Are you good at taking criticism? Unfortunately, I am not. I am quite easily riled by people pointing out faults, criticising my efforts, and telling me I’m wrong. Let’s be honest – most of us probably are in a similar boat. But is that healthy? It supposes that we think we are always right and never do anything wrong. Which we know of course is nonsense! We, therefore, can only come to the realisation that to be corrected, guided, advised, cautioned, taught, and led by those we trust around us must be a good thing. Thus it is our attitude towards these things that is at fault. And this is where the teachable spirit comes in. When we adopt a teachable spirit in our lives each day, we allow ourselves not only to grow in character, humility, integrity, and peace but in knowledge, wisdom, and discernment too. Offended too easily No one is ever hurt by maintaining a teachable spirit.Our Daily Bread, Bill Crowder Arguably, in today’s society, we are far too easily offended. We are so ready to throw stones at people who say something or do something that we deem wrong, insulting, or contrary to what we believe. What we fail to realise is that we are not all the same; we have different life experiences; we are brought up in different cultures; people aspire to different goals and hold varying values; we follow different belief systems. No one person on this planet is the same. As such, we need to afford people more grace, to listen more, and make more effort to understand one another. This does not mean we excuse people from wrong-doing, but it does mean we should be open-minded enough to hear people out, learn from them, create discussion and encourage growth. Just because you don’t agree with someone, doesn’t mean you can’t learn from them. Or even like them! Cancel culture is toxic. It’s wrong and only shows the small-mindedness of people who think they know it all. Fostering a teachable spirit So how do we go about being more teachable? It’s certainly not something we can just switch on and be amazing at right away. But, like anything worth doing, it will take dedication, intention, and patience. And I put myself in this boat too. Like I said before, I’m not very good at being corrected. But a teachable spirit is also much more than taking hits well. It’s about being a good listener, being hungry for knowledge, learning to apply what we learn, seeking new opinions, honing discernment, and sharpening our wisdom. It’s about growth. Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance.Proverbs 1:5 Be intentional If we are hoping to become more teachable, we have to look for opportunities to be taught. These can be obvious things like studying certain topics, practicing certain skills, or seeking specific advice from more knowledgeable people. But it can also be recognising when we are in the wrong, seeking other opinions, and questioning our attitudes and prejudices. Recognising that we don’t know it all and living life as a constant student is a good approach to take. Accept correction Listening to correction doesn’t mean admitting failure. Our attitude will speak volumes. If we throw in the towel and have a hissy fit then that says a lot about our character. however, if we listen patiently, we might actually learn something, even if it is just that we were wrong. And that’s okay. It’s okay to be wrong. What’s not okay is not learning from it and continuing to grow. People see situations from different perspectives, so remembering that we are not omniscient will keep you humble enough to listen first. We correct the people we care about to help them make wise choices, so we need to accept that favour in return. Everyone is a teacher Everyone has a gift. We are all good at something. Therefore we all have knowledge that can help other people. This means that we should never dismiss someone before we hear them speak. You don’t have to agree, and you may have further questions for them, but by respecting someone’s autonomy and life experiences, you show kindness, humility, and a willingness to listen. We are all valuable. We all have something unique to offer. Always be ready to listen. Put it into practice There’s absolutely no point in adopting a teachable spirit if you don’t put what you learn into action. By demonstrating what you are learning, be it knowledge, attitude, skill or belief, we must make the conscious effort to live it daily. Our behaviours should show that we are open, sponges, receptors, and willing, to adopt change, take on new things, and reflect them back.Read More
A few weeks ago I wrote about how little choices every day can lead to lasting and meaningful change. And it’s true. The little choices we make every day for the better will lead to new habits and a meaningful change that does us good. I have seen the benefit of this idea in my own life over the last year or so. It hasn’t been an easy journey to stay on with illness and being ill-disciplined at times. But slowly and surely I have begun to really understand and appreciate just how important it is to focus on the little changes and not become overwhelmed by the big picture. This gradual understanding of slow and steady change has opened up a new discovery in my life though; finding a renewed sense of purpose in life. A lot of my personal change has been down to physical impairment and overcoming it. The freedoms I am already feeling in my movement have opened up