Tag Archives: friends

Winter Survival Guide (31) ~ Five Festive Films.

Instead of getting stuck in front of the telly when the holidays arrive, mindlessly watching things that you aren’t even really interested in, so that you don’t get to spend your time doing other fun activities as well, be more intentional by planning ahead.

Why don’t you create a personal list of ‘Top 5 Festive Films’ (or however many you want to include, but 5 is a nice easy number to start with) that you really would like to watch during the holidays. Plan them into your schedule so that you can make a special occasion of it, and create some lovely memories.

You might like to include something that you’ve watched before, or maybe that you watch every year, and that has some kind of sentimental meaning to you. Maybe you could watch this with family and friends and have some people over, get some takeaway or popcorn and create a fun get-together with the people you love.

Maybe there’s a film that is shown every year in the cinemas, or smaller film theatres such as “It’s a wonderful life” (or is it ‘A Wonderful Life’…? Oops can’t remember). I have seen this film twice, once in a local artsy film theatre which was quite cosy. I went a good few years ago with a couple of friends from my church. It was snowing, and my female friend and I made snowballs and threw them at our male friend on the way there and back – it was a lot of fun 🙂 Last year I went to see it with another friend, this friend has recently moved home, and for that reason moved on to new friendships so at least I have that memory of a nice festive time together. I wonder what new memories I may make in the future and who with, watching this timeless classic.

As well as going out to see a film, or having a film night with friends and family, you could also have some ‘me time’ and make an evening of it – go to the cinema yourself if you like, or if you’d rather stay in and watch a good ‘oldie’, then get into your cosy clothes, wear some warm socks, get some yummy snacks and have a great night in to yourself watching one of your favourite films.

Make it special so that you’ll have the memories to look back on, rather than feeling like you just mindlessly lay in front of the telly for hours wasting time.

By being more intentional, it becomes more special, and frees you up to use your time for other wonderful things that you could do as well that might include going out, making crafts, or whatever it is that will make the season feel cosy and special to you. x

food snack popcorn movie theater
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Winter Survival Guide (26) ~ Reach Out and Ask For Help.

It’s a time for giving, a time for receiving…”,

“Here we are as in olden days, happy golden days of yore, faithful friends who are dear to us gather near to us once more, through the years we all will be together…

Can you think of other Christmas songs that warm our hearts with sentiments of togetherness, love, friendship, kinship and cosy happy times?

There are also many other songs, not particularly related to this season that also speak of the bonds we share and our need for one another:

I’ll get by with a little help from my friends…”

“I won’t be afraid, I won’t shed a tear, just as long as you stand, stand by me”

Lean on me, when you’re not strong, I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on, for it won’t be long till I’m gonna’ need somebody to lean all….I’m right up the road, I’ll share your load, if you just call me….”

We have to realise that we all need each other, and we were created to be that way too. However, we live in an increasingly fractured and individualistic society, where we may feel ashamed or frightened to admit that we are as human as everyone else and need some help, support or friendship.

If you’re in this situation, please receive the encouragement from someone who has been in need and has at various times in my life had to reach out for help when I just couldn’t get through life on my own. It’s normal, it’s ok, and we all need each other. Someday you’ll be the one lending a helping hand, another day you might be the one needing help, life ebbs and flows and changes like the seasons.

Don’t be afraid to reach out for help, and ask someone. Express what you need and ask for help. Sure, you might not receive a favourable response at all times, but ‘keep asking, seeking and knocking’ and you will come to an open door.

Don’t allow pride to keep you from the help and support that may be readily and generously available to you. Maybe the help you need is something fairly straightforward but that would make a real difference to you – you might be hosting a dinner party, and find that things are getting a bit hard to manage in preparing for it – in that case, why not ask a friend to help you do the cooking, or better still if there are a group of you then ask everyone to bring a dish, ‘pot luck’ style so that the work is shared and you all can spend more time focusing on enjoying each others company?

Your needs might be of a deeper and more serious nature, and in that case I definitely encourage you to please reach out and ask for help. It may be that you are going through a hard time with your mental and emotional health. Even if you don’t know anyone personally to turn to, there will be a doctor, a helpline, an organisation or charity that you can reach out to, to help tide you through this difficult time.

We all need each other, and none of us are meant to go it alone. Don’t talk yourself out of pursuing help if you are in need, simply because someone else has rejected you at some time or another – I’ve been turned down, and refused help when I was at my weakest and most vulnerable, but those people weren’t meant to be the ones to be there for me – others came along and were a real ‘God-send’. Receiving help from others enabled me to eventually get back up on my feet and lean hard into God’s strength so that I don’t need other people in the same way right now and I can use this strength that I have received to help and encourage other people.

