Tag Archives: Gratitude

Celebrate and Give Thanks for the Small Things…

It is crazy that we are still in a pandemic. I know of many people who take it in their stride, and who are going out into life and doing enjoyable things, celebrating life, as it were. You might not be one of those people, and you may be feeling that life is kind of ‘small’ as you navigate your way through the day to day, perhaps feeling stressed, worried or anxious by the news headlines, and not knowing what to make of life or how to get through your days.

It can be easy to get caught up in the ‘comparison trap’ and it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by stress and anxiety, even as we are made more aware of our own mortality, of the shortness of our time on earth, and of our concerns as to what will happen to us and to those we love.

If you’re following my blog, then you are perhaps someone who is trying to navigate through feelings of anxiety or uncertainty as many of the posts I write aim to help people with this.

One way in which we can live life better, even in the midst of it all, is to slow down and be thankful for the ‘small’ things in life, taking time to notice them, to be grateful for what we do have and what is going on in our lives, today, right now.

Yesterday I saw a beautiful rainbow, albeit faint and surrounded by grey clouds, soon to disappear from view. I saw it nonetheless and I enjoyed those moments. Today I am thankful that I can hug my mum, and enjoy her smile and laughter and the way she remembers me when I was little and still expresses these things to me. ❤ I’m grateful to be able to work from home, rather than having to go out into the colder weather of October, especially while the pandemic is far from over. I’m grateful for more time to pray and intercede for people, and to draw near to the Living God, and feel His Love and Peace and Comfort filling me from within. ❤

Sometimes we need the gentle reminder to humble ourselves, to repent, and turn away from looking at the lives we don’t have in order to better appreciate what we have been given. No doubt many of you will be going through difficult times just now, and perhaps anxiety is a big feature of that in uncertain days, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t find beauty and treasure in the small things of the day to day. You can celebrate the gifts and achievements of others, even those that you don’t have yourself. Time is short, and fleeting. You can put something of worth back into the world, something kind, true, noble, valuable, even if no one else sees it.

You can slow down and appreciate the beauty of today. This day. This miracle unfolding in which you are a part of.

It helps. It helps to change and soften our anxious hearts. Let the Light in. Let Love be greater than fear for you, in this moment, today. ❤

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Self Care In A Pandemic (73): Little things To Look Forward To…

We’re all dealing with different and unique circumstances in this pandemic, yet we all need little things to look forward to. It helps us to keep going.

You might be thinking, well what on earth can I look forward to when I’m ‘stuck inside’ day after day, or if I’m working on the front line day after day, night after night?!

If that’s how you’re feeling, it’s understandable, but it’s not unchangeable. Try to take a deep breath, take a step back from your circumstances and reframe your thoughts.

We can all plan little things to look forward to that will help to give us a bit of mental and emotional ‘space’ and relaxation. We can try to make the small things more special as we learn to savour our experience of them. Yes, it’s hard to live like that all the time, we all get stressed and anxious and wound up, but we can begin to build things into our day to day lives that can help to ease the emotional and mental pressure we might be feeling.

What little things can you and I look forward to? They can be simple and even seemingly mundane to other people, but they can be special moments in our day depending on how we look at things.

  • You could look forward to a freshly made bed, and tidying up your room a bit.
  • You could look forward to planning a new art or craft project.
  • You could look forward to a virtual summer holiday or spring break when you choose a place in the world that you are interested in and find out some facts about that place, read books, watch films and eat food or do activities at home that are linked to that country if you can.
  • You can plan a catch up with a friend online or on the phone.
  • You can look forward to making a nice meal.
  • You can look forward to a film night at home.
  • You can look forward to quiet times in which you can pray, meditate and read.
  • You can look forward to slowing down and making a cup of tea or coffee and finding a quiet spot in your home to enjoy it.
  • You can look forward to setting time aside to journal, or to talk to your loved ones.
  • You can look forward to finishing up work at the end of the day and planning something nice to do for yourself such as some self care activities, a nice warm bath, listening to relaxing music.
  • You can look forward to doing something for someone else whether that be giving to charity, making a gift for a loved one, or reaching out to a friend in need.
  • You can look forward to picking your outfit for the day and making an effort to get ready.
  • You can look forward to taking a shower, or going for a walk or doing something that will help you appreciate the moment.
  • You can look forward to curling up with a good book.
  • You can look forward to rearranging your room or some of your home decor.
  • You can look forward to times spent with a new (or old) hobby.
  • You can look forward to times when you are able to get fresh air.
  • You can look forward to writing down your thoughts, creative journaling, perhaps to going to online church on a Sunday if you are inclined to do so.
  • You can look forward to hugs if you have people around you, or to connecting virtually with someone if you don’t.
  • You can look forward to getting a grocery order and making a delicious meal or even enjoying something quick and easy that you can put in the microwave.

