Photography is a particular hobby of mine that allows me to intentionally slow down and focus on the world around me. To caress moments in time, and capture something of the essence of them, in a world that seems to be incessantly rushing by. There are some rare moments when you capture something that even touches your own heart, and although I am not a professional photographer, I do try to improve and the photographs above, especially the one on the right are a couple of those rare gems that I am particularly fond of.
They speak to me of the beauty of nature in its changing seasons, and the delicate, even fragile passing of time, the life giving way to death and the sowing of seeds carried almost serendipitously by the wind for new life to be planted wherever it will.
I wonder if you, like me, crave solitude or at least times of refreshing in a world that is full of schedules and ‘to do’ lists? Time to fully live the season that you are in, and to appreciate it, in this particular moment. There is beauty and grace in the summer and the winter seasons of our lives. And yet, we fear the passing of time, but do we use our time, our lives wisely?
I don’t know about you, but as serendipitous as a seed falling to the ground may seem, I believe that there is a greater, higher, fascinating order to life. I see so much design and purpose and beautiful intention in nature, that I can’t but allow myself to be breath taken by the seemingly simplest of things. When I really take time to be still, to wonder and ponder at life, I know in my heart that there is a meaning and an order behind it all. We live chaotic lives, but to a great degree we choose to. We choose to close our eyes and our ears to the Love and Peace gently, persuasively calling out our names, compelling us to know that we do have a place in this grand design, and that we don’t have to live our lives as rootless, purposeless flowers caught and tossed by every wind of change in life.
There was a time in life when I felt helplessly alone, rootless, tossed by tempest and storms beyond my control, striving to find Peace, but that Peace always alluding me. And yet, now I have an unshakeable Root, a place of belonging, a Love unfailing, and confidence that despite the passing of time, the fragility of my being and of my life, I am held securely both now and for eternity by a God Who Knows, Who Cares, Who sent Jesus Christ in Whose Life I am hidden in God, to die for me, to forgive me, to save my lost soul, and give a purpose and meaning to every fleeting moment of my fragile life. And as I think of using my time, each season, I am compelled to tell you about His Love, His Certainty, His Security, His Peace and Hope, that perhaps someway, some how, by His Grace, these seeds of love will be carried by the gentle, persistently loving winds of the Holy Spirit to take root in your heart and change your life forever, or if you know and love Him already, to deepen your roots in Christ so that you may life a life, each moment, fruitful, flourishing and at Peace in Him, when it is your time to pass from this fleeting life into to the next unshakeable one. xx
Image from WordPress free photo library.
“Enjoy your mess, enjoy your tidy”, that’s a little childlike phrase I made up for myself to help me to keep perspective, keep calm and resist the temptation to be overwhelmed.
If you think about it, as perhaps silly and simplistic as it at first seems, it is quite a loaded little phrase. For I’m sure that I’m not alone in the temptation to feel overwhelmed when outer clutter begins to encroach upon my inner calm, that as it is, is quite a delicate thing to try to maintain.
In seeking to encourage myself, I also encourage you to put your housekeeping ‘to-do’ list down for a moment, regardless of what is going on around you. Have a cuppa, take a deep breath, and enjoy a moment of a recalibrated perspective.
Instead of feeling overwhelmed or annoyed at yourself for the mess you’ve managed so far not to properly attend to, “enjoy your mess”. Look around you at all of the stuff that you are privileged to have to mess up your home in the first place. Take a moment to be truly grateful that you have a home to get messy, when so many people go without. Be thankful that you have more than enough, and perhaps more than you need, and instead of feeling guilty about this, and planning how to give more to other people, first just STOP. Be. Enjoy the mess.
And enjoy the process of tidying. Of being able to move and have the ability to do things, be grateful if you have been so blessed that you have limbs and movement, and perhaps even freedom from pain. And if you do not enjoy these things, consider what you *are* able to do, and enjoy and be thankful for those things.
Slow down, take your time, rushing through each task doesn’t necessarily make you more effective, but it probably does make you more overwhelmed.
And when you do reach that place of being able to ‘enjoy your tidy’….truly enjoy it. Even if you are on your own, or if you have kids rushing about, or if things seem to be descending into chaos again. Just take that moment. Enjoy. And keep this in mind as the days go on and the cycle repeats. And don’t forget to take care of yourself as you take care of your home and those you love.
