Have you visited your own blog site lately? It may have news for you

20200517_142359
Tapestry

 

 

I went through my own blogsite on Saturday– spent some time there, sprucing things up a bit. I changed the appearance– the colour scheme, the font and a few other features. I thought about changing the theme, but I wasn’t feeling quite THAT adventurous, (although according to WP it is quite easy), so I decided to stay with what I know and just tweak and freshen things up a bit. There’s nothing like a bit of a trim and a pop of new colour to help you step up a gear. Oh, and I added a new page, dedicated to my writing dabbles, which I shall add to over time, till it’s bursting at the seams. At the moment there is just one piece of short fiction in there. Baby steps.

 

 

In the process I realised a few things, or maybe it’s more precise to say that I revisited a few truths as I went back in time to my very first blog posts.

 

Have you visited you own blog site lately? Have you been in to check on your hard work, to relive some of those moments? Have you ever checked out old drafts that you saved, but which remained incomplete or for other reasons unposted? Are there any posts that you later deleted from your site because they somehow just didn’t quite work? Is there anything there in your stash of posts and half posts that made you think later, “What was I thinking?” Have you ever gone on to your site and typed into your own search bar, or clicked on your categories, tags (if you are using those particular widgets on your site) and archives? Have you been back to your first ever blog post ?  My first blogs go back to July 2017. Some people’s blogs are far older than that; they have true vintage and deserved to be dusted off and brought to light!

 

Have you ever been truly awe -inspired, retrospectively, by your own astounding wisdom? (Ok, that probably sounds a bit far- fetched, so how about your own ‘humble’ wisdom?) Have you ever looked back over your own blog and thought ‘My word, I didn’t know I had it in me — was it me who did that?’ And what about ‘Wow did I really take those great pictures with my modest little phone camera?’ Or how about ‘Amazing; was it really me doing all that research, including the Latin names of plants that I have growing in my garden; and how about all those inspirational articles I saved from the past, and then going on to link them to my posts because they are just so special that I just had to include them? All that detail!’

 

All the above have happened for me.

 

I think it’s important to look back on your own blog from time to time. Revisit your creations, tumble around with them a bit, and let them guide you on to greater things. And have fun! Looking back helps you track your progress and your trajectory, giving you insight into where you have been and where you might like to go next. It helps you to see your impact out there. It is always good to know that other people have read and gained something from your thoughts and insights, and from your commitment to the things that you are passionate about.

 

Chances are that your posts have been inspired by other people’s blogs and posts, or by comments that they have made over time on your posts. It’s often the reading and reflecting upon other people’s work that stays with us and plants the seeds of our own creations, consciously or otherwise. I have time and again been encouraged and motivated by the insights of other writers and bloggers. Sometimes it seems that we need each other to practice wisdom on. In my own experience, it is often easier to be the pillar of strength and insight for others; it is difficult to be that person for yourself. It’s one of the reasons that we all need each other, I guess.

 

Yet it’s often ourselves who we write for, and not necessarily the other, because there are things that we want to affirm to ourselves, things we want to clarify and crystalise: pieces of research and information that we have stored; adages and quotations that we love; the beauty of trees and birds; photography and other artwork, passages from well loved books, essays, songs or movies, or even something that made you feel outraged or sad or angry today. It’s not always the positive, inspiring things that motivate us to write. We put a stamp on those bits and pieces that have meant something to us, placing them on the page, putting them down in black and white, to be visited over and over as needed. So maybe go back onto your own blog, not as a writer but as a reader. Go in as if for the first time. You might just discover something.

 

And we may do well to remember that if we go around dropping pearls of wisdom, we shouldn’t just let them roll away, never to be seen again. Remember to keep something for yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Revisiting your ‘normal’ while on a slippery (Covid) slope 

20200506_131836
In my garden: Pear Tree under Autumn skies

 

I am accustomed to working from home. What I’m not accustomed to is having someone at home with me, sitting at his desk just on the other side of the pillar while I sit at mine. It’s not really a big deal- while he’s busy on one of his conference calls, or speaking to a colleague on the phone, in go my earplugs and I continue as normal. So on a practical level things have not changed much- I still do pretty much the same stuff as I did before lockdown: cook food, clean house, garden garden, feed cat. And write.

