Believe this

I was reading something this morning, and as usual there was a portion of the text which had me thinking about something different, and so off I went to my dear friend Google, and ended up at the picture above.

Of late, difficult situations seem to abound – and not just for me!
There are so many things going wrong and so many tragedies around here, and not just through losing people to Covid.

People are changing, as things are changing. Their hearts and attitudes are changing – and not always for the better. And it can be really hard to see/experience.
I keep thinking of the saying/concept : You are only responsible for YOU – your choices, your attitude! You can’t take responsibility for them, or allow them to affect you!
And yet, when it happens in ‘close proximity’, it can be tough to remember that – to not take things personally or be hurt by what is said or done.
Especially when you have a soft heart!

And so it becomes one of those things in life where I think that maybe we should train our brains and then operate from a place of ‘what we know, not what we feel’. So we’re still allowed to feel (because bottling up emotions is never good for anyone!), but we can’t allow those feelings to affect our lives in a way that stops us in our tracks, or prevents us from being the person we were created to be. Well, that’s what I think for me anyway 😛

I have grown into ( and I am still growing) and become the woman I am for a reason. Maybe even for such a time as this.
I know who I am – and in the words of a dear friend : it works for me!
Who I am is not only of benefit to some in so many ways (even though it irritates others a lot 😛 ), but it is also of great benefit to me, because in times of great loss and fear, I still have peace and joy, and am able to continue on with encouraging and assisting others.

It is NOT EASY to be in difficult situations.
But today’s exercise for my brain training is to CHOOSE to continue to believe that somewhere in these difficult situations there truly is something of value – and to recognise all that I have that is valuable to be grateful for!

Gone Looking! 😉

Painful lessons… funny not funny

Ah… I have missed this ❤ Explanation to follow 😉

Time has flown, yet again. One would think it would have dragged by, since I have spent most of it in bed, pretty much unable to do most things. Even the simple things hurt. I have a newfound appreciation for my usual ability to get on and off the toilet, for example. Yes, I said that. Too much information? When last did you appreciate being able to do that without experiencing pain? 😛

I injured my lower back, and for five days I was pretty much in bed. Moving hurt. Once I was standing, walking around a bit actually helped – but man, oh man! To get to that standing position? UGH!
I could not sit up. So here I have this beautiful laptop that I was so graciously blessed with and absolutely love, and I couldn’t use it. I had to lie here, and just stare at it.

Day six, things began to get a little easier, and less painful. I started becoming more ‘able’. What a relief that was! And with it came the realisation that the part of me that is sometimes stubborn needed to get out the car – forget about taking a backseat! Despite all my prior injuries and illnesses, this time I fully appreciated the concept of ‘sometimes you actually just need to continue to take it easy, and go slowly, to get back to full health’.
I’m still not there yet, but I’m definitely on the road – and Stubborn is still running next to the car because there is no way I am letting it get back in yet 😛

And in all this excruciating pain and very limited ability, have I complained at all? You betcha! Ha ha!

I’ve also had my moments of misery – feeling sorry for myself and even shedding a tear or two.

But let me assure you, an attitude of gratitude really goes a long way!
And perhaps sometimes things like this need to happen, not just to remind us of the need to slow down and our physical limitations, but also to jump start our hearts – to bring us back to the place of remembering the small mercies we have – the things we can usually do that we don’t fully appreciate, and how valuable inner peace and joy truly is.

The pandemic, and the extremely volatile situation in my country at the moment; our current crime wave and the latest statistics; all in ‘life as we know it’ that is happening around me every day – I was getting distracted, and I didn’t even know it. I was spending more time every day worrying – wondering ‘what is going to happen next’, ‘will we survive this’, ‘what am I going to do’.

I guess I needed this to shift my focus back to the things that matter – the joy INSIDE of me, despite what is happening outside.
I needed to be reminded of the goodness too.
Like being able to get on and off the toilet with ease 😛

Here’s hoping I won’t need another lesson in this anytime soon 😉

Have a great week, everyone!

