Category Archives: fear

4 Secrets My Snowman Showed Me About Having A Positive Spin

 

He was my first snowman.

My cheeks were red with excitement and the cold.  All he needed was a hat and I ran indoors to ask mum if I could use one  of my knitted ones. With great ceremony I put it on his head and then stood back. He was as tall as me! He was smiling, and I’d made him all by myself.

That night, while I was getting ready for bed I heard an ominous sound. I knew what it was, it was the sound of water dripping. The icicles by the back door were melting and the snow looked different somehow. I stared put between my curtains at my snowman in the middle of the garden and tears crept down my cheeks.

Next morning he was gone. Just his blue knitted hat lay on the emerging grass, with his lumps of  coal eyes.

Last week I thought about that snowman.

I thought about the snow we’d just had and how people reacted to it. I realised that my long-ago snowman had started me on the road to having a Positive Spin.

Here are the 4 Snowman Secrets to having a Positive Spin:

1.   It’s  too easy to say ‘No.’

The day is snowed heavily we could have easily said ‘No’ to going out. After all, the house was very cosy, we had stuff we ‘ought’ to have been getting on with. But out we went. What we would have missed if we’d stayed in!

Exquisite beauty, twigs transformed, a silent world, a traffic free road and childlike fun.

I’m going to try to say ‘Yes’ far more in my life. What about you?

It’s so easy to feel wary, scared, afraid of change. But when we say ‘Yes’, we rarely regret it.

2.  We must appreciate people while they’re with us.

I was so sad when my snowman ‘died’. I’d only just met him and he was gone again.

I don’t want to sound morbid, but it’s often not until people leave us that we realise their importance in our lives.We must tell them how much they mean to us, show them we value them and give them hugs, virtual or real.  It never seems to be the right moment. I’m going to try to tell them more often …

3.   We must be proactive.

If I hadn’t built my snowman that day it would have been too late. It didn’t snow again that winter. I would have missed it.

It’s the same with life’s opportunities. If we don’t ‘seize the day’, the day will be gone. When we have the chance to learn something new, travel to a new place, make a new friend, we must take it. Before the opportunity disappears.

4.   Take that risk!

We went to see the children sledging. It was a delight to see them. And then, as you know from this post, I was offered the chance to join in. It would have been so easy to say ‘No’. But I said ‘Yes’ and took the risk. If I’d waited for another day, the snow would have melted, and who knows when another chance would come? When will we next get snow?

Chances to do new things will come your way. Follow your instinct. If it feels right, do it! New course? Learn to dance? Learn to ski? Why not!

I realise that having a Positive Spin is not practical all the time. But once you start to develop the habit, you’ll be surprised, as regular readers will know.

It’s like rolling a snowball. It grows… and grows…

… until it’s a way of life.

I’ve chosen to seize the day and upgrade this blog.

There’ll be a new look very soon! I could have waited until another day, but I decided the time was right. I’ll enjoy developing  and improving it for you, I’m certain of that.

Are you going to miss out on a magical, exciting experience?

Or are you going to say ‘Yes!’ and develop your Positive Spin?

What are you going to say ‘Yes’ to in 2011?

Do tell us. We all need some inspiration…

Header by cursedthing, post pic by theirhistory, on Flickr.

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How To Customise Your Christmas and Cut the Stress

Do you sometimes feel it’s all too much?

Do you feel caught in a Christmas trap?

I used to. I worried about every aspect of the approaching ‘Festive Season’, feeling far from festive. And then my son, who knew how I was feeling said this:

‘Mum, why don’t you choose the parts of Christmas that you like and leave the parts you don’t like? You don’t have to do all of it!’

I was reminded of when I bought my new Mini.

I knew the colour I wanted but that was it. The salesman had to talk me through how I could customise my new car. He explained which features came as ‘Standard’ and then presented me with choices for all the rest of the spec. Bit by bit I built up the picture of the car I wanted, choosing fabric or leather seats, interior and exterior colours, automatic or gear shift and so on.

The Mini I collected bore very little resemblance to the one in the brochure because I’d chosen how I wanted it to be. I’d ‘customised it’.

You can do this with the Christmas holiday.

 There are no rules apart from the fact that we all celebrate (or not) on the same day. You do need to be positive and assertive (not arrogant) but with a bit of practise, you can do this!

What comes as ‘standard’?

  • A day for giving gifts
  • Food
  • Decorations
  • A tree
  • Cards
  • Family time
  • Parties
  • Carols

You will want to add more to my list but let’s look at the first three.

How to customise.

  • Gifts.

You need to get ahead on this one, if you’re going to change from the ‘standard’ requirements. If you want to change who you buy for, perhaps only for children and not for adults, let people know your intentions well in advance, to avoid embarrassment or upset. It’s not easy to change a long-established routine but it is possible to do it if you are sure that’s what you want to do.

You could write down what you’ll say and even practise saying it until you’re confident.

  • Food

Ok, so the turkey roast followed by Christmas pud, mince pies, large amounts of cream and custard, is fairly ‘standard’. But you can customise!

Christmas food should be special. That get’s hard to do when we have the ridiculous amounts of ‘special’ food in the shops all year round.

