Be Faithful in Small Things

Never forget the people who take time out of their day to check up on you…

Recently I was listening to a hospital chaplain talking about life and death situations and how people pull together during times of crisis. He noticed that various loved ones waiting for news or maintaining vigils in the intensive care unit of the hospital all did what they could to support each other and surround each other with kindness and compassion. Sharing a cup of tea and listening to each other helped them in small ways to cope a little bit better in sometimes dire situations. Suddenly all the normal everyday worries and stresses were forgotten and nothing really mattered except the well-being of those they loved and those they knew who were hurting.

It made me think about the importance of small things and the things we often take for granted. Very often, it is the small things in life that matter the most. We read so much about self-improvement, learning to love ourselves, how to manifest more of this or that, and how to reach for the sun, moon and stars etc, etc, which is all well and good, but do we really learn how to just let go, be at peace with the world and face the day? After all, today may be all we have.

How do we make the most of today?

What if we made it a habit to embrace and celebrate the small things? Real life is happening all around us while we’re waiting for the big thing we hope is going to give us some sort of inner peace, contentment or joy.

Sometimes the best way to remember the value of small things is to look for random acts of kindness you can do for others. Don’t underestimate the power of taking time to phone a friend you are concerned about, or inviting someone who’s had a bad day for an impromptu afternoon tea, volunteering a few hours a week at a charity shop or offering to drive someone for an appointment if they are struggling.

Forget about the need to be noticed.

It’s so easy to feel like we are being overlooked at home, at work or in our community when we are doing the small, faithful things, because they are usually not the glamorous things. It can feel more gratifying to be the loudest voice in the room, but we need to remember that just because a voice is the loudest doesn’t mean it’s the one making the biggest difference. When we can get to a point where we find value in our contributions, no matter how small, it helps us be secure in who we are and eliminates the need to be constantly noticed.

Take some time out.

Our daily lives move so fast. A hectic lifestyle can cause us to overlook all the little joys life has to offer. Don’t be afraid to make time to (literally) stop and smell the roses. Listen to the sound of your children or grandchildren laughing and actually getting along in the back seat; enjoy the cool, crisp air of the first day of autumn, or take a walk around the block to clear your mind and give yourself a mental break. Work and responsibilities will still be there when you return.

Practice gratitude – gratitude does bring happiness.

Yes, I know, I know, you probably just rolled your eyes at this because it is something you hear so often, but it is true. The more thankful we are for what we have, the less inclined we are to focus on what we don’t have. Gratitude helps us value the small things we often take for granted because we start paying attention to the good things in life. Some days, it can be as exciting as getting rewarded for doing something well, and some days it might just be that your coffee tasted good that morning. I’ve found that my overall attitude toward life in general is better if I make myself think of three things I’m thankful for at the end of each day. I often write them down and put them in a little gratitude jar a kind friend made for me.

There are times in life when we yearn for big moments. Perhaps we hope for events that will propel us into the limelight, even for a short while. But, strangely enough, life has a funny way of teaching us as we go along in ways we didn’t expect, and looking back down the years it’s not necessarily the big moments that made our lives as such, but the everyday commitment to all the things we held dear.

When there is sadness in our lives the world keeps on turning but we don’t notice it. People still go about their daily lives and we may wonder why this can be when our own world is upside down. We wonder why we ever got upset about a petty argument yesterday. What really matters to us? Not the political situations that endlessly play out in front of us. Not the state of the world economy or the latest escapades of those claiming their moment of fame on reality television. What matters to most of us is chatting to our loved ones at the end of the day, sharing a meal with friends around the kitchen table, the light in our partners eyes when they look at us from across a crowded room, and the sound of our children’s laughter. What matters to us is all the small things that add up to the biggest things. What matters to us is love.

Be faithful in small things because it is in them that you find your strength…

The Brexit Effect -When Niceties Go Out of the Window….

Is there any excuse for bad behaviour in politics? When will the media circus calm down?

Well it could be quite a momentous day today. Here in the UK all the focus is on the vote regarding the Brexit agreement put forward by the Prime Minister for leaving the EU. Following weeks and weeks of haggling and bickering, the next few hours seem quite critical. I have my own views on what I want to happen, but this post isn’t about just me. I think this is what is often forgotten. The bigger picture.

Here I quote an excerpt of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s New Year speech….

There’s a parallel with our country today. We’re much more diverse than we used to be. Yet we disagree on many things. And we are struggling with how to disagree well. Turn on the television, read the news, and you see a lot that could tempt you to despair. Hope lies in our capacity to approach this new year in a spirit of openness towards each other. Committed to discovering more of what it means to be citizens together, even amid great challenges and changes.’