Awakenings

‘Leonard Lowe : We’ve got to tell everybody. We’ve got to remind them. We’ve got to remind them how good it is.

Dr. Sayer : How good what is, Leonard?

Leonard Lowe : Read the newspaper. What does it say? All bad. It’s all bad. People have forgotten what life is all about. They’ve forgotten what it is to be alive. They need to be reminded. They need to be reminded of what they have and what they can lose. What I feel is the joy of life, the gift of life, the freedom of life, the wonderment of life!

and……

“The human spirit is more powerful than any drug, and that is what needs to be nourished: with work, play, friendship, family. These are the things that matter. This is what we’d forgotten, the simplest things.”
ROBIN WILLIAMS – Dr. Malcolm Sayer

The above are two quotes from the 1990 movie, Awakenings”.

I was a pre-teen when this movie came out (yes, I am old 😛 ) and the day of my cousin’s wedding, we all headed to the movies afterwards to watch it. (all the cousins, except the one who had just got married, of course!) I didn’t fully understand the movie back then, but it still made me cry. And I was teased relentlessly for months afterwards because I was the only one in our group of 9 who did so.

In my twenties, I still remembered that early evening at the movies. I found that I could no longer recall the movie itself, or why it had me cry, and so I sought it out to watch it again. Yip! I cried again! I think it’s impact on me changed somewhat though, because I was more mature and able to understand better.

What made me think of, or reminded me of, this movie?

On Friday evening, I had a brief conversation with my neighbour. We’ve been living opposite each other in our housing complex for almost ten years now. And after a few years, we became friends. Even though we live so close, our schedules don’t always allow for social time, and so every now and then you’ll find us having ‘driveway conversations’ in passing. Once or twice, her husband has even brought us cups of coffee while we’re doing so 😛 (And the best husband award goes to…. 😛 )
Friday evening was a ‘scheduled driveway conversation’. Because we sometimes do that too! 😛
I had asked her to let me know when she came home and had time for a quick chat – yes, I can see when she comes home 😛 But she has two young boys, so I prefer not to stop her on her way in to the house, but instead allow her time to say hello etc. She messaged me when she was free and we met on her driveway. I asked my question, she told me what she thought, and we moved on to a general quick catch up. We parted ways about thirty minutes later, and her parting comment to me was, ”I just don’t know how you do it… but I’ll say this : in all of it, you’re changing. In a really good way. Yes, you’re softer… but in ways that count… and it’s not a bad thing. Keep going, because it’s actually a strength.”

Those words have been a running loop in my brain ever since.

We all know that the world, and sometimes people closest to us, will tell us ‘you’re too this, or too that’- you’re too much, or not enough. We all know that sometimes that truly hurts us, or angers us, and bitterness momentarily creeps in.

And yet we are so quick to do the same to others!

I am definitely going through a ‘time of awakening’. There is no doubt in my mind of that! I can’t tell you exactly when it started but I know it is happening. I know because I am experiencing it daily.
I am just beginning to SEE things differently, in every way. And it has become a whole new journey on its own! It has its own rewards, but it is also probably one of the most difficult journey’s I have ever had to make. It is NOT easy, and I’d be lying if I said there were not times that I wish I could just go back. Especially since all of a sudden, daily, troubles are abounding – and not of the small variety either!

And having the very nature of my soul softening even more than what it has ever been, means that I am now open to being hurt more easily, as well as feeling more hurt on an even deeper level. It is increasing my levels of compassion and kindness and making me even more patient and tolerant than what I ever thought I could be. Even my reasoning is changing : a small example?
In the past, in a particular situation, I was known to ‘tolerate’ because if I didn’t, then xyz would happen and it would affect me – for all intents and purposes, giving that person a semblance of control over me; allowing them to use me because of the ‘carrot they could dangle in front of me’.
Now, I find myself tolerating even more than before, being more understanding, responding a little more gently because lashing out at them, saying my piece to purposely hurt them (because I really could), rebelling and excusing it as standing up for myself? NONE of those things would be a reflection of good character. None of those things would benefit the situation in any way, other than to make it worse. And it would disrupt my peace and joy entirely!