 

 

But my routines here have slipped, or changed, or shifted. Or something. And I’m not alone. People’s lives are being thrown about and turned upside down. Well- laid plans and routines have been usurped by something wild and scary and we don’t know how it’s going to all end. (Whether there is truly an ‘end’ to this is for another article and another day. I think of it more as a ‘beginning’ of something of which we are still at the early stages). I don’t know if it’s because I’m not accustomed to having ‘company’ at home during working hours, or because of the upheaval caused by the Pandemic, but the last day or two is the first time since our lockdown was implemented in late March that I have felt a sense of a sustainable routine creeping back into my day. And it’s not that I wasn’t working. Life was ticking along, albeit accompanied by a certain other ‘ticking’ in the background- the silence of the thing that had thrown everything off course, and has changed Everything, causing misery and uncertainty everywhere. And I think that’s a thing to be reckoned with- that weird feeling of kind of going on with life as normal while something so huge and unwelcome is now so very much a part of our lives.

 

But I see above that I have erroneously switched from “my” to “our”, and one of the things that I wanted for this post is to speak of “my” own experience- what is Amanda thinking, feeling, doing at this time. I can only vouch for how I am feeling, coping, or not coping. And there have definitely been moments of not coping.

 

Aside from the well of emotions such as sadness, anxiety, anger and “well, honestly I’m not really surprised when I think about the appalling ways that we have treated our natural environment,” I have also been dealing with a lot of self-doubt, as in “do I really think I can be a writer? I’m too distractable, too old, not focused enough, and my vocabulary is too basic. And besides, the market is flooded, isn’t it?” So maybe I should just stick to a bit of blogging here and there, and go back to learning a third language (French- which I haven’t spoken since 1979, when I was still at school.) And then I doubt myself even further when I remind myself that I am an experienced Yoga practitioner, who knows (should know) that I am stronger than my thoughts, and that if I just pause and breathe slowly, I should be able to rise above my negative feelings.

 

And it’s true, by the way, that if you pause and breathe, and take a moment to sit up straight in your chair so that your ribcage can lift and let the air in, you will feel better. But sometimes I think I need to remind myself that I am only human, and it’s ok for me to feel unsure of myself, anxious about my abilities, doubtful of my chosen path, or whatever.  And whether lockdown or no lockdown, these feelings may have come up anyway, as happens from time to time. Maybe I thought that I was more ‘on top’ of things than I am, and the “down-ness” and self-doubt that hit me quite suddenly a few days ago was unexpected and quite humbling.

 

Subsequently I spent most of Monday in bed- not sleeping or watching Netflix, but more just ‘slow reading and thinking’: going through articles that I’d saved months ago on my phone for ‘future reference’ (well if this is not the future, then what is?), and then bookmarking or deleting as needed. Also Googled things like ‘writers who started out in their fifties’: that kind of thing. I bookmarked a few sites (including ones I hadn’t visited before here on WordPress) which post regular writing prompts and invite submissions of short stories.

 

I honestly think that seeing how people (all YOU guys who visit my blog and who I love to visit) just getting on with work- running their sites, their blogs and the like, has helped me to come out of the horrible slump that I was experiencing: Thanks everyone, and please keep writing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Times of Trouble: Living with yourself in Lockdown. 

20200417_121305
In my garden: flowering Crassula with Bees

 

Here at the Southernmost tip of Africa, we have just passed our twentieth day in Lockdown. There is that distinct and awkward feeling of trying to carry on as normal, as if nothing unusual is happening. And interestingly, whether unusual or not, we get on with life anyway, don’t we? And many of the challenges are the same as they ever were: the frustration of a laptop which suddenly plays up, or knowing that you need to make that difficult call, or deciding what to make for dinner. But we are fortunate if those are the extent of our concerns. There are people I know who are wondering when, and even if, they are going to be able to get back to earning an income, and others, far worse, who may not even know where there next meal comes from and are dependent at this time on the goodwill of others. On the positive side, there has been a groundswell of individuals and organisations who have reached out and stepped in to help, to try and offer something to people in our midst who are living with very little means of support.