If you are struggling to reach out and ask for help, try thinking of it this way – the help you allow yourself to receive today, could lead to the strength you have ‘tomorrow’ (some time in the future) to be the one to support and help someone else. Surely that is worth it?

man and woman near grass field
Photo by Văn Thắng on Pexels.com

Winter Survival Guide (25) ~ Offer to Help.

Helping others is often very good for us too. As the winter season draws in, it is not uncommon with the drop in temperatures, the low light levels, and shorter days for out mood to also drop.

We can become sluggish, lethargic and inwardly focused if we are not careful. Offering to help someone else can help us to keep an outward focus, think about the needs of other people, feel more productive and be more active.

You don’t need to overstretch yourself, but if you are in the position to, why not offer to help someone else with something?

Does your mum need help to organise a family event? Would your wife appreciate your help cooking dinner? Can you pick up some things from the shops for your elderly neighbour while you are doing your own shopping? Can you help a younger brother or sister prepare for their nativity play? Can you help with organising a particular event in your community, or babysit for a friend so that they can get a bit of a break?

Helping others ‘survive’ and thrive this winter can also go a long way to helping ourselves too. x

adult blond board brunette
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Winter Survival Guide (23) ~ Start a New Tradition.

Maybe you grew up enjoying some beautiful festive family traditions. Maybe you didn’t, but you longed for them. Either way, why not start a new tradition, whether you are single, in a relationship, have family of your own or will be sharing your time with friends. Regardless of your past or your circumstances now, you can always start anew.

A few years ago, I decided to start a new ‘tradition’ of my own, if ‘new tradition’ isn’t too much of an apparent contradiction that is! 🙂 I went to Berlin and Potsdam and visited the Christmas markets there, and I bought some tree decorations to hang on my Christmas tree. Since then, I have gone to Christmas markets more locally with friends, and each year I try to get a new decoration to hang on my tree. A few of these are beautifully carved, unique, wooden decorations, and on the back I can write in very small handwriting the date and place so that in the future I can remember where I got them. I like to add one new decoration to the tree each year, and I like it to be meaningful, and from an event or experience such as from somewhere I’ve been with friends or family (or by myself as was the case with the one in Berlin).

The decorations don’t need to be from a Christmas market (I also have some hand made ones I made myself the year I had my first Christmas craft stall), just one new item each year, and it’s nice to see these personal touches adding up, and hopefully if or when I have a family of my own I will be able to continue this on and share it with them.

What ‘traditions’ do you have, or what new things would you like to start? x

close up of christmas decoration hanging on tree
Photo by Gary Spears on Pexels.com

Winter Survival Guide (21) ~Keep it simple.

Every now and then we need some ‘down time’ – time out just to ‘be’ and not to do very much, time to enjoy the simple things of life.

Maybe you just need to spend some time ‘pottering about’ at home, with no tasks, commitments or anything in particular to do. Perhaps you have an entire day to yourself and you want to take it a bit easier for a while, and stay indoors and be cosy, maybe you could take a nap, read a book, go for a long hot bath, put together a nice winter outfit, go for a walk in nature, catch up with a friend over coffee, or just wander about with no plans in particular.

Sometimes we need to enjoy doing nothing because the rest of the time we are so busy doing everything else. I love lazy Saturday mornings like that, when I have a bit of ‘me time’ and when I don’t have any appointments, I can just take time and enjoy the simple things, linger over a hot cup of tea, watch birds flying outside my window, do a bit of tidying up at my leisure, listen to some music, read a bit, put on cosy socks and curl up on the couch and watch some TV, phone my family for a chat and a catch up.

Sometimes the simple things are the best things in life. Maybe you have someone special to spend your time doing these things with, or maybe like me, you’re on your own, either way there are so many day to day things and charms that we can find in ‘doing nothing’.

I think the Italians have a phrase for the blessedness of doing nothing: ‘La dolce far niente’.

person sitting on bed
Photo by Sasha Prasastika on Pexels.com

Winter Survival Guide (18) ~ Plan Ahead.

It’s 12th November 2019 as I write this. We’ve already heard it so many times now: “I can’t believe it’s November already!”. People tend to say things like this a lot, commenting on ‘how fast’ the year has flown in. It’s all a matter of perspective, I suppose, but we’re undeniably bedded in now in the latter part of the calendar year, and before we know it people will be saying “I can’t believe it’s 2020!”.