Please don’t get me wrong. I understand the concepts of ‘telling it like it is; not wasting time beating around the bush; brutal honesty is sometimes a necessity’. I know that there are many times in life that call for all those things. And if those things, delivered as is, bring you peace, cause you to grow in a positive way, help you move forward in life, and bring you an explainable joy even in times of trouble? Then that is YOUR journey and what works for YOU!

But I have begun to realise that in MY journey – those things don’t work for me. They disrupt my inner peace and attempt to steal my joy. They stunt my growth and stop me in my tracks.
Delivering what possibly needs to be said with brutal honesty/just telling like it is, knowing that I am deeply hurting someone else (especially when it’s under the guise of ‘I say it/do it because I love you’) is not the time for ME to have the attitude of ‘sorry not sorry’.

For me? I reserve the right to use ‘sorry not sorry’ in this way :
I will continue to try and be kind, and grateful, and understanding, even towards those who have hurt me, and are not deserving of my compassion in any way. (It is so difficult!!!) I will continue to be respectful and considerate of them for the most part. I will deliver things that do have to be said gently, without intention to hurt. This does not mean that their behaviour is being excused, or that I am ‘allowing’ them to treat me badly because I am ‘broken/a sucker for punishment/a victim of abuse/a doormat/unable to win at life’.
It just means that I want MY character to reflect something different to theirs.
It just means that I want to continue to grow IN MYSELF, in a positive way, spreading goodness and love and mercy – being this way is what brings me inner peace and joy in ways that I cannot explain.

And neither way is wrong. Because how we choose to be is what works for us, as INDIVIDUALS!

Which one are you? Which way do you choose to be? (Rhetorical questions!)
Parting thought on this post : a new week lies ahead and my note to self for it is this :

Dearest Meg, respect ‘the journey’. And not just your own!

And just keep being who you are, growing in the ways that bring you joy, peace, gratitude and appreciation for all the simple and beautiful things in life that YOU WANT! The things that matter to YOU! Stop letting other people’s opinions about your journey weigh so heavily on you! Don’t be distracted, or stand in judgement, of someone else’s journey. You’ve got your own ride 😉


My Tuesday Tummy

I read an article this morning that made me feel like I had just consumed a slice of the very best cheesecake in the world…
In fact I muttered out loud to my sleeping dogs, ”Ohhhh! That is just delicious!”
(The only reply I got was a gentle snore from the smaller of the two!)

The article itself is a familiar theme of living life intentionally and the small, productive moments that add up, and matter!
And that is something that nourishes me in every way!

The article ended with this, and I felt I needed to repeat it here :

We want to change the world. Maybe even save it. Focus on your moments. Small actions, consistently executed over time, can create remarkable change. You can begin creating your extraordinary life one remarkable, intentional, productive moment at a time. 

If you are interested in the full article, you can read it here!

And now, if you’ll please excuse me, I am going to find joy and pleasure in hanging my washing on the line 😉

Making Other Plans

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again… ”Life sometimes happens when we are busy making other plans”.

The original quote came from John Lennon, apparently. (There has been some speculation, and according to the Yale book of quotations, the origin is attributed to writer and cartoonist Allen Saunders.)

Whoever said it, whoever came up with it? There’s truth to it!

We all know that sometimes ‘life’ just happens. And let’s face it, in an ideal world it would happen the way we wanted it to… but we all know that at present our world is less than ideal. I have many moments (some good and some bad) where I find myself stopping to catch my breath, and thinking, ”Wait! What just happened?”

