Take A Bow 2014

It’s been an incredibly tough year for members of my family and by extension me.

It’s been a challenging year for my family and I.

Yet we have accomplished much; loved much; progressed a bit further; cried together; prayed together; danced to the beat of life and survived it all.

Through it all we are grateful and welcome better and greater things in 2015.

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Thank You

Many thanks to every one who has read, followed, liked, posted a comment, re-blogged, re-tweeted, shared (and whatever else it is they do on social media) and even taken the time to send me an email or message.

Blogging has been a cathartic experience for me this year and was more for me than for anyone else. It had always been something I wanted to do and I took it a bit more seriously this year. I’m grateful that through this journey, some of you have been encouraged as a result of it. That in itself is just priceless!

I hope to keep blogging in 2015 but you never know where life will take you. Whatever it brings, I am thankful for your support.

What If This Is As Good As It Gets?

This is the question posed by Jack Nicholson in the movie As Good As It Gets. I love that line in the movie and I often pose it to myself. What if ………. THIS …………is as good as it gets?

What if you don’t get that promotion?
What if you never get to meet that guy?
What if you never get married?
What if you don’t get that job?
What if after all that hard work the business fails?
What if you can’t have children?
What if you never have children?
What if your dream job doesn’t exist?
What if no one thinks you are good enough?
What if you can’t make it work?
What if it’s taking forever?
What if all your dreams never come true?

Will you spend your life being miserable? Is THIS as good as it gets?

There are a few responses, I guess, to the what ifs of life.

1. NO – I’m not even going to think about It, it’s going to happen by hook or by crook.
2. If it doesn’t happen I’ll die!
3. Well since it’s not going to happen I’m not even going to try.
4. It’s a possibility it won’t happen but so is the possibility that it may.

I’m sure there are a few more options but I’ll stop at four.

It’s somewhat arrogant to think that everything you ever hope for and desire will happen to you. There is optimism and there is arrogance because to think that it will always happen, the way you want it to, is to suppose that you are somewhat more special than the others for whom it does not occur. After all, we are all special.

In the words of Forrest Gump, “life is not a box of chocolates”. When life gives us lemons we just have to make – you guessed it, another quote – lemonade.

You could keep hope alive, give up, pray, work harder, keep going, get upset, accept the situation for what it is – there are a number of ways to handle the what ifs. Whatever the outcome or our stance, you and I have got to figure a way to be happy or at least content, irrespective of our what ifs.

Christmas Cracker

We were invited to a Christmas party and my children, along with a friend, spent the whole night pulling every single Christmas cracker at the party – I mean EVERY single Christmas cracker. Never mind that the hosts might have been saving it for their own purposes. šŸ™ˆšŸ™ˆšŸ™ˆ

Of course their motivation was the mini tug of war that takes place as you pull the cracker and ultimately the gift within. They got lots of gifts, seeing as they took ownership of all the crackers, but there was a special gift that my children were very secretive about.

I overheard arguments over who cracked open this mysterious gift. It was me, no it was me. This went on for a few days until their dad banned them from arguing over it. Then I was told this gift would be my Christmas present and of course for the next few days I was begged to open my present.

Unfortunately for them, I’m a traditionalist. I firmly believe that presents only ever ought to be opened on Christmas Day. Not Christmas Eve, not even before Christmas lunch. Only after you’ve consumed enough food and drink to sink a ship can the presents be opened. Every kid’s worst nightmare really.

However when tradition meets whiny, persistent, persuasive and argumentative children, tradition unashamedly takes a bow. I opened the present at 8.00am before we went to church and then I understood why.

The gift was a pair of ‘diamond’ earrings. I’m not sure what the earrings are made of or whether my ears would react to the nickel or rather lack of nickel in it. I had no choice – I was going to wear them. That is the definition of love! šŸ˜

Seeing the look of pride on their faces, It was all worth it.

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Live Life

What does it mean to live life?

To walk on the beach and feel the water caress your feet; being aware of every grain of sand that gets caught between your toes.

To feel the sun shining on your face; it’s warmth like a healing balm that keeps the cold away.

To hear the chirping of birds outside your window; discerning each and every distinct call they make.

To walk down the street with your head up; making eye contact with each stranger and offering the gift of a smile.

To be ruffled by the blustery wind, pulling your coat tighter around your neck and bracing yourself for the next gust.

To smell sizzling sausages and onionsĀ from the hot dog vanĀ and have a myriad of childhood memories flood your mind.

To feel pain and cry.

ToĀ experience the experience yourself and not through someone else’s eye.

To have an opinion and be able to articulate it.

To be in the moment and not just a passer-by.

To keep learning new things.

To notice others around you.

To appreciate the people in your life and their contribution to shaping you.

To develop friendships with strangers even when you share different values.

To discover spiritual insights.

To take risks and step out of your comfort zone.

To ask the questions no one asks.

To fail and get up again.

To listen more.

To have the courage to stand up for yourself.

To educate yourself.

To love yourself.

I’m Listening

Three years ago I went on a retreat or a getaway I should say on my own. My husband had the children whilst I spent fours days in Southampton just to clear my head.

While I was there I got a idea which I wrote down. So excited was I by the idea that I couldn’t wait to get home I called my husband as soon as I could to talk about it. He was quite encouraging which if you know my husband at all, is high praise. He’s just one of those guys who isĀ never overly enthused about anything. If something is good he says OK. If it’s fantastic he says it’s alright. If it’s super fantastic he says good. This day I got a good which was in itself an encouragement.

In between writing down that idea and now, life has just literally taken over. I’ve changed jobs, moved to a new city, changed schools for my children, changed careers, moved house, got out of one business, started a new business – a lot has gone on. Slowly and surely I forgot that idea.

Restlessness is a sure sign that something needs changing or a great reminder of something you already knew. I’ve been restless over theĀ last six months or so, particularly the last three. And I have been soul searching again. Two years ago I would have gone on another retreat but I couldn’t do it this time. So I decided to use the opportunity of Advent to prepare myself for next year and kind of listen out for what next.

Best laid plans! It’s three weeks since I decided to do that and life seems to have suddenly gotten even busierĀ if that’s possible. Although I couldn’t take the time to be still, I’ve been thinking a lot about it- just going through questions in my head. So last night I couldn’t sleep and I found myself tossing and turning an hour after I got to bed so I thought I might as well start my advent journey, 20 plus days later. I picked up the journal fromĀ twos year ago and read through it. I couldn’t believe the amount of detail I had then. Maybe it was too muchĀ to process at the timeĀ or I wasn’t convinced or I was scared and kind of put it off. Who knows? Two years later, the same idea is still reverberating in my head. I’ve come full circle.

It think it’s safe to say you should never say you don’t know what to do, it’s more like we aren’t listening. Or perhaps we are not in the frame of mind to listen and do something about it.

The universe is always saying something, in my case I believe God is always guiding us, but we are way too busy to listen. Sometimes we miss it but sometimes, out of share grace, we get a second chance and we hear it again.

One of the many things life has taught me is that, the ‘universe’ will not keep speaking forever if we do not jump in
when the waters are stirred. If you are restless at the moment or want your life to take a new shape or direction in the New Year. Take some time out to listen. At the very least you confirm what you already knew deep down.

ListeningĀ isĀ a lot harder than talking. It takes time, patience and determination but yields better results all the time.