This means that ‘before we know it’ we’ll be in the midst of the Christmas, festive, holiday, New Year (and other, depending on what this time of year means to you) season.

It’s a good ‘survival’ tip to plan ahead a bit so that things don’t unexpectedly creep up on you and you find that anxiety is knocking on the door of your heart.

Let me break this down a little, just to give us all a bit of perspective, and help us to visually see what and where we might gain from a little bit of forward planning. Keeping it simple, here is a visual representation of the next few weeks ahead:

November 2019:

Tues: 12th November (today), 19th, 26th

Wed: 13th Nov, 20th, 27th

Thur: 14th Nov, 21st, 28th

Fri: 15th Nov, 22nd, 29th

Sat: 16th Nov, 23rd, 30th.

Sun: 17th Nov, 24th

Mon: 18th Nov, 25th

 

December 2019:

Sun: 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd, 29th

Mon: 2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd, 30th

Tue: 3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th, 31st

Wed: 4th, 11th, 18th, 25th

Thur: 5th, 12th, 19th, 26th

Fri: 6th, 13th, 20th , 27th

Sat: 7th, 14th, 21st, 28th

 

January 2020:

Wed: 1st.

 

Maybe you float through your days, and planning isn’t much of a priority, but personally as someone who has anxiety (and who also incidentally can be a bit forgetful), planning is pretty essential for me, and I like to break things down into smaller more manageable ‘chunks’. Together with the fact that I’m a bit of a perfectionist, I like to make the most of the time I have and to do things well, and encourage other people, so that’s another reason I need a bit of an idea of what’s ahead of me, and what I need and want to do, as well as how this fits in with the needs and expectations of others, and my general obligations.

I’m not sure what the next few weeks ahead look like for you, but here are some of the things that I personally will need to factor in and begin thinking about and preparing for:

Work:

  • Finish up work projects (I’m usually ahead of schedule as I am just now, so I can relax with this one, considering nothing new or major lands on my plate) and tie up any loose ends before the office closes for Christmas.
  • Complete my personal work review which is just something I do for myself and is not a requirement, as it helps me to see just how much I have been involved with, what I have learned, and how to go forwards. Sometimes we fail to realise or appreciate just how much we have accomplished in a year, and it’s good to review that at the end of the year.
  • Support colleagues / team with anything we collaboratively need to accomplish / tie up.
  • Take annual leave that I have remaining from mid-December.

 

Social:

  • End of November, early Christmas work lunch out with colleagues.
  • Mini reunion with friends visiting from another part of the country, but just for the day.
  • Christmas dinner out (mid December) with a couple of close friends.
  • Catch-ups, exchanging gifts and doing some fun Christmassy things with various friends before we head our separate ways for the holidays.

 

Charity:

  • Plan and carry out some acts of kindness to help those less fortunate, and encourage others with ways we can all help.

 

Personal Devotions, Church and Fellowship:

  • Only six more Sundays before Christmas, so it would be nice to spend some time in advance really preparing myself spiritually, thanking God and reflecting upon the year gone by, and prayerfully looking at what is ahead. The Centre of Christmas and of Life for me Is Christ, so it is important that He Is my Focus throughout this whole season, filled as it is with distractions aplenty.
  • Connect with friends, encourage others who are struggling this season, and participate in the many beautiful events celebrating Christ, as He leads me.

 

Prepare for Birthdays, Christmas Presents, gifts for God-children, friends’ kids, and prepare / recycle things to create Environmentally Friendly Packaging:

Pack and plan for a short holiday to see Christmas markets in Europe – finances, clothes, etc. all to be prepared.

Hospitality and Home:

  • Decorate, have people over for festive fun.

Pack and prepare for visiting family.

Reach out to support friends who are grieving or struggling this year.

Other bits and bobs: plan some crafts, use up coupons before their expiry dates, send things in the post on time, and create a photo book of memories for 2019.

red ceramic mug on white mat beside notebook
Photo by Anna Sommer on Pexels.com

 

 

 

Winter Survival Guide (16) ~ Community Connections.

This time of year can be quite lonely for some people, and I touched upon this in an earlier Winter Survival Guide post about not facing loneliness alone.

One might be faced with the conundrum of whether to retreat from the social aspects of this season for fear that it will make you feel more out of place and alone, or whether to step out of your comfort zone to embrace potential new opportunities.

Others might be looking forward to all of the chances to connect with friends old and new.

