to rustle through first, and tidy up, if you’ll pardon the pun. We need to shed spring’s skin and allow things to change as we transition from one season to the next.
The reality of the mess:
Personally, in order to get to this dreamy autumnal and winter home scene, there’s a lot of tidying up to do! However, for inspiration I have been looking through some of my old blog posts in my ‘home and lifestyle’ section. I have lists of encouraging tips and suggestions in various posts, but the one that encouraged me not to be overwhelmed or distracted by the mess, is to begin with a vision of what I want each part of my little home / apartment to look like. Once my heart is engaged, my mind can set about prompting me to action in the more practical tasks.
Dreams and visions:
One of the things I suggest is to have some sort of ‘vision board’, whether electronically, or jotting down ideas and scrapbooking pictures, it depends on what works for you. I think a nice way I’d like to do it is by ‘cataloguing’ some of my ideas in subsequent blog posts so that I can share this journey with you.
A starting point:
For now, however, in case it is an encouragement to you that I too have a bit of work to do, here is where I am starting from, at least with my kitchen…I hope to follow up with sharing a vision board in subsequent posts and to do this for each room as I move through my home.
So for now friends, happy cosy autumnal living, I hope you have a safe and blessed season ahead. x
Where I am starting from as I say farewell to this year’s spring and summer:
Which of us doesn’t get the ‘munchies’ during our work day? It’s all too easy to grab an unhealthy snack because it’s the easiest thing to find, and I know that I certainly have done this while at work. However, today’s inspiration for your lunch break is to spend a little bit of time the night before prepping some healthy snacks to keep you going throughout the day, and also to prep some healthy lunches. You’ll be amazed at how a few simple ingredients can go a long way, save money, and be better for your wellbeing, not to mention your waistline too! You can bring things into work and make up a lunchtime snack while you are there, and store your ingredients in the fridge – or you can do a little bit of cooking or putting things together at home and bring your lunch in. That way you know exactly what you’re getting, you’re not left with the only option of a calorific unhealthy meal, and you have a bit more change in your pockets.
For quick and easy vegan and vegetarian meal prep ideas, see my main page and click on the relevant ‘tab’ on the menu. Also, keep an eye out for some new recipe and snack ideas coming soon. Today I am enjoying a home made healthy pasta lunch, and for snacks I have been happily munching on cucumber sticks and vegan mayo which are surprisingly filling and much better than grabbing a chocolate bar from the vending machine or filling up on biscuits. Happy munching – if you have meal prep ideas, be sure to share them with us 🙂 x
So, not too long ago, I discovered the term ‘social media influencers’…I had been aware of the work of such people, but wasn’t as yet ‘au fait’ with the terminology.
As mentioned in a previous post, my generation was the last generation to grow up with technology such as the Internet, but also be able to remember a time when it wasn’t a thing in mainstream society. I see myself as very fortunate in this regard, for the perspective it gives me and others – we are kind of caught between the old and the new….although that isn’t necessarily a matter of age or life stage so much as being able to interact with changing developments, while being able to analyse the potential effects of them in a wider sense as well. Those of an ‘older generation’ may find it hard to engage with technological and societal changes and may have no idea what their children and grand children are talking about when it comes to new opportunities that they see for themselves. They may not consider a ‘proper job’ to be anything less than something you have trained for professionally or academically for a number of years, gained a qualification in and can thereby contribute to society in a 9 to 5 world. This could include being skilled through an apprenticeship, ‘on the job’ training and such like, but to them a ‘real job’ has nothing to do with social media. Let me clarify, that with regards to this perspective, I have a ‘real job’ and have never earned an income from social media, and I don’t earn a penny from anything I write on this blog, although I see the potential in exploring avenues elsewhere for my photography that might free up a bit of extra time so that I have more flexibility with the types and ways I work. I love my job, but it is more analytical and I do write a lot as part of my role, but it is business writing. That is only one part of me, and I therefore find outlets from my creative side which is a huge part of who I am through writing my novel, writing my blog, photography projects, arts, crafts, adult colouring, music, (easy) jewellery / bead making and other similar projects on the side, all of which I do as hobbies.
