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Surviving Winter ~A Beautiful Wintertime Diary (continued)…

Recently, I wrote the following post in part 45 of my Winter Survival Guide regarding the importance of reconnecting with the people in our lives. So, I thought I’d give you an update of some recent opportunities to reconnect.

It’s nearing the end of the year, and maybe we have let things slip in our friendships and relationships, and we didn’t even realise that it was happening. Time just seems to have passed and somehow when thinking of the people we used to be closest to, we realise that we have lost touch, or […]

via Winter Survival Guide (45) ~ Reconnect. — Life as it happens to be

Reconnecting with Travel Friends:

A couple of years ago I went on a coach holiday by myself to Budapest, Prague and Vienna. You’ll be able to read up on my adventures in my ‘Travel’ section. It turned out that traveling on my own led to me having the opportunity to connect with new people, and as a result I made some new friends, two of which have visited my city a few times, for various events they were going to and also to see me.

Last weekend, I had the chance to reconnect with these two friends once more and we ventured around Christmas markets, had some festive hot drinks in a café and chocolate shop, and then went out for a late lunch together.

It doesn’t often happen that I make friends via my travels that I will keep in touch with face to face rather than just by the occasional message or email every now and then, so these particular connections have turned out to be quite special, and may continue for years to come.

Sometimes we travel solo because we love the freedom, the independence, we might be wanting to get away from it all and have more time to ourselves, or we may want to travel with others but find that no one else is available. For me I really enjoy solo travelling now, although it initially took a bit of getting used to. Either way, the chance to connect with these travel friends is a fresh reminder to be aware and attentive and to make the most of every opportunity – I almost didn’t take the opportunities on holiday because I was enjoying the time by myself, my independence and indulging in my passion for photography. Funnily enough it was the teenage girl who thought I was only nineteen that drew me into conversation and company, even though I am closer to her mum’s age – I and others thought they were friends, so I guess we all had that youthful glow about us! 🙂 The opportunities I almost didn’t notice actually turned out to be open doors to new friendships, and so it was nice to recently have the time to reconnect with them once more.

Tried and True:

I mentioned in my Winter Survival Guide post that many of us are blessed with those ‘old faithfuls’, those friends that are ‘tried and true’, friendships that feel more like the bonds of family (you know that saying, “Friends are the family we choose for ourselves” ! 🙂 ), those who we have grown to know, love, laugh with, support each other through the hard times and challenges of life, and who we hope will still be part of each others lives in the years to come.

I am blessed to say I have quite a few ‘old faithfuls’ in my life, and this has probably been due to the reciprocity of both parties being faithful and investing in the friendships. However, most of these friends don’t actually know each other, so for the most part my ‘old faithfuls’ and I tend to be groups of twos, threes or fours rather than a big group of long standing friendships.

One such ‘party of three’ is myself and a couple of guys I met through work. We’ve been there for each other through the challenging times of life, and it’s most likely, God-willing that we will continue to be. We don’t necessarily have everything in common, but we do have that connection that makes us consider each other as family in a way. And we laugh together…and eat together!

We’ve tried over the past couple of years, especially as one of these friends no longer works with us, to continue to meet up and reconnect in person once a month. Obviously, this can fluctuate and some months we aren’t able to, other blessed months might see us meeting more than that, but we tend to go out to dinner, to chat and to stay involved with each others lives and have a healthy dose of laughter in poking fun at one another! 🙂 You know you’re in a good situation when you can eat and laugh with your friends as well as have those more serious chats.

Our most recent culinary adventure saw us visiting a Russian restaurant, which was a novel experience at least for me – a tasty one though,  followed by a wander around the Christmas markets.

There’s a song by Sara Groves that I like, that includes the following lyrics:

I am long on staying, I am slow to leave, especially when it comes to you, my friend. You have taught me to slow down and to prop up my feet, it’s the fine art of being who I am…”

When we have the blessings of real friends, friends who mutually care for each other, who are genuine and sincere and who give as much as they take, friends we know we can be ourselves around, and with whom we mutually feel supported, cared for and respected – when we have the chance to reconnect with them, despite however different we may be, the lovely thing is that we are also able to reconnect genuinely with a part of ourselves.