Wise words.

It sometimes it seems that the whole nation is in disagreement. Have we forgotten our basic and fundamental manners? Certainly some of the politicians I have listened to recently have. There needs to be a wake up call. A return to civility and respect for others. This doesn’t mean that those who govern can’t take action; of course we need to be governed, but governed in a way that benefits all of us. And even if the outcome isn’t one we would choose, if it is objectively administered and sensitively handled we could at least start to move forward.

Sometimes actions speak louder than words. There is a description in one of my favourite books ‘In Tune with the Infinite’ by Ralph Waldo Trine. He describes a man who owned a beautiful lotus pond. It was in a natural basin on his farm, supplied with water from a reservoir in the foothills some distance away:

‘ A gate regulated the flow of water from the main reservoir to the pond. It was a spot of transcendent beauty. There, through the days of perfect summer weather, the lotus flowers lay full blown on the surface of the clear, transparent water. June roses and other wild flowers were continually blooming upon its banks. The birds came here to drink and bathe, and from early to late one could hear the melody of their song. The bees were continually buzzing and at work in this garden of wild flowers. A beautiful grove in which many kinds of wild berries and many varieties of ferns grew stretched at the back of the pond as far as the eye could see. The good man who owned the grounds put up a sign to welcome all people to the lotus pond so good were his intentions. Here, were often merry groups of children playing and those who were weary could rest. Men and women seemed to be lifted of their heavy burdens. Many called the place ‘The Garden of God’. The man called it his ‘soul garden’. He would often sit and enjoy the fragrant flowers and sit on a bench in the moonlight. He was a man with a simple outlook but in this place, all his successful dreams and plans came to light. Everything in the vicinity seemed to breathe a spirit of love and kindness, comfort and good cheer. Even the cattle and sheep in the fields flourished. The gate of the pond was always open giving them pure mountain water to drink. For so long this wonderful place flourished until sadly, the man had to go away for a year. A new man was put in charge; one who had not much time for anything other than practicalities. He turned off the water flow and made the area private and invited no visitors. A great change came over everything; the flowers in the pond wilted; birds no longer came to drink and sing and the flowers no longer bloomed. The bees no longer hummed and as the stream dried up so the cattle no longer got their supply of water so they perished. By shutting the gate to the pond, thus preventing the flow of water from the reservoir in the hills, which was the source of life, the appearance of and around the beautiful lotus pond was entirely changed.’

Do we not see a parallel here? When we are connected to the source of good things, to the infinite, then all good things flow, and we live in harmony with the universe. We are connected to beauty and all things that are pure and health-giving. When this is taken from us or we disconnect from what is good, then we can fail to flourish, just like the lotus pond.

So on these, some would say, tumultuous days and when we are feeling less than optimistic, its good to remind ourselves to stay focused, to remember that good actions and good deeds bring the best results, and that when our hearts are open to others we live and let live. We remember that everyone has their own thoughts and opinions and we respect their right to go their own way.

Good manners and kindness are always in fashion.’

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Is it safe to come out yet?

What Makes Us Shine?

We don’t always realise how valuable our contribution is to the world. We don’t realise we are awesome. All of us….

 

I watched a little child praised for something he had done well this week and saw how his face lit up and saw how he walked with a spring in his step for a while, knowing he was valued: he was able to shine. It got me thinking about how we all need a little time to shine as we go about our day – our year and even our life. Because being given time to shine helps build our confidence and the way we view the world. Like a plant that shrivels without sunlight we can shrivel if we aren’t shown appreciation.

It could be said that our ego steps to the fore when we are made to feel good – made to feel special, and there is that very English thing a lot of us have had instilled in us from an early age – the thought that if we are praised or shown appreciation we may end up getting ‘ideas above our station’. We may ask ourselves , ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? We have to remind ourselves now and again that being small or insignificant does not serve the world. There is nothing good about remaining in the shadows so other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to have our time to shine at times, just as children do –  not just some of us but all of us; we grow with the recognition that we are doing well or are on the right track.

Constructive praise is a wonderful thing. We can expect it when we have done well but there is always room for praise even when there has been cause to point out someone’s bad behaviour or mistake – reminding someone we love them and focusing on their positive points can be a good turning point at a difficult time.

We may lack confidence at times – we may literally forget HOW to shine, perhaps we need a little bit of inspiration….

As inspiration to shine unabashedly, there is a wonderful quote by author Marianne Williamson:

    ‘Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us most.’