The generation coming after me is unlikely to remember what it was like to not have social media and technology as a central part of their lives. People now joke that babies come out of the womb knowing how to use a smart phone! It may sound ridiculous but by the time a child is a toddler, they may be more efficient at using social media than their grandparents! The ‘GenZ’ generation as it has come to be known as, unlike the ‘Millenial’ generation to which I was born into in terms of time frame, not necessarily values overall, is exposed from day 1 as it were to a world where technology is most of what they know. As such, many younger people see their lives and their future opportunities as coming from online ventures. And many are making money – A LOT of money from the myriad of opportunities available to them online. There are bloggers, and some of you – older and younger – may be part of the community that does manage to make an income from your online blogs, and I’d be very interested to hear about your experiences and journey if you’d like – there are ‘YouTubers’ and Instagrammers and a whole host of other people using a myriad of platforms to make a name for themselves, their brand, or their message.
Advertisers and big businesses have seized upon this potential and ‘social media influencers’ – those, particularly young people, who have a significant ‘following’ are prime investments as it were for companies to draw in more customers. Influencers may be setting new trends and those who follow and look up to them will want to emulate them.
In my experience, and correct me if I’m wrong, social media influencers tend to be particularly dominant in the fields of beauty, make up, fashion, gaming, health and fitness, diet, food, wellness, and in providing opinions on merchandise of various sorts. Maybe even travel, but I find that probably beauty and fashion and lifestyle are more predominantly represented – what are your thoughts?
The potential to influence others is massive…incredible really. This can be reflected partially in the hefty figures that represent their takings from 4, 5 and even 6 figure sums. Influencers shape trends, and reach sometimes millions of ‘viewers’. Yet, are they using their platforms effectively for what can really influence the generations to come?
Fashion and beauty trends come and go. Products, likewise gain and lose popularity over time. So while for a short time this influence has an impact on their audience, and their pockets and their own lifestyles, which I don’t have a problem with, does not influence also bring with it responsibility? I have seldom seen young people who are prominent in social media, in terms of being influencers, using their platforms for issues of humanitarian concerns and social justice. Yet, what a platform they have! Occasionally, I have seen people reflect upon a tragedy or situation in world events, but very rarely and usually as part of a ‘trend’ so that they are also seen to be involved. I haven’t been exposed to much of what seems to be part and parcel of their central work or message. And that’s a real shame and a wasted opportunity. I have seen ‘Youtubers’ who are in this ‘mid-generation’ using their voice to raise awareness of social issues and personal struggles, not in a self indulgent way but as advocates for change. I am a bit of an ‘oldie’ when it comes to changing trends, so please do educate me if I have got this all wrong. I know a lot of young people are very vocal about climate change and sustainable living but I don’t know if they are the ones with these massive platforms…?
But if what I have perceived is an accurate reflection of the times then surely there is a need for a ‘new wave’ of social media influencers. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they should leave their passions for beauty and health and other such things, but to use their platforms to also advocate for change in terms of the myriad of problems facing society today: if you are a health vlogger, and talk a lot about diet and fitness, could you also use your platform to encourage individuals and industries to care for the homeless and those without food, similarly could fashion influencers reach out to those who have nothing to wear, literally, not figuratively? Could those who speak about home and lifestyle and living their ‘best life’ raise awareness or use their connections with followers and businesses to improve the welfare of the most hurt, marginalised and distressed children in society? And what can we do, even those of us who have a limited sphere of influence like myself, and who have no connections with industries, and who receive no payment for what we do online, can we also use what voice we do have for the benefit of humanity and not merely the outward and fleeting trends that are popular for a moment and then gone the next?
Do you love the idea of establishing a morning routine, or enhancing one that you already have? Maybe you’re a morning person and this comes easily and naturally to you. I personally am a night owl, and not an ‘early bird’, but I’m working on it. I think we do have natural rhythms where some of us more easily fit into certain patterns than others, but that’s not to say we can’t make changes that become habits that become part of a healthier, happier and more wholesome way of life. I don’t know about you, but I love watching and getting inspiration from people’s morning and evening routines on YouTube…some I find more beneficial than others, but when I do come across something that is particularly inspiring I might be left feeling, how can I do all that in my life when it’s not the most natural part of the day for me, if that makes sense?
So in case you’re similar in that regard, I’m going to post ‘quick tips’ to introduce into your morning routines, or to remember to keep doing. Focus on making it a regular part of your day.
Tip Number 1: Hydrate!