These days, it’s just too easy to ‘get busy and run out of time’. So many occurrences that dim the light of our passions.
Suddenly we notice that yet another week has passed us by, and in reflecting on it we suddenly become aware of the little things : there wasn’t a moment where I experienced a good old belly chuckle; that great thing happened on Tuesday, but I was so worried about the meeting on Wednesday that I didn’t actually take time to appreciate it; my days were so full of ‘being busy’ that I didn’t stop to breathe, and just be ‘me’. And the list goes on and on.

It’s a never ending ‘cycle of life’ for many of us, right?

In a world where bravery and strength only seems to be acknowledged when you’re doing it ‘out loud’, perhaps we should try and pause for a moment, and reflect inwardly, and try and remember that the bravery and strength that lies within our hearts is far more important than the ones that get ‘shouted about’.

There is power in holding joy in your heart
There is power in practicing restraint.
There is power in giving to others – not only in not expecting to get it back, but also in not needing to advertise it.
There is power in being kind – especially to those who ‘don’t deserve it’.

And the bravery and strength within your heart – if your heart is true and you allow these things to consume it (take time to reflect on THEM and educate yourself/absorb your heart and mind in THESE things) – will give you that power…

To ‘do’ life… when it happens…

To learn to live with grace, for yourself, and especially for others!

And to experience a joy that not many people can actually understand!

Please be good to yourselves this week – and to your hearts! Because you are worth it! ❤

Whether the weather

Today’s post is not one of inspiration or motivation – it’s more just a fun rendition of our weather the last few days 😉
They say that South Africa has one of the best climates in the world. While I was ‘made in South Africa’ 😛 I don’t think I was made FOR it! And many will be shocked by my next statement – the seven months I was in the UK? One of my favourite things was the weather!
Sadly, somehow I avoided snow when I was there.
But I still think my body was built for cooler temperatures! 😛 😉

My body definitely is not built for humidity! And I think if I could get past that, I might actually be more inclined to enjoy Summer. I am NOT enjoying Summer so far – and next month is usually our ‘worst’ month. :/

There is a saying around here – ‘hot enough to fry an egg on the bonnet of a car’. I’m starting to think I should try that 😛 I think that yesterday might have been one of those days!

Only about 70% of our shops/businesses have air conditioning. Houses? Maybe 10%, if that. Most bed and breakfasts/guesthouses/hotels have got though. I should have booked myself into one yesterday 😛

Yesterday was one of those ‘can’t breathe, can’t think’ heat days.
By lunchtime, it was 36 degrees celsius (96.8F) – not too bad, right? Except the humidity was at 91%. And on the odd occasion that the wind decided to stir, it was a warm one.

(Apparently this made some people reconsider their religious views 😛 I had an old school mate post on her Facebook status : ”I need to get my butt back into church – I ain’t gonna make it in hell”! 😛 )

All jokes aside though, it was AWFUL. Scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, the complaints were endless… especially since our beaches are closed at this stage of the pandemic. (At the moment, even walking along the road near the beach will get you a fine – you are not allowed to be walking within 100m – 328 feet – from the beach because then you are considered ON the beach?!?!?) Anyway…..

In the midst of scrolling, my aunt in Wales saw that I was online, and sent me a short message… in which she complained about the cold. And I laughed so much! In return, I told her about our heat…. and she decided she’d rather be where she is with her central heating 😛

And she reminded me of a story about my dad! My dad loves hot stuff – curries and foods that make him sweat. (When my son was 4, he wanted to know what Grandpa ate that made his forehead cry!!! 😛 )
One year, while on a road trip, my dad bought himself a jar of homemade Atchar (A South Asian pickle, known as achar, aachar, athanu, achaar or loncha, is a pickled food, native to the Indian subcontinent, made from a variety of vegetables and fruits, preserved in brine, vinegar, or edible oils along with various Indian spices). The jar label said it was ‘very hot’, with a picture of a chilli.
At that time, I was staying with him (I was about 14), and that evening he added some to the mince pasta I had cooked for us. He had one mouthful and it wasn’t just his forehead that cried! Ha ha ha ha!
Upon another inspection of the label, we both laughed. We had read the product as being : Hot-A-Shell
It was actually Hot-As-Hell! 😛 (Written on the label : Hotashell)

