Tag Archives: UK

Self Care In A Pandemic (59): Support Local…

There’s no doubt about it that the past year has exerted a lot of pressure on a lot of people and a lot of different industries.

Perhaps I’m in good company in being blessed to be able to work from home (albeit using my own devices at present) and have some job security. I am very thankful for this as I know that there are others who are having a hard time, and I know that my work is a gift.

If you are in a similar situation, perhaps you notice that there are certain expenses that you haven’t had this year that you might have previously. For example, in pre-pandemic times I would have a daily commute which meant buying a train ticket on a daily basis. I’d have to buy lunch if I hadn’t had enough time to meal prep in advance, and there were probably other things that I also ended up spending money on. Of course, some of these savings are offset by spending in other areas such as electricity bills if you are working from home. However, if you do have bit of disposable income, then perhaps you can think about supporting local businesses when you do make your purchases. This isn’t always possible, but I do like to be of the mindset that every little bit does help in some way or another.

For example, as it is still the first month of the new year you may find yourself in need of new stationery, diaries, planners and such like. Why don’t you support some local businesses such as those that you can find on Etsy? As a Christian, I also personally like the UK based Christian version called ‘Cheerfully Given’ where I sometimes buy Scripture inspired stationery and gifts.

This post is completely of my own heart and initiative and I’m not sponsored by anyone, but I do feel that perhaps in addition to buying local from time to time, spreading the word can also help people in sectors that might otherwise be struggling or finding it a bit harder than usual to make ends meet.

I’ll leave the links below, and maybe you too can ‘pay it forward’ by recommending some local businesses to friends. We can’t do everything to help everyone, but let’s have faith that the small gestures we make also matter.

And if you yourself are a local business then I hope you find some encouragement that there are still people out there who want to support you in these difficult times.

Take care. Peace. x

Etsy – Shop for handmade, vintage, custom, and unique gifts for everyone

Creative Christian gifts from UK designers & makers | Cheerfully Given

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Book Recommendation

Hi Friends,

If you’ve been enjoying my ‘Self Care in a Pandemic’ series (I think we’re on number 40 something already!), don’t worry, this is just a momentary pause in the proceedings while I share a book recommendation with you.

Today I finished re-reading Katie Piper’s very helpful book “Things Get Better”, for the second time.

I’m inspired and uplifted by Katie Piper’s input into the world. You may already know her story and journey of recovery from victim to survivor to thriving overcomer, as I see it, but if you don’t then I’ll leave it to you to do a little internet search to learn more about the woman in her own words.

I first read her autobiography, “Beautiful” a year or so ago, and I then read the continuation of that “Beautiful Ever After”. These are autobiographical accounts of how she suffered after extreme attacks, and how her experiences of life from rock bottom to receiving medical and psychological help, then finding faith which she mentions briefly, and finding in herself a fighting spirit to recover and then to set up a charity to help other people. She thought she would never have any kind of life again, but now is thriving doing work to help other people and even has a family of her own.

This book, however, “Things Get Better” is one which could probably be classified in the ‘self care’ genre. If you are struggling with anything in life, you are bound to find inspiration and practical advice to help you take the next steps forward, and know that you are not alone.

It has really helped me, as Katie starts out the book with a chapter on her experience of ‘Rock Bottom’ in life. Can anyone relate? She describes her recovery journey, and how to overcome set backs and plateaus and keep moving forwards.

If you are facing recovery of any kind, or have issues in your life that you are trying to overcome that you need some help and direction with then this is a very accessible book that may just help and encourage you to find and take your next step in your healing journey.

Even if you don’t think these things apply to you, it might be a fascinating read if you are trying to relate to someone else who is needing some help or support in hard times.

So, that’s my first book recommendation of 2021. I gained from it so much that I read it twice, and so I thought I’d share it with you as well in case you are also able to benefit.

Take care, and keep an eye out for the next blog post in my ‘Self Care in a Pandemic’ series. x

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Self Care In A Pandemic (40): Be Inspired, But Don’t Compare…

In the UK, there are a couple of well known insurance companies with catchy ‘theme tunes’ (or ‘jingles’ if you use Americanised English) as part of their adverts.

