Tag Archives: Cold

When ‘FOMO’ can be deadly….especially in a pandemic.

Hi once again, dear friends.

I am so thankful that you are reading this. It means that you are alive, have breath in your lungs, and have another day to live.

This pandemic is a challenging time for many. However, the ‘narrative’ within the UK seems to have changed within the last few months and weeks.

At the start of the pandemic, everything was new and scary and we were all dealing with something that most had never dealt with within their lifetimes, unless they are golden oldies who had survived previous such events. For the world at large, it was, as we’ve heard time after time ‘unprecedented’.

We all were told to ‘lockdown’, to stay at home, to keep our distance, to stay safe. In the UK we were told to ‘stay home, protect the NHS, save lives’. After some time we were advised to wear face masks, and thanks to the hard work of the scientific community and advancing technology within less than a year there were vaccines on the scene. Many countries around the world ‘clapped for carers’, or took time to applaud their health care workers, delivery drivers, frontline staff, cleaners, etc.

There was the sense that we all were in a global pandemic *together* and that we all had to do our bit to overcome it *together*.

Some countries were hit way harder than others, sadly politicians around the world took approaches some of which put their citizens at risk, but there was a sense despite the confusion at times, we were moving toward a common goal.

Within the UK, there were some confusing messages from leadership. However, there were daily covid briefings, we did hear regularly from government scientific advisors, and there was a sense of caution, of having to supress the virus, get the ‘R’ rate down, and look after each other. We were part of a global effort, despite the disparity which sadly is ongoing between richer and poorer nations across the world, where some people still haven’t had a first dose of vaccine or the option of having one.

Of course there have been debates, conspiracy theories and resistance along the way. There have been several other key issues of great importance to society such as in relation to racism, violence against women, poverty and climate change that we’ve also had to think about, process and work through. But up until recently in the UK, one thing we did have was a clear set of guidance, and we were given the message that this was being ‘led by the science’.

Now, however, both England and Scotland have ‘opened up’. Wales and Northern Ireland, well I’m not so up to date with their rules and approach, but one thing is for sure is that cases in the UK are among if not the highest in Europe. The daily death count is in triple figures, with I think 121 deaths or thereabouts today. A couple of days ago, Scotland had 34 deaths in one day.

The thing is, lockdowns do have an adverse impact on people, I realise that, but we could have sought some ‘middle ground’. Masks are discretionary in most places, although there are some weird and inconsistent ‘rules’ about mask wearing in certain indoor spaces such as night clubs. It’s beyond me why nightclubs need to be open in a pandemic in a country where cases are around 35,000 per day.

People are not required to socially distance in most places – that’s also up to individuals. Vaccine passports are being introduced for big indoor events or mass gatherings, but there is an inconsistency there and the system in Scotland is going through some glitches. I get the feeling that many people think that now the governments have said there are no or very few rules, that it’s ‘ok and safe’ to do whatever we want. Working from home is still advised so that’s a good thing.

I’ve been looking into other sources where epidemiologists advise that covid symptoms also now include ‘cold like’ symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, fever, etc…. but the UK government hasn’t updated its information on symptoms which still stick to the standard three of fever, new continuous cough and difficulty breathing. Which means as we head into cold / flu season, many people may actually be carrying and passing on covid without realising it, thinking it is just a common cold.

I know of many people who have been ‘out and about’ since restrictions lifted in the UK. I know of someone at work who went to Spain with their family on holiday. I know of many friends who have been out to coffee shops, pubs, restaurants, a couple even have gone to weddings (one of whom caught covid at one, thought they only had a cold, but turned out to be covid, and recovered fine), others are now going to music events, and outdoor gatherings, or short family holidays within the UK, etc. I have friends who are going back to church.

There are plenty of things I miss and would like to do, but I am a bit unsure of the ‘advice’ we’ve been given at the moment. Part of me really wants to start getting back into life again, whatever that means, at least in terms of doing things and seeing people. All of the people I know who have been doing things have been absolutely fine. But then, recently I’ve heard of friends who ‘know of people’ whether once, twice or thrice removed who have or are in ICU with covid, or that they know of someone who has died of covid. There was a news article today that a wee 15 year old girl in England died of covid the day she was meant to get her vaccination.

It is a reminder that just because our society in the UK has opened up it doesn’t mean the pandemic has ‘closed down’.