Did you know that laughter makes you hotter? 😛

I cannot even begin to explain how happy and relieved I was at 21:00 last night. The weather suddenly shifted – in fact the wind that came out of nowhere even scared my dogs for a brief moment! And it was a COOL wind! Distant rumblings of thunder promised rainfall! I think my heart even skipped a beat it was so happy! 😛 I got up, and took the dogs with me outside, just to feel the cool. I even got some raindrops! It was WONDERFUL!

And I guess there IS some inspiration in this 😛 😉

I found this picture on Pinterest….

Not even the weather 😛

And I remembered this little ‘tongue twister’ I recited years ago, in Junior school,

Whether the weather be fine, or whether the weather be not, Whether the weather be cold, or whether the weather be hot, We’ll weather the weather, whatever the weather, Whether we like it or not.”

May you all continue to whether the weather – may your storms pass, and your joy last 😉

Rainy days

As a child, I was terrified of the dark… and of thunder storms.
I was always told this was a completely unnatural fear.
Then again, I was still scurrying to my parent’s room in the middle of the night at age 9. Waking Dad first was always an advantage – he’d let me slip in next to him and all was well. My mother was a different story – I had to brave the darkness once again and fetch my blanket and pillow, and sleep on the floor next to her. I could see under their bed, and there was always this ‘thing’ there – I was convinced it was a rat that was coming to eat me. At age 9, I remembered to look in the daylight and discovered it was a tennis ball! Ha ha ha!

As a child, I had an incredible imagination! I was a reader… and if the night time’s were anything to go by, perhaps it was to my disadvantage 😛

When I was 12, the ‘harsh light of day’ and the things that happened there made me fall in love with the darkness.
And despite encounters within darkness that were far from pleasant since then – I still love it.

And the true ‘sunshine and happiness’ in my personality are most prominent when it is overcast and raining and ‘gloomy’ outside. (I’ve been told by many that this makes me rather strange – and there is a running joke with a few that I am secretly a Twilight vampire, because I really do not like the sun!) Now I’ll admit that that, and some of my peace, is slightly disturbed when I have to drive in that weather – it has been said that if you can drive safely here in my town, you can drive anywhere. 😛

But I saw this… and was quite surprised to find that this part of me is NOT that strange….

It’s raining here today! The smile on my face doesn’t get any broader!

I am celebrating being a Pluviophile! 😉

Photo credit : positivewordsresearch.com

Calm in your heart

On Sunday, my friend, Wic, published a post called I Choose Peace.

It was, like so many of the Letters to Pogue, thought provoking, and contained many nuggets of wisdom. This particular statement from that post has sat with me the last two days :

”PEACE. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, no trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.
Anon”

As I’ve mentioned before in previous posts, my country is one of high crime, high unemployment, huge issues with corruption within the government, and poverty – just to mention a few.

I wasn’t surprised to discover that South Africa is ranked as the second most stressed out country in the world, losing first place to Nigeria. We gained our second place standing  based on homicide rates, Gross Domestic Product (GDP), income inequality, corruption, unemployment, pollution and life expectancy.

I found an article from 2019 – which means it was researched, tests were done, and it was written all BEFORE the current pandemic.

There is a meme making its rounds on social media that states that ‘living in SA should be allowed to be listed as a skill on my CV’. And yes, most of us here DO laugh at it – but we know the truth in those words too.

In the article I mentioned above, I also happened to have a good belly chuckle at the following extract – because it is just so true :

Bring out the stress balls – South Africa is a mess! A recent global study has revealed the main factors which have South African citizens living in a perpetual state of anxiety and despair. Let’s take a look at the findings.