There are so many things that we can factor into our day to day lives that will lift our focus to help us to appreciate all of the little things that we tend to take for granted. We can also choose to make our living spaces more cosy if that is possible. Even some inexpensive ‘fairy lights’ / LED lights can make our atmosphere at home seem that little bit more cosy and special, despite whatever else might be going on. We don’t need to travel far and distant places or have a lot of people in our life, or spend a lot of money to have things to look forward to. We can take the time and make the effort to appreciate what we already have, to choose to look forward to these special things, and to enjoy them along the way, despite whatever other difficult circumstances we may be facing in this pandemic. And all the while we can choose to be grateful for the health and wellbeing and life that we do have today. x

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Self Care In A Pandemic (72): Psychologically Crossing Over In The Pandemic….There Is Another Side….

Have hope.

Dear friends, have hope.

Perhaps life, the pandemic, your experiences have put you in a psychological box and kept you ‘stuck’ within what you think is the realm of possibility.

However, as someone coming through on the other side of complex PTSD, I am living proof that there can be psychological crossing points in our life, where after we have suffered, and pressed through, we can come out stronger and wiser on the other side.

What challenges are you facing today? Particularly what psychological bridges do you need to cross? Will you take that journey? Will you believe that you can cross over to the other side? It may be tough going at times and it may be psychologically gruelling but you are strong enough and if you persevere you may find a brighter day ahead, new avenues of thought and freedom.

If you are at a psychological bridge in your mind, know that persevering, pushing through, keeping on going through the strain and the pain will lead you to somewhere new and you will not be the same. We can’t go through such psychological shifts and remain unchanged even if it takes time for us to see that change and even if on the surface it seems that nothing has changed at all.

If you are in lockdown, it may on the surface seem like you are repeating the same habitual patterns over and over again, day after day. You wake up, you go through whatever morning routine you go through, you eat, work, play, sleep and repeat and your days on the surface vary little from one day to the next. But what makes you different from other people who do the same or similar things and stay ‘stuck’ mentally? Maybe on the surface not much has changed, but are you being transformed by the renewing of your mind? Are you allowing your mindset change and in doing so you change the way you see, experience and appreciate the things around you, things that would otherwise seem ‘ordinary’, ‘mundane’ and ‘commonplace’?

A lot of life is spent in normal times in our fast paced societies running away from things, running to the next thing, filling up our minds with information, distractions, escapism. In lockdown perhaps we’ve spent time with escapism and distraction and while at times these can have a helpful place, such as if we need for our own mental health to distract ourselves, living like that is unsustainable. Moreover, we’ll get bored of it after a while. We can’t live life if we’re always running away from it, or from ourselves. Maybe you’ve been there pre-pandemic times. Maybe your and my constant ‘running’ or escapism has led to breakdowns or burnouts or psychological fatigue at various points.

What if we were to cross some psychological bridges as we make our way slowly and carefully through this pandemic? Perhaps in less time than we anticipate it our societies will be back to more of what we were used to as ‘normal’ and staying at home will seem like a distant memory in time. Maybe then we will long for the extended periods at home that we are having to go through now. So, will we use this time well? Will we take time instead of being dissatisfied to cultivate gratitude? Will we learn and train our minds to be thankful and to see the beauty and the life in the everyday?

Will we cross other psychological bridges that we have needed to for so long now? Don’t waste this time that you have right now, your mind may lead you to some new destinations where you can see your life with greater depth, clarity and gratitude. Cross that bridge. Begin today. x

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Self Care In A Pandemic (62): Work On Your Character…

Initially all the changes we faced in 2020 when the pandemic really started to impact our lives and shape our day to day realities, left many of us in a ‘survival mode’.