headspace that I’d forgotten about. Headspace for new things, new possibilities, fewer limitations, and more productivity. I keep reminding myself not to get ahead of myself since I still have a ways to go on my road to full recovery, but there’s hope. Finally, it feels like there is actually hope. Getting bogged down For so long now, I’ve honestly felt bogged down by my physical limitations. Constantly needing breaks, having to plan my day around rest, looking at the clock to figure out pain meds…and honestly, feeling fed up with keeping others back. It’s so demoralising to feel like you can’t do certain things which in turn prevents others from what they’d like to do or achieve. That sense of holding others back, feeling like people pity you, or just that horrible sense of being stuck in life – it’s all so demoralising. You gradually lose your sense of purpose and life just starts to flit by. Yes, you are productive in many ways, but nothing seems to hold much joy anymore. Or maybe you settle for other things that are not quite what you wanted, but you make work. You don’t feel free. You feel like you’re managing at life, but not really living it. Don’t settle for less Sounds depressing, I know. But that’s what life can become if we’re not paying attention. There are so many reasons why you might feel like that. But you can choose not to. But here’s the thing – you have to really want it. You have to really want the change you seek. You have to understand why you want it. And you have to make little choices every day that take you in that direction. Finding a renewed sense of purpose in life is the golden lining that will follow. My knee won’t miraculously heal itself. I have to be consistent and determined in my daily choices to see the change I seek. As a person of faith, I ask God every day for His help to do so. I’ve prayed many times for healing, and believe it will come. But there’s a lesson to be learned too. Many times I asked God to divinely heal me, and if there was a purpose in doing so He would have. But the greater purpose for me was to learn through the experience. Learning that I am able. Realising that I can set my mind to something and achieve it. Finding that through pain and difficulty, there is purpose, joy, and growth. But I have to seek it, to want change, and find the determination to succeed. So now I know that I am able to do more than I thought possible. I know that I can discipline myself to exercise every day, just enough, to keep me moving forward and not hurt myself. I can balance pain meds, exercise, and my own mental fitness to do what needs doing in order to find healing. And it’s all through those little choices every day. Finding purpose As I said, with the change I’ve been experiencing, I’ve been finding a renewed sense of purpose in life. I feel more hopeful, more capable, and more optimistic. Yes, I still have down moments, especially when the pain kicks up. But I can see a way forward. With the summer holidays starting, I will have more time on my hands and it has got me motivated to be productive around our home. Renovations have slowed down significantly for various reasons besides what I’ve already mentioned. But now I’d like to get a move on and see some progress. So John and I have made plans to do so. I know I’ll need to manage my days still so that I don’t do too much and set myself back, but I feel ready. We want to enjoy our home while we’re here and make it the best it can be. With my head feeling clearer, finding this renewed sense of purpose in life will drive me to achieve what I want to. So I’ll make a list of what needs doing, and much like my little choices every day, I’ll do a little each day towards our goals. It’s the little things Finding purpose in life can seem daunting. You only get one life so it can feel overwhelming to get it right. We are all called to certain professions, places, people, and opportunities, yes. But often it’s the little things in life that give our lives meaning and purpose. Being intentional each day about loving those around you, being kind, seeking and seeing the beauty around you, choosing good things over bad…all of this gives meaning and purpose to your life. For many, their faith gives them purpose and drives their choices and actions every day. Whatever you find purpose in, pursue it with gusto. Find joy in it, seek good with it, be kind through it, and you’ll find yourself feeling fulfilled.Read More
Would you consider yourself a wealthy person? What, indeed, do you consider wealth to be? Money? Status? Property? Possessions? Yes, in a worldly sense these things do make you a wealthy person. You have the ability to come and go as you please and potentially exert power on those around you. But what is wealth really? Wealth is an accumulation of what we find valuable. So it begs the question: what do you find valuable? Money and possessions? Or people, experiences, and growth? The truly wealthy people in this world are those who have a sense of purpose, those who recognise the value in the people they surround themselves with; people who do not store up treasures on earth that are in the long term, meaningless. Investing in others is the way to find true wealth. Why? It’s one of those things that’s either really obvious to you, or not at all. It depends on you as a person. I fall somewhere in the middle. Not because I don’t understand the value of investing