 

 

Are you one of those who finds often, despite many moments spent in self- talk about how Not to take on all the world and its troubles, that you end up doing exactly that? It may help to remember that this may just not be possible, not today, nor in future. And even if it were, would you even wish to be assigned such a task? Are you in fact the best person for the job, and even if you were, would you actually want it? Sounds like a lot of responsibility to me, one that requires great skills which I know I don’t possess. Saving the day usually requires a multi- pronged approach: such as flying in to land in exactly the right spot, rescuing the child (or puppy), fighting off and apprehending the perpetrators, reporting the crime and ensuring that the abusers are bought to justice, offering counseling to the families of the victims, and then making it home in time to cook supper for your own family and attend to your own backlog of admin and other work. It’s just not possible. So we need to make choices here, and that may involve letting some things go, sometimes quite a number of things, if we are to honour the reality that we need to put our own well-being right up there in our list of top priorities.

 

Over this difficult period in particular, I like to remind myself that Peace starts with Me, and by association with the home that I live in, the people and pets that I live with, and the people who regularly come into my home, such as those who work for me in my home and in my garden. ‘Charity begins at Home’, as it goes. And from this place, from my home base, I can decide to help: to serve at a soup kitchen, or to buy food to donate, or to make food at home which I then take to the shelter. I call the vet and the SPCA when a lost dog, weak and injured, possibly hit by a passing car, wanders unsteadily in front of my driveway gate and lies down there. I remember to acknowledge and to thank the people who are at this time working in essential services, including the men and women who are there for me when I go out to buy food and other necessities at this time.

 

I made myself up a short list of ‘Dont’s’ for this time, which may seem counter-intuitive, but I sometimes find that framing things in this way can be a helpful reminder in how to proceed (and how not to) during challenging times. Feel free to refer to both in and out of Lockdown:

 

  • Don’t hold your breath (and that may be taken literally and figuratively here). Waiting for things to change just makes you irritable and impatient, and forgetting to breathe is bad for your blood pressure.
  • Don’t put yourself last. The people that you live with, work with, feel accountable to in any way sometimes will just have to await their turn.
  • Don’t be attached to outcome. Even with your best efforts, things don’t always turn out as planned. Sometimes its best left alone if that is the case. Unless it’s a new washing machine, there are no guarantees.
  • Don’t blame others for decisions that you were party to if you find you are not happy with the outcome. If you dig around without your blinkers on, you may find that you were a willing party in What Happened.
  • Don’t try to be the Rescuer, the Avenger and the Judge. Maybe choose one.
  • Don’t forget to stay grounded. As the Kripalu Yogis say, ‘Learning to stand on your own two feet is more important than standing on your head.’

 

And when it all gets too much we may just need to sit down for a while. To back off a bit. To just breathe, to slow our breathing down. No special techniques required: just slow your breathing down a bit, gently and gradually: imagine that everything is moving in slow motion, and just breathe accordingly. Mouth open or closed, it really doesn’t matter. And if you want to sigh or cry out or just plain cry, then just do so. It’s all good for you. This is your moment, so make it count. And when and if you feel ready, you can start to spread the love. Send loving feelings to wherever and whatever and whoever you so wish. Whatever works for you. Imagine yourself giving out hugs, or flowers or beautiful food. Or parachuting in to save the day. Or laying on healing hands, with the love you feel in your heart emanating out through your palms and fingertips. And don’t forget to include yourself here- you too can be a recipient of your own love and good wishes.