We were compelled into thinking about the immediate practicalities and concerns we needed to get to grips with in order to keep our loved ones and ourselves safe.

I’m sure we all remember the news articles and ‘toilet paper-gate’ in those early days when people were struck with panic and started hoarding essentials for fear of shortages amid the lockdown.

I realise that for many people things are by no means easy now, but in general in a variety of countries we have now established ways and means of managing these new day to day realities of living life in a pandemic.

Working from home has become a default for many people, even if we are still not fully equipped and established quite yet. Home education is a ‘new norm’ for some, and it’s no longer a novelty or new inconvenience to be ordering groceries and then spending our time carefully disinfecting them. These are all part of the rhythm of our new lives, as is social distancing, delivery people leaving parcels on our door steps rather than handing them to us, and so forth.

Some people in society are really hard pressed, such as those working in the ICU, people facing abuse in other frontline settings such as shop staff, and those for whom Covid-19 has had a knock on effect upon their finances, family situation and living situations. Some have become homeless while others are going to food banks for the first time.

I suspect that for many of us with the time to read and write blogs, we may be in a more comfortable situation not living hand-to-mouth on a day to day basis and not having to worry about where we will live next month.

For those of us who are no longer in pandemic-survival-mode, and for those of us who still are, we all have the opportunity to dig deeper and work on our character.

We are being pressed into thinking about many things, some of which many of us prefer to avoid in the general day to day run of life. Death and what happens next is one that is key to think about. I personally believe that there will be a judgement, and the only way to be right with God is by seeking His forgiveness and new life through Jesus Christ. That’s the biggest eternal need of all. Yet we also have other issues that we need to consider such as how we think of and relate to others, how we use our time, and whether we are developing ourselves in a way that will bring kindness into the world around us. We may be humbled by our circumstances and this may open opportunities for us to realise more of our humanity, our need and to develop thankfulness, perseverance and resilience.

So wherever you find yourself today, think of the ways in which you can be developing your character in this pandemic. Think of the person you are and want to become, and how you can use all of your experiences for the greater good, even and perhaps especially those which have been difficult for you.

Take care, as always friends, stay safe and never give up. x

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Self Care In A Pandemic (56): Keep In Touch and Nurture Your Relationships…

Perhaps my previous post of a few minutes ago was fairly profound, therefore I will juxtapose it with something more practical, but no less meaningful.

Friendship, true friendship is a gift, especially in these changing days. While I have posted previously about changing dynamics with some friendships, and the sadness of that and the need for changed boundaries, there is also something beautiful, uplifting and encouraging in connecting with those people who we can share this journey with. We all need encouragement in these days, and we need to surround ourselves with voices of encouragement, understanding, compassion, kindness, inspiration, and hope. We need to strive to be those kind of people too, and perhaps foremost before looking for those qualities in others.

As the saying goes, ‘birds of a feather flock together’. The more you are the kind of person you want in your life, the more you will be able to connect with others with those qualities and bring out those aspects in each other.

Understanding:

It’s important to understand that everyone is going through their own thing just now, even if we can’t see it on the surface. We need to give people the benefit of the doubt if they haven’t connected with us, and perhaps take the initiative in being a caring friend and reaching out to them to let them know we’re thinking about them.

Nurturing:

When we do have friends that we connect with, it is important to take time and make the effort to nurture those friendships. Some people might say, ‘I wish I had such a friendship’, but these things don’t just happen, it takes something on our part, it takes love, patience, kindness, generosity, giving, understanding and reaching out for the good of the other person. When that is reciprocated, we can begin to see the blossoming of true friendship over time.

Think about the people in your life just now, whether friends, family or other connections. Try to nurture these connections that are mutually edifying. It is a real blessing to have people to share with in these trying times. Even if you feel alone, try to nurture your friendship with yourself as a starting point, perhaps connect with acquaintances, or neighbours in a safe and socially distanced way, or make new connections online.

Small gestures:

It can be all too easy to get caught up in the day to day of ‘getting through’ in this pandemic. But remind yourself of how important the people around you actually are. While some families are having to face loss, let us think about the blessing of the people that we have in our lives right now. Take some time to make an effort to show that you care and are thinking of someone. Take time to nurture the good friendships and relationships you already have.

