Kindness and Appreciation

As I sat one morning last week with my coffee listening to the Today programme on Radio 4, my eyes rolled inwardly as I heard the beginning of Thought For the Day begin with a valentine message.  As a society, in Britain, we now seem to be racing through life by moving from one  festival / celebration to another, each, seemingly becoming more and more commercialsed;  not really taking the time to think about the meaning of each said celebration apart from what to purchase.  My ears pricked up, however, as I heard the ‘Thought’ continue with the history and significance of St Valentine and his message.  Francis Campbell continues with the question most of us think of quite often, What is love? She continues:

“Love in the Christian scriptures is not founded on reciprocity. Leviticus asks us to: “Love one another as yourself.” It is not to love one another because others have loved you, but to love others as you desire to be loved; to treat others as you want to be treated regardless of whether that is how they actually are treating you.  

St Valentine’s Day is a reminder to us that each day, and in each human encounter we have the human capacity to exchange the biggest gift of all, to ourselves, and to the other we encounter, and that is the gift of unconditional love.”

I talked with hubsband about this thought as went out later in the day and we decided to try and be more appreciative of each other in our everyday lives.  To show more kindness in our words.  Many of us can be quick to criticise; slower to appreciate the goodness and kindness of others.

Not a Tame Lion – Winter without Christmas

I returned home revived earlier this week after my second session of the Hilary Brand Lent Not a Tame LionCourse – Not a Tame Lion.  Based on the works of C S Lewis and the films Shadowlands, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian, it explores different topics each session:

  1. Living in the shadows
  2. Living with the beyond
  3. Living with the unexplained
  4. Living with what we’ve been given
  5. Living with absence

 

    Each year I find this period, the end of winter, spring just around the corner, an exciting one.  A new beginning,  tiny seedlings popping their heads through the soil. Yet the first question posed to us in the Lent course was, Life in Narnia, how would you feel with winter without Christmas?

He's not a tame Lion.:

 

Quote of the month – January

Let Everyday Be Christmas

Christmas is forever, not for just one day,
for loving, sharing, giving, are not to put away
like bells and lights and tinsel, in some box upon a shelf.
The good you do for others is good you do yourself.

Peace on Earth, good will to men,
kind thoughts and words of cheer,
are things we should use often
and not just once a year.

Remember too the Christ-child, grew up to be a man;
to hide him in a cradle, is not our dear Lord’s plan.
So keep the Christmas spirit, share it with others far and near,
from week to week and month to month, throughout the entire year!

Norman Wesley Brooks

Too much going on….Where’s the balance?

I can’t believe January has passed me by without hardly a mention.  I know in recent times, many people use the excuse of ‘I’ve been so busy..’  In my head that’s how I feel too; what interests me more, however, is how easily the equilibrium gets knocked off when a couple more things are added to the scales.  Suddenly it seems we partly shut down in order to manage the immediate.

It was somewhat of an emotionally charged day at the beginning of last week, when I received a text from Hubsband whilst I was at work to say that he was fashioning a new window in our house.  This had been something of an idea of his in recent years, but, I somehow always managed to keep it on a back burner.  I had realised, that, when he asked for an angle grinder for Christmas that my time was running out.  It wasn’t that I don’t or didn’t want a new window, it was the extra disruption that I could have done without.  Especially as I have spent the last few months having a declutter!  The house, now much more minimal, was about to come under attack by brick dust, which as many will know, gets everywhere….

Perhaps it wasn’t just the dust  and disruption that was the problem, but as an educator, albeit a part-time one, school reports are a time consuming and stressful business.  And, as the text came through I was in the middle of this time.  When I arrived home later in the day, the moment I walked through the door, I realised I couldn’t even find  place to sit down; I couldn’t even see through the dust, let alone, sit down and concentrate on something.

As the week progressed, no reports were competed, but the dust was eventually cleared up.  Now all almost 2 weeks later, both the window and school reports almost complete; I am left with the feeling of, it didn’t seem that bad, and with the questions how come the mind seemed to completely shut down? Where’s the balance? What can we do to manage better next time?

Igniting the ‘Spark of Joy’ continuing the declutter

After borrowing the The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo from the library in December my declutter began a whole new phase. I had started to lose some impetus so it was a good kick-start to continue my project.  I was quickly fascinated by the ideas shared in the book and soon found myself watching numerous YouTube videos on the ‘KonMari’ folding method.  As described in the book, I began with my clothes. Well. Actually I began by adding more shelves into my wardrobe.  Thankfully Hubsband is excellent at DIY, so a few days later I was ready to start refolding and keen to ‘spark joy’ in my wardrobe. What I wasn’t planning for was the length of time it took to sort. I suppose reading about sorting takes not time at all, but actually doing it.. well,  that’s the hard bit…

Clothes folded the new 'KonMari' method

Clothes folded the new ‘KonMari’ method

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Just about complete

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New shelves for the new Curver baskets

 

Quote of the month – December

I will greet this day with love in my heart. And how will I do this?

Henceforth will I look on all things with love and be born again.

I will love the sun for it warms my bones; yet I will love the rain for it cleanses my spirit. I will love the light for it shows me the way; yet I will love the darkness for it shows me the stars.

I will welcome happiness as it enlarges my heart; yet I will endure sadness for it opens my soul.

Og Mandino

Merry Christmas! Our waiting has ended

All Hail! Lord, we greet Thee,
Born this happy morning,
O Jesus! for evermore be Thy name adored.
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

Today on this Christmas morning we light the four Advent Candles; Hope, Love, Joy and Peace.  We also light the centre white candle which represents Jesus.  When we light this candle, we remember Jesus’ birth. Our waiting has ended.

 

Merry Christmas to All

Making good use of time

Knowing I am generally pretty good at time managing, when I reached for the Michael Heppell Book, How to Save an Hour Everyday, during a recent library visit, I wasn’t sure, quite what I was going to find.  The book is brimming with ideas; many, thanks to my very practical mum, I already make use of in my everyday life –

  • Spending quality time with your children; eating together at the table, no phones allowed at the table (thats one of our own rules)
  • Cooking efficiently by doubling up recipes and making a weekly menu, labeling containers, freezing extra portions
  • Discover the radio and become an active listener instead of being a passive tv watcher

There are also, some tips that I have also been thinking about recently:

  • Time Tracker – keeping a note of your daily activities in 15 min blocks

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I did this for 3 days, and by the end I was pretty pleased with my use of time.  I was unsure of how the book was going to use this, or how I could improve it…. that would come later…

  • Cut the clutter – fling, file and flip – still ongoing with the de-clutter, week 15… details for another post!
  • Labelling – my new favourite organisational gadget – DYMO20161203_1120561

Thankfully, of course, some new ideas…

  • The $100,000 idea – ‘At the end of each day, write down the five most important things to do tomorrow’ – this, has by far been the most valuable suggestion for me so far and in only a few weeks, has helped me to get through so many tasks that I otherwise may have left for another day.  I often say to myself, if it has no deadline; it can wait for another day.  This one small strategy has really helped with getting things done straight away.  A great one to try.
  • At the end of the book are the ‘Advanced Techniques’ with a great idea called ‘Me, Key and Stuff’ – now I was to understand how the time tracker comes into force.  The idea is that you divide  your time into ‘Me’  – focus on yourself, ‘Key’ – focus on the ‘top five mission critical activities’ and ‘Stuff’ – days of chores, making appointments, cleaning, ironing etc.  This one I am still pondering and thinking about whether I could apply to my ‘open afternoons’ …to be continued…at some point