One is called ‘Go Compare’ with a caricatured opera singer singing ‘Go Compare, Go Compare…!’ Some might find it a little annoying, but it certainly sticks in the mind, and as far as advertising is concerned, I suppose that’s the point – to be memorable, and to ‘stick’.

Another cute advert that you might be aware of is one with animated / toy Meerkats that deliver the lines. Their slogan lets us know that it’s not ‘Compare the Meerkat’ but ‘Compare the Market dot com’ in an Eastern European accent. Almost everyone over here will know these characters because they’ve become so memorable. I even know that the original Compare the Market meerkat is called Sergei! Another is Oleg, the baby meerkat. They offer discounts, cinema vouchers and added extras as part of their low cost insurance. Let me just say that I’m not sponsored by anyone, but it just proves my point that these things can be catchy and stick with us.

Our culture teaches us to compare:

So what does that have to do with anything, and with self care in the pandemic in particular? I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking that our culture, particularly western culture or cultures that use a lot of advertising and / or social media encourage us to compare our lives with others or with a ‘dream like’ life.

We are prompted to compare our skin with the skin of airbrushed models so that we will buy that next beauty product that will make us more like the ‘ideal’. We are compelled to compare our bodies, our lifestyles, our health and fitness, our belongings with other people’s and to fill up that ‘lack’ in our lives by buying that next product or paying money to make our lives better in some way.

Sometimes we are prompted to compare our lives with those who are poor or suffering in some way so that we will realise just how much we have, how much they need, and give towards fulfilling the need of others through charitable acts. Such comparison can be good, when we are giving towards causes that are just and fair and above board and that actually do help other people. While comparison can be ‘the thief of joy’, it can also be a humbling force that causes us to be more grateful and to give to other people out of love, duty or kindness, and in that case it can help us to live more thankful and giving lives.

Aside from the world of advertising, social media also can be a source of comparison with our peers. This can prompt a variety of reactions within us if we are part of those worlds. I imagine that people who constantly scroll through social media may do so to keep in touch with others, but they may also find ways to celebrate their friends blessings and achievements. However, as the news stories often highlight, there is a darker side to this psychologically. I’ve read quotes that say that the pictures other people share of their lives are often the ‘highlight reels’ of what is going on with them. We may never know that, but what we do know is that studies show that constant comparison can have a detrimental effect on our mental health and wellbeing.

Is this something you need to think about in the pandemic when issues such as loneliness, poor health, illness and low self esteem may be more at the fore than usual? Do you need to take a step back?

Of course we don’t need to be part of the worlds of social media to experience the comparison trap. We might experience it through the updates of a friend through text, email, letter or face to face. Even though we are separated by the pandemic restrictions, we are in many ways more ‘connected’ than ever. We need to forge out mutually healthy and beneficial connections, but this is not always the case when people are part of worlds when they gain insight into the lives of people they are not necessarily close to.

It is good when we face comparison to take a step back and be grateful for what we have, for our own lives, and to seek to be inspired. Comparison isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s what we do with it that matters and how we process our thoughts, emotions and reactions.

There is a verse in the Bible that says: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn”. What a verse to hold to in 2020 and going forwards, with so many ups and downs and contrasts! Christianity prompts us to lift our eyes away from ourselves to Jesus Christ and to love and serve Him and other people.

If you are struggling with the comparison trap, know that you are human, everyone experiences it to some extent, and don’t beat yourself up for it. Perhaps you need to take a step back, work on a change of attitude, or think about whether something is ‘triggering you’.

I don’t experience much of this on Word Press blogging. Actually, until recently I have enjoyed the variety of things coming up in my news feed on the bloggosphere. Unfortunately, however, I felt the need to unfollow someone whose blog I enjoyed reading because of the contrast that wasn’t good for my mental health – something good is happening in their life and while I don’t personally know them, I am pleased for them from a distance. But at the same time, it feels like they are sharing a lot about this good thing and it is in a way a stumbling block for me, and so to protect my mental health I’ve had to consider not seeing those posts so much. I can choose to go to their blog and read it when I like, but I’ve also chosen not to have those posts randomly pop up in my feed when I’m not mentally ready to see them, because the contrasts are difficult for me. That’s ok. We all need to consider each other, but sometimes we’re not so good at doing that, so we learn as we grow.

