Tag Archives: joy

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 (19): Christmas Pudding Socks…

Hi Friends,

I hope this blog finds you well, or as well as can be. I guess you may be wondering why I’ve titled this blog post ‘Christmas Pudding Socks’! ? ! 🙂

Well, for one, it is getting very chilly in Scotland this winter. The days are still reasonably mild, and some days are very pleasant with hints of sunshine and no rain, but probably for most of you dotted about in warmer climes, it is very cold. It is definitely the season for warmer clothes, central heating and cosy socks.

I’m wearing a cute pair of festive socks with little Christmas puddings on them! 🙂 This blog post is not so much about my socks, or the cold weather in Scotland, but more so about finding little things amidst your day that bring you some cheer. With all the problems going on in the world, and perhaps in your life this pandemic year, a pair of Christmassy socks aren’t going to solve your problems, but they can cause you to smile, to feel that little bit cosier, and to take notice of the little things. I have a beautiful glass Christmas tree mug that I’m drinking my hot beverages in now that it is December, something I treated myself to a few weeks ago. Sometimes, it’s the little things that help us get through the day, or give us something to look forward to, like making a hot and comforting drink in your favourite mug.

With so much going on in the world, and perhaps your own life, try to find those small moments of joy in your day to day living. I’m not saying go and spend money and buy things that you think will make you happy, not that at all although sometimes there is a place for a wee self care treat every now and then – what I am saying is that you can practice self care in this pandemic by carving out little moments and experiences for yourself that feel special, no matter how seemingly small or insignificant they might be to other people.

There should be time to delve into the deep and meaningful elements of life, particularly as you consider or begin to consider how you might like to move forwards in 2021. Yet, there is also importance in taking the time to slow down, to notice the little things that make you smile throughout your day, and for doing something kind for yourself as well as others.

What is bringing you that little spark of happiness today? It may not be Christmas pudding socks, or a Christmas tree mug, but perhaps it is that phone call with a loved one, watching a cosy film, curling up with a good book, turning on those comforting ‘fairy lights’ and experiencing your little moments of ‘hygge’.

Whatever it is, try to find or create those special moments in your day to day life, even and perhaps especially with so many of the big things going on around us.

Please feel free to share some of the special moments that make your day that bit brighter if you want to encourage, uplift or inspire me or other people reading this. And if not, stay safe and cosy, and we will ‘catch up’ very soon. x

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Surviving the Pandemic Together. Words of Encouragement (16): *Enjoying the little things*.

*Enjoying the little things*.


I feel like my last few posts have been a bit ‘heavy’. It’s the reality, but we also need to be able to focus on the good things, the little bursts of sunshine, and the brighter rays of light in our days.
I’ll keep this short in the hope that we can continue to build community spirit and resilience, and that some of you will post about the ‘little things’ that have been good in your days. Thank you.

person wearing white protective suit sitting on green grass field with white dog
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Surviving the pandemic together. Words of Encouragement (8): *Can I feel happy and sad?*

Words of Encouragement (8):
*Can I feel happy and sad?*
In short, yes. This is a confusing, strange and distressing time. We are alive, we are surrounded by life, but also by continuous news of death and suffering on a mass scale, on a global scale, yet also right in our own towns and cities. We are all learning how to be happy with those who are happy, and to also mourn with those who grieve. We are surrounded by contradictions that we are all learning to hold in balance. We are trying to find ways to encourage and support each other, to enjoy the gift of life and be grateful for those in our lives, to make the most of ‘isolation’ and keep our spirits up, and encourage our friends and families and especially children, while at the same time living through wave upon wave of tragedy crashing in upon humanity. You might feel guilty for the times you smile, laugh and enjoy life in this strange season, and you also might feel a burden of grief at times as the world around you wails. It can be confusing, it can be tough, but there is no right or wrong way for you to feel, and your experience of this situation and your feelings are valid. Take time to just sit and be with your thoughts and feelings for a moment if it is all a bit much. Breathe deeply and try to find ways to be calm and relax. This is affecting people in different ways, and that’s ok.
Take care to try to maintain a balance. To know that even while it is a very dark time for many people across the world, it is ok for you to smile, and to share something positive, because those around you may just need that joy and that hope to be able to keep going.

confused

Stay interested…

Life births, buds, blossoms and blooms, and eventually withers and fades, with the hope (if you should so choose) of resurrection and new life once again.