Wishing you all some happy times connecting and reconnecting with loved ones and friends old and new, as well as with yourself, and if you are spiritually minded, with God, this winter season. x

assorted variety of foods on plates on dining table
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Winter Survival Guide (49) ~ Have Yourself An Ethical Little Christmas…

It’s the most wonderful time of the year”, yet we all know that this isn’t necessarily the case for everyone, and at a time of year when the disparity between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ seems all the more apparent, many of us want to ‘do our bit’ by reaching out beyond our own personal sphere of friends, family, colleagues and loved ones, to help others who we don’t know and who are in need.

However, it can be difficult to know where to start and what to do, especially if you already are on a budget over the Christmas and holiday season.

Charity begins at ‘Home’?

Consider helping out local initiatives that will benefit your community. For example, in my city there are appeals by homelessness charities that enable you to donate towards their Christmas appeal which will buy a person a Christmas dinner where they can enjoy it in the company of others, or to provide support services and winter essentials.

There are also various collections for clothes, food, toiletries and other essential supplies for homeless people, food banks, and toys for children and young people who otherwise go without. Local hospitals also hold fundraisers, events and collect donations.

These are examples of some of the initiatives happening locally to me – what about you? Are there any causes close to your heart and close to home that you would like to contribute to? Many of them are quite affordable or you can give what you are able to.

Alternative Christmas Gifts:

Maybe you want to combine gift-giving to your friends and family with helping a charity or charities.  Here are some ideas for alternative Christmas gifts (mainly UK based) that can help you to do just that. There are obviously many more, but hopefully these might help as a starting point in your search for the perfect charity gift. If in doubt, simply do an online search for the name of your chosen charity followed by ‘charity gifts’:

  • Traidcraft enables you to reach out to people in other parts of the world such as Kenya and Bangladesh as well as many others. Their ethically sourced products, handcrafted gifts and sustainable methods help to support farmers, artisans and growers in developing countries which means that you can ‘shop with a conscience’. Their website provides a background into what Fair Trade actually is and how Traidcraft started, and their shop also includes a special section for Christmas gifts:https://www.traidcraftshop.co.uk/christmas
  • PDSA (The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals) provides millions of free treatments to sick and injured pets, including preventative treatments, and is funded entirely by public support. You can buy Christmas gifts from their shop, particularly for friends and family members who prefer animals to people! 🙂  :http://www.pdsa-shop.co.uk/Shop/Gift-Ideas/
  • Charity Gifts is a website that makes it easy for you to buy from the UK’s leading charity gift providers, including: WWF, Oxfam, Cancer Research UK, Help for Heroes, RSPB, Guide Dogs, The National Trust, and Hearing Dogs for Deaf People. Here you can easily find eco-friendly gifts, Christmas charity gifts, and ‘adopt an animal’ gifts. https://www.charity-gifts.org/
  • Online Shopping: some online shops give you the option of choosing a charity and everytime you buy from the shop they will donate a certain amount to that charity. It is worth checking your preferences when you do your online shopping to see if this is an option.

Mental Health Charities and Charities for Older People:

For some people, a time when it seems that everyone else is celebrating and having fun, can be an unbearable contrast with how they are feeling and what they are going through. Mental, emotional and psychological distress and loneliness can have a huge impact on a person’s wellbeing, as well as that of their friends and family. If you want to support UK based mental health charities, and / or charities for older people, in your giving, here are some recommendations:

Volunteering:

You don’t have to limit yourself to giving money; you can make a real difference by giving your time, skills, care and attention. Are there any local volunteer opportunities that you could give a few hours to?

Ethical and Environmentally Friendly Giving:

As well as giving charitably and buying ethically sourced and produced gifts, it might also be important to you to make sure that the way you give causes as little damage to the environment as possible. Here are some ideas that you could try out.

  • Instead of sending out physical Christmas, holiday or new year cards, you could alternatively send out greetings via e-cards, or combine sending e-cards or greetings via email, with sending fewer cards through the post and limiting postal cards to maybe two or three.  You can add in a message to your e-card to explain that you want to be more environmentally friendly, and this might encourage friends and family to do the same. You also don’t need to worry about cost, as free e-cards are available online, such as at: https://www.bluemountain.com/ecards/christmas and https://www.got-free-ecards.com/Christmas-ecards/ as a start – there will be many more out there.
  • Try to avoid buying and giving gifts with a lot of plastic packaging, and think about bringing a vintage / nostalgic theme into your gift giving by finding some quality second hand items, hand-making gifts, or ‘upcycling’.
  • Instead of buying wrapping paper, there are many creative ways that you can wrap presents with recycled paper, used wrapping paper, newspapers, magazines and recyclable materials. You can decorate your wrapped gifts to make them look beautiful by adding hand crafted gift tags, bows, decorations and personalised messages.
  • If you feel you have to buy wrapping paper, Christmas cards, bags, gift tags, etc. then try to make sure that the materials used are recyclable before you buy them.
  • Other ethical and environmentally friendly ‘challenges’ you could take on might include: reducing your meat consumption if you currently eat meat, using public transport, or ‘car-pooling’ to get to events, family gatherings, etc., not going overboard with outdoor Christmas lights, and remembering to turn off lights, TV and other electronics, etc.

