Tag Archives: Society

Small Steps Forwards…

We’ve all been living through a time of change and of readjustments. For some, such changes have been drastic and even life changing, for others the changes have been adapting to new routines and day to day restrictions.

And here we all are, once again, facing change as societies across the world venture into adapting to a ‘new normal’ and gradually or perhaps in some places more dramatically, moving forwards.

So, how do you feel about all of these major and minor adjustments in your own life? Has lockdown helped you to learn more about yourself and how you cope with and adapt to changes? Does the prospect of a ‘new normal’ feel daunting to you? Have you spent your time in a kind of hiatus and now are looking to re-engage with your life in more meaningful ways, yet don’t quite know how to go about it?

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Many people have varying degrees of anxiety specifically about moving forwards with all of the societal changes we’ve been facing particularly around the coronavirus.

You might be facing challenges around your employment, you might have to physically leave your home and commute to get to your work and all these things can be quite daunting.

But those things aside, what about finding ways to keep moving forwards in your personal growth? Perhaps you have had more time to focus on such matters during lockdown, or perhaps things have been too busy that you have had to let such things take a back seat.

As you look to moving forwards, think of those small and simple steps that you can take to get back into things.

Maybe, like me, you had more pressing priorities during lockdown and you haven’t been able to blog for a while. Try taking the small step forwards of dipping your toe back into the water and writing a short post. And then keep going as and when you can.

Maybe you need to look after your body better after spending a long spell of time indoors. Start today with something manageable, a bit of exercise, even if 5 minutes is all you can manage, and build it up from there.

Do you feel like you’ve been disconnected from people and don’t know how to re-engage with society? Think about reaching out to a trusted friend, take that first step, ask how someone else is doing, and allow things to take shape in their own way and time, even if that means facing silence or rejection. At least you will have tried, and you can take some confidence from that to keep trying to take new steps.

Does going outside seem daunting? Start small. Plan a short walk, be prepared with all your health and safety measures and gradually ease yourself back into the outside world.

Do you feel like you’ve been overly preoccupied or worried with certain aspects of your life? Try to do something that will help your mind move in a more positive direction. Perhaps you could read a book, do a crossword, have a conversation with someone positive, do something you enjoy.

Do you find the thought of doing certain things daunting? Can you reach out to a friend and share those thoughts with them? Maybe they feel the same, and maybe you can mutually help each other face those changes together.

Wherever you are at, there is no doubt that things always feel more overwhelming when we try to tackle them all in one go. Instead of seeing the mountain before you as a challenge to conquer, see the mountain and just take that one next step. We each can only live one moment at a time, yet all of these little moments add up and shape our choices and the direction of our lives.

Has it been a while since you have prayed? Start now. Have you forgotten gratitude? Write down three things you are grateful for today. Have you found it difficult to blog and are struggling to know how to come back to things? Write a paragraph, post a picture, share the little that is in your hand today, knowing and believing that someone else may benefit from it. Life is full, but we have to participate. We have to reach up in faith to find what we are meant to do and be on this earth while we have the chance. I look up to Jesus everyday, for all the Fulness of Life, Love, Goodness and Truth Is found in Him. And He Who holds all things together, also cares about the tiniest of details. So start small, start in faith and see where those small beginnings might lead you. Perhaps on the adventure of your lifetime! x

Before The Restrictions End…

It’s been quite a year so far, hasn’t it?!

I remember towards the end of 2019 I was writing a lot, blogging about ways to stay safe and well during the winter seasons, I think I may even have called my long series of posts a ‘winter survival guide’.

This year, the words ‘stay safe and well’ and ‘survival’ seem to be on everyone’s lips, and have taken on a different meaning with the novel experience of living through a pandemic.

All across the world countries have been forced to react to the coronavirus, something that has been termed as humanity’s ‘common enemy’, affecting people all across the globe, irrespective of borders, time zones, or any other of our usual ‘limitations’.

Who could have known, at the start of 2020 – a year which sounded so ‘perfect’ and which many people referenced as the year of 20-20 ‘Vision’ – that the world would be struck with a pandemic that started out in an outdoor market and slowly but relentlessly spread from country to country, and across the continents, leaving very few places untouched?