If we release that fear of being in the spotlight we can reach immense heights – we can realise there is nothing really to fear for we are all striving in this world to do the best we can. Also, when we remember that most people are worrying about how the world views them and not you, (it’s just human nature not selfishness) you can feel less self-conscious.

We can help others shine. Compliments are free! When you give someone a compliment, you are more likely to get one in return so it helps all round. When you make someone feel special, it can be enough to carry them through the rest of a difficult day and keep them happy and productive.

Kindness doesn’t actually kill! You can never harm anyone with kindness. Kindness will kill a bad mood or a bad memory. A kind thought or deed will create a good memory for someone. Even if you are having a bad day, being kind to another human being will make both you and them feel better.

Ways to help your self shine

Remember positive moments, and build your self-confidence for future endeavours.

Let yourself shine based on your character and personality – don’t be afraid to be yourself.

Nuture the relationships that are encouraging and supporting.

Look after yourself.

Practise mindfulness – the state of being conscious and aware – sounds obvious but do we really notice everything that is going on around us.

Remember that it is often the small things that are more important than the big ones.

Love makes us shine

Do you remember when you first fell in love? That feeling like you were walking on air, when your senses were heightened and the whole world seemed to be aglow? We may not be able to capture that feeling all the time but we would do well to remember the power of love. Whatever sort of love we feel, whether it is the love of a partner or our child, a friend or even self love, when we feel love we thrive and we truly shine.

YOUR LIFE WAS MEANT TO SHINE.

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Trusting In The Universe and Releasing Anxiety …

What better way is there to lift your anxiety than to trust in the universe?

I keep a small perpetual calendar of daily religious sayings in my kitchen. I had given it to my dad for Christmas not long before he sadly died. He had enjoyed reading the short daily scriptures so I have taken over from him – pondering the profound and thought provoking words each morning. Yesterday I read this:

    So spacious is Christ, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe – people and things, animals and atoms – get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies.

Colossians 1 : 19 – 20

Whether we are religious or not I think the above passage from Colossians is wonderful and can give us a different way of thinking about the ‘bigger picture’.  We all know anxiety well. Life comes with trials and heartache and anxiety rises when opportunities fall through and when we are at a loss to find comfort in bad situations. We all have days when an unexpected bill comes through the post or when we turn on the news to witness another heartbreaking story of injustice or tragedy. It is easy to be almost paralysed by realities that unfold in front of us.

When anxiety strikes we can easily resort to thinking inwardly at the expense of the wider view and no one can blame us for that. Anxiety can often blind us to reality.

Trusting the Universe 

Trusting in the universe can be difficult at times of trouble;  however, more often that not, no matter how overwhelming things can be, if we can truly learn to let go, we can then trust that things will eventually work out. We have all been hurt, experienced loss and had difficult times and yet that isn’t because we cannot trust the universe. When you think about it, all good things have to end sometime but when we reach those endings that is the time when new beginnings start. New doors are opened and maybe new love and new successes.

When you learn to trust the universe it becomes easier to accept the things that would once have knocked us back and maybe had us sinking into depression. We can see light at the end of the tunnel. We can learn to let go of the past, knowing this does not serve us now. We can stop saying ‘what if?’ Also, instead of seeing life as past, present and future – never standing still, we can realise that we can just ‘be’ without any explanations. We can live the lives we were born to live.

There Is a Bigger Picture

When we begin to see there is a bigger picture, that the universe has us covered, we have more time for each other and for love and kindness. Our hearts are softened. The universe will give us what we need, not what we think we want. How many times have we looked back at old disappointments and realised that what we had yearned for but did not get, would not have served us well?

When we trust in the universe we connect with our brothers and sisters all around the world and we put out good vibes. People draw near to us because they sense our goodness and lack of negativity.

There is no crowding in the universe, there is room for all. There is no ticking clock that urges us to complete our loving actions or service to others before sunrise  – time is just an illusion so we do not need to rush headlong into each day.

Thinking As A Child

Do you remember how when you were a child every day held promise? There was excitement, the feeling of good things ahead , but mainly you did things just because they made you happy. When you connect with the universe you can reconnect with that feeling and enjoy the things you love the most.

When We Do Less We Become More.

This is an interesting thought isn’t it? It’s like most things – when you step back and take an objective view often you can see things more clearly. Trusting in the universe means realising that we don’t always have to be busy. If we are doing nothing we aren’t being lazy we are taking breaks when we need to and then being productive when we feel it is right.

