Day 20

What do you see?

We so often spend our lives in a complete frenzy of busyness, I know I do. We rush from one thing to another, ticking things off from our “to do” list as we go. Whether at work or at home, life can get decidedly busy. Busy can be good, we are probably being productive in many ways. The trouble may come if we are so busy, we do not have time to see or reflect. There may be so many things we are missing out on.

I find in Winter time this is so much worse – the days are short; you leave home in the dark, come home in the dark; and the evening and time spent inside seem very long. Now it is getting lighter we can “see” more. I looked out of my windows today – really looked. I look out of my window every day but I had failed to see. I had not noticed the bush in my neighbour’s garden had been shaped and was showing red buds; the sticky buds are out on the tree and another neighbour has had a new shed/summer house built. How had I looked but not seen?

Sometimes our minds are so frantic, we do not allow ourselves time to reflect. Some may recognise the saying ‘ we can’t see the wood for the trees’. Maybe we are looking for a solution to a problem but cannot think clearly. Take some time to take a step back and look AGAIN, the answer could be right there in front of you.

On this extra day – take a step back and open your mind and your eyes and just allow yourself to ‘see’.

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Day 19

Never judge … continued

I believe truly that we need to remember that what we ‘see’ is not necessarily what we get. We met a homeless guy a few years ago and have made friends with him. He is actually not homeless any more; but still sits on the street as his benefits only cover his rent and not his food and other essentials. He never ‘begs’ or asks for anything but accepts what he is given. On fist sight he is probably one of those people you might walk past, trying desperately to look busy and avoid meeting his eyes; I know I’ve done it! Yet dig a little deeper, have a conversation. Turns out he is just a regular guy, just like you and I; but he fell on hard times. He has health problems (probably from years on the streets) and he looks a good 10-15 years older than he actually is. He also has hopes and aspirations. He is polite, well mannered and kind. He needs people –  a friendly word, a hug, a “how are you today?” People are not always as they seem.

Take an older person, for example. They will have a wealth of knowledge and life experience that we can learn from; yet we so often brush them aside or do not give them the time of day. Perhaps we are in a hurry and get stuck behind them. Instead of taking the time to say hello, we rush on – that person may not have spoken to anyone all day (maybe for days). They probably go to the shops to get some human contact. We might believe they are ‘past it’, outdated and so on; but they will have  been through joy and pain just as we do. Inside, I bet they probably feel just like me and you too – just as they did when they were 20 or 30. The soul does not age like the body does.

Slow down and give someone your time today – guaranteed they will appreciate it.

Day 18

Never judge a book by it’s cover

Well it is quite an old saying but it still holds true today. What does it really mean though? If you take it literally, it obviously means that you should not judge a book by what you see on it’s cover – you never know what might be inside. Metaphorically speaking of course, it is often applied to people. Do not judge a person by the way they look or how they dress or appear to you.

We are all quick to judge, myself included. We see a person dressed a certain way and assume this means they are a certain ‘type of person’. This can often be a total mismatch with reality. Equally we may see a person acting in a certain way and we assume we know what is going on. Obviously we don’t. We need to get the whole picture or know the whole story!

Remember every person you meet knows something you do not. Listen to them and learn from them. Don’t assume you always know best. Also, every person you see or meet is going through their own problems and battles that you know nothing about. They may look like they have it altogether, but we do not know what is going on beneath the surface.

I will always remember the day we went up to London by train, to see my Mum who was dying in hospital. A guy at a station told me to “smile, it’s not that bad”. Little did he know; it couldn’t have got much worse! We should never assume and we should definitely think before we speak.

Never judge … (continued tomorrow)

Day 17

Tiredness can kill – take a break

So we have all seen these signs on the motorway warning us that driving when tired can lead to deaths on the road. Very true. Many times I have driven with the window down and the radio on whilst talking to myself to stay awake. However, consider too other circumstances when this is true. I do not intend to make this a political statement, but think for a minute about the current junior doctor working hours debate. These doctors work super long hours, sometimes on back to back shifts; and they hold people’s lives in their hands on a daily basis. The decisions they make, often when tired and when their judgement may therefore be impaired; have a massive impact on other people’s lives. Would you want an exhausted doctor making decisions about you and yours? Someone who hasn’t had a break, eaten properly or had any ‘down’ time? I know I don’t.