I’m sure you are all well aware of the health benefits of drinking water. Indeed, water is essential to life, and most of us are blessed with living in countries where fresh, clean water is readily available. And even though we know this, how easy it is to first turn to our cup of coffee or tea. Drinking water helps cleanse your body of toxins, works to restore cells, promotes blood flow and helps your metabolism. Not to mention, it gives a boost to your skin, energy and overall health. I have no problem drinking water, but I know some people do. Why not add some ice, a slice of lemon, or a hint of natural flavour such as lime or mint? And remember to stay hydrated throughout the day as well 🙂 x
I don’t know about you, but where I am it seems to be the season for cold and flu viruses doing their rounds. This year, it seems to be hitting people a bit harder than usual, including myself. There are few places at the moment where you won’t encounter someone with a sore throat, cough, cold or who is generally looking and feeling ‘under the weather’.
I am recovering (hence being able to sit up and write my blog) after being sick for over a week. I often find myself pondering, as my mind wanders, the analogies that exist between day to day happenings and life on a deeper level. So this time, friends, the life lessons come from the humble, common cold virus.
I had set myself a goal of having zero sick days this year. I also was quite adamant that I wouldn’t get sick when I realised that there was something in the air, as it were. However, those ‘promises’ were short lived when my body decided to grind to a halt against all my good intentions to stay well. I haven’t had a cold like this for quite a while, and certainly not one that caused me to be ill for over a week and unable to leave the house. Life has a funny way of teaching us. Here are some of the lessons that this cold taught me:
1. Sometimes life just happens, and we have to ‘roll with it’.
As I mentioned, I had no intentions of getting sick, and with my regular routines of exercise and quite healthy eating, I was doing alright to maintain a good level of health. But as we know now, I did get sick, and there really wasn’t much I could do to stop that from happening.
Sometimes life just happens, and we have to ‘roll with it’. Against all our plans, and despite our determination, sometimes life’s happenings get the better of us, and we find our self ‘on the bench’ or in the sick room, watching from the sidelines as everything continues without us .
Have you ever been there? Whether you have or haven’t, there’s no sure way to know whether or not you will be in the future. While we can’t necessarily prevent certain things happening, we may be able to lessen the likelihood of them happening. And where we can’t do that, we can build our daily resilience by building our character, working on our attitude and mindset, and taking care of what has been put in our care…being ‘good stewards’ of our giftings, belongings, responsibilities and relationships. And if you haven’t been doing that, and you do find that ‘the rug has been pulled out from under you’, you can still be intentional about how you think about and respond to the situation you find yourself in.
2. Busy isn’t always best…listen to your body and mind when they urge you to rest.
Now, when I did accept that I wasn’t going anywhere fast, I came up with a plan to get better as soon as possible and get back to work within a day or two. While some people are able to do that, my body had other ideas, and I was devoid of much energy and unable to move or to do the simplest things. Most of us live in societies and cultures where we are constantly compelled to be busy. We equate busy with useful even though being busy doesn’t necessarily mean being productive. When we stop walking by rivers, or cloud gazing or listening to the rustle of leaves in the park, in other words when we don’t ‘stop to smell the roses’, we allow ourselves to tune out of creation’s natural rhythms, and tune into the chaotic frequency of noise, bustle, busyness, and the frantic hurry of modern day life. If you have ever experienced ‘burnout’, times of stress, anxiety, panic attacks or other similar symptoms, you know that there is only so much your body, mind and heart can take before it simply takes a break, with or without your permission.
Believe me, busy isn’t always best…and I have a feeling that you know it yourself. Even when I was unwell, I wanted to clean, to tidy up the mess of the household work that I wasn’t able to do because I had no energy, and I just had to focus on getting better and obey my body which refused to do much at all other than rest, sleep, fight off the virus and ‘check out’ of ‘normal’ everyday life.
Don’t let it get to the point in life where you burnout, and where you are forced to grind to a halt. Take care of yourself daily. Yes, we all have to deal with life in a rapidly changing, moving world (well, at least most of us do), but that doesn’t mean that you have to add that extra thing to your ‘to do list’. Stop and rest a while. If you work in an office, do you really have to sit at your desk to eat lunch? Can you just ‘get away’ from it all for 20 minutes, and find a few moments to yourself to rest and eat and think without interruption? Do you need to be ‘plugged in’ to the world and all its happenings 24/7? Can you switch off earlier or more often and limit the time you allow your mind to be bombarded and overloaded by messages, stories, images and the constant stream of information that we face in an online world? Can you take a walk in nature more often? Can you choose to read a book rather than scroll through news feeds? Can you find the time to take a nap? Do you really need to ‘do it all’, and if so, is that ‘one more thing’ you have to do worth sacrificing your mental and physical health and wellbeing for?