Passing the yearly mid-point
Hi friends. 2nd July 2017. Can you believe we’re now more than half way through this year? I don’t know how that makes you feel, but I have a good feeling about it, which is quite a change from the anxious feelings I’ve had in previous years. This year I have been more mindful of making the most of my moments and not feeling so ‘dictated to’ by the clock or the calendar or the idea of ‘milestones’ that ought to have been reached by now. I do sometimes like to consider time in ‘manageable portions’ (don’t we all?), to take time to reflect, especially around the new year, and to plan ahead for the year to come. Perhaps you are similar, or maybe you prefer to just ‘go with the flow’ and see what happens. I think to some extent we all like a bit of both, to varying degrees. We need both stability and spontaneity in our lives. There is something about a ‘half way point’ that is a natural demarcation that can call us to reflect, or ‘pause and ponder’ and think about our life’s direction, our achievements, goals and plans for the future.
Sometimes passing a ‘half way point’ can make people feel nervous, unsettled, fearful, anxious or as if they have failed if they haven’t been able to achieve or get to where they had hoped or planned. I understand that. However, if you are in that place, I would encourage you to take a step back from the lens that you have been looking through and enjoy that wide expansive horizon before you.
Life is made up of different seasons, and unlike the predictability of the movement of nature’s seasons year after year from Spring to Summer to Autumn/Fall onto Winter, our lives are not like that. At twenty we cannot look across to the lives of twenty five year olds and find a uniformity in their circumstances that we can look to as a guarantee for the shape of our future. Nor can we do so at any age or stage of life. Yes, there may be certain things that hold a degree of certainty such as infancy, school years, college / university, graduation, employment, and so on. However, even then, we all have different starting points and obstacles and opportunities whether they be in the form of our health, family background, upbringing, socio economic status, limitations, abilities, temperament or whatever else they may be. We may be encouraged or hindered by the families we are born into, or by the company we keep or are compelled into by life’s circumstances. We may suffer abuse, neglect, trauma, unfair treatment, disadvantage or we may find ourselves blessed with favourable circumstances and a mostly happy or even carefree life. Perhaps the seemingly ‘predictable’ patterns of earlier years become more tangled, complex and uncertain as the years go by. Which is a good reason to refrain from harsh judgement of ourselves or others, and to avoid the ‘comparison trap’. Everyone has a story, and a ‘cross to bear’ as it were, and most times we are not really aware of what others around us are really going through however their lives may seem on the surface.
Perhaps a simple prayer to ponder when life feels uncertain is the ‘Serenity Prayer’, which is simple yet full of wisdom:
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference”.
I personally love this prayer. It draws me away from being overly concerned with what is going on around me or from comparing my life to anyone else’s. It reminds me that like you, I have a Creator Who has made me who I am for a reason, and that if I want certainty and hope in my life I need only to look to Him for He Is True and Unchanging, unlike much of our experience of life in this world. And it reminds me that I am not powerless. I am not a victim of life’s circumstances, and although there are certain things that are beyond my control, still there is much that I can change. And so can you.
Who you are, and where you are now
All that being said, I’d like to remind you, yes *you*, special you reading this now, are Unique, Irreplaceable, ‘Fearfully & Wonderfully Made’ (Psalm 139) and are Special and Important just for who you are. You are not an accident, it is not by chance that you are here, right now, even reading this for perhaps you need to hear a word of encouragement. You are you for a reason, and you are here right now for a reason too.
So be kind to yourself. Know that life is not all about status or achievement or relationships or milestones achieved. It is enough that you are you. Truly. I believe that there is only One Who can love you in the way you need to be loved for you to know and experience this, and I hope that you will find your way to Him, the Lord Jesus.
However, no matter what your thoughts or beliefs, still you are important, a unique individual who deserves respect and care, and that my friend, begins with you. With how you view yourself, how you ‘talk to’ yourself, and how you treat yourself and others.
Where you are now may be a place of contentment, and if so I am pleased for you and hope that you enjoy and are blessed in this time of your life. However, where you are right now in life, may not be so great. In which case, remember from the Serenity Prayer above, that you are not powerless. You can make a change today, even if a small one, and you can keep going. This is the season of life that you are in, and inevitably with all seasons, it is transient and will change. So make the changes that you can and should, and seek to be at peace with the things that you cannot change.
So, What’s Your Plan?
Ok, ok, I’m a bit of a self-confessed ‘geek’. I like stationery. I like making lists and plans. I like seeing things written down, and I like colour coding! It’s not a crime, is it? 🙂
Over the past few years, lists and plans have been small yet very helpful tools for me to aid me through some very difficult times. As mentioned previously I have complex trauma / PTSD, severe clinical depression and generalised anxiety disorder. The past few years have been very tough health wise, yet this year has been pretty good, productive and one in which I am getting on top of my health challenges, which I hope is an encouragement to any of you out there who are struggling in any way. We can build resilience in ourselves and we can make tangible changes for the better.
So do you have a list or a plan? If so, what’s in your plan? And how has it helped you? If you think that sharing these insights with us might help someone else, then you are more than welcome to leave a comment or a link to a relevant blog post.