I try to write posts that will encourage all of you, but please do let me know if there is anything that you find challenging or want me to consider in how I can better support you through my writing.

In the meantime, remember that your life is unique, beautiful, one of a kind and incomparable. As you live it, seek to uplift other people and don’t let your successes cause anyone else to stumble as far as you are able or it is in your power to do so.

Your life is precious. Live it well. Today. Be blessed. x

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Self Care In A Pandemic (32): Demarcating Change…

There is something beautiful about the festive season, despite everything else going on. We find comfort in the cosiness of fairy lights and warm colours during the long nights. We collectively get busy decorating and then hopefully carve out space in our ‘new’ surroundings to slow down, enjoy, rest and reflect.

I realise that sadly, not everyone has the chance to do so, and this year perhaps even more people are struggling during this season.

However, we have now passed the shortest day and the light levels for many of us are beginning to be just a bit brighter, for just a bit longer. Nature demarcates the changes of seasons. It was not so long ago that I wrote of the vibrancy of the autumn colours in my parents’ garden and posted pictures of bright red Japanese Acer leaves. Yesterday, here, we had a very brief snow shower that soon gave way to rain, and now today the day is dry once more.

We write as the seasons change, and something in our hearts tells us that we must change with them. There is no standing still for long in life even when we reach a season of ‘Pause’ as some of us may have done in the pandemic.

Christmas Day, the day celebrating the Birth of Jesus Christ, has passed, but the reality of this significance is eternal. Boxing Day has passed, New Year’s Eve (or Hogmanay in Scotland) is not yet upon us, nor is New Year’s day, ushering in the anticipated ‘new’ of 2021 that we wait upon with baited breath. What changes, good or bad, will this next year bring?

As many of us spend our time at home during the pandemic, with increasing restrictions post-Christmas day, at least in the UK, due to rising case numbers of coronavirus, and added pressure upon the NHS, some people find their days just merging into a ‘blur’ of time, especially during the Christmas and holiday season.

Yet, as the seasons change, how do we demarcate change for ourselves, in our day to day lives?

A mental shift, and an external change:

I personally like to leave the Christmas tree up for as long as possible, at least until after New Year’s day, even though I know some people like to take their tree down on 27th December or as soon as possible. Especially this year, when we are at home, and the world is an unsettled place, it is nice to have that sense of cosiness and homeliness if we can.

Yet, I find myself preparing mentally for the new, and perhaps you do too.

Small external changes:

Perhaps we begin making mental changes with the changes we make to our surroundings. It might be replacing Christmas decorations with new décor, or rearranging things a little. Maybe it is taking out a new notebook or using different stationery, or putting away Christmas jumpers and wearing something different if not new. Some of these small shifts externally, gradually if you like, or all at once if that’s your preferred style, can help us usher in a change of mindset as we approach the new, and unknown.

While things change, I take comfort in the Eternal God Who does not change, and His Word that stands firm forever.

One shift I am making is putting away my Christmas adult colouring books and taking out new ones that were gifted to me this Christmas, one which is meditative pictures of the Psalms with nature illustrations, and another of famous travel destinations to colour, while I can’t physically go anywhere far just now.

My mind is anticipating the new, and the new may be the learning, growing and thinking that I will do right where I am.

The pandemic marches on, as do efforts to combat it, to stand against it, while doctors, nurses, scientists, and public health workers, shop staff, frontline and council workers all do their bit, and as each of us in our jobs, our families, or personal lives and decisions do our bit.

Let’s not grow weary or discouraged, but let’s keep moving forwards together, with hope and seeking to make wise decisions so that we live our lives in the best way possible with what is available to us, and in a way that will uplift and help others.