Take a step back:

For some, you may have to think about taking a step back from people who are pulling you down, being a toxic influence in your life or detrimental to your emotional and psychological wellbeing. While you may have to still have some people in your life (like a boss / manager) for example, you can still set your own internal boundaries so that you can continue to stay strong and positive for yourself and the people around you.

Appreciation and Gratitude:

With so much going wrong in the world, and with seeing so many unkind acts from troubled and troublesome people, it can do us much good to take time to appreciate and be grateful for the lovely people in our life, or if you feel you don’t have anyone, the lovely influences of people you don’t even know but that you have heard about, read of or seen in the media. Maybe you could show your appreciation in a practical way, even to someone you don’t know personally, by writing a letter, sending an email, a text or just checking in with someone.

Let’s take the time and care to appreciate those around us, to nurture and build those connections, and to help and encourage each other into better days.

Peace and Love. x

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Self Care In A Pandemic (43): If Things Went Back To ‘Normal’ Tomorrow, What Would You Miss? …

It is understandable that many people struggle with the changes that 2020 and the pandemic has brought, and longing for things to return to the way they were even as we press through this ‘new normal’ whatever that means.

However, with the human tendency to be to notice things that aren’t the way we would like them to be, it can be all too easy to miss out on the things that are actually going well and to neglect to notice and give thanks for our blessings.

One way of finding’ a more positive way through this pandemic could be to ask yourself, ‘If things went back to ‘normal’ tomorrow, what would I miss?’

It’s hard really to know what ‘normal’ means, but if things were to change then you might have to let go of some of the benefits of this season that you may be taking for granted. By thinking of it this way you might be more inclined and motivated to make the most of the time that you do have in this season.

For some of you, life might be full on and so difficult, especially if you work on the frontline in the hospitals for example. Please know that you are valued and many people are so grateful and thankful for the hard work you are doing.

For most of us, however, things that might change if there was more ‘normality’ could include the following:

– A daily commute to work, for example in an office, when we’re currently used to working from home.

-Appointments and meetings dictating the way we use our time, rather than greater flexibility that we might have at the moment.

– Having to spend time with toxic people, for example in the work place or in other realms of life.

– Losing touch with the people we may have kept in touch with more during lockdowns and restrictions with the use of technology.

-Less time with our families.

-Less time alone.

-Less time for our hobbies, or to pursue our own interests.

-A faster pace of life, and less chance to slow down and take notice of the simple joys of every day living.

-More demands from other people.

-More ‘external noise’ from the world, from society, from other people, from bosses, from commitments.

-Being forced back into the timetable and mould that the world sets for us, rather than having more freedom to do things at our own pace and in our own way.

I wonder if you can think of other things that I haven’t listed that you might like to share in the comments?

Of course, there are things that we are all missing right now in the pandemic. We miss the freedom to go out without risk of infection, we miss our friends and loved ones, we miss doing fun things, we miss human connection and interaction and travel. Oh, how so many of us miss travel! We may miss our jobs, or we may be missing having a job at all, we may miss health and some people (not myself) may even miss the hustle and bustle of crowds and shopping and noisy places filled with people.

While you may be yearning for the things you miss from the life we once knew or were more familiar with, take a moment to really think about the things that you enjoy right now that you might miss if things returned to ‘normal’ tomorrow. Will you miss your own sleep pattern and no early morning alarm clock, will you miss not having to go on a long commute to work, the time you have to do the things you enjoy, to spend by yourself or with family, or the slower pace of living?

If so, you may just be taking things for granted if you are focusing on the way things used to be or the way you wish they were. There may be so much, right now, even in the midst of the pandemic that are blessings to you. Take time to recognise them, acknowledge them, be grateful for them, and make the most of them, because as seasons change, things may just get far more busier than you would like them to be.

Take time. Enjoy now. Be thankful.

x

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Self Care In A Pandemic (27): List The Positives…

Here’s one we can take a few minutes to do, ‘together’. Ok, so obviously, this one will be mine to get us started, but perhaps you can take inspiration from this and keep it going and share with someone else in your life.

While 2020 has been at the very least a challenging year on the global scale, and possibly for many an utterly miserable and heart-breaking year for those who have lost loved ones, it is important to allow our minds space for the positives too.