Having been on a two day first aid course yesterday and today, where I left the house before 8 and got back after 7 with a half hour lunch break, then had to walk my dog and was too tired to cook dinner; I truly sympathise with those who do this or worse on a daily basis. How do they even function – never mind make life changing, difficult and challenging decisions?

I can remember when my Nan and Grandad were in a nursing home, sometimes bemoaning the fact that the carers did a lot of paperwork and not much caring! However, I did also try to always remember these people were doing 12 hour shifts (day or night) every day! Exhausting!

The Bible tells us “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) Let us all remember the importance of rest and sleep tonight.

Day 16

Be true to who you are

I want to talk today about being true to yourself. It can sometimes be tempting to follow the crowd or be led by others. This is fine if it fits into what you believe, however we should not compromise or be swayed to stray off ‘our’ path. Do not let anyone dictate to you how you should think or feel, what you should do or say; know in your heart what is right and do that. What is right for one person is not necessarily right for another. God gave us a conscience for a reason. If it feels bad it probably is, and there is probably a very good reason not to be doing it.

Where is your peace? Sometimes God makes us lose our peace about something, and that is usually a good indication that we should not be doing it. If we are stressed, worried or anxious that could just be that it is a new situation and we are adjusting to it; however learn to sense your feeling of peace. If you lose this then the chances are you should not be pursuing something.

Someone who has been kindly reading my blog mentioned in a comment that I was brave to share my thoughts with others. However, for me I do not feel it is brave at all. I do not speak for others to affirm what I have to say; merely to have a voice. If you agree or disagree as a reader; like it or dislike it; it matters not. What matters is purely that I am true to myself and to what I believe.

How can you ‘be true to you’ today?

Day 15

Live in the moment

This is something I definitely struggle with, but I am working on it! I have always been a worrier, I worry about things I’ve done and things I have yet to do. I over-analyse everything. I think about the past and what might have been. I probably waste a lot of emotion on things that have happened and things that will probably never happen!

My Mum and my Nan used to say ‘Today has enough worries of it’s own’ and don’t go to bed worrying about things you can do nothing about. This actually comes from the Bible; “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of it’s own” (Matthew 6:34). If we keep ourselves firmly fixed in the day we are in; if our focus in on enjoying the present moment, then this is where we will find peace and joy.

We need to be realistic ~ life is a mixture ~ there will be good and there will be bad. The good will come and go. The bad will come and go. If we spend our lives dwelling on the past or pondering the future, we will miss all that is valuable today. We get only one shot at life, we do not want it to pass us by.

One way I have found has helped me, is to re-frame my thoughts in the context of one question ~ will this matter in 5 years time? Perhaps if you have had a bad day or something hasn’t quite gone to plan, consider this – if the house did not get cleaned or the car wouldn’t start and you were late to work – would it matter in 5 years time? Usually the answer is NO.

How can you make sure you live in the moment today?

Day 14

Loving yourself

Yesterday I talked about What is love?, today I want to consider loving oneself. Until you love yourself, you can never truly love someone else. Many people are worried about the concept of loving oneself. However, for me there is no greater importance. Yes, it is important to love others but it is hard to show love to others if we do not love ourselves. Ultimately in life we are alone. We can be surrounded by others but still be alone. If you can depend on yourself and be strong for yourself (with God behind you of course), then others will be able to rely on you also.

Many people, often sadly young people, struggle to like themselves, never mind love themselves. We can all suffer from being self-critical and this is not necessarily a bad thing; because it makes us want to improve ourselves. If this means we try to be more loving, kind, patient, friendly, then that is great. The trouble is when we do not value ourselves. If we do not think we are worthy of love – who will love us? Some people believe they are too ugly, too fat, too thin, too short, tall … the list goes on. Let us remember none of us are perfect. We all have our good and bad points. Yet we are all worthy of love.

Do you recognise any of these traits in yourself? I know I have suffered myself from this in the past. However, now I know I am loved and I have learnt to love myself. Why not make a list today of all your lovable attributes and then make one for someone else you know – maybe a sibling, partner, a parent, a child; even someone you find it really hard to love. If we try hard enough, we can all find the good in ourselves and others.

Love yourself today.