I wonder where you are with things in your own situation? Have you been going out and about and doing well? Have you felt nervous? Have any of you had or do you have covid? Do any of you have long covid?

For some people, in the UK especially, the ‘Fear of Missing Out’ may lead to taking up all or some of these ‘freedoms’ now that there are practically no rules which might result in ICU, long covid or death. People aren’t thinking of others so much anymore I feel. There isn’t the sense of community spirit anymore, and I think partly politics could be to blame for this. People are being left to their own devices, perhaps the UK public don’t like being ‘told what to do’ and other adverse effects of restrictions and lockdowns are rightly being taken into consideration. But at what cost? I don’t feel we’re doing things sensibly, which means if there is a ‘free for all’ even those who are being cautious will miss out.

I haven’t figured out how to navigate this yet, so I’ve just been staying at home. Perhaps none of us have. I do know a lot of people going out doing a lot of things and have been totally fine, but people are still dying from this, and I wonder if we’re partly being treated as a ‘herd immunity experiment’ by the government – especially when things aren’t exactly under control in the UK.

I think scientists are still urging caution, but politics and public opinion has pushed that to the side. It’s sad to think that because of a lack of guidelines people in UK may unnecessarily die in winter this year from covid, even with a strong vaccine rollout programme. I am amazed at New Zealand’s approach to eradicate covid. Each life matters but their total of 27 covid deaths since the start of the pandemic means that UK’s daily triple figure daily death rate is shocking.

I think it’s still time to be cautious, but I understand it is hard sometimes to know what to do.

Lately, in terms of my faith, I have felt led to humble myself before God, and I have been drawing closer to Jesus Christ after a season of some challenge, doubt and ‘drought’. God allowed that in order to deepen my faith, and I am so thankful that recently I have once again been experiencing the exquisite, pure, clean, Love, Joy and Peace of God’s Presence through the Holy Spirit within me, just as I did when I was first ‘saved’. This might sound strange to some people, but Jesus Is Real and God’s Love is like nothing else – the tangible Presence of His Love and Spirit to those who are born again is better than all that the world has to offer. Sometimes we go through seasons as Christians of not ‘feeling’ His Nearness, but He Is still here and still God. When we do once again encounter the Reality of His Presence and the tangible experience of His Pure and Clean, exquisite Love, it is a reminder that Life is found in Him, despite the ups and downs, despite the things going on in the natural, there is a reality and Peace in Christ like no other, and in Him we don’t have that ‘fear of missing out’. Those are just some personal thoughts I’m sharing, as I have been drawn to pray more during the pandemic, and if anyone of you has a relationship with Christ and is going through a ‘dry’ season, know that that’s normal and that He Is still with you, and once again you will feel His Love, that Presence like no other, filling you from within.

As to the pandemic again, I’m interested to know what’s been going on with all of you so please feel free to share your insights or thoughts in the comments. We all still need to look out for each other, it’s not over yet, but I understand that we don’t want it to ‘dominate’ our lives, don’t we all long for some kind of ‘normality’ again?

I’m not sure the UK approach is the ‘right’ one. Part of me feels it is a bit careless, but many other people will be feeling good that they can do whatever they want again, within reason. I want to do so many things, but I probably won’t right now. But in Jesus, I am never missing out.

I wonder if some people’s ‘fear of missing out’ will lead to other people missing out? If some less vulnerable people are unwittingly catching and spreading covid to those who are vulnerable, for example.

I don’t know, there’s a lot to think about, and perhaps this is a season for continued caution. Perhaps it is a time when we can also start revisiting our blogs and hobbies?! 🙂 I know, it’s been a while since I last wrote after my words of encouragement on surviving the pandemic series, and I apologise for that, but I’m back today, and hopefully will continue on a regular trend to try to share some encouragement with you.

Wherever you are at, I hope you are well, staying safe and finding true hope in this journey through life. x

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Well, that was unexpected!

It’s mid-February, and just as I’ve been getting my home ready with more springtime-like décor, and putting away the last of the remnants of the winter season, guess what? It has started to snow!

Yes, the snow that didn’t fall here over Christmas time is beginning to fall now in not-so-sunny Scotland. We had expected storms, rain and lashing wind, all of which we got, but for me at least, the snow was a surprise. It’s lovely to watch from indoors, especially as just now it’s quite calm with no wind, so I guess we just may as well make the most of the prettiness before having to step into the great outdoors once again, and before the weekend’s forecast storm sets in!