 

And always, if in doubt, just be kind

And remember to include yourself in there ♥

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My year without Blogging

20181221_151516
In My Garden: Water Feature

It’s been a long while since my last blog entry. One whole year and three days has passed by since I last put pen to paper here! This was not unforeseen: I realised early last year that I was being drawn onto a new and different path, as a fledgling writer of fiction that is. I have surprised myself by managing to churn out over twenty short stories since March 2019, many of which are still works in progress as I slowly find my feet in what feels like a whole new world. Last year I read Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury,and things kind of unfolded from there. This is a new experience which blogging has no doubt helped steer me into and helped prepare me for. In many ways, after all, writing is writing- a thing that requires us to put ourselves out there, on days both good and bad. It can be lonely and frustrating, but we press on because it’s worth it! When I look back at some of my blog entries now I feel proud at what I managed to do- all my hard work, and the joy and satisfaction that I felt at a piece well done. And as for the people who I follow and who have followed me, whose writing I have so enjoyed, admired, been deeply touched by, even at times amazed by- a whole gamut of responses and emotions have come up for me just in being part of this community of writers. And whether I blog here once a week or once a year, there is no doubt that this community has been a joy, an education, and a source of inspiration to me, and I will always be grateful for that. Thank you ♥

Chocolate Box pretty, but what’s inside?

20190209_140242

The packaging is often the first thing you notice when you spot something new on the shelves, and a product’s packaging tells you a lot about the company that it’s connected to. For instance: are they using a lot of single use plastic, is the packaging unnecessarily bulky in relation to its contents, does the writing on the packaging contain helpful information about the company and its products, and what does the written information say about the ingredients used, especially in edible products? But there is a lot of other stuff to consider if you really want to understand if the company is running their business ethically, for instance how they source their raw materials, how their business impacts the natural environment, and how they treat their workers. If you visit the wonderful The Green Stars Project site, you will see that consumers (you and me) are encouraged to submit reviews using an amended version of the gold star rating system found on many retailer’s and review sites, by including a green star rating system based on social and environmental impact.

The product I chose for this purpose is Beyer’s Craft Gin Truffles, produced by Beyer’s Chocolates here in South Africa. I wanted to review a local product rather than imported, and chocolate seemed like a good idea, because when isn’t chocolate a good idea?! I had planned to post this on the shopping site PriceCheck.co.za, but I couldn’t find my chosen product for review on their stock list, so I decided to blog about it instead. Here then is the review:

 

 

 

 

 

Beyers Chocolates: Craft Gin Truffles, milk and dark chocolate

Ratings: (3.5/5 Gold stars*) /  (3/5 Green stars*)

Love the dark chocolate specially. Wish they had valid certification and less plastic. 3/5 green stars.
  • The box contains 9 chocolate balls in 3 varieties. Pretty, handmade chocs. All deliciously flavourful, although I found the Cranberry and Honeybush filling too sweet, and the milk chocolate outer generally a bit sweet. My favourite is the Classic Gin&Tonic filling, surrounded by rich dark chocolate.  The product is well priced, especially if compared to imported products of the same quality. The packaging is very attractive: a simple cardboard box, decorated with florals and other botanicals, although I didn’t like the thin plastic film that went over it. I checked the ingredients list and noticed that they stated merely ‘flavouring’ as one of their ingredients, so I went on to their website to find out more. The website states that they use no artificial colours or flavours, and that none of their ingredients are chemically treated. This is a big plus for me.

 

 

  • In terms of ethical rating, I like the fact that this is a local product,crafted in South Africa. The company’s website describes a very good record of CSR in terms of creating employment within their company and supporting ongoing training in the food and beverage industry outside of the company. In terms of their trading they state that: “Beyers Chocolates only works with companies that ensure a 100% sustainable cocoa supply chain. Our supply base invests in programmes that empower cocoa farmers by providing improved access to agricultural training and other support services. Additionally, the sustainability initiatives help to generate income for these farmers and their families, whilst also safeguarding the environment.” They also support the Amarula Elephant Research Programme, which studies elephant behaviour and develops conservation management strategies. All this considered, I am disappointed to see that they have no visible valid Certification: nothing stating Fair Trade or Organic and nothing regarding their cocoa supply chain. I found this disappointing, and found myself reluctant to award a high Green Stars rating because I felt I needed more confirmation of their position/ status. If they do have certification, I failed to find it on their website or see it on their packaging information.