In all the seasons of our lives we spend much time thinking of ‘what’s next’, or looking back either regretfully or with fond nostalgia. How often though, do we simply enjoy and live the life we are living? Not often enough, I would say.

Let me tell you an interesting fact. One of this year’s winners of The Grammy Awards, Nicola Benedetti, the now world famous violinist, is someone who I went to the same youth orchestra as when I was quite young, and in high school. I didn’t know her personally but I saw her and her sister around from time to time, but our paths never crossed on a personal level. It’s wonderful that she has accomplished her dreams. Before you get any wrong ideas about me or my skill levels with music, I admit, like many other of the youngsters there I was perhaps painfully average at the violin and that was fine by me. It was never such a passion of mine, nor did I have any particular natural talent. My passion back then was writing, literature and anything creative.

Alas, I digress. The point is, some people do ‘make it big’. They have a talent, and work relentlessly hard to hone and perfect their craft and turn it into a skill, and doors open for them some way or another, to be able to share their gifts with the world. That’s really quite special and perhaps rare for most of us ‘pilgrims, poets and dreamers’ (c) who live comparatively average lives.

Some people become stars, and others gaze up at the stars, longingly, and either way that is ok, because each individual is special and each life, however humble, is of immense worth whether or not we feel we have any talents or gifts to share, since simply being is enough. You are a person of worth. That means you are a person of worth whether you are playing on a world stage or sleeping rough on the streets, nothing can erase that Truth.

So, where was I? Yes, daydreaming. 🙂 Whether you have or have had dreams of something or another, or whether you feel you don’t have anything particularly exceptional to offer, remember to stay interested in the things that interest you.

You might be working hard like Nicola Benedetti to hone your talents and do remarkable things, or you might simply enjoy creating an occasional sketch, doodling, colouring in, cross-stitch, model making, creating music of your own, writing poems, reading literature. If it is a more humble path, that is perfectly ok, and it is a gift in itself. Don’t get so caught up in the ‘never’ or the ‘not yet’ or the ‘then’ that you miss the little gifts of life right now.

Most people who become famous by default, and not for the sake of fame, have been pursuing a passion, something they intrinsically enjoy, and working and training to become even more highly skilled at it.

In a world of goals and achievements and accomplishments and ‘fame’, don’t forget the simple joys of being absorbed in the simple pursuits of happiness that you love.

Stay interested in your life, it is pretty remarkable too, y’know? 🙂 . x

 

“These are a few of her favourite things…”

Life in the adult world can be stressful at times. Goodness, life as a teenager and even as a child can be filled with challenges, depending on one’s circumstances and disposition. Today, however, I had the good pleasure of spending the afternoon with my little God-daughter, and my friend who is her mum who I have known since university days before her two children were born. We were belatedly celebrating her  10th birthday at the same place I took her to the previous year. Her choice, so I know she liked it.

Last month she had her birthday celebrations with friends and family, and today I got to celebrate with her, and be reminded to smile at all of the things a happy child has going on in her little world.