It has been said that there are two types of people in South Africa: those who can handle massive amounts of stress, and those who need bail money. As South Africans, we even find it stressful to avoid stress, and end up stressed out in anyway. We wake up screaming, and then realise that we haven’t even fallen asleep yet.”

I knew the info in the article. It’s hard not to when you live it, although it’s worse than when the article was written. I also know that my American BFF wouldn’t know any of what was going on if it wasn’t for me – she doesn’t get to see our ‘true news’ in her country, as such. I send her newspaper article links and keep her informed, and she is always shocked at how they (in the US) know nothing about most of it.
I don’t like politics. I don’t like to be negative. But let’s go back to that statement I shared above –
”PEACE. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, no trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.
Anon”
Life, for me here, is stressful – not as stressful as it is for multitudes of others in my country – but it’s still stressful. It’s also quite exhausting – constantly having to be aware of every person who moves, looking over your shoulder in broad daylight, wondering about your safety when you’re putting groceries in your car etc. We live in a constant state of awareness – and that’s tiring.

But I sleep well at night (although if there is a report of someone suspicious within our complex, or sirens on the main road outside, or people screaming, or gunshots, then it may take a while to get to sleep) – but I sleep. I wake during the night with my dogs, but I have no problem going back to sleep unless something ails me.

I don’t worry as much as I possibly should.
I still spread kindness and a smile.
I may not have achieved complete inner peace – there are still some things I need to wrestle with – but I certainly think that peace, the kind that keeps my heart calm, is a very large part of me.
My grandparents sang in the church choir my entire childhood. Grandpa had two favourite hymns, and the one was, ”It is well with my soul”.
In the pandemic, with all that is happening around me, I find myself referring to that hymn a lot in the sense that even though I seem to have had physical ailments (not the virus, no), I have taken comfort in the fact that it is still well with my soul.
There are difficult days – where it is an hour by hour motivational talk to myself to get me through. And it is on those days where I remember how important it is to feed my soul, so that it can be well.
I do not bury my head in the sand and not acknowledge that the problems exist. Outside influences DO affect us…. but it’s how much we are willing to let them affect us where the ‘answer’ lies. I also know that there are places in the world that are worse off, and it hurts me every time I think of them.
My hope for all of you is to achieve that inner peace that can help keep your hearts stay calm in the midst of the storms of life. To pursue a path that will give you the assurance of ‘it is well, despite the circumstances’.
Keep going, dear friends. Peace ❤

Piece of Peace

images

I have a hope that the pandemic has taught us all how very true the above really is. Every new morning that presents itself to us is a gift. And it truly is the greatest gift.
It’s probably the only one that I have no difficulty receiving – I embrace it with open arms; no matter how bad the weather is, my health is, how sleepy my brain is etc. I am always truly happy at being given ‘another shot’ – a whole new day full of possibilities and opportunities. And reasons to smile.

I am a giver, naturally. It’s just something I do, and have no problem doing. I struggle with taking – even when a gift is freely given. This is something I have been made very aware of that needs work. It’s a mindset that needs changing. For if we freely give, then we should also be prepared to freely receive.

And I received a financial gift from a friend who is very dear to me, which enabled me to purchase a new laptop. My previous laptop had lasted almost ten years, but was finally going on the blink more than what it was working. And eventually, it died. And my friend decided to give more than they already do, and sowed into my life financially.
(This friend blesses me daily, with laughter and smiles and excellent soul food – introducing me to things that count and help me grow! It was already more than enough for my hungry heart.)

I have spent the last two days trying to come up with a ‘killer blog post’, to do the gratitude in my heart for this amazing gift justice. I wanted to present you all with a masterpiece that would wow you. A true work of reading art that would encourage, inspire and motivate you as you dip your own paintbrushes into the colourful paint pots for your life canvases.

I came up empty.