Banishing Anxiety

What better way is there to lift your anxiety than to trust  in the universe? Instead of losing yourself in worry and depression, if you can trust that things will work out and feel in your heart that good things are coming, this can be a big step forward and you may feel as though a weight has been lifted from your shoulders.

Many times people have used this line from the lyrics of Leonard Cohen but it never loses its impact to me:

There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.’

Remeber this, especially on anxious days: none of us are perfect  – nothing is ever truly broken. Like the philosophy behind the ancient Japanese art of Kintsugi, which repairs smashed pottery by using beautiful seems of gold with a 500 year old technique which  not only restores functionality to broken pots, but gives a useful lesson in life, we can mend and be more beautiful than we ever were before.

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When You Look at Good Things (and you don’t win the lottery)

Happiness comes from the simpler things

Here at Dove Lane my husband looked eagerly at an email in his inbox this morning – without his spectacles on. Squinting at the screen he saw there was information regarding a lottery win. He saw a 5 but wasn’t sure how many noughts…A lunge for the glasses and a closer look revealed he had won. £5. Ah well, I guess we don’t think about moving to the palatial mansion by the sea yet.

Whether we had won £500, £5,000 or £5,000,000, how would our lives have changed and would we have been happier if the amount had been in the millions? Initially maybe. But what about in the long term? The way we respond to a windfall depends on where we are in life and the circumstances that surround us. To some people in the world £5 would be more than just loose change, it could mean perhaps the chance for a hungry family to eat for a week,  yet all we felt when we won it was disappointment. £500 would give us cause to be excited but it wouldn’t be life changing, yet to others it could be. £5,000 may make us jump up an down a bit – perhaps we could put it towards buying a new car or a holiday. But £5,000,000 – wow wouldn’t that be something? Now we’re talking!

Or are we?

I could write pages about how winning large amounts of money would benefit us, and what we would do with that sort of cash, but that is not really what I’m thinking about here. I can’t pretend it wouldn’t be welcome – of course it would, but the question is, how important is it for our happiness to be financially rich? What really makes us happy? Are rich people actually any happier in the long run? Can money really buy you happiness, good health or better relationships? Maybe yes. But then again, maybe not. Maybe it brings added complications, arguments over how the money is distributed , even isolation.

For many of us, happiness comes from simpler things and the smaller things in life. In fact, it is the small things in life that are the most important. Always have been and always will be.

Look beyond money. It isn’t everything. Sometime too much of it (or too little)  may even cloud our judgement. So when we look at inspiring stories, and even look at heartwarming pictures unrelated to financial aspirations we can be grounded. Also, even if we don’t have much personal wealth it is good to be generous. Not necessarily with money but with our time, hospitality and compassion.

We sometimes need motivation to be more kind and compassionate. Everyday life encompasses us,  and in the hustle and bustle of everyday life we may forget sometimes that we need to stop and look at the good happenings around us. When we watch others perform acts of kindness, and witness human goodness we boost the optimistic side of our character and then pay if forward ourselves.

If we choose a good attitude we will go a long way in reminding ourselves that we have everything we need. Again, implement simple strategies that help – smiling even when you don’t feel like it, taking time out to give loved ones your full attention. Taking time out to care for yourself. Do one thing at a time and help your day go smoothly.

This week I feel exhausted, I have been working very long hours but it is all in a good cause. I have read many, many inspiring stories and seen many speakers and teachers give up their time free of charge for the Winspiration Day project that I am an ambassador for. (Read more about Winspiration Day here : http://www.winspirationday.org/ ) It has been incredible to be working on this project and to see how so many people believe in working and uniting together to make the world a better place.

My blog may be a bit disjointed this week. I apologise for that but after a long day I hope a few of my jumbled thoughts make sense! And this was a round about way of saying most of us haven’t won the millions tonight but there we go. I may buy a ticket at the weekend though. Just in case.

How DoYou Define Love?

This week I said goodbye…..

A short blog today….

This week I said goodbye to my beloved father.  I loved him dearly and miss him very much.

I have been lucky to have been embraced by my wonderful family and friends and the love between us all has been incredible.

 We try and cope with life’s sadnesses as best we can, and when times are really bleak we can be truly touched by acts of kindness from ordinary, yet extraordinary people.

From the young guy in the coffee shop who, on learning of my trouble, rushed over with a piece of cake and a kind word and told me to call in anytime I felt like I needed a chat, to the elderly and infirm neighbours of my dad’s who struggled out to pay their respects; to the guys next door who I have only just got to know and who embraced me with a loving hug when I was standing in the road in tears; and to the countless people on the end of the phone lines who didn’t know me, but did their best when I was trying to sort out paperwork, and to the lady who served my dad at the post office counter every week and who referred to him as a perfect and kindly gentleman, my spirits have been truly lifted.