As adults our problems come and go, we stress and worry, we make big decisions. But today, this little one’s decisions featured around whether to choose chocolate or vanilla ice cream (in the end, she went for a scoop of both, in a big wafer cone, and couldn’t finish it although it clearly tasted amazing!); how to wipe all of the ice cream off her face; which toy, toys or outfit to buy with her £20.00 that she brought with her; and best of all hoping for things to work out as she desired – think of what our hopes are as adults, what do we really want to happen, and then contrast it with this little girl’s hopes for the day  – she hoped and hoped that it would rain! Not because there is any shortage of rain here, it rains frequently…too frequently most would say – but because one of her birthday presents that she brought with her on today’s outing was an ‘umbrella hat’…basically this is the top of an umbrella (multicoloured of course! think rainbow, or ‘Skittles’, a different colour in each ‘segment’), with an elastic headband attached, and just the right size to fit over a child’s head! 🙂 It did rain, and it was splendid. She wore her little umbrella hat with pride, and when we were indoors again she didn’t take it off until absolutely necessary, and she didn’t have a care in the world about what anyone else might think, as she was oblivious to that notion – for her the hat was just what everyone needed, and she was the only little girl around, and the only person around who was wearing one!

Imagine for a moment living life that way. Enjoying the ice-cream, spending a long time playing with toys in a big toy shop, unable to decide what to buy, and in the end not buying anything from the shop at all, of hoping that it will rain so that you can wear your one of a kind rainbow umbrella hat! Yes, I know, life isn’t that simple for us adults, but don’t you think that sometimes we make it far too complicated for our own good?

Why don’t we think of our favourite things more often, things that don’t cost the earth, that don’t have to be worthy of taking pictures of, but just to enjoy those simple, fun and happy things that for a child make life worth living? Today might be a good day to try out that umbrella hat for yourself, or to enjoy the ice-cream and not worry about getting chocolate on your face! Keep smiling 🙂 x

close up photo of child eating ice cream
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“Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn”…

This verse has been silently running through my mind for the past wee while. I have often thought about it in time of need, and it has been a challenge to me personally when I have been going through difficult times. The verse is from the Bible from the letter, entitled ‘Romans’ in the New Testament  (Romans 12:15), from the apostle Paul to the believers in Rome. Paul was writing this while he was in prison, and the incredible thing is that even while he was bound and in chains he knew a deeper freedom than most of us know in this life. His freedom in Christ. However, even if you are not a Christian, I think this verse has something for all of us to reflect upon through the changing seasons of life.

It’s a tiny phrase, but it says so much. Don’t you think? “Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn”.

I’m not entirely sure why this has been in my mind recently, however, I think it probably has much to do with seeing the contrasting seasons that some of my friends are in. Whereas previously, in earlier days, I would have been thinking of this from a more challenging place of mind and heart, when I was suffering and my friends were going through really happy times, times of joy, love and fulfilment of dreams, now I am looking at it from a different standpoint in terms of my season of life. I’m kind of ‘in the middle’ of things in terms of circumstances and wellbeing if I were to consider my experience in comparison with what some of my friends are going through. Some are rejoicing, and others are mourning. And at the moment, for the first time in a long while, despite the ups and downs of life, and as yet unfulfilled dreams, questions about the future as time passes, I’m actually doing just fine right now and making the most of things.

I have a friend who recently lost her mother. I have another friend who is overjoyed and loving life as a new mum after her season of wondering whether it would ever happen for her. I have friends who had wonderful seasons of joy, and the blossoming of marriage in their early 20’s, only to be faced with the painful sting of divorce, which was a surprise and shock to friends who know them and care for them.

I know some people for whom life has been a pretty happy ride ‘merrily down the stream’, just like a dream, as the nursery rhyme tells us. And overall most of us have a mixture of things going on. But there are seasons in life where either we ourselves or those around us could be said to be quite poignantly in seasons of mourning or of rejoicing. Mourning doesn’t necessarily relate only to bereavement. You could think of it also in terms of many of the painful depths of human experience. Mourning could be as vast ranging as the end of a relationship, the loss of a job, struggling to come to terms with your wayward adult children who have made wrong choices in their lives causing distress to those around them, it could be unfair treatment, unfulfilled longings, cruelty inflicted upon you by others, or illness, depression, losing the ability to walk, sing, smile, talk, or remember things or people you once loved.