in people, but rather because I’m not the biggest people person. I’m an introvert at heart and find company tiring after a while. I enjoy my own space and require it to recharge my batteries. But this doesn’t mean that I can’t invest in the people around me to enrich their and my life. And that’s just it: enrichment. People enrich our lives: interactions, relationships, friendships, disagreements, bargains, favours, families, challenges, and experiences. Our lives are made up of interactions with people. But when we make a conscious effort to get alongside these people, to really know and understand them, to share experiences and life together, we become truly rich. Feeling inspired During lockdown, I discovered a couple on Facebook who were traveling the world. Around my age and with some shared values, I instantly felt a connection to them. Initially, the vlogs were erratic and out of order, but it led me to find their Youtube channel where you could watch all their adventures right from the beginning. I was hooked. (And still am!) Kara and Nate decided back in 2017 to travel the world for a year, and they are still traveling to this day. Their zest for life, travel, and, most importantly, people, has created a life for them that they would never have believed possible. And this is the things that has made it work for them. Their ability to recognise that it’s the people they meet along the way that makes their experiences so valuable. Yes, visiting amazing destinations around the globe is special and to be valued, but it wouldn’t be anywhere near as memorable or incredible without the people, relationships, and bonds they created along the way. Financial success has been brought their way through their desire to travel, but it’s the people they meet that makes their content, and their vlogs in general, so relatable and enjoyable. They invest in people, recognise their value and uniqueness, and find that their experiences are all the richer for it. And it’s not a deliberate action. It’s just who they are. Open, friendly, interested, and sincere people looking to store up for themselves treasure that will not decay or spoil. Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21 NIV Life is about more No one is saying that money etc is not important. We need it to survive. But if you are seeking material wealth for status, prestige, or even security, I would humbly challenge you to reconsider. Life is about more than what we own or who we can impress. It’s about the people, places, experiences, memories, love, laughter, shared sorrows, and challenges overcome. It’s about growth, learning, understanding, caring, sharing, and supporting. Investing in others is a vital aspect of what our lives are about. When we realise that we have something in common with a person halfway around the world and who lives in a culture so different from our own, we begin to realise that we are not all that different. That we can share our lives, receive from others too, and enrich each other’s lives together. I’m not suggesting you have to travel around the world to be able to receive this enrichment. Investing in people is something we can do every day of our lives by being more observant of the needs of those around us. By being sensitive to differing points of view, showing respect, appreciating varying values, reaching out to a need, showing praise, reflecting on growth, spending time with loved ones, respecting boundaries…I could go on and on. There are so many ways we can invest in the people we meet every day. We just need to decide where we want our wealth to lie. In stuff? Or in people? Start investing in others today and see how much more enriched your life will become. I know I will be endeavouring to do so!Read More
Are you easily overwhelmed by big things like decisions, events, goals, or changes? In some respects, I’ve come to realise that I am one of those people. I am good at keeping things moving along on the surface, but when it comes to dealing with the bigger things, I can be the proverbial ostrich and stick my head in the sand. I’ll wait until the last minute to deal with it, or give in before I begin because it just seems too big. Sound familiar? It’s been a real learning curve for me actually, over many years, to come to this realisation. What I’ve come to learn is that it’s about little choices every day that lead us to lasting change. I know this may seem obvious to many, but when put into practice, it can be challenging to get right. It’s about mastering discipline, finding routine, being accountable, and sticking to it even when it seems impossible. Some background A few things have brought me to this blog today. Some little things like making slow progress on house renovations and wanting to get back into the swing of it again. That’s easy enough though with a little forward planning and teamwork. Another is realising just how productive my husband is and how he just goes for what he wants in life, seemingly without fear. I’ve unfortunately never been good at this. I overthink, rationalise, and am enough of a perfectionist to get in my own way. This has stopped me from pursuing things in life that I believed were too big, out of my league, and no more than a crazy notion. But what if they weren’t? What if, instead of letting fear hold me back; instead of being blinded by the whole picture; what if I’d taken one day at a time and made