 

  • I found that their packaging is sub-standard on a couple of things: They haven’t included any information about what ‘flavourings’ they use and whether they are natural or artificial, and I had to go onto their website for this. There is also no information regarding the packaging materials used and whether they are recyclable or compostable. I also feel that they could have included more interesting and pertinent information about some of their ‘green’ commitments and achievements, such as previous awards for providing learnership and employment opportunities. Regarding their packaging, I was quite shocked on opening the box to find that each chocolate ball was contained in a separate envelope of see-through plastic, and that in fact everything could have fitted comfortably into a box around half the size. The wasteful packaging and the amount of cheap looking, single use plastic was a big disappointment for me, both from a Gold Star and a Green Star perspective.

 

  • Another big no-no for me is that sadly the product contains palm oil. I can find nothing on their packaging or on their website that explains how they source this: sustainably or otherwise.

 

  • In conclusion, I would love to award this company a high score because there is a lot that they are getting right. However considering the fact that they have no certification, their poor packaging and labelling, including a lot of single use plastic, and their use of palm oil which is not marked as sustainable, left me awarding them a 3/5 Green Stars rating. For their Gold Stars I have considered that I enjoyed the dark chocolate option the best (that’s 3 out of the 9 chocolates), and that even though the box was very pretty it also contained cheap looking packaging inside. For this I have awarded them 3.5/5 Gold Stars.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to bring Mother Nature to your door

tilt shift photo of two white bird eggs on a nest
Photo by Maurício Filho on Pexels.com

Outside the window to my left there is a nest in our mulberry tree. Both parents are back and forth constantly, carrying wormy morsels for consumption by two tiny, hungry baby birds. I have been watching this beautiful process for about three weeks now, starting when I noticed the two adults putting the final touches to their compact little nest, right in front of the glass doors at one entrance to our house. If I wanted to I could clear the distance between the entrance and the tree in two or three strides, stand on the bench just beneath it, and reach up and touch the nest. At first I thought I was surely mistaken: why would they build so close by? Had they not noticed that there are people living here, using this very entrance several times a day? Not to mention our cat (okay, he’s elderly and has never climbed that tree, but he’s often in the area), and that all things considered they had best find another spot?

 

But they persevered. Days later it became clear that there were eggs in the nest, with one adult spending a lot of time sitting there with his or her mouth open, (I think they take turns) and awaiting sustenance. The other parent’s job is then to fetch and carry food, to make sure that the other doesn’t go hungry. And then suddenly there were babies. We couldn’t spot the babies at first, but there was clearly some feeding of little ones going on, with both parents involved and alternating between sitting, finding food and generally fussing around the area in a parent-y kind of way.

 

The birds are Karoo Thrushes, common in Johannesburg gardens and preferring shady, woody areas under trees, where they can forage for insects, spiders and other small creatures.

 

Within a few short weeks this particular little family has flourished, despite several thunderstorms (typical of Johannesburg at this time of the year) which could knock the sturdiest of birds’ nests sideways in no time. Each time, I waited with bated breath whilst rain and hail poured down and wind howled, with loud thunder claps and lightning flashes enough to make your heart skip a beat.  As the storms abated I would peer out and noticed with relief that the little nest was still in tact with one parent, soaking but stoic, still huddled down, covering and protecting the young ones beneath.

 

The first time I first saw the babies was beaks- up, mouths wide open, awaiting the descent of the morsel held in the parent’s beak as he/she alighted the nest. Even more special was the first time I spotted their little bobbing heads, faintly downy and backlit by the morning sun behind the tree, creating a bright little fuzzy halo of newly forming feathers.

 

The past five years (almost exactly to the day) has seen many special wild creatures visiting our garden, some even making it into the house. Spiders: some of them venomous, frogs, herons (which catch and devour the frogs and goldfish in our pond), a tawny eagle, an owl, a small snake, flying bats, scorpions, a variety of wasps, bees and butterflies, damsels and dragonflies, and of course an endless variety of garden birds.

 

How to bring Mother Nature to your door? I can’t say exactly, but no doubt our organic garden (no chemical fertilizers or pesticides) helps to create the right environment. But more than that: perhaps the secret ingredient is love 🙂 The people living here and holding this space do so with love and commitment to an eco-friendly lifestyle and to ‘treading lightly upon this earth’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My mid-summer garden: Circa January 2019.