Choose to enjoy the unexpected where you can! 🙂

photo of deer on snow
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The Spice of Life….to overcome the common cold…

Life as it happens to be has seen me trying to overcome a cough, cold and sore throat over the past few days since new year. It can wipe you out, but a couple of things are helping me to ‘bounce back’, so I thought I’d share these natural ingredients with you.

Firstly, ginger tea. You’ll have probably heard how healing ginger is for the body, and thankfully when I got back to work on Friday I found a packet of ginger tea bags that I had left in my drawer. Perhaps natural ginger straight from the root has more beneficial effects, I’m not sure, but there is no doubt that it is good for a whole host of things from digestion, arthritis, skin, and general health and wellbeing. So I have been sipping on my ginger tea and have been noticing the difference. Also, I did some deep inhalation with hot water, and put a fresh ginger tea bag in the water – I felt the effects of cleansing and soothing almost straight away. I am sure that there are remedies, diffusers, infusers and such like particularly suited for breathing in, however, this was a case of making do with what I had at home while not wanting to leave the house with a cold when outside it was pouring with rain! But the makeshift remedy did certainly give me a bit of a ‘pick me up’ and left me feeling somewhat cleansed from the head cold, although of course it will take time to fully clear.

Another thing I have been consuming is chilli flakes in my food. I’m not a great fan of spicy food, but recently I have been reading of the health benefits of chillies and I do like chilli flakes, so that is an easy way for me to include them in my diet. It may seem counter intuitive but feeling that little bit of ‘heat’ on my sore throat was a welcome relief.

Of course, self-care has also had to include lots of sleep, rest, and taking a few pain-killers along the way. A warm shower, some ‘vapo-rub’ to clear the sinuses and a skin care routine has left me feeling so much better than at the start of the day. Here’s hoping to avoid catching it again from other people when I’m back for a full week of work from tomorrow.

So do you have any tips, tricks or remedies for recovering from a bad cold / flu? I’m sure I and many others would love to hear about them in this cold season.

I hope you all have a great week ahead, and manage to stay happy, healthy and well. x

food on white background
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Persevere with those small steps to achieve your vision and goals.

We all need vision for our lives. We all need to dream, to have meaning, goals and purpose.

Yet those dreams need to be united with the practical and sometimes ‘mundane’ steps of living them out.

At the start of this new year and new decade, 2020, you may have big dreams for your life. You may already be working towards life long goals and dreams. But the dreams will not sustain themselves and need to be coupled with both faith and action.

At the beginning of this year, I was gearing up to be ‘ready to go’. However, ‘IRL’ the morning of new year’s day I spent playing my violin, shortly after which I ended up coughing, sneezing and huddled up with the cold. I had to leave my parents’ home that evening and they dropped me back at my own flat, so after one day of rest I was back at work on Friday, and this weekend, I’ve been unable to do very much because of this unwanted cold.

I’ve spent the weekend so far sipping ginger tea, sleeping, eating, praying, doing some Bible study, and blogging a little when I’m able to sit up. I’ve been somewhat at the mercy of my body and unable to ‘get up and go’ or be prepared as I would like to for the start of a brand new year. I’m coughing and have a sore throat, and just need to take it easy so that I can recover. So, that is ‘life as it happens to be’ right now.

And perhaps you have dreams, plans and goals you wish to achieve, yet without a doubt daily life will at times get in the way, but the key is not to get side-tracked or waylaid by these inconveniences or challenges. You may not be able to press full steam ahead with your plans, but little by little day by day, keep persevering towards your goals, don’t lose focus or vision and don’t let yourself get discouraged by the inevitable distractions of day to day life.

What is your vision for this year, or for yourself generally? A healthier you? There will be things to trip you up along the way, but keep that vision and that focus, and do a little at a time, day by day, get into patterns of healthier living and thinking and don’t give up. Some days you might not be able to live just as you want, but keep moving in that healthy direction for your life and watch the small and steady steps all add up to a better journey through life.