Stay safe, and let’s keep moving forwards together, one small change at a time. x

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The Days After Christmas…

Hi Friends,

I hope this finds you as well as can be this year. I thought I’d interject my ‘Self Care in a Pandemic’ series with a few free flowing thoughts and musings. Don’t worry, I will continue on with the series, as I know we are not out of the woods yet, and we all need as much encouragement as we can get in these trying times.

As i write, I look out upon the bare tree branches. It rained earlier and the sun is gently shining and I can see rain droplets shimmering and shivering and catching the light. It is beautiful and simple and gently wondrous, and a reminder of the simple delights of childhood. A blackbird is perched near the top of a tree. I see branches upon branches, and these twinkling raindrops in the midst of the hard barrenness of the trees lifts my heart. The sky is a gentle blue which is a relief and joy after days of grey. It is cold here.

I’m writing, just writing for the moment because I hadn’t written to you in a few days, and there is so much that I could say. It has been a blessed time with family, yet we had news of bereavements of friends, and that is hard to process. I have had time to think more on the wonder of Christ coming into the world, and He Is revealing new things to me of His Humanity and His Nearness. How do we put these deep things of the tapestry of life into words? I don’t know and so I come simply to write and to reconnect with you after a few days and to wish you well.

I hope you have had a Peaceful Christmas. I read somewhere that Peace is not the absence of troubles but the Presence of Christ. How true in this world as we know it! It is something God reassured me of in the past when in times of trial – ‘In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world!’ Praise the Risen King, Jesus Christ, my LORD and GOD. I hope you come to know His transcendent Peace if you don’t know Him already, because in this world you will have trouble, as sad as that is.

There has been flooding in some parts of the UK, and sadly some people have had to leave their homes on Christmas. We now have a deal between the UK and the EU so Brexit is finally moving along. There is news of yet more strains of the Coronavirus. And across the country and the world people are experiencing joys, sorrows and many things in between. Some are safe and cosy at home with families, others had a day of respite on Christmas day in the UK, being able to form a ‘Christmas bubble’ to visit loved ones for the day. Others still are lonely, bereaved, confused and scared. Where are you among it all? Know that you are loved and not forgotten about and The Good Shepherd of your soul, Jesus, is right there to help if only you would humble yourself to know that you can’t do it alone, and ask Him.

It’s a time of year where many of us find ourselves asking ‘what’s next?’. Are you asking the same of yourself, of life? What’s next? Many want to usher out 2020, and usher in 2021, and I am encouraged to see that people are still exercising hope. Yet, others are deflated and frightened at what might be around the corner. While there is so much outwith our control, we can be grateful for today, for this moment and look up with faith, and hope and do what we can to make things better.

How are you feeling today, this season, as Christmas has passed and we await a New Year that we hope will be better? Know that Jesus Is for Life and not just for Christmas – the day of may have passed, but His Love has not, He Is here and He came for you. It is an extraordinary humble and all powerful love, that does not force itself upon you but gently asks you to invite Him in.

We stand at the brink of a new year, and many of us have much to process. Keep ‘chipping away’ at the positive things you have been doing, keep taking those small steps forward, keep looking for the simple wonders outside your window, and keep looking for a life of deeper, purer love and faith. In the meantime, take that next sip of tea, get cosy and comfortable, take time to be thankful, and we will chat again soon, and continue on this journey together.

Peace. x

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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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Surviving The Pandemic Together. Words of Encouragement (18): *Encourage your encouragers*