If you had asked people at the start of the year what they envisaged for their lives in 2020, some would have said they hoped to travel more, to graduate from school, college or university, to get married, to build up their businesses, to visit new places, to work on their careers, to spend more time with their families, to start a family.

What was on your list of hopes and dreams at the start of the year?

Did anyone include something like ‘to slow down and learn to appreciate life more’?

Many of us have spent extended periods of time in ‘lockdown’, in a whole variety of situations according to our unique circumstances. Yet one thing you often hear is that the enforced time away from our usual routines and busyness has caused many people to reflect on their lives, to ‘take stock’ of what is truly important and to reconsider their priorities and how they have been spending their time.

We are now gradually, across the world, albeit at different rates, trying to establish what has been deemed as a ‘new normal’, to venture back out into the world again and to try to re-engage with society so far and as safe as it is to do so in our own countries and circumstances.

Restrictions still remain in place in a variety of ways, but we slowly see them easing. Before the restrictions end, will you take a little bit of time to consider what you have gleaned from your reflections of life during lockdown?

How have your priorities changed, if at all? Are there things or influences you need to let go of, or reprioritise? And fundamentally, what is the foundation upon which you have been building your life? Will it stand the test of time, of changing circumstances, and ultimately even of death?

I personally know that the only sure foundation to build our lives and eternities upon is the Rock of Jesus Christ. He Alone Is Unchanging and Unshakeable – even in death.

Perhaps this is something you have been pondering or would like to ponder.

Wherever you are in life, or however ‘easy’ or difficult lockdown has been for you, there is little doubt that it would have caused you to stop and think.

Some people seem in such a rush and a hurry to get back into the busy ways of society, but they risk losing out on the very important lessons that have or could have been learned during this unusual phase in our lives, and indeed in world history.

What has caused you to stop and think?

What changes do you feel compelled to make?

What are you more deeply grateful for?

What foundation are you building your life upon?

These are just a few of the questions that we would do well to delve more deeply into while we have the time, before restrictions end.

Love and Peace to you all. x

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You can’t change someone’s ‘true colours’, so don’t try….the only person we can change is ourselves.

You may look at life and people through eyes filled with compassion, love, grace, care, kindness and helpfulness. This might be so natural to you, or something you have worked hard on developing, with the gifts of grace and mercy at work in your life to bring you there, that you don’t necessarily expect that other people who are close to you have other more selfish motives.

Of course, you can easily spot the negative characteristics in people whom you don’t wish to associate too closely with, even though you know that there are many and complex aspects to each person with everyone having a mix of positive and negative traits including ourselves- but you don’t allow people who are overtly rude, unkind, selfish, manipulative or cold into your inner circle. Because after all, you’re a good judge of character, right?

It can be harder to see negative characteristics in the people we let closest to us, because for the most part we think that ‘birds of a feather flock together’ and that our friends have similar values to us.

And they may well do, for the most part. They may share the broad brushstrokes of similar ideas generally of overall life values, how to treat other people, and what it means to be a good friend. Or we may be choosing to see them in that way.

But sometimes true colours on a canvas begin to show through over time, and we gloss over them. Things arise that we feel not so comfortable with, but we know that we too have our flaws and we try to be the best friend that we can be. We see the way someone relates to and treats other friends or mutual connections and we think that there is a problem in their specific situation and we try to show understanding, empathy, kindness and to give a listening ear. But then, we realise that our friend has treated other friends in a way that simply doesn’t match with our values, in a way that that other friend or those other friends don’t deserve because they’re simply lovely people, and we try to make sense of it, to understand the things that might be going on under the surface, and we think that because we are closer that of course they wouldn’t treat us that way, but the warning bells have already started ringing, and somewhere deeper down a trust has been damaged, as our instincts tell us that the person we consider to be similar to us, actually treats other people in a way that harms them – are they unaware of it, do they not realise their behaviour is selfish and damaging, or maybe they have some wounds and issues to sort out, do they just take the easier way out when they feel that things get tricky, regardless of whether or not it is the right way to behave? We try to be understanding, to give our friends the benefit of the doubt, and maybe we ignore our instincts and those warning signals because we want to think and believe the best of people.