Do you want to work on all sorts of personal projects, keep your home neat and tidy, and write or study new things on a regular basis, but like me today you find yourself sick and unable to do very much? Maybe like me in the past you’ve also had longstanding health problems, maybe you have more serious health problems to deal with as we speak. Don’t give up. Is recovery your goal? Keep that vision, the positive attitude, and keep ‘chipping away’ at things bit by bit, day by day. No one said there would never be challenges, hard days or disappointment on your journey, but find the faith and strength to overcome and to persevere, just a little at a time, day by day.

Maybe, like me today, you just have the inconvenience of a cold. I’ve come through a lot of tough battles and struggles in my life, so I’m quite thankful that this day is blessed with  only a little inconvenience. It’s a matter of perspective. We can do what we can to heal, be thankful that it’s the weekend, and even when we feel tired, worn out, have dishes piled high that we don’t have the energy to wash, have suitcases to unpack and want to but don’t have the energy to get back into an exercise routine, when we want to achieve things and be our best, but we can barely get ourselves ready, even then we can do a little at a time.

Take some rest. Look after yourself. Remind yourself of what is important. And don’t feel discouraged if you can’t do the ‘big things’ today. One of my dreams is to complete my novel, and to use my blog to make an impact on other people’s lives for the better, and most of all to glorify God. Ok, so I’ve written a lot of my novel, but I also want to take it a lot further, and there isn’t going to be much novel writing at the moment with me being unwell. I’d like to inspire, uplift and encourage people through my blog, and I don’t know if this is all too ‘mundane’ to do that right now, but at least I can do this little by little, bit by bit, and these few blog posts can help move me in the right direction as I persevere.

So, whatever it is you are facing today, whether it is a common cold, or a crisis, don’t let these things push you off course from the purpose, dreams and visions for your life. Keep focused, and even when it is tough, just keep putting that one step in front of another. In time to come, you’ll be so glad you did, and so will the people that you end up encouraging! x

selective focus photography of turtle on bench
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The First Day of Winter?

This morning, Monday 18th November 2019, I awoke to what feels like the first day of winter this year.  I have been enjoying the beauty of the autumn season, and anticipating winter, and it seems to have arrived on my doorstep all of a sudden!

Last night I was blessed to watch a glorious sunset over the city, as the sky exploded into a golden orange, a sight I rarely see most days, and the buildings across the skyline stood as stark black silhouettes against the backdrop of colour.

At 5pm, I remarked to my parents as I spoke to them on the phone how suddenly the evening had fallen into black, almost as if a switch had been turned off, and it was night.

This morning I awoke to a beautiful sun rising in the east over the city, on the opposite side of my view from last night. I very rarely see such vibrant sunrises and sunsets, perhaps because of my location, when I’m at work, or the timings that I am able to look out the window, but the evening and the morning brought me a vibrant treat.

I could see the hills and mountains in the far distance. I got my camera, opened my window slightly and took a picture of the sunrise. The air was colder, icy, and so fresh and clean. Perhaps you think that is unusual for a city, but I live quite high up where the air may be clearer.

I shut the window, as much as the air was fresh, it was very cold, and as I looked down through the glass I noticed the first real frost of the season. Not snow, but a drizzling of soft white powder upon the tops of cars, and dustings of it upon the grass, the roads had iced a little too and all of a sudden the once beautifully arrayed with golden autumn leaved trees had turned to sparse twigged statues.

Winter had arrived! There would be snow on the tops of the mountains in the far distance. You could see the air from people’s breath. The tops of fir trees looked like Christmas trees.

As I walked to work, I noticed the sudden chill. In the breath of a morning, winter had arrived, so suddenly, not unexpected, but without any doubt that autumn had passed and a new season begun.

I couldn’t help but smile to myself as I walked to work. The pavement was patterned by icy leaves, embedded onto its surface. Such simple beauty, but ordinarily spectacular! The trees around me were also twig like and as I walked, leaves fluttered continuously to the ground, drizzling themselves upon the golden heap of leaves that had fallen before them. Now the roads and pavements were more beautiful and mesmerising than the trees themselves!

As I arrived in my office room at work, encased with tall glass windows on two sides, I stepped into an ice-box. But what a beautiful ice box to step into! Sun shone gently in as I pulled up the blinds and the glass greeted me with an enchanting lacy picture of snowflake patterns that glinted in the sunlight. The tall fir trees across the road are dusted with white, which will soon melt in the snow, but they reach up in praise to their Creator, and already sing of Christmas as they stand tall, deep dark green and authoritative against a gentle pale blue winter sky.