In the UK, as in many other parts of the world, we ‘clap for our carers’ to acknowledge and celebrate the efforts of our National Health Service. It is heartening to see (and hear). I really do hope it is an encouragement to stay strong and to keep on going.
The people around us, as we can clearly see, aren’t invincible. They need support and encouragement, especially those on the front lines who are doing so much for each and every one of us. A collective well done for showing your / our support!
For those of you who like to watch or play team sports, doesn’t the cheer of a crowd spur on the players, and give them that bit of a boost? When you are enduring any challenge, it makes such a difference to know that you are surrounded by a ‘great cloud of witnesses’ who have gone before you or who are cheering you on (and yes I meant ‘cloud’ and now ‘crowd’ – Hebrews 12:1 😉 ).
Similarly in your life, there will be people doing things to strengthen, encourage and help you. Maybe it’s someone in your family who speaks to you and listens to your concerns, whether in person or on the phone. Maybe it is a friend who is always there for you. Maybe it is your child who draws pictures of rainbows to put in the window to cheer you and other people up. Maybe it is someone who brings you food and leaves it at your door, or someone who prays for you, gives you advice and guidance, or helps and supports you in some way. Just as you need them, remember that they too are only human, and ‘cheer them on’ to keep going, even if it is in seemingly small ways. It all makes a difference. Listen to your spouse who has taken time to hear your concerns. Tell your child how much of a difference they are making to you with their little offerings. Let your neighbour know just how much they are valued and how them bringing you food is a great thing in your life and that they are making a difference. Those you lean on may not have support in their own lives, so as we cheer on the NHS, and other health services, food delivery drivers, shop workers, and so on, around the world, let us also cheer on those closest to us. Every little helps. ❤ P.S. You’re doing great, keep going strong! 🙂

persons hands with rainbow colors
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Surviving the Pandemic Together. Words of Encouragement (14): *Celebrating our ‘heroes’*

*Celebrating our ‘heroes’*.


It has been said that tragedies and difficulties like this pandemic bring out the best and the worst in people. We’ve seen the worst in the terrible behaviour of some people in society, and I don’t really want to focus on that negativity here, but we are also seeing incredible acts of bravery, courage and also perseverance in the midst of fear.


In this post, I particularly pay tribute to the many men, women and children on the ‘front lines’ of this. They may be health professionals, doctors, nurses, scientists working tirelessly to find a cure, cleaners, bin collectors, volunteers, supermarket workers, food-delivery drivers, local councils, children of ‘key workers’, and so many more that I haven’t mentioned here. One such doctor in the UK has moved from his family home where his six year old son is going through the journey of recovering from or waiting for treatment for cancer, and he will not be able to be with his own little child through this painful time in his little life, because he is sacrificing his time to care for people suffering or dying from this awful virus. The little boy has his mum and other family members to care for him, but let us just take a moment to think of this selflessness of this doctor. Would we put other people before our own families, to save lives?


That is just one person, but day in and day out, and through the night, ordinary people like you and me, but people who have chosen to be in the medical or caring professions, or who are fulfilling their roles in protecting society in some other way, are actually putting their lives at risk to keep us safe.


We have seen across the world, people paying tribute to their health care workers by applauding them from their windows. Tonight at 8pm in the UK, we are doing this for the NHS staff, but also, let us join together to show our gratitude for the many, many people across the world in this generation who are risking their all to keep us safe. God bless them. I am so thankful for them. For those inclined to pray, please keep them in your prayers, they are doing so much for us, they deserve our appreciation. ❤ Feel free to post your messages of gratitude below, who knows, someone who needs to see it might just be lifted by your words.

people wearing face mask for protection
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Well, that was unexpected!

It’s mid-February, and just as I’ve been getting my home ready with more springtime-like décor, and putting away the last of the remnants of the winter season, guess what? It has started to snow!

Yes, the snow that didn’t fall here over Christmas time is beginning to fall now in not-so-sunny Scotland. We had expected storms, rain and lashing wind, all of which we got, but for me at least, the snow was a surprise. It’s lovely to watch from indoors, especially as just now it’s quite calm with no wind, so I guess we just may as well make the most of the prettiness before having to step into the great outdoors once again, and before the weekend’s forecast storm sets in!

Choose to enjoy the unexpected where you can! 🙂

photo of deer on snow
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Around The World – Today’s Top 3 Countries.

Original post: https://livingfully2017.wordpress.com/2019/11/17/around-the-world/

Today’s top 3 country views are from: USA, India and the United Kingdom.

Welcome one and all, please feel free to say ‘hi’ in the comments and tell us a bit about what life is like where you are.

Welcome to ALL my readers wherever in the world you might be from. Peace.

close up of globe
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