For anyone else going through a bereavement, my thoughts are with you.

A very good friend sent me this message:

Maybe we feel we lose, but this is only in our perception. Nothing gets lost, it just changes form. I am with you’.

 

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As the sun goes down in one part of the world, it rises in another.

 

The Shadow of the ‘Worry Monster’.

Sometimes, a little light is all you need…

When I started my blog a few years ago now, it was intended to be quite generalised. It was about pursuing the gentler path in life and concentrating on kindness and compassion, and I guess, the twists and turns we all experience in everyday life.  These topics are still close to my heart and I will write about them from time to time; life throws up all sorts of weird and wonderful things at us and there will always be new subjects to ponder on! Sometimes we need a bit of humour too to send us on our way!

One thing I have noticed, though, is the feedback that comes from my comments on anxiety. It seems, unfortunately, that many of us suffer from anxious times and there is a real need for ongoing support and backup for those battling with anxiety. Because of this I want to concentrate mainly on this topic for the foreseeable future.

If I can reach out to any of you who need support then I feel my words are doing their job. It’s amazing to think that with all the help at our disposal, we still need good, down to earth support. And it is ongoing. Anxious feeling may come and go. We are not suddenly cured from having unsettling feelings no matter how good the counsellors or the gurus we turn to. Sometimes, other occurrences in our lives just tip the balance between feeling ok to feeling unstable and miserable. Then, we can get despondent too and ask ourselves how we are going to cope with the latest situation that has cropped up. The lurking ‘worry monster’ is difficult to shake off. He doesn’t have much else to do but hover in the background. I feel sorry for him really – he doesn’t really have a life. You do! Once you meet him head on he will shrivel, trust me.

What we have to remember is this: ‘Sometimes, just a little bit of light is all you need’. We can take strength from so many places if we reach out and look for it. Be open. Be open to people – it makes a difference to how they treat you. Be honest. Say you aren’t feeling your best. Don’t give masses of detail. I find you don’t need to. Sometimes, less is more. Just tell who you are dealing with at the time that you aren’t having the best of days. You would be amazed how people can push aside their own ‘stuff’ and give you their kind attention. Most people are genuine and will do all they can to help you, but you have to give them a chance. Find your inner voice somehow. Be brave and help will come to you in spades.

I do appreciate that everyone has different issues going on. I have had a bereavement this week and it has taken all my power just to keep going. But I do keep going somehow. Going through the motions of everyday life helps. I say this countless times, but it does really help. However bad you feel (unless you are physically incapacitated) keep to the simple routines and try and get some things done, however small. It will help and give you a feeling of achievement when you can tick off a few things on your ‘to do’ list.

Funnily enough though, I will add this here: don’t worry too much about standards. This is something I struggle with. I have always felt appearances are important. Makeup on, hair done, house tidy, fridge full of food etc. But, here’s the thing. You can give in a bit! Let a few things go – it’s not the end of the world if you are not looking pristine! Friends may even quite like to see you not quite at your best, it shows you are human. I’m not talking totally let yourself go, but just cut yourself a bit of slack. Sop worrying what people think! They are busy with their own lives; they may love you but they still have their own stuff going on and they are not sitting there thinking you have gone to pot. (Unless you really have, in which case if they are a good friend they are on their way round right now!)

So this week I ask you to focus on this. You are loved. Honestly you are. You may be feeling bad but someone cares, really cares about you, even if you don’t feel it to be true. Get out a piece of paper. Doodle a bit. Make a pretty border. Leaves, bows, swirls, whatever. In the centre of the paper, write this is your best handwriting : ‘You are loved’. Use some coloured pencils if you have them. Be fancy. Then put your picture in a prominent place and look at if often. I promise you, it will help.

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So, this week. Leave the ‘worry monster’out in the cold. Do not feed him no matter how much he badgers you! Whatever is going on, if you feel bad, talk to someone who cares. Or look up online help sites if you need to. Or see your doctor if you are worried about anything. Ask and it will be given.

     ‘When the north wind blows, And your world is grey, My friendly heart hears all you say. Call my name, In your darkest night, I’ll find a way to bring you light. And if your world Is tumbling down, I’ll wrap you in a cosy gown. I’ll feed you soup , And bring you wine, For your life is a part of mine’. 

                                       (C) Lyn Halvorsen