Creative Giving:

Finally, another thing you can do is to think of ways that you can turn giving into a creative process. This might be particularly helpful in encouraging children to think of other people and what they need.

  • One way of doing this could be a ‘Reverse Advent Calendar’ where each day instead of getting something, you choose an item to collect so that at the end of the advent period you have something to give to others, such as food for a food bank, clothes for a charity shop or a care package for a homeless person.
  • If you create things to sell such as arts and crafts, you could perhaps donate some or all of your profits this month to a chosen charity.
  • You can have a festive event with friends and family, even if it is something simple, and turn it into a festive fundraiser for a cause that means something to you all, and / or to raise awareness.
  • Think of some ‘Random Acts of Kindness’ that you can do for other people throughout the month.
  • Giving, as mentioned earlier, doesn’t have to be only monetary. You can use your influence, skills and social media platforms to encourage and help other people during what might be a difficult or challenging time, and reach out to people in your life that might need a helping hand.  Maybe as a blogger you can write articles to encourage, inspire and uplift others this season, and by doing so reach out to hundreds if not thousands of people. Whatever your skills, the possibilities are numerous, so why not give it a go and have an ‘ethical little Christmas’ that will help people near and far 🙂 x

 

white ceramic mug
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silhouette of man touching woman against sunset sky
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Winter Survival Guide (48) ~ Look after your health and have a ‘winter survival kit’.

I’ve touched upon aspects of self care and wellbeing in previous sections of this guide, including eating and sleeping well, taking walks, looking after your mental health and including exercise into your routine, and making sure  that you have enough supplies for your health conditions such as medicines.

However, it’s a good idea to remember to look at your health and wellbeing in a holistic way and to think of what the main things that might affect you could be.

As we near the end of November, I’ve noticed a few things in my own life, so I thought I’d share them with you.

Firstly, I feel like hibernating. I’ve noticed that my body, mind and mood are being affected with this wintery season. It gets darker a lot quicker, light levels are lower, and there is a drop in temperature. I feel like with the natural cycle of the seasons, my body too is winding down and preparing for rest. Actually, if I didn’t have to work I’d probably be napping during the day like a curled up little hedgehog! 🙂 I’ve given out a lot of good advice such as maintaining exercise and healthy eating habits, and getting enough rest and sleep as well as staying active, but when it comes to it although I have been trying to do these things I am feeling a little sluggish and looking forward to not having to do very much.

Secondly, the desire for hibernation is coupled with a season of activity – which may not be such a bad thing, but it also means having to be realistic about what I can actually manage, and to pace myself. I’m blessed to have friends to meet and events to attend and things to prepare for, but it’s not always easy to ‘keep up’. As our bodies are perhaps slowing down and preparing for a time of rest we seem to try to pack in as much festivities as we can, and on the one hand that’s a good thing in making sure we don’t end up in a ‘slump’ hiding away from the world and perhaps giving in to low moods, but on the other hand it also means that we don’t have endless amounts of energy and so to stay well we need to pace ourselves and to be wise and selective in how we use our time as well as caring for our bodies and not over indulging.

Thirdly, it is the season for coughs, colds, sore throats and infections! And it’s hard to avoid these altogether, but it is something we can try to prepare for in advance.

So, what are the takeaways or key points that you can glean from all of this?

Accept that your body may react to the changing of the seasons by naturally slowing down, and that this may leave you feeling a little sluggish, tired or lethargic.

Pace yourself and try to maintain as much balance as possible between rest and play.

Listen to your body, and if you can slow down and wind up on big work projects, pace yourself with social events, don’t overpromise or overcommit to doing things, be flexible, be kind to yourself and manage the expectations of yourself and others and prepare a winter survival kit for coughs, colds, and also for any other important aspects of your life and safety. You might want to also have a winter survival kit in your car just in case of emergencies!