manageable choices towards my goals? I wonder where my life would be now? So how did I get here, you may ask? I don’t like to blame any specific event in my past, but there were certainly contributing factors that influenced me far more than I ever realised. The death of my father when I was 18, naturally, was a huge event that rocked me profoundly. I didn’t know, however, just how much it had. I didn’t notice the fear that had entered my life during this time of grief and how it affected all my decisions. I’d limited myself without being aware of it, worrying about outcomes, getting scared by failure, taking easy ways out of things, and not challenging myself. It’s only now, looking back, that I see the trajectory of my choices. A daily battle Unfortunately, one of the main factors in my life that has brought me to where I am today is a physical difficulty. Many years ago I began to experience pain in my right knee. I received physiotherapy and was told that in order to keep it pain-free I would need to remain active. Having never been a particularly active person, and not appreciating the full consequences of neglecting this advice, the years went by and my knee began to trouble me more persistently. I made daily bad choices regarding my health. This knee problem was compounded by further injury in my twenties and, needless to say, it has steadily got worse. I cannot adequately describe the pain I have experienced over the past years. What I did not know, however, was the mental toll this would take on me. My brain and body began to compensate for the immobility and my pain response became overactive. I began to fear little things like touching my knee. I’d make excuses about moving, fearing the pain. Stairs became a real issue and I’d alter the way I used them. Without noticing, my daily choices were making the situation worse. These little choices every day began to steal my life from me. Turning a corner But now I’m aiming to change this. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, they say. Well yes, but it doesn’t help you unless you do something to change your current situation. My last visit to the physiotherapist was the one that made me really appreciate the cost of these bad choices. It was 100% my fault but also 100% fixable. I just had to get my head in the right place to really make a lasting change. The real lesson has been in consistency. Finding the right balance between not enough and too much exercise. It was about starting small, knowing my limitations, and not pushing them until my mind and body had caught up and could cope. I failed many times with this and it has been so frustrating. And painful! But as I’ve matured over the past wee while I have come to really appreciate the importance of little choices every day that really do make the most lasting and meaningful change. I’m not there yet. I’ve got a ways to go. But I do feel more hopeful. My pain levels are down. I’m learning to manage my pain when it does rear, and believe me it still does. But I feel better knowing that it’s pain from trying, from exercise, from progress. It really is the little choices every day I have so many things I want to enjoy in life and achieve. I don’t want my life to go by in a blur of pain and disappointed hopes. So it is so important that each day I make little choices that keep me moving forward in growth, build my character, build my strength and slowly push back that fear that would try to keep me back. Life is what we make it. So let’s make it full of little choices every day that takes us forward in hope, joy, love, and passion.Read More
Being truthful is about more than not telling lies. Being truthful is about integrity, transparency, accountability, honesty, and being genuine. It’s about us knowing ourselves, knowing the standards we set for ourselves, and then living up to them. But more than this, being truthful means not only living truthfully with others but also allowing others to be truthful with us. And that can be hard. Really hard. We don’t like being challenged, told we messed up, or corrected. We can feel threatened, put down, embarrassed, or silly. But it shouldn’t be this way. As people, we need to be open to growth and this is why being truthful matters. When we embrace the kindness of candour, we can hone our best assets and work on the flaws in our character. As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. Proverbs 27: 17 NLT It’s all down to trust First things first. You need to trust the people you listen to. Don’t take advice or listen to the opinions of people you do not trust. Test the character of the people you surround yourself with: are they people of integrity? Do they follow through? Do they have your best interests at heart? Are they kind? Do they have similar values and morals? If you can answer yes to the things that are important to you, then you can probably trust their opinions and advice. Above all, be discerning. Trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, if it causes intentional pain, then dismiss it and walk away. Know yourself well enough to trust your own judgement! And if not, seek another’s opinion on the matter before making any decisions. It’s all a learning game When we become an adult we don’t suddenly know it all. In fact, you could argue that we learn so much more as adults than we do as children; about ourselves, others, work, relationships, our