I realise this may be very hard for some of you. For others it might come more easily depending on where you are in life, especially this year. In these dark days, we need to learn to look for and look to the Light.

One way of beginning to train our minds to do this is to practice gratitude. I’m going to give it a go right now, unrehearsed, in real time, by making a list of some of the positives I’ve gleaned from this year. I’ll try to keep it as inclusive as possible to where you hopefully will also be able to relate:

Positives from 2020:

You and I are still alive, still breathing, hopefully you are also healthy.

We hopefully have a deeper appreciation of the gift of life and both how fragile and how precious it is.

2020 has given us insights into the dedication of many people in society, especially ‘frontline’ workers from those in the medical professions, health and social care, public health, cleaners, bin removal people, shop staff and so many more. If you feel like I’ve missed anyone please comment below so we can share our gratitude for them.

We have had the perhaps unwanted or unrequested opportunity to take a step back and re-evaluate certain things in our lives, something that we might otherwise not have been able to do.

Some of us have grown in resilience through solitude, others have grown closer to family members, and others still may have discovered which people are not good for us and made a change in our lives moving forwards.

We realise more that we are part of something bigger than any or each of us individually, and yet we also realise that small actions can have huge consequences. While the virus has been a negative in our year, perhaps we can all start believing that our small positive actions can have a far reaching effect too, and decide to live out our lives in Truth and Love.

We have seen courage and fortitude in people who go the ‘extra mile’ for others, from community efforts to individuals, even in their 80s raising money for charity.

We perhaps have become more aware of the needs of different people in our societies and been motivated to learn more and to do something to help where we can.

We may have gained new skills or rekindled an old hobby.

We have gained insight into the scientific communities of men and women working hard to develop vaccines and to keep us safe.

We have learned to adapt.

There have been some positive environmental changes.

We have perhaps had more time to read, to write, to pray, to think, to connect online, to do some soul searching, to get creative, to learn, to cook, to home school, to….

We value those around us more, and we try to use the time we have to make a difference….

Over to you….please feel free to comment below with the positives you personally have discovered this year….with so many difficult things in 2020, let’s keep each other going and keep building each other up…..

Peace. x

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*Thank You* & Celebrations

This week I have two special occasions; a birthday, and reaching the milestone of 500 + blog followers. I know this might seem a humble number for some of you, but for me, my blog started at a point where things were very difficult for me personally and I thought that if I can write to help myself and even just one other person then it would be worth it. The thought that I might be able to encourage each of you is a real gift and blessing to me ❤

So, I want to Give Thanks for this journey, and to thank each of you for being part of it, so here is a celebratory picture of a mini cupcake from my recent birthday, and also a celebratory Word Press badge 🙂

Thanks friends. x

LIFE AFTER LOCKDOWN – *Avoid the comparison trap*.

*Avoid the comparison trap*.

Remember ‘JOMO’? The phrase (the ‘Joy Of Missing Out’) coined to counter FOMO (‘Fear Of Missing Out’)?

Well, you might need to keep it handy so that you can bring it to mind in the days and weeks to come. While lockdown was somewhat of a leveller in that we all were made to stay indoors, it also brought to the fore some disparities between people’s experiences with a varying spectrum of health, wealth, work, care, family, social, ideological, and other issues. It’s been nice to see people finding a level of common ground despite varying experiences, and for communities to try to bridge the gaps to some extent. However, the differences in our experiences of life in lockdown may also have brought about divergences in friendships and relationships when for example people no longer have the same common ground that they once did socially to connect with each other. It’s worth reminding ourselves that everyone has been trying to make it through as best as they can through their own unique experiences, and remembering this will help us to manage our expectations and avoid disappointment. Lockdown may have strengthened and deepened some of our relationships and friendships, while others might have come under strain, broken down, stagnated or drifted away.