In summary, be realistic and take it easy. There may be a good reason that nature slows down at wintertime and it may be good for us to do so too.

animal animal world close up cute
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cat lying on table
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Winter Survival Guide (47) ~ Pass It On and Pay It Forward…

Do you ever get excited at the chance to help someone in need? Do you feel encouraged when you see your community get together to help others? I certainly do. It’s one thing when we individually try to do what we can to help others, but there is something just so wonderful when people combine efforts for the greater good.

I was talking to my friend earlier on in the month about helping homeless people. There is such a need all around us, and you’ll be particularly aware of it if you are an urban dweller because you are probably more likely to see homeless people on the streets more frequently than those who live in suburban areas and in the countryside. Yet, even in cities the issues of homelessness can be ‘hidden in plain sight’, and even when they are within our view we know we cannot possibly help everyone and so at times we become ‘numb’ to the plight of others because we feel it is in our best interests to keep an emotional distance when we know we are not always in the position to help.

A few days ago it was reported in the local news that someone had died in a car park overnight due to the freezing temperatures. One night the temperature was minus ten degrees and homeless charities warned that it was imperative to contact them and notify them if any member of the public noticed a homeless person sleeping on the street because there was no way they would otherwise make it through the night because their bodies wouldn’t survive the cold and the sudden fall in temperature. It is always a sad thing for people to be out on the streets with nowhere to call home, but at certain times of the year due to inclement weather it can be deadly.

We individually try to do the little we can do bit by bit and that can often make us wonder whether people in the greatest need will actually be helped.

It is therefore a breath of fresh air when people come together and unify their efforts to help other people. I am quite excited about this as the main Central Station in my city has teamed up with the main homelessness charity and is having a collection today within the Station concourse. Apparently the footfall per day through the station is 100,000 people. The charity has provided a list of things they need to provide to homeless people and many of the items on the list are very very affordable for most of us. So just imagine if everyone passing through today contributes a bit how much that will all add up to and in the right hands of the people who have spent decades helping homeless people professionally then we know that things will definitely make a difference in some way. That makes me feel encouraged.

Isn’t it wonderful when we can team up our efforts to make a greater change? Can you think of anything happening in your area or can you think of something that you can organise and get others on board with? With everyone doing their little bit, great things can happen. Think about ‘passing it on’ if you hear of good initiatives and of ‘paying it forward’ to those in need who aren’t in the position to give anything back in return.

Even if we can’t help for some particular reason like not being able to be in a certain place at a certain time, we can still ‘pass it on’ and tell our friends, colleagues, families and they can also do the same.

So be encouraged this season, friends, to ‘Pass It On, and Pay It Forward’. Peace.

grayscale photography of people walking in train station
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Winter Survival Guide (46) ~ Don’t Try To Do It All.

In previous posts in this Winter Survival Guide I suggested trying to on the one hand say ‘yes’ to new opportunities, and also to know when it is best for you to say ‘no’ to things that other people ask you to do, and to have the confidence to do that where appropriate.

However, what if you want to say yes to so many things, many or most of which might be your own suggestions for yourself? What if you actually need to say ‘no’ to you?! 🙂

Maybe you’re in tip top health, are feeling vibrant, exuberant and want to ‘do it all’ and ‘tick off’ as many suggestions on your ‘bucket list’ as possible this season. Or maybe like me you’ve previously gone through long drawn out seasons of poorer health and haven’t been able to do much at all, and you want a season of contrast to your hard times, and to ‘make the most of it’ now that you are feeling better than before and heading in the right direction.

Whatever the case may be for you in your particular circumstances, and whether the ‘invitations’ to do things are coming from yourself and / or others, it is important to take a breath and remind yourself that you can’t do it all. Now, I’m not wanting to put a dampener on the proceedings, or take the fun from your party, and I’m certainly not saying that you and I aren’t capable and shouldn’t be making the most of things. What I am saying though is that none of us were designed to be full steam ahead all of the time without a break, and if in your excitement you over-plan to do things, or over-commit to what you want to be involved with, then at some stage you are going to hit a proverbial brick wall and come to an unwanted halt.

Even the fiercest ‘go getters’ among you need to recharge every now and then, so don’t try to do it all, or if you do, give yourself space to be able to reorganise, reschedule, change your mind and allow yourself to say no to your original plans in such a way that you won’t be letting yourself or anyone else down. Basically be flexible and don’t wear yourself into the ground by trying to be ‘superman’ / ‘superwoman’.