world…you get the idea. We are always, and should always, be learning. So why does it feel so awful when someone is honest with us? Why is our autopilot to feel threatened? I’m not good at being challenged. Even people whom I am closest with, I throw up my defences to protect myself. It’s not something I’m proud of. So I have a lot to learn myself in hearing people’s candour and not feeling automatically threatened. It is something I’ve been challenged by this week, and then it cropped up in my daily reflections and it hit home. I need to be better at hearing truths from others. I might not like hearing it at the time, but it doesn’t mean it’s not in my best interest. The question is how we learn from what we hear. Do we stay in our old way, or do we aim for better? The kindness of candour I think the key word here is kindness. There can be no candour that takes root if it is not given in kindness. Candour isn’t about being right or knowing more or better than someone else. It’s about noticing someone is in error and seeking to help them be a better version of themselves. That is why we must always approach being truthful with kindness. We cannot expect people to listen to us and heed our advice if we don’t approach it the right way. Equally, we cannot give advice we wouldn’t take ourselves. This is where integrity, transparency, and being genuine come in. What hypocrites we are when we point the finger at someone in error, and we go and do the same thing ourselves. No. To be taken seriously, we must first look at ourselves before helping others. It’s not only a kindness to us, but also to them. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? Matthew 7: 3 NIV This is why being truthful matters. If done correctly and in love, we not only challenge the people we love best, but we also challenge ourselves too. We keep each other accountable and sharpen each other into better people. If we have the wisdom to receive advice given in love and kindness, we can grow and thrive. If we choose to be stubborn and bitter towards truths given in kindness, we will remain stagnant. Seek wise counsel In all that we do, we must seek the wisest around us to help guide our paths. We cannot do life without people around us to help us thrive and grow. So seeking people who understand why being truthful matters and who are willing to have candour given and received…well you’ve got some good folk about you there! Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses. King Solomon, Proverbs 27: 6 NIVRead More
This week in the UK, many people will be celebrating with our Monarch Queen Elizabeth II on her Platinum Jubilee. Seventy years on the British throne! What an achievement! When you look back at the last seventy years and just think about all that has happened, all that has changed, and that she was at the centre advocating for us and advising those in power. I know not everyone agrees with the Monarchy, and that’s their prerogative, but you cannot deny the tireless dedication she has shown to the British people. And that’s why I will be celebrating her this weekend with my family. Through all the storms that have been thrown her way, she has shown her mettle. And I think she is worth celebrating. Which got me thinking about how to celebrate the people we love better… It’s not always about the big things Seventy years on the British throne is a big deal. As the longest-reigning monarch in British history, she has outdone herself in more ways than this blog should contain (it would be a very long list!) Some of those things listed would be big things, but many would be little everyday things that mark her for her integrity, constancy, and service. How many people do we know in our lives that just live their lives and do things out of their good nature that goes uncelebrated, unnoticed, and unsung? Moreover, why do we not notice these things more? Why is it that we wait until the big things happen before we decide to celebrate someone?; a birthday, anniversary, promotion, new house, new job. Don’t misunderstand, these things should be celebrated, but a person is so much more than these key occurrences. They are kind, helpful, loving, generous, patient, attentive, conscientious, hard-working, imaginative, dedicated… …we are so many things. And it’s about time we started taking better notice! When did we forget to celebrate the people we love best? When we got lost in our technology, our work, our busy schedules, our own affairs, our feelings of self-importance, our dreams and ambitions…we forgot that it’s not about us all the time. It’s about the people around us too. The people we love. Celebrate those people you love best by complimenting their skills, acknowledging a good effort, buying flowers just because, and going out of your way to do something nice. There are so many ways we can celebrate the people we love best but we have to wake up and notice what they do each day! Some more ideas on how to celebrate the people we love best: Cook them their favourite meal Take some work off their hands so they can relax Run them a hot bath with bubbles and a glass of wine Write them a lovely card Take them out for the day Compliment them Show affection Ask for, include, and value their opinion There are many many ways that we can celebrate the people we love best in small ways every day. Just like it’s about the small things we should be celebrating as well as the