We don’t want to believe that our friends are using people for their own convenience, for when things suit them. We want to believe they are deeper, warmer, and more compassionate than they are. We don’t want to see the true colours that are beginning to come through, we may not try to change them but we change the evidence that we are beginning to see to fall in line with a more loving, caring version of the person we’ve created in our minds. We all have flaws. But then there are points when someone shows themselves to have deeper rooted characteristics that don’t fit with our values, and we try to excuse them or tell ourselves it’s because of this or that reason, and be graceful towards that person. Who wants to honestly conclude that someone they had given time, care, love, a listening ear and understanding to is actually colder than we thought, more selfish in their motives and perhaps has even been using us, whether intentionally or not, for their own convenience? Sometimes we don’t let ourselves see true colours until it is too late, and they have been as narrowly focused and self focused in their treatment of us as they have to others. The warning signs were there, but we didn’t want to pay heed to them, and so we live with the lessons. We learn that we are people who care, but not everyone does….some people care when it is convenient to them to do so, and I suppose that’s ok, so long as we are willing to continue being people who are genuine, caring, look out for other people’s interests as well as our own, seek to communicate for the benefit of other people, and ensure that we don’t use other people for our own selfish gain as we have been used. And the deeper lesson if you find yourself in such a situation is that you can’t change people. You can’t change someone’s true colours, it’s not within your gift to do so. You can pray for them, for them to perhaps realise that their patterns of behaviour damage others, and perhaps they don’t care too much about that, but you can pray for other people to be protected, and you can seek to become a better person, more noble in character for the good of others.

You could try to change people, you could try because the idea of them was different to the reality, but it wouldn’t be worth your efforts and time, because just as others can’t change you, you can’t change them. But you do have immense power to work on yourself, to seek to be kinder, more understanding, more compassionate, more giving, loving and caring, looking out for others and not just ourselves, so that the lessons we learn don’t bring negativity but actually make our world and the lives of those around us a much more vibrant, colourful, Truthful, genuine, loving, honest and caring place. x

frowning woman wearing pink shirt and sunglasses
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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 🙂

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One sentence inspiration.

It can feel like the political situations, leaders and institutions that govern us are full of mistakes, confusion, dishonesty and self seeking – we can either allow ourselves to feel negative emotions and have embittered thoughts about this and the people who aren’t doing right, or we can choose to focus our attention on the sphere of influence we have in the lives we live, in our friendships, families, communities, schools, neighbourhoods, workplaces, and make a positive difference, little by little, day by day – it may not change the world, but it may change your world around you and the lives of those in it.

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One sentence inspiration.

In a world that always seems to tempt us to look around us, to compare, and to feel like we aren’t enough, or don’t have enough, let us choose to humble our hearts and minds, and in gratitude give thanks for how much we do have, and think of ways that we can share our plenty with other people who are in need.

people holding boxes
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Healthy Morning Tip # 2 ~ Be Kinder to Yourself.

Do you ever find that some mornings you wake up and feel bright, positive and eager to make the most of the day ahead, while on others you feel more unsettled about your life and yourself? You know those days, when a thought, a seed of doubt or anxiety creeps in, and suddenly you are drawn towards thinking of the things that make you insecure about yourself as you stand, bleary-eyed in front of the mirror? I am sure that everyone has had mornings like that. And with the thought comes an emotion, and if we’re not careful we can let this slip into a negative frame of mind, and negative ‘self talk’.

Our Creator made us and sees the beauty in us as His Creation, individual, unique, special. And yet our society is so focused on an airbrushed external version of life that we can be left feeling inadequate and critical of ourselves. In the morning, I like to remind myself of the Truth of who God says I am – ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’, precious in His sight, important to and uniquely loved by Him.

Yet, there is another component to our thoughts, and this is what we say to and about ourselves and how we talk to ourselves. No matter what you believe in terms of faith, everyone has ‘self talk’, and the morning is a good time to be aware of how we are approaching our day, what we are saying to ourselves, and find ways to intentionally be kinder to ourselves in our thoughts and actions. Would you say what you are saying to yourself to a friend? If you did, would they still be your friend? If something is amiss, then it’s a good point in the day to change our thoughts before going off into a world that is already critical enough of everyone. We need to be kinder to ourselves, and in turn to others. And don’t you think this morning is as good a time as any to say something kind about yourself? I encourage you, right here, right now, be kind. x

girl in white long sleeved shirt wearing sunglasses facing mirror
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