Sometimes Less is More:

As excited as you might be to cram it all in to this wonderful season, sometimes less truly is more. By being more selective in how you use your time, you will be able to deepen the quality of your experiences and get so much more out of them in a more meaningful way. It’s the difference between seeing all the bright lights everywhere and taking time to focus on the flickering flame of a candle in a dark room – there is a different internal response and experience from both exciting and meditative experiences and we need a balance of both in our lives.

Give yourself permission to enjoy the simple things, get rid of the ‘FOMO’ (Fear Of Missing Out) and enjoy the beauty of this season without overstretching yourself or trying to do it all. Don’t overfill your calendar! After all, after the excitement has passed you will want to be rested, refreshed and ready to head into a brand New Year!

advent architecture blur business
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Winter Survival Guide (45) ~ Reconnect.

It’s nearing the end of the year, and maybe we have let things slip in our friendships and relationships, and we didn’t even realise that it was happening.

Time just seems to have passed and somehow when thinking of the people we used to be closest to, we realise that we have lost touch, or lost a sense of that closeness.

Tried and True:

And while there are different seasons of closeness with different people, deep down we know that there are those ‘old faithfuls’, those ‘tried and true’ friendships haven’t so much grown cold as they have merely slipped by in the busy day to day dealings of our lives.

You know the friends I mean – those who you know will be delighted to hear from you and you from them, and that you will without fuss just pick up with each other once again. Those friendships are special, real gems in our lives, and we should nurture them as we are able.

So why not this wintertime, use the extra time you might have to get in contact with one of these old friends, or perhaps if there are a few of you, you could arrange a reunion and reconnect? Maybe you don’t have the opportunity to meet up face to face, perhaps because of commitments, distance and responsibilities, but wouldn’t it be nice to pick up the phone and talk to your old friend once again? Or maybe you could send them a thoughtful email or card, or gift, just to let them know that you are thinking of them and appreciate their friendship.

Forgiveness:

The ease and reassurance of such friendships is a joy in life. However, it is likely that as we go through life we have other meaningful, important and special friendships and relationships that are no less valued, but aren’t quite as easy to maintain for some reason or another. It could be that a valued friend is no longer as much a part of your life because of a fallout, disagreement, misunderstanding or a wrong on one or both of your sides. It could be ‘more complicated’ than that for a number of reasons only known to you and them.

Perhaps, in this season known for ‘Good will’ there may be an opportunity to reach out and extend the ‘olive branch’ of forgiveness, reconciliation and peace? Could this be the season where you are able to reconnect again rather than let another year go by regretting what you have lost with your friend, family member or loved one? Or maybe reconnecting isn’t an option in so far as it may not be good to keep in touch longer term, but maybe the right thing to do is to mend bridges, heal wounds, forgive and move on. Does anyone or anything come to mind for you as you read this? I know it may not be easy, but perhaps there is an opportunity there for you to think about so that you don’t live with the regret of not having reached out to them.

Depth:

Perhaps ‘reconnecting’ doesn’t so much mean getting in touch with someone you haven’t seen in a long time, as much as it means reconnecting and deepening existing relationships with people in your life right now. Maybe you have neglected an important relationship or the other person has neglected nurturing their relationship with you, and things have somehow just ‘drifted’ along through the ups and downs, highs and lows, and things needing done throughout the year.

Could this season be the opportunity for you to reconnect with someone on a deeper level? What would it take? Time, patience, love, communication, effort? Maybe there isn’t a brokenness or a breach in that the relationship is still intact, but could it be the case that there are wounds needing healed, or maybe you have just not been paying as much attention to each other, taking the friendship or relationship for granted? Having a little more time, which I hope you do this season, could be a really important step forward in nurturing those connections you already have to reconnect on a deeper level.

Yourself:

Maybe the person you need to reconnect with is yourself. Have you put yourself, your needs, values and wishes to one side as you’ve sought to please everyone else and get things done? I used to be this person to my friends, I always cheered them on, but oftentimes I felt like I was ‘on the outside’ of my own life, and this was painful, and left me feeling a brokenness inside. It is not healthy but sometimes we do get pushed aside even in our own lives because everyone else’s needs seem more pressing, more important, or more significant. If this is where you are right now, it’s important to make time for yourself, to take a step back, to reconnect and nurture yourself, because if you are not in a good place in yourself you will only feel drained and depleted when giving out to other people, however, as I have learned, the more we nurture ourselves, the more we can happily and more freely give to others from a place of love, joy, faith and peace.