Here’s What’s in My Plan…
At the start of the year, I took some time to be a geek and to make up some lists 🙂 It has helped me to ‘stay on track’ as it were, and to measure my progress in areas of my life that are important to me.
I’ve never shared anything like this publicly before, however, I would like to do so now in the hope that it might help, encourage, or be a useful starting point for some of you to consider what is important to you in your lives, and how to live more fully in the days and years to come.
So here goes, ‘it is what it is’, it’s not ‘perfect’, but it was my starting point for this year. I’ll be brave and share it with you lovely people.
I categorised my life into 14 priority ‘life areas’, which I will list below, unchanged from when I wrote them in a notebook in January of this year. Further to this I made further more specific ‘sub goals’ or actions to more practically guide me in maintaining and enhancing these 14 life areas. These have been organic and involve a lot of scribbling, doodling, brainstorming and note-making, therefore I won’t share these as that would just get a bit too ‘crazy’ and unwieldy for a blog post 🙂 Notebooks, notebooks, notebooks! I also made a simple ‘accountability tracker’ for each month of the year which worked well for the first few months but may continue to change as I change.
2017 Life Areas:
- Relationship with God / Faith
- Relationship with Family
- Work / Career
- Health & Wellbeing / Mental Health / Nutrition
- Homekeeping / Hospitality
- Hobbies & Recreation
- Self Development / Lifelong Learning
- Life Skills
- Future Unknowns / Hopes
- Helping Other People / Outreach / Volunteering / Charity, etc.
- Lifelong / Long-term Goal ~ Writing.
‘Life As It Happens To Be’ ~ The Birth of An Unexpected Blog & The Timing of Things
As you can see from the above list, a blog could quite reasonably fit into a couple of categories (such as 9 & 14). However, I never listed it specifically in the above list, nor in any of my ‘sub lists’ (ok, already, I told you I’m a self-confessed list making ‘geek’. The world needs us! 🙂 🙂 ).
My ‘blog baby’ therefore came as an unexpected surprise. A couple of years ago I created my own website on Wix, which I was an am very happy with. It is quite different in appearance from this blog, yet contains many similar themes. However, it never really did ‘go anywhere’. There wasn’t really the same scope to connect with other bloggers as there is here, and so it kind of drifted into the background of my life, and it no longer took much place in the day to day things of my life. In May of this year, I think, someone suggested that I try blogging on Word Press. And so on 28th May 2017, just over a month ago, I did just that, I began this blog, and now here I am, and here we are. I am so glad I did.
Perhaps my previous website was a preparation for this new adventure. Although this blog wasn’t on my list of pursuits this year, it has really taken a special place in my life, even though I have barely been blogging for long. I love this creative and somewhat philosophical outlet. I love connecting with you all, and gaining an insight into your lives and adventures and experiences and learning from what you have written, photographed and shared. I often find myself thinking about things to blog about, and find that it is becoming a beautiful experience that I definitely wish to continue.
I am grateful for those of you who have joined me on this shared journey. I hope you will continue with me, but even if our paths were only meant to cross for a short time before they diverge, I am glad for this time and this season with you. I really hope that some of the things I’ve shared have been an encouragement to you. I may not have met you face to face, but I do care, and as I am moving past some difficult years into something new, I hope that together we can discover more of what it means to be ‘Living Fully’, right here, right now.
The Future? Well, I don’t know too much about that, but I do have plans for some new Blog Posts! 🙂
I’m intrigued to know whether any of you are ‘regular’ readers. If so, then thank you, I appreciate you. I also would like to know what interests you, and what I can write more of to encourage you, for I do have the heart of an encourager, and you, unseen internet friend, matter to me ❤ 🙂
In the meantime, let me share some of the things that you can expect to see more of on my blog in the near future (hopefully!):
I intend to continue my regular posts such as daily photos, daily prompts, self-care series and posts about mental health. In addition to what I’m already posting, you can look out for:
- A continuation of my ‘self-care’ series.
- Future LUSH product reviews.
- A July ‘Subscription Box’ review.
- Travel: in less than a week, I am going for a short adventure / journey on an old steam train in northern Scotland which I hope to feature in a blog post shortly afterwards.
- More on Books! Literature reviews and posts on the books I am currently reading.
- Future travel plans.
- As mentioned above, more on mental health and wellbeing.
- Faith journeys.
- Creative writing.
- A colouring book review: a friend has recently gifted me with a new adult colouring book, ‘Images of Hope’, which I have started working on and will look forward to sharing with you.
So there you have it, some things to look forward to, and I hope you are enjoying journeying on this adventure with me.
Much love. ❤ xx
Notebook image, courtesy of Google Images. All other content (c) is my own.