big things, it’s about the small things we do every day to celebrate that person that makes all the difference. Why is it so important anyway? Celebrating the people we love best is not about growing someone’s ego. That is when it goes too far. No, it’s about acknowledging the people around us and saying I appreciate you, I love you, you matter to me, you have done a good job and I noticed. When we don’t take time to celebrate the people we love best, they can begin to feel overlooked and taken for granted. And why would we want to make them feel that way? We love them! Today, more than ever, we seem to be in a battle with our mental health. In a world where we have so much, we seem to take for granted the things that are actually the most important. So we need to break that cycle from a young age and encourage an awareness of people and their emotions and feelings. By showing love and kindness to everyone around us we can foster a culture of acceptance, growth, positivity, and joy. Things don’t always go to plan, we fail at times. but if we are celebrated when things go right, for our little things, we can cope with those fails far better than if we are feeling unnoticed. Celebrate someone today! Open your eyes to the people around you and take notice of all that they do. You might be surprised just how much they do that goes unnoticed. Celebrate them, love on them, and show them that all that they do and are is celebrated by you!Read More
I love Spring. Hence, it’s always been a favourite season for me, not least because it is when my birthday is. It is a time of rebirth, renewal, warmer days, new life, and longer daylight hours; it is a time of hope, promise, and joy. I adore seeing the little lambs frolic in the fields and the first daffodils spring up and wave their yellow heads in the breeze. Walking under the heavy blooms of a cherry blossom tree as its petals float around you. Watching the migrating birds come back to build their nests and splash about in the birdbath. Spring is just such a time of appreciation for so many things, often little things, that if we are too busy, we will miss; miss out on the joy, laughter, smiles, hope and blessing. There are so many reasons, therefore, why we should appreciate the little things in life. But the fulfilment that these little things bring to our lives should be the very one that makes us take notice. Slow down! If the past two years have taught us anything it is that we need to slow down and take notice; take notice of what is important to us; of the people we love; how we spend our precious time; of being fulfilled; and ultimately, why we should appreciate the little things in life. So much was taken from so many people so quickly, that they didn’t realise what they had until it was gone. Those precious moments that were lost, those connections with people, all those things we took for granted. Gone! The pandemic forced us to slow down, and at that moment we realised just what we were missing out on. Yes, our usual routine was gone, but we noticed just how important all those other little things were. As such, with our freedoms limited, we came to the realisation that there were much more important things in life than work, our precious routine, or keeping to prescribed methods. It’s the little things We realised that meeting up with family was more important to us than we realised. Going for a walk became such a precious thing; appreciating the ability to get out and feel the fresh air on our faces and do some exercise. We missed the small interactions with strangers as we feared the spread of the pandemic, yet now we appreciate them all the more. Creating some more time for ourselves to evaluate, escape, heal, and relax became a new priority as we realised just how much we had been neglecting our own well-being. Learning new skills like baking bread, painting, woodcraft, DIY, or gardening brought us endless hours of joy and accomplishment. Activities we would never have made time for before. If this pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we should be appreciating the little things in life more and not feel so pressured to be everywhere at once. Time is fleeting; our days pass so fast! Therefore, we must make sure that we stop and appreciate those little things in life. Those things that bring us unexpected joy, brighten our day and put a spring in our step. Some more examples of little things: Freshly brewed tea or coffee in your favourite mug Fresh flowers The smell of fresh grass after it’s mown Sitting outside in the warm sunshine Watching the seasons change about you A home-cooked meal prepared lovingly Clean windows A new book (and that amazing new book smell!) A freshly made bed A cuddle from a loved one The first fruit of the season A hot shower after a long day A conversation with your loved ones Love and attention from a pet Binge-watching your favourite TV shows A glass of wine at the end of the week A relaxing bath to unwind and recharge Henceforth, you will never be lost to appreciate the little things in life. And their not always about making ourselves happy. They are about gratitude, joy, love and fulfilment, even when the world feels chaotic around us.Read More