Reconnect with yourself this season, because you matter.

God:

God has not moved away, changed, walked out on you, abandoned you or chosen to be distant from you. But what about you? Are you distancing yourself from Him? Are you avoiding thinking about Him altogether, refusing to open your heart and mind to His reality and truth? Have you been too preoccupied with lesser things that you haven’t been spending time with Him, in His loving care, listening as He leads you through life? His Arms are open wide, no matter who you are or what you have done. Reconnecting depends on your response and your choice so what will you do? He Is right here loving you now, and welcomes you to come to Him. Will you?

everything is connected neon light signage
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Winter Survival Guide (44) ~ Figuring it out.

I realise as I come to write my 44th post in my Winter Survival Guide, that I need to encourage you to dig a little deeper, because it is precisely that – my Winter Survival Guide to encourage you. What do I mean by this? What I mean is that I’m writing this guide to help both you and I and to encourage us to stay well, healthy, happy, hopeful, positive and to make the most of this Winter Season. And although many of my suggestions are really helpful for most people such as taking care of your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health, as I have elaborated upon these and various topics throughout my other 43 posts, they are based on my core values and reflections upon life, which I have spent years discovering, figuring out and seeking to live out.

And as much as many of them can be universally applied, maybe what would be more meaningful for you is for you to figure out what you want and need out of this season, and what you want to give to it too based on your life and circumstances.

Maybe some or many of the things that matter to me will also be reflected in your own ideas, or maybe you will have other things totally unique to you and can use my Guide as just that – a guide to prompt you into deeper self reflection and discovery. I also know from experience that what we want and the realities of what we are faced with don’t always line up so perhaps even though what you are seeking is a Peaceful season, you may have to prepare yourself differently to manage potential stresses and anxiety, which I also cover in earlier posts. So maybe you could ask yourself:

What do you want from this season, and what do you want to give, or what would you like to desire to give?

As you reflect upon these questions, think about where you are in your own life just now and what matters.

What could some of these things be? Here are some pointers to help you get started:

  • A time of rest and refreshing.
  • Time to deepen your faith and relationship with God.
  • A time to heal.
  • A time to focus on mental health and recovery, and on staying strong in your recovery.
  • Connections, time with family and friends.
  • Reconnecting with ‘auld acquaintances’.
  • Excitement.
  • Travel.
  • New friends.
  • New adventures and experiences.
  • The hustle and bustle of doing a lot of things.
  • Solitude.
  • Forgiveness.
  • Learning new skills.
  • Sharing your skills.
  • Productivity in a venture.
  • Charity, helping other people and encouraging others to do so.
  • Time to spend doing your hobbies.
  • Time for planning for 2020.
  • Time to play with your children (or pets 🙂 ).

What matters to you?

As I draw my Winter Survival Guide to a close (there will be 50 posts in total in this series, so don’t worry, there are still a few more to go 🙂 ), I hope you find each post encouraging, inspiring and helpful. However, I hope it also prompts you to take time to think about what matters to you as you approach the Season for yourself, and to discover ways to make the most of it as you also seek to stay healthy and happy and I pray also that we will all learn to walk in the Truth and Light as we go forwards from here. x

photo of woman looking upwards
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Winter Survival Guide (42) ~ “Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans”.

There is a beautiful line in Max Ehrmann’s prose poem, ‘Desiderata’ (things to be desired), that encourages us to enjoy our achievements as well as our plans.

The concept is so simple, and yet equally profound. We desire certain things in life, and we give our lives to pursuing, obtaining and experiencing them. And yet, once obtained we are so quick to move on to the next thing, just as butterfly or a honey bee might flit from flower to flower.

How many of us take the time to enjoy our achievements as well as our plans? We rarely seem to be satisfied, but perhaps we don’t give ourselves time to truly appreciate and be grateful for our lives as we hurry on to experience something bigger or better.

Perhaps you are reading this and inwardly agreeing to the sentiment behind this statement: “Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans”. It is a nice thought, an encouraging quote, but what will you and I actually do with it? And how can this Winter Survival Guide prompt us to use the time we have this season to do just that?