I’ve been on both sides now. I know what it is like to feel alone, lonely and with few friends, or to be struggling with anxiety and while wanting to be and feel part of something, at the same time wanting to retreat from the overwhelming social pressures that can get too much for a friendly yet sometimes introverted soul. I also have more recently enjoyed the blessings of genuine friendships including a wide range of friends from work colleagues, people I’ve met through other friends, and people I’ve met through Church.

Wherever you find yourself on the social spectrum at this point in time, I’d like to encourage you that this time of year may be a good one for you to take a step forward and to make some positive connections.

At the weekend I attended my local church for a Remembrance Sunday service and although this is the place I usually go to worship, I know that it is very welcoming to anyone and everyone to come in. Even if you’re not a church goer, or don’t have any particular faith, you may feel comfort and connection in going along to an event or service depending on what you are comfortable with and hopefully meeting genuine, gentle, kind, caring and loving people. At this time of year there is sure to be much you can get involved in.

For example, my church has been involved with a Christmas ‘shoebox appeal’, (Samaritan’s Purse appeal) where individuals fill up decorative shoeboxes with toys, stationery and such like for children across the world who otherwise wouldn’t get gifts at Christmas, along with the cost of postage. The church is a collection point for people to drop off their boxes, and then they will coordinate with the charity to fly these shoeboxes to different countries across the world to bring love, joy and gifts to children who might not receive anything. We pray for the children and although it is a Christian appeal, it is open to anyone and everyone to get involved and contribute. My friend at work (who is an atheist) lovingly filled up a box and I took her contribution to church. Other people got together at the church on a Saturday to decorate some of the shoeboxes and to help pack them up. Maybe  something like this, no matter what your beliefs are or are not,  is a chance for you to get involved with your local community, meet caring people and even if just for an afternoon, build up a sense of connection.

My church is also hosting things like a quiz night, crafts afternoons, and a community choir, in addition to the various services which visitors may feel more comfortable attending around Remembrance Sunday, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year.

If you prefer something that isn’t faith based there are also many other things you can get involved in such as helping out at a homeless shelter (although in my city many have a Christian foundation), soup kitchen, joining a team to take hot food to homeless people, or you could attend live music, craft workshops and a host of other events that will bound to be proliferating around this time of the year.

It may help you to feel more connected, even if just for a little while, if you are facing a lonely season, and even if you are not, it may be a wonderful opportunity to make new connections and participate in some new and exciting experiences.

We all need each other, and this time of year can often make it easier to reach out so why not take that step?

If you are already well connected, and perhaps involved in for example a Church, community centre or charity, why not reach out to those who may need some support, invite people in, and show some kindness and community spirit. Create activities that are accessible for all and that will help people feel more involved and connected no matter where they are coming from.

It’s always the season to be kind 🙂

photo of people holding each other s hands
Photo by fauxels on Pexels.com
brown wooden welcome wall decor
Photo by Jessica Lewis on Pexels.com

What you mean to me…

I feel that God Is working on healing the deep things in me, an ongoing perhaps lifelong process, and that now His Love is gradually enlarging my heart.

Whenever I see a new ‘follower’, or one of you liking my posts, my heart is touched to know that He Is using the painful things in my life, and turning them around, to hopefully encourage, inspire or help other people.

His Love Is at work in my heart and I am seeing this less as a part in my healing journey and more so in feeling somewhat awed to know that there are people, real people, you in this same country, and you on the other side of the world who might have their burdens eased a bit in their day. And that means so much to me. Not just because of the significance of it in my personal journey, but because of God’s Pure Love at work in my heart.

Is it possible to love people I may never meet? Is it possible to care so much about your wellbeing from the other side of a computer? I think it is really beginning to mean much more to me. That’s what you mean to me. People precious to and loved by God, and so He Is pouring His Love for you into my heart.

It touches me to know that you might find some comfort from this little blog, and I will seek and pray for His will to show me how to be an encourager, how to care for those He loves, how to help you when you are down and how to be a friend, albeit behind a computer screen, when you feel alone or in need of some advice on moving forwards.

I write a lot about a lot of different things from creativity, lifestyle, mental health, depression, faith, anxiety, and encouragement to name a few things. I write a lot from experience, so it is authentic, raw and real. If there are any things you would like me to write more about that might help you, please do comment and let me know.

Everyone needs compassion, and if that’s what you’re looking for, you’ve come to the right place.

My love and prayers go out to each and every one of you. x

orange tabby cat beside fawn short coated puppy
Photo by Snapwire on Pexels.com