3. We need each other
Robert Putnam in his well known article, ‘Bowling Alone’ wrote about the importance of ‘social capital’ in a world where people are increasingly ‘bowling alone’. We all gain from positive interactions, connections and relationships. It is necessary for a healthy society and healthy individuals.
I live alone, and when I was sick I really struggled to simply look after myself. How nice it would have been to have someone help out with simple things like doing the dishes, preparing food, or getting medicine. If you have such a someone in your life, please let them know you appreciate them 🙂 I had to do it all myself, but thankfully I was able to order groceries and cough and cold medicine to be delivered to my flat and that certainly helped when I was unable to go outside. While I didn’t have physical help, I did have contact over the phone with my family, and even that helped ‘keep me going’. Most of us don’t like to be dependent on others, but we are interdependent – that’s part of what it means to be human. Foster those good healthy connections and relationships. Reach out and ask for help when you need to, but also try to strengthen yourself to be able to be as resilient as possible if you do find that you have to go it alone in seasons or circumstances of life. And perhaps most importantly, be reminded that there are people, young, old and middle aged alike, who against all their wishes and determination, do find that they are dependent for help – perhaps their bodies or minds have ‘given up’ in some way, perhaps they no longer function as they once did, perhaps they are in a situation and state in life that they really didn’t wish for, and they simply cannot get by without the help or care of others. Maybe this is a temporary situation…maybe they have to endure this for a long time. We don’t like to feel dependent, but sometimes we are….and sometimes someone really could benefit from that offer of help, or from the unasked kindness of a hot meal made for them, a little help here or there…the risk of having the offer rejected is not so important as the potential impact of helping and encouraging someone who really does need it. Be brave…take that chance.
It’s an obvious one, but something so many of us struggle with….getting enough sleep. Yet it is essential for maintaining our health and wellbeing. We may be busy, but we cannot afford to trade off getting things done with compromising our health. It is amazing how sleep restores – there are so many functions going on within our bodies that we are barely aware of….don’t they deserve to get the rest and sleep they need? 🙂
5. What are you taking for granted?
So now we come to the final life lesson that the common cold has for us today: Gratitude.
How funny it is that we humans often take something for granted until we no longer are able to do or have it. We may moan about our jobs, but when we are unable to attend our work we find we miss it, or at least appreciate the ability we normally have to carry out our work. When we are confined indoors, we find a new appreciation for the outside world – for blue skies overhead, the sound of birdsong, the whisper of a breeze on our skin. When we are immobile, we think upon how wonderful it is to be able to move, to function, to have health and to do simple things on our own. When we are unwell, we appreciate health. When we are alone, we appreciate company. When we are tired, we appreciate strength.
Do you have any of these today? Do you have strength enough to do your housework? Be grateful and don’t grumble. Do you have a job to go to? Try to appreciate it, along with your ability to do it. Do you have someone to help you with the day to day things of life? Hold off from any judgements you may have of them for *how* they are helping, and show your appreciation that you have them in your life in the first place. Do you have health? Enjoy it, be thankful, use it to bring something good into the world today. Do you have money in your pocket, a roof over your head, clothes on your back, and a mind that is still functioning? Be grateful. Look after yourself, and those around you, and don’t wait until you no longer have it to appreciate what you have right now. xx
When was the last time you suffered from ‘FOMO’ (you know, that 21st Century phenomenon that is the ‘Fear Of Missing Out’)?
While this anxiety, and by that I don’t mean envy, may be harnessed in a way that one might use pre-exam nerves to motivate them to take action or do better, can be harnessed to compel one to take positive steps in life, to make the most of things, it can also be used as a rod to beat one’s own back.
You see, in the path to healing, whether that is physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual or all of the above, we might find ourselves in places that we really don’t want to be. The place may be physical or subjective. For example, on the pathway of healing, one might be in a hospital bed, or a mental prison. The confines can come in a variety of forms, and their impact upon us has a lot to do with how we react to our situations.