1. Review your year:

We could just sit in quietness and enjoy pondering our achievements, but can we appreciate and enjoy them in a more focused and practical way before moving on to the next thing or things in the year to come?

A good and simple starting point could be to set aside some time, to take a pen and a piece of paper and sketch out the important things you have done, experienced and learned in each of the months of 2019 (leaving room for the time you still have left of this calendar year).

It doesn’t matter from an outside perspective whether the things you have captured seem ‘significant’ or not, the thing that matters is that they are important to you, in your life’s journey, no matter how small or inconsequential you might think they would seem to someone else. That’s not what matters, what matters is the life you have lived this year and the lessons you have learned.

What could be some points to ponder as you consider each month in turn? Perhaps we could start with something like this:

  • What was the main thing I learned in that month?
  • Why was this important?
  • What do I consider I achieved (no matter how big or small, it could be as seemingly simple as sticking to a routine, surviving a challenge or showing kindness to someone)?
  • How have I grown from these experiences and what will I take forwards?

 

2. Enjoy your achievements:

As you reflect upon the specific achievements and experiences of each month of the year gone by, take time to ponder them, to be grateful for the lessons you have learned, how you have changed and grown as a person and to enjoy the fact that you are living life right now and learning new things now. Take it in, and celebrate it in a way that is personal to you, even if it is quietly, and even if it is ‘giving yourself a pat on the back’ for having got through a tough time – achievements aren’t all about gold stars and certificates.

Consider writing down and naming the ‘treasures’ that you have gleaned from this year’s experience of life before you move on to the next thing. A life well lived involves appreciating the life that we are living.

3. As well as your plans:

It is a time for looking forward as well as for reflecting and enjoying the moment. Maybe you can spend some time by yourself discovering what has really been meaningful and significant to you this year, understand what is valuable and begin to plan ahead as you reach towards your future achievements and make plans for how you will accomplish them.

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Winter Survival Guide (41) ~ Focus on Faith.

Life is filled with wonder. With every sunrise we have a new day to live, new things to discover, new questions to ask and to be curious about, new challenges and unknowns. With every sunset we have the chance to enjoy the fulfilment of another day lived, whether with joy or sadness, and to reflect upon what we have learned and experienced.

We all look up from time to time from the everyday things of our lives. We remind ourselves that we are a small part of something far greater than us, far beyond our understanding and comprehension. Perhaps we don’t spend enough time reflecting and contemplating the miracle of our existence in this vast universe, for surely everyone who stands in solitude and stares up at a star filled night sky, or waits in silence upon a mountain top, feeling the raw beauty and power of nature and of design, feels humbled by the exquisiteness of the ‘something more’ that we have been gifted to be a part of.

I think if we would all but take the time to inhabit such moments more often, then we would live as people and amongst people of humbled hearts and inquiring minds. We would remember that we are not the centre of all things, but we are important as small as we are and have a part to play in this wondrous symphony of life conducted from far higher than any perspective we could hope to have in this fragile life. Perhaps we would notice more the harmony of the diverse aspects of nature working together in one accord, and we would take those lessons to heart in the way we perceive life and our fellow human beings and how we treat each other – each unique but with an important reason and part to play in the grander scheme of things. We all need to ‘look up’, and perhaps we need to make time to do this more often in lives that are otherwise overly busy, hurried and caught up in the mud and mire at our feet.

I like to think of the deeper aspects of life regularly. I believe in, know and love God – The One True and Living God, and as a follower of Christ, Loved Perfectly by Him, I anticipate the gifts of this season when Truth is more freely proclaimed about Who He Is and why He came to us. To honour and think upon the uncreated One Who has Been since before time was, in Whom everything exists and lives and moves and has its being, in Whom all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are found.

No matter where we are on life’s journey, we need to make time to think, to consider our faith, our relationship to our thoughts about our very existence and what that means for who we are and how we live. We need to look up, and not just look but listen. Be still, ponder Truth, and let our faith be strengthened.

man sitting on edge facing sunset
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Surviving Winter ~A Beautiful Wintertime Diary (continued)…

Visit a Christmas market – in mid-November? Well, why not 🙂

https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/129815114/posts/5292

Some small Christmas markets and stalls have popped up early in my city; I went for a wander down to see them this afternoon, it was fairly busy, a bit cold, buy boy did the food smell good – I didn’t buy anything, just browsing, but still it is quite special to take in the atmosphere.

Enjoy! 🙂

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