20190113_100058
In my garden: Cucumber vine (early stages of fruiting)

 

My garden has breathed a sigh of relief, following some impressive afternoon thunderstorms, so typical of Johannesburg at this time of the year. Many a seedling wilted and died last month, after weeks of unrelenting, frustratingly rain-less heat which rendered even the toughest of our garden plants (aloes and crassulas) gasping for relief. January 2019 has offered some rainy respite, bringing with it a sense of fresh renewal and the garden has responded accordingly. Not that we haven’t had some failures: seeds lovingly planted have mysteriously not produced (I have learnt to accept that this sometimes is just so), seedlings have shriveled and expired in the heat, and our lovely lettuce was set upon by some bug or worm with a very large appetite. In this case I have been determined not to use chemical insect repellents, and thankfully our preferred organic alternatives are slowly making an impact.

Please enjoy the pictures to follow. Each one snapped by me earlier today:

 

 

20190113_132008
Borlotti Beans

 

 

20190113_100250
Perfectly ripe red apple

 

20190113_093404
Comfrey, red Salvia and Origanum

 

20190113_094359
Tree stump and Bulbanella

 

 

20190113_093154-1
Agapanthus and bee, with white Alysum in background

 

 

20190113_094124
Cycad (new growth in centre) with pond in background

 

 

 

20190113_100543
Vietnamese Coriander: pungent and delicious

 

20190113_093547
Our garden angel, with Rose Quartz. Pond reeds in background

 

 

 

♥♥♥

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading

How to make friends with a Venomous Garden Spider (and would you want to)

branches-insect-natural-39494
Free Photo. Source: Pexels

When I spied this poisonous Brown Button spider and her eggs clinging to the underside of a piece of garden furniture, I felt a strong pull of sympathy and fascination and less of the horror and alarm that some might expect. I even felt a bit guilty for not having noticed her when I initially pulled the chair away from it’s normal shady spot two days ago, and placed it on the lawn in the baking hot sun where it has been  ever since. Waiting to be scrubbed clean along with some other pieces of garden equipment. (We will get round to that). I felt a distinct sense of kinship with this spider mother who was after all, just trying to give her kids a home and fighting chance in a harsh world, and here I come along and spoil the whole plan by exposing them, belly side up, to the blazing summer sun and the possibility of predators, such as certain birds.

 

 

20181206_1230141

 

I have come across venomous spiders before in Johannesburg gardens, and I knew by sight that this one was not severely venomous. It’s the Black Button (Widow) that you’ve really got to be careful of: typically a bite from one of those results in a hospital admission and having your vital signs measured for about 24 hours. A bite from the Brown Button is less severe and more localised, and symptoms in a healthy adult will normally clear up within a few days. Button Spiders will only attack if threatened; not exactly the vicious predators they are sometimes made out to be.

 

Well anyway, there we were: myself, the spider and her little brood of two, with me wondering what to do next. A nice photograph of the little family seemed appropriate, so I leaned in slowly with my phone and clicked. She immediately darted into her nest, which you can clearly see in the above pic: it’s the pocket shaped mass to the right of the photo, with her balancing at the mouth. Pleased with my nicely detailed close-up, and feeling somewhat bonded with this little trio, I felt inclined to offer them some shelter, so I lifted the chair (easy enough; its made of a light plastic) and moved the whole lot into a shady spot on the patio.

 

And that’s where we are now. But the harder part comes later, because clearly a decision will have to be made. We are encouraged to ‘get rid’ of poisonous creatures from our homes and gardens, and that can mean different things to different people. So when my husband gets home later from an undoubtedly long and hard day, we will still have a little date with Mother Nature to attend to.

 

 

For more on spiders and snakes in South Africa:

http://www.arc.agric.za/arc-ppri/Pages/Biosystematics/Spider%20Research%20Centre/Venomous-Spiders-Neurotoxic-venom.aspx

 

https://www.news24.com/Travel/Guides/Bush/Beware-Snakes-and-spiders-to-watch-out-for-20130814

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black Friday: where is YOUR money going this time?