Seasons of joy are also evident when we see them. Perhaps something broken has been restored. Maybe a fractured friendship or family relationships have been mended, and you feel a joy in contrast to the loss you once felt. Joy restored! Maybe it is characterised by accomplishment, carefree times, births and marriages, or new milestones. Perhaps a business venture or a project or a dream has come to fruition, or perhaps you have learned a new skill or lost some weight, become healthier, got fit, are challenging yourself to try new things, you feel healthy, life is going smoothly and for the most part all is well.

So, how do we relate to the contrasts in the lives of those around us? How do we “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and mourn with those who mourn” as we are encouraged to do?

I don’t think that there is a simple or straightforward answer, as it is a lesson that we must learn and be shaped by throughout our life’s journey on earth. One thing, however, that does really speak to me is that even if we are not sharing an experience with someone else, even if they are rejoicing while we are hurting, even if they are mourning while we are rejoicing, or are just doing alright, even though we don’t necessarily share the same experience, we do all share a common humanity. And we are called to care about each other, to be sensitive to one another, and to consider each others needs.

It can be hard to know how to support a friend when they are in mourning. But we can be with them. Maybe this doesn’t mean that we are with them physically, as that is not always possible, but it does mean that we can consider what they are going through, what they might be feeling, and how we can ease their load at least a little. We can reach out to them and show them the kindness of a friend, we could help them with their practical needs,  send them a gift or a card, or if they are open to us we could simply sit there with them in the quietness of their grief, or listen if they want to talk, or hold them as their tears fall….or…..give them space. Maybe if you have gone through a similar experience, or are going through the experience with them, then you will have a better idea how to bring some comfort in that particular situation.

Rejoicing with those who rejoice can be a wonderful thing. We might ourselves be in a place of rejoicing, and life is like one big celebration in this time, but what if we are not? What if we are just doing ok, or muddling along, or struggling with pain or heartache in our own lives? We can choose to rejoice. We can choose to be kind to others, to wish them well, to love them and pray for them, we can choose to celebrate their milestones, even when we are longing for or waiting for our own. We can choose to think kindly of others. We can choose to be the kind of caring and kind person we aspire to be, even when that takes challenge or a ‘sacrifice’ on our parts. That said, it doesn’t mean that you neglect your own wellbeing. Sometimes, it is just hard, nigh impossible to show up for others if you yourself are in a difficult place in life. Be kind to yourself, be gentle, and know that you are choosing to cultivate a mindset of kindness to others…and to yourself. I personally believe that it is only possible to do this fully by the Love of Christ. However, I also know that we each bear the image of the One Who Created us, and that even those who don’t believe in Him, still have a capacity for a deep kindness to others, through our shared humanity.

If you are in a season of rejoicing yourself, try to think of a time when you were not, as long as it is ‘safe’ mentally and emotionally for you to do so. Perhaps there was a time of hardship in your life. Perhaps the thing you are rejoicing about now is something that you were longing for, or waiting for, or heartbroken about in times past. Perhaps your dreams were deferred, your hopes unfulfilled, and maybe you were in a time of sadness. Do you remember the sting of pain that you felt when those around you were rejoicing over the things that were so far off from your own life and experience? Maybe what you are celebrating now, and rejoicing over, is a similar cause of pain to someone else in a season of ‘mourning’. Maybe you can’t see the full extent of what they’re going through, of course you can’t, we can’t. But you can consider them. You can rejoice over your blessings, but you should also be sensitive to others you may unintentionally be hurting. And if you have never had such a negative experience yourself, count yourself blessed, but still try to put yourself in the shoes of others, and think about how they might feel.

Only by showing kindness to ourselves and caring about others can we begin to respect the profundity of what it means to “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and mourn with those who mourn”. xx

backlit dawn foggy friendship
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