In a world of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube, to name a few online spaces, we often see lives that seem worlds apart from our own. When we see a constant stream of happy, healthy images, of people seemingly living life to the full, surrounded by friends, family, apparent ‘success’, and ‘ticking all the boxes’ of lives great milestones – graduations, birthdays, engagements, weddings, baby showers, births, and the happy lives of those surrounded by love, life, travel, adventure, achievement, talent, good health….the list goes on…. you fill in the blank for what you struggle with seeing…. we can be left feeling deflated. Perhaps especially if or when things aren’t quite going so smoothly for us.
Now, I can’t promise you healing. I can’t say for certain how things will work out. But I can say that I have been imprisoned by many things, and I know The One Who Has set me free, and Who continues to heal and restore me. If you know The Lord Jesus, you know He Is Real, He Is Good, He Loves you and has a place for you.
If you don’t yet know Him (and I pray that you will know His very specific love for you, some day) then you can still glean from His Wisdom.
You are important. Your journey is important. If you’re like me, you have perhaps fought hard to survive certain storms in your life, pushed on, worked hard, done everything your little self could do, to find that while you have survived, you may still feel broken. And while you have endured long and fought hard to overcome repeated challenges and obstacles, somehow you find yourself surrounded by people who know little of this road, and whose terrain has been more of meadows than of jagged mountains. They seem to breeze through life, move through all the milestones smoothly, happily and at the expected time, they don’t seem to have to go through trial after trial, and although they have ups and downs like everyone in life, they don’t seem to be particularly tough and they have had plenty of ‘cushioning’ in their early lives and a good support system so that things that come their way don’t seem to phase them. Of course, we don’t know what we might find if we were to peel back the layers of these lives, but it is fair to say that some people do have a happier time of it than others.
So, what do yo do when you find yourself in a place of ‘FOMO’, of comparison, of anxiety, doubt and fear? Your future does not seem so secure, you don’t think you’ll ever experience the blessings that come so easily. Perhaps you feel defeated, disappointed, by the hospital bed, by the medication, by the nightmares, the divorce, the physical sickness, the trauma, the depression, anxiety, stress, uncertainty, loneliness….the list goes on and on. And as you think about these contrasts, the despair and worry begin to build. What will become of you? This wasn’t how it was meant to be.
First let me say, whether you realise it or not, you are *loved*, by a God Who created you, chose you, fashioned you, and Who can bring meaning from your sufferings – indeed The One True and Living God Who suffered anguish to save you – to bring forgiveness, reconciliation, and love. Eternal security, and security for this life, each and every day knowing that The Good Shepherd Is walking with you every step of the way.
Like I said, even if you don’t know Him yet, even if you are angry at God, refuse to believe in Him, or are frustrated at why He seems to be so ‘unfair’ towards you, you are not alone in these feelings. In a broken world, our broken hearts struggle to believe that we are loved or cared for, or that our lives matter, because we each are special.
First, I encourage you, regardless of your beliefs, if you are walking a path towards healing, to come away from those places of comparison for a while. Sometimes we want to run before we can walk. But today is important, and you matter. Focus on building up your own life and rather than wishing it was different, do something to make it so. The small things matter. Take time by yourself to rest awhile. Our bodies and minds are over run and overcharged, and we all need some ‘down time’ to recalibrate, and to get busy doing nothing. Perhaps you are limited in what you can do – perhaps you are confined indoors, but if you are not, open a window or wander outside and linger in the freshness of the air you are still blessed with to be able to breathe. Small steps are important. Can you put something healthy into your body, can you exercise even a little, just 5 minutes today, can you do something that will strengthen and nurture your soul? Can you colour, or read, or write, or journal, think, pray? Can you gaze at the clouds moving gently past, or linger over a hot cup of tea? Can you enjoy the laughter of a child? Can you pick up where you left off, and get even a little bit stronger today? Can you say something kind to yourself, and remember, whether you believe it yet or not, that you are loved?
My friend, if like me, you have come a long way, you may feel like despite all your effort you haven’t got far enough. But take time to realise how far you *have* come. It is ok to rest a while, if you can. It has taken everything to get here, and we want to run, but first we need to grow strong in our ability to walk through life…metaphorically speaking.
It is ok to take your time. It is important not to compare, unless that comparison leads to gratitude and kinder, more compassionate hearts. You are not alone on this journey. We all live in a broken, fallen world, where a lot of things seem unfair. But we have been given a Hope. We have been given strength enough for today. Reach out….reach out to Him….Jesus…The Living God, Who Loves you….and if you can’t find it in yourself to do that yet….at least reach out and do something today that will strengthen you in your onward journey of a more whole and peaceful live. xx