Sun shines through gaps in the trees lower down, a smaller, pretty, more delicate little tree, and its golden leaves flutter and fall continuously like glitter to the ground.

I pray for those for whom the crisp, fresh, cold air and these beautiful wintery scenes are not so much of a delight to them as a threat to their survival. Those for whom the cold is painful, and those who may not make it through the night. I hope you will pray for and reach out to them too, for together we can do far more than any of us can do alone.

This is a beautiful, sensitive yet stark season, filled with contrasts, filled with wonder. The leaves are falling all around us, creating beautiful piles of gold dust on the ground, and yet for some the mid-winter will be bleak, as frosty wind makes moan.

Winter heralds in a greater Light, a Warmth, Comfort and Joy – the Promise Hope and Peace of the Saviour, the Messiah Jesus Christ – the One Who came to the poor, the homeless, the cold, hungry, needy, downtrodden, hopeless and downcast. He came to the rich, the self sufficient, the spiritually blind and proud as well. He came for us all, to bring Forgiveness and New Life to any and all who will turn to Him, no matter who we are, where we are from or what we have or have not done. So no matter whether this winter is beautiful or bleak for you and yours, there is a certain Hope, for us all – if we would but humble our hearts and receive Him.

pine trees covered by snow
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Winter Survival Guide (14) ~ Spread Some Kindness, Love and Cheer.

The slowing of the seasons brings with them a natural point of reflection and contemplation in our days. I personally find that as they days and nights grow colder, when darkness arrives early and the temperature suddenly drops, as shops begin to fill with decorations, and as we see those lovely cosy advertisements of warm, happy, fun filled, bountiful festivities reminding us to shop for good food at low prices, and to buy the latest gifts for our friends, families and loved ones, and ourselves, that the contrast between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ becomes starker.

rain of snow in town painting
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I feel blessed to live where I live – a city with green spaces such as parks. It means that I can get away from the hustle and bustle of life and enjoy nature, but also that I’m not hiding myself away from or secluded from the harsher realities of other people’s lives.

brown squirrel
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In one day, walking through my city, I could have spent some peaceful times of solitude reflecting upon beautiful autumn and winter scenes in the park, watching squirrels and ducks, and maybe stopping for a coffee or going for lunch or to the shops with friends, in any one of numerous locations. But I also will inevitably walk past a number of homeless people, those who are cold, vulnerable, forgotten, lonely, with nowhere to go and nothing to eat. Sometimes I will stop and talk to one of them or offer some food or give out a pre-prepared ‘care package’ that I’ve made, and give what I can as I am able and when it is safe to do so. (Obviously it’s important to keep ourselves safe, and to be aware that not everyone is genuine, therefore I am careful to either help via homeless charities, and / or to help directly when in well lit places, near shops and where other people are coming and going, because I feel that is safer for a young woman to do so, and to do so in daylight, or if in the evening, only when I am in company with friends for example).

woman holding dog
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person lying on cart
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I feel blessed to have these contrasting perspectives. It is lovely to spend time in beautiful places, enjoying ‘the good life’ even if that is in the simple things such as a walk in the park, lunch with a friend, taking photographs of wildlife, going to the cinema or wandering around the shops to do some window shopping. It’s also lovely as Christmas approaches to enjoy the variety of Christmas markets in my city and other neighbouring cities that are only an hour or so travel time away. However, some of my most poignant memories of going to these lovely, bright, beautiful, cosy and festive Christmas markets, stocked with handmade goodies, with delicious smells wafting invitingly by, are those of seeing the people at the edges, at the fringes, hoping for some compassion, and knowing that they will be forgotten about, overlooked, and maybe even that they may not make it through the night as the temperature falls. While my friends, family and I can enjoy the outdoor fun because we know we will have a warm place to go afterwards, many all around us do not.

Even if you aren’t face to face with those who are marginalised and suffering and unable to meet their daily and basic needs, for whatever reason they find themselves in that position, we are still all part of a world, a society in which those who have far less than us exist.