 

black-friday-2018

I have stayed away from the shops today, and I will not be going online to look for Black Friday deals. Yesterday on a local radio station the guest for the morning was a representative from SADAG, Africa’s largest mental health support and advocacy group. She invited listeners to go to the SADAG website and make a donation. “Do Something Memorable This Black Friday: Save A Life”, says their Welcome Page. I went ahead and made my online donation, pleased to know that my contribution is enough to cover their costs for telephone counselling for 10 people in need over the holiday period, or any other time.

 

Amongst its many services to thousands of South Africans in need, the group manages a crisis and referral call-in centre, managed by volunteers. One of the things she discussed was the rise in numbers of calls that they can expect over the upcoming holiday season. For many people, whether they live with mental illness or not, Christmas brings stress, anxiety, feelings of loneliness and a sense of being unable to cope.

 

 

And even amongst the luckiest of us, who doesn’t feel like skipping Christmas sometimes?! I consider myself fortunate to have friends and family to spend time with over Christmas, but it can feel like a lot of hard work and sometimes an ‘alternative’ Christmas, one that you can appreciate on your terms, sounds like the way to go. Like watching series for the day, on the couch, on your own, with just the dog and the cat for company. Or floating in the pool with a glass of bubbly or a cocktail (Southern Hemisphere Christmas has that kind of climate, so we have the advantage on this one 😉 ). Or just being able, guilt-free, to turn down that lunch invitation because you just don’t feel like it! How many of us get THAT one right? …. Or how about donating your time for the day to a good cause? Five years ago my husband and I spent the day helping prepare  and serve a Christmas lunch for a special needs group. Thing is, there is always more than one way of spending our time and our hard earned money, whether its for Christmas or for Black Friday. So maybe spend a little on a good cause. Its worth the effort, and you will feel the better for it 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes you just want to have fun

 

1449049
Image by Pexel

I treated myself to a few online purchases recently: 3 movies, 1 series and 3 books. Part of the fun is that sense of happy anticipation while I await my order and that Yes! feeling I get when the parcel arrives and I just know that the wait was worth it. Now there’s the fun of looking forward to indulging in my new purchases in the weeks or months to come, when the time is right. The books are for my husband, while I now have two covetable classics: ‘The Misfits’ and ‘Roman Holiday’, and ‘Luther’ an historical drama to enjoy over the holidays. We have already started watching ‘Borgen’, a Danish political drama from the popular Nordic Noir series, which we love, subtitles and all.

 

Then there are the spontaneous, unplanned ways to have fun, when opportunities suddenly pop up and you find you’ve been gifted with a little surprise. This afternoon for example, following several days of dry, baking heat, the clouds started to gather overhead and I lay, flat out on a patch of lawn as a few tiny, delicious drops of cooling rain came softly down. I rolled around a bit on the cool grass, full length, from side to side, reminded of childhood days when my siblings and I would play at tumbling down the grassy slope near our house, laughing all the way. After a few minutes I got up and went back inside feeling quite refreshed and revived after my little brush with nature. Speaking of unplanned fun (and nostalgia), a few weeks ago I switched on the TV in the middle of a weekday (not my usual routine) to test whether the remote was working, and Lo and Behold, there was a re-run of an episode of Magnum PI… Tom Selleck, shorts and botanicals printed shirt and all! I couldn’t resist. I used to love watching Magnum PI in the 80’s. I ended up watching the best part of a full hour while I did the week’s ironing. True nostalgia…and loads of fun 🙂

 

There must be as many ways to have fun as there are people on the planet, considering that we all come with our individual likes and dislikes, available resources, and whether we are aged 6 or 60. Then of course we get fun on different scales, like the big overseas trip which you’ve been planning for ages, or fun on a tiny scale such as a quick game of Soduko on your phone to see if you can beat your previous score. We all sometimes need a break, a distraction, from the everyday, the ordinary, and the things that have become frustrating and infuriating. We need fun for our peace of mind and to help us keep a sense of perspective in our lives and also just, well, for fun.