But here is a parting thought for you to take into this day with you, and one that I hope you will remember and possibly even dwell on for a while each and every day :
Master Peace

In each day, pause for a moment and focus on peace – inner peace, if you will.
There is turmoil in the world around us, and no doubt we will face trials each day – some small and possibly insignificant, and some that threaten to overwhelm us.
But in each day, we also need to take a moment to ‘see the peace’ as well.
It isn’t unattainable, despite what is happening around us.

But we need to be aware, and sometimes we need to just work a little harder to seek it out, in order to find it. Sometimes all it takes is that pause in the busyness to just breathe. It’s a one step at a time kind of thing – one minute, one hour, one day.

And so I end with my hope for all of you : may you all experience contentment and pure joy starting today and extending into forever ❤

Christmas Every Day

This season is a very demanding time for me. It reaches beyond my children, and the usual chaos of Christmas. Many reach out – because although it’s the season to be jolly, the reality is that it is also a painful time for many – sometimes at the drop of a hat.

As a child, I spent a lot of time with my maternal grandparents. Granny and Grampie (my names for them) were wonderful, in more ways than just regular great ‘grandparents’ are. They introduced me to many of life’s treasures : the arts, theatre and musicals, classical music and music in general, singing,  Scrabble and crosswords, books and poetry and writing. But the greatest treasures they gave me were their time, and lessons of love and kindness and respect for all. 
Growing up, I was a ‘drama queen’ – but not in the sense that I made much ado about nothing. More in the sense that I loved everything to do with Dramatic Arts. I took private drama lessons, and appeared in every school show I could. Grampie used to say I was his ‘little Anne’, because a lot of my reactions as a child came from hours of watching Anne of Green Gables with my grandparents.
When I was eight, my parents took me to see the musical ‘Hello, Dolly’, at the theatre in Cape Town. (We were there to move my brother into his residence for university.)
When it was over, I paused at the top of the flight of stairs on the way out. Surrounded by people, I made my descent slowly and purposefully, imitating Dolly in the show, singing at the top of my lungs, “Hello, Meggie… well, hello, Meggie… it’s so nice to have you back where you belong….”

Being a dramatic young soul, it surprised no one that my favourite story was ‘The Little Match Girl’ by Hans Christian Anderson. I had a large book filled with his stories, but those particular pages were almost grubby, having being visited so many times. Although the story is set on New Years Eve, it was one that was read by me, and to me, all year long – but multiple times during the week leading up to Christmas. As an adult, I have struggled to understand how anyone could read it to me without crying. Because as an adult, each time I read it, the lump in my throat makes it difficult to read out loud – my breath catches in my throat and the tears flow when I am close to the end. Sobs escape, and I pause many times. I have yet to read this story out loud to my children, without frustrating them at the drawn out ending – but they understand, for they struggle too.

When I was 9, Grampie and Granny added to my book collection with another omnibus of stories. The featured story in this book (as it was the title of the collection) quickly became my next firm favourite. It was a story by Oscar Wilde, entitled ‘The Selfish Giant’.
And yes, this story made me cry as well. Although it has nothing to do with Christmas, or New Year – nothing to do with this particular time of year at all – it was another story that I revisited most during Christmas preparation time. And still do, as an adult.

Because both these stories remind me of the things that Grampie, in particular, always tried to teach me. (I was about 10 when my parents split, and Grampie stepped in as a replacement dad as much as he could, when my real dad wasn’t around.)

I am grateful for this Christmas season, because somehow it makes most people more generous. But…

EVERY day is the time for peace, love and joy. EVERY day is the time for compassion and kindness. EVERY day is a time to celebrate, and wish for others the treasures that cannot be bought to be in abundance for them.

EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

But because it’s the season… my wish for you :

The true heart of Christmas (and every day we have 😛 ) is one of wonder and warmth. May any holiday stress you feel fade away and be replaced with this. To those who have lost loved ones during this season, may there somehow be comfort for you. To those who have little, may you be given more. And may we all show kindness and love, and be shown it in abundance too! Merry Christmas to all!

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