It can be easy to feel ‘guilty’ for enjoying what we can, or for feeling overwhelmed and helpless. Yes, I know that problems of homelessness and so forth exist all year around, however, I feel that it must be so much more painful during certain times of the year when those sitting on the pavements of our cities see everyone else frivolously throwing their money away on unnecessary frivolities, things they don’t care for or need, and enjoying themselves in a way that is more apparent than during other months.

I can’t imagine how hard that must be for someone watching on, hoping for a scrap of food, human contact or some small offering of compassion.

I know some people have their views and judgements and stereotypes, but I prefer not to judge why someone is in the position they are in. Rather, I think “There but for the Grace of God go I” and in such a situation what would I want my fellow human beings to do?

There is a lot that we just cannot do. However, don’t let that discourage you.

Think of all the many good things you can do, or be involved in, and even if you do ‘just’ one thing, that will mean something to someone, and that someone matters as much as you do. If each one of us adds one act of kindness for someone in need this season in addition to all the gifts we give to people we know and love, think of the difference that will make to those who otherwise would be forgotten, marginalised, lost, alone, hungry, cold and in need of some human kindness.

 

 

 

 

Winter Survival Guide (9) ~ Skin Care.

The colder, wintry weather brings with it challenges for our skin, especially those of us with pre-existing skin conditions and / or sensitive skin. Stay prepared and have a good moisturiser and lip balm at the ready to keep your skin healthy and soothe the abrasions and cracks that the harsher weather can cause, and stay hydrated with water to help your skin replenish and renew itself.

applying body lotion care cosmetic product
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Winter Survival Guide (2) ~ Where in the World are you from?

One of the most fascinating things about blogging on Word Press, is the amazing insight into the variety of countries that you, my lovely readers, represent. I’m sometimes amazed at the countries and flags that pop up to show me where people are viewing my blog from. It makes me really excited, and I welcome you all. If you want to introduce yourself or post a comment on which country you are from and what November and December is like for you where you are, then that would be splendid! 🙂

That being said, and knowing that some of you live in places where the sun is still shining at this time of the year, I’ll let you in on a little ‘secret’. If you haven’t guessed it already, I’m writing from not-so-sunny Scotland! Your colder temperatures would probably be what we consider to be ‘summer’ weather 🙂

And so, some of the things I write about on ‘surviving winter’ may seem a little odd depending on where you are from, but that’s part of the adventure of learning more about life in different parts of the world.

My advice from this post is a short and simple one to begin with, now that the introductions have taken place, and that is to wrap up, stay warm, and cosy.

black brown and white kittens in purple towel
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Lunch bites – bite sized inspiration on your lunch break…

Just as with life more generally, at work we go through changing seasons. There are some seasons that might seem more stressful, where we are working alongside what Ron Swanson from ‘Parks and Recreation’ would term as ‘work proximity associates’ rather than friends.

However, there are also happier and more fulfilling seasons, working alongside people whose company we enjoy and respect and we find that certain colleagues become friends.

It is such a blessing to be able to come into work, knowing that you have even one or two people that you can consider friends.

Therefore, the ‘lunchbite’ for you today comes from something that sprung out of such a work-friend relationship yesterday. I have a friend at work (the only person I work with who has access to my blog – so Hi! 🙂 ) and sometimes we have lunch together. Yesterday we were chatting over lunch about some of the sad and terrible things going on in the world and how much need there is in the lives of people in our city, such as homeless and hungry people, and those suffering in all different kinds of situations.

While we could have just left the conversation there, we decided that as friends and colleagues, we will find a way to collaborate, work together, and do something to help others as the winter season approaches, when many people are in desperate need in the city where we work. This isn’t part of our job roles, but just something we have a common concern about as people, and so as friends we are going to put our heads and resources together to help others. I’m not sharing this to say look at what we are doing, but instead to inspire you to connect with the like minded people around you, some of whom are the people, colleagues and friends you work with.

Instead of letting a conversation about the problems of the world end as just a conversation, decide to use your lunch breaks not only to chat about such things, but to inspire, motivate and encourage each other and work together to make a change, no matter how small that change might seem. One small random act of kindness can mean so much to the person who receives it. So be inspired this lunchtime that you and your colleagues and friends can make a difference, and although we might do this individually, there is something special and powerful and inspiring about working together for the common good.

I wonder what inspiring and motivating things you are going to come up with this lunchtime….? 🙂

working in a group
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Life lessons from a common cold…

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. 

4. Sleep!

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

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