And here we all are gradually leaving that part of our experience behind. This is where the phrase ‘JOMO’ might come in handy, at least as a temporary measure to help you, and for you to help others, to navigate this transition. Why? Because people will be emerging from the past four months of lockdown with potentially very different stories to tell. Some may have flourished, others may have held on, and there are those who have broken down. You might have enjoyed more time with your family or more time to yourself, or you may be struggling financially, grieving, feeling neglected or lonely, facing job loss or uncertainty with the end of furlough, or be wrestling with mental health issues and broken relationships or exhaustion, or whatever your experience may be. You might have been able to use all of your mixed experiences as opportunities to grow or you may not have overcome the challenges quite yet. At times like this other people’s stories, media, social media, news, magazines and the internet in general, can potentially become a stumbling block or a difficult place to navigate, so just remember that you’re never seeing the full story of other people’s lives.

I personally find a wonderful perspective in this: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and mourn with those who mourn”.

Try to remember that, as well as bringing to mind the joy of missing out, and deepen any other life lessons you’ve had the opportunity to learn in lockdown when you begin to see and hear of people’s experiences of life after lockdown.

If you’re doing great, well or getting through, then I rejoice with you, and am glad for you. If you are struggling and can barely make it through the day, try to prepare yourself to avoid the comparison trap when you begin to see, hear or read of some of the joyful post-lockdown stories in the days and weeks to come. It’s good that people are doing well, and even if you’re in tough spot you can choose to dig deep and learn and grow through it until your brighter days come along.

Don’t forget those simple day-to-day things that you found life in when you were focused on life at home. Try to avoid the temptation to compare, and if you are emerging from this and are doing well, then reach out to others who might not be. ‘JOMO’ – it sounds ridiculous, but it may just have some very useful lessons for us, as sometimes humility with gratitude is the road to ‘happiness’. 😀 

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LOCKDOWN LIFE LESSONS (2). (INTERACTIVE SERIES)

Welcome back to my new interactive series of journal prompts / contemplation points to help us together to navigate our way forwards through 2020. Instead of looking back and feeling that it has been a negative or wasted time, I hope this series will help us to learn more about ourselves and find the ‘hidden treasure’ of this year.

If you haven’t yet seen my first post in this series, please take a look at my main page and you’ll find it there, just before this one. Feel free to start and stop this journey and take things at your own pace to make the most of these times of reflection. And as always, you are so very welcome to share your thoughts in the comments.

So without further ado, here is the second prompt:

(2). Think of at least one thing that you had taken for granted, or not appreciated fully before the 2019/20 pandemic.

I’m sure that I’m not alone in the awareness that there are so many things that I have not fully appreciated, even though I try to cultivate an ‘attitude of gratitude’ on a daily basis. We can be thankful for many things, yet sometimes it takes a crisis to more fully and deeply appreciate them.

There are *so* many things – faith, family, friends, health, homes, food, clothing, the internet and maintaining connections, blue skies, the very ability to breathe and to be given the gift of life each new morning we wake.

I think this question can take us to deep places of gratitude for many different things that we may usually be thankful for, but not quite as deeply so. I’m so thankful for all of the relationships, people and things I’ve mentioned above, however, for this post I want to express my appreciation for one thing in particular: the health care service and all the people who make it work.

I live in the United Kingdom, and here we are very fortunate and blessed to have the National Health Service where most treatment is free. I have friends in America who always have to worry about health insurance, and even crowd-funding long-term treatments for their health problems, whereas here we never have to think of such things. Sure, there may be costs for adults undergoing dental treatment and such like, but GP consultations, prescribed medications, hospital treatment, mental health and psychological care, and the list goes on – it is all FREE to the patient.

And while we have been in the midst of the pandemic, doctors, nurses, auxiliary staff, administrators and a whole host of people have been working tirelessly, sacrificing their own wellbeing, time with their families, and in some heroic cases even their own lives, in their commitment to helping and caring for other people.

We had a weekly ‘clap for carers’, however, even after these things fade away, I know that I should be so deeply appreciative of the people and systems that work tirelessly to preserve and improve the quality of human life. I hope the government will appropriately and financially honour those who do so much for our society.

Yes, this is something I am deeply grateful for, and am so very thankful for during this pandemic.

What about you? What positive thing can you take a moment or two to be appreciative of as you think of this year so far? If you need a few ideas, how about these as starting points for you to explore some thing or various things that you recognise have been a real gift and blessing to you through this experience, even if indirectly:

Prompts:

Family

Friendships

Health

Faith community

Food

Water

Medicines

Company

Work

Mental Health

The ability to breathe

Life

Communications

Support groups

Home

Sunshine

Community support

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