It’s been a rough couple of weeks. Illness has blindsided me and wiped me out. It’s been about nine months since I was properly ill, so for it to happen again so soon took me off guard. I think being isolated due to the pandemic has weakened my immune system. Regardless of why it’s thrown me off and begs the question of how to get back on track after a setback. It can be so frustrating when things get blown to the four winds. We do our best to set targets, stay focused and be productive. But with the best will in the world, life happens and we must adjust accordingly. What happened I got a cold. A real doozy! I know it maybe doesn’t sound like much, I know there are far worse things, but it was bad. After a weekend in bed, I managed to work, but every day I had no energy, no appetite, and no interest. By the end of the week, I was flat-out exhausted. I’m still not 100% but things are on the up. The severity of my symptoms and how quickly they took hold surprised me and I just had to go with it. And sometimes life is just like that. We just have to do our best with the situation we’re faced with. What’s so frustrating? So I had a cold. So what? It wasn’t actually the cold that frustrated me the most, although it was bad enough. It was being thrown off track with certain goals and regimens that I had set in place. If you’ve been reading my blogs for a while now, you may remember that I have been dealing with chronic pain in my leg for years now. It has been a painful and difficult journey of self-discovery and lessons learned. And I had finally found a routine that seemed to be working and setting me up for success. I’d found consistency and was managing well. Then along came illness and I was completely knocked off track. I had no energy to do anything except the bare minimum, never mind daily strengthening exercises. And as a result, my pain has spiraled and my leg has weakened again. It honestly sucks. So what now? Well, now I just need to get on with it and find my routine again. The emotional hit has been a challenge. Knowing I was on a good track and now I’m having to get back into it again is demoralising. But if I can do it once, I can do it again. How we get back on track is not actually important. What’s important is that we do. If it meant enough to us the first time, we can find that same drive the second time. I’m determined to be pain free and find freedom in movement, and it will not be easy, but I know it is possible. How to get back on track Here are a few pointers on how to get back on track after a setback. Be patient with yourself. Whether illness or circumstance has interrupted your steady progress, remember that you must be patient. Not everything happens on our timeline and often we need to wait for things to be right again before we take our next step forward. Reaffirm with yourself why. Often when we are knocked off track we can lose sight of our end goal. We feel sorry for ourselves, wallow in it for a while, and feel hard done by. That’s ok, it’s natural, but we mustn’t stay there. Refocus, reset and get going again. Always look for the lesson. In every situation in life, there are lessons to be learned. Assess your situation and ask yourself if there is anything you could do differently. Do you need help? Try it another way. Take preventative measures. Make more time for rest. Whatever it may be, learn from it. Do what you can. Sometimes we just need to take a backseat and do what we can. When we are set back by circumstance, it’s not always a complete stop, but a slowing down or a detour. In those moments we just need to do what we can with what we have. Be kind. Often, when we are set off track we can lose sight of what’s important. We are consumed by our disappointment and our mood can manifest poorly with those around us. Be aware of those around you, communicate well, and remember to always be kind. How we live our lives every day is a reflection of who we are. So in every circumstance, look for ways to be kind. Keep a positive mental attitude. This follows from the last tip. Kindness is a positive choice. When we choose to think positively and kindly towards ourselves and others, it manifests in our external world too. Not everything goes our way in life, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t meant to be. Look for the silver lining in every situation and remember to count your blessings. It’s our choices It is our choices each day that determine how it will go. When things don’t go how we had planned, we can choose to be negative and downcast, or we can think about how to get back on track. Make lemonade out of those lemons, learn from your mistakes, and remember why you were on that track in the first place.Read More
I’m sure it’s something on all of our minds right now: inflation. The rising cost of living that we have been forced to cope with in the last month or so is unprecedented. Fuel has sky-rocketed, energy tariffs are through the roof, food prices are squeezing our purse strings, and food shortages are not making it any easier. So what can we be doing to help ease our burden? I’ve had a few thoughts on how to cope with inflation; things that I have been doing myself, and some that I will incorporate too. God is the source Often our first instinct is to panic when we are bombarded with so much bad news. And we’ve had a lot of that recently. The war in Ukraine is so terrible to see. The people affected on the ground, those having to flee, the destruction and loss. It is so difficult to fathom in our day and age. It seems so silly to worry about food shortages as a result. Our problems are nothing in comparison. And it has been so encouraging to read about so many Ukrainians being served, helped, and supported by so many around the world. But even more so, those who have told of their resilience through the crisis. So many Ukrainians, and others, reminding us that God is the source of all that we need. In Him, there is no lack. So often through my life, and especially my married life when I stepped out into independent living, God has shown me His provision. It’s not the first time that John and I have had to think about making ends meet. We’ve had some huge decisions regarding employment that we had to take a leap of faith and trust that God would see us through. And He always has. Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:25-34 NIV Think Practically One of the first things that I started doing when fuel prices spiked was to think about how to run my car more efficiently. Most of us will have a car and require it for so many activities in our daily lives. How we cope with inflation of fuel costs, therefore, becomes imperative. Here are a few tips: Hypermiling Hypermiling is the term given to the various things you can do to maximise fuel efficiency in your vehicle. I am no expert, but I have started ensuring I follow the basics of hypermiling, the main one being to drive at the most fuel-efficient speed of 50mph. Here are some more basics taken from Hypermiler.co.uk: Keep your car well maintained and serviced regularly. Some people opt for a thinner oil when trying to optimise their MPG. Thinner oil means less energy is required to turn the engine. Remove excess weight i.e. golf clubs, toolboxes and prams/pushchairs. Ensure your tyre pressures are correct. We do not condone overinflating your tyres, as this may cause premature wear and possible blowouts. Low tyre pressure causes more drag and thus less MPG. Keep the windows up. An open window causes drag Keep the air-con off. Air Conditioning can decrease your fuel consumption by up to 10 percent in some cases. Take any unused Roof or bike racks off, they too increase drag Don’t drive in big shoes, they take away the sensitivity you need with the throttle. The best way to Hypermile is to feel how the car is responding to your right foot. Two inches of sole doesn’t help. Assess your expenditure One of the big things that we can do to help cope with inflation is to assess our expenditure. Do we know all the money that goes out of our bank accounts? Have we any direct debits that can be cancelled like gym memberships we don’t use, streaming services we can live without, websites memberships we barely use? There may be things in your life right now that you really don’t need. We cancelled our Amazon Prime membership because we felt it was an unnecessary expense that we could manage without. John cancelled his WWE subscription because we weren’t using it much. Have a look and what you can cut out. One way that many people lose money is by purchasing food and drink from shops and cafes when they can very easily prepare meals etc themselves for a fraction of the cost. I’m not saying don’t treat yourself, but buying coffee or lunch out most days will cost you a fortune each year. Yes, the coffee may be amazing, but I promise you’ll find a good alternative from the supermarket. Another food-related issue is waste. We waste so much food every year because we don’t use it in time. Here are some tips: don’t buy more than you need use your freezer to prolong the life of food prepare meals in bulk and refrigerate or freeze the rest create a shopping list and stick to it check your cupboards regularly for use-by-dates create a meal plan so you only buy what you need prepare meals from scratch to reduce costs You also need to ask yourself ‘do I really need this?’ So often we buy frivolous items that add little to no value to our lives. Ask yourself, ‘is this an asset? Does this add value to my life? Could I spend this money more wisely?’ There are so many ways for us to spend our hard-earned cash. Just make sure it’s worth it. Don’t waste time Use your time wisely. Don’t spend it worrying about what might be. Do what you can to ease your burden, be proactive, use your skills and talents, and the rest will take care of itself. Recently I had been concerned because, due to various reasons, my student numbers had gone down. I had wasted time worrying about how we would manage with inflation on the up asking myself whether people would still want lessons in this climate. John, on the other hand, took the lead, created a wonderful advert, and within hours I had people enquiring about piano lessons. Instead of wasting time with what-ifs and prescribing an outcome myself, I should have been more proactive with my time and realised that I don’t know all the outcomes. We have to try our best with what we have and use the time we have well. How to cope with inflation Inflation is affecting us all and will continue to for a while. So it’s important that we take positive action on how to cope with inflation so that we don’t live outwith our means. But remember, if we are to live in the Mind, Body, and Soul, we must remember that God is the source of all that we need. I do not worry about tomorrow because I know He is already there taking care of it all. Please leave your comments below, or if you have any questions, ask away.Read More
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