One way to customise your Christmas food is to choose your favourites. If you love fillet steak but it’s a rare treat, or your mother is coming and her favourite is steak and kidney pie then that’s what you have! Try to have the food that’s a ‘treat’ for as many of your guests as possible.

If you choose to spend the day with your OH then it’s easy to have your favourite food but it can still be done with the family. Not everyone wants turkey when they can have it on any day of the year.

  • The family.

Not so easy to customise but not impossible. Here are a few suggestions:

Decide, well in advance, where you and your family want to be for Christmas. At home? On holiday? At your parents? Your parents at yours? Once it’s decided, stick to it. A few feathers might be ruffled but there’s no rule that says you have to do what you always do. You can change the habit, if it’s a habit you don’t like…

Do you spend much of the holiday driving your children to see step – parents, grandparents, divorced parents, so much so that everyone’s bad-tempered and the children hate it? If it’s what you want to do, and most importantly, if it’s what the children want to do, fine. If not, decide how to customise.

It’s about forward planning. It’s about taking the ‘I ought’ out of the equation and replacing it with ‘I’m happy to’.

I was delighted, and still am, with my beautiful blue Mini. Every time I drive it I smile. (Except in snow.) It suits me fine but I know it wouldn’t be everyone’s choice.

You can customise Christmas, to suit your capabilities, needs, emotions and stress levels.  It’s not selfish in a bad way, it’s simply deciding what you can cope with. As my son said, so wisely, you can include the parts you love and leave out the parts that concern you. That way, you might even enjoy it!

How do you deal with the varying ‘obligations’ of the Christmas season?

Are you changing things this year?  

 Have you ‘customised’ Christmas?

Do pass on your hints and tips.

 

Header by cursedthing, post image by the mullett, on Flickr.

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What Will You Risk For The First Time This Week?

I thought I was good at it.

Taking risks, I mean. I’ve certainly faced some fears (see my This Is Me page) and taking risks? Not a problem. Except this week…

The fear of an event is nearly always worse than the actuality, so I’ve read. I believe it’s true but I have to force myself to act on it sometimes.

I remember the waterfall in the Lake District.

We'll have to turn back

The roar of the torrent, the spray everywhere, the sheer height. I was overawed by it but somehow we had to cross over to the other side or else turn back.  I stood and stared, fear fluttering in my chest. 

As I stood there getting more and more scared, my attention was caught by a child in a red jacket, and his dog. He was running along, in front of his dad, clambering up the grassy path towards me, heading for the edge of the water fall. Then he disappeared from view and I assumed the path cotinued through the gorse bushes at the side.

I was still wondering whether we should turn back and take a different track, when there he was, on the other side of the waterfall, his red coat zig-zagging away and his dog following.

His dad was close by where I stood.

‘He’s crossed over! How on earth has he done it? Surely it’s too risky!’

He smiled.

‘We often come this way. If you go round the corner you’ll see the stepping stones! They’re slippery but it’s OK to cross if you take care!’

This week I’m taking a ‘risk’ with my blog.

I’ve decided to update this site and move on to the next stage of blogging.

Here’s how it’s going so far:

  • I decided I want to make the change.

Making the decision to make any change is often the easiest part. It’s only in your mind at this stage. No risk yet.

Writing it down can make it more real, so long as you don’t tell anyone, then you can still ‘turn round and go back’.

I did exactly this: I wrote down my plans to up-grade, but kept it to myself.

  • You seek support

If you’re scared to take the risk by yourself, look for someone to guide you.

Want to change career? Travel alone? Learn to ski? Write a novel? Talk to those who’ve’ been there, done it and got the t-shirt.’  I love this Danish Proverb: ‘He knows the water best who has waded in it.’

I did exactly this: One of my blogging friends, Arvind Devalia has indeed ‘been there, done it…’ and he is a consultant in this area. He will guide me through the whole process and I need have no fear.

  • What if?

Yes! I said it.

What if… I can’t manage the change?

OK, but what if I can, with Arvind’s expert help?

There’s always another way, just like the stepping stones that were hidden from our view that day. When we want to make a change or take a risk, it seems scary at first. But once you’ve thought it through, decided, and found support you’ll be so glad you did.

And, by the way, the view from the other side of the waterfall was stunning…

‘Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step.’

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Now it’s your turn.

What will you risk for the first time, this week ?

Header image by cursedthing, post image by 

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Today I Met an Invisible Man

He was standing by the supermarket entrance.

Most people hurried past, lists in their hands, trolleys leading the way. It was pouring down and soggy umbrellas dripped everywhere, making the trolleys wet. Time to stop for a few minutes to buy a poppy?  For most, no time to even look up.  Just needed to get the shopping, get home and get dry. End of.

I watched from a distance, under the shelter of my umbrella. The rainy day didn’t bother him one bit. He was far stronger than that. A drop of rain was nothing. Not when you’ve been out in freezing temperatures, in the Arctic, protecting the cargo ships taking vital supplies to the Russians on the Eastern Front.

 
The Russians were our allies and desperately needed fuel, tanks, planes and ammunition. Those Russian Convoys were desperately needed. Which is why the Germans did all in their power to bombard them and sink the ships.

No-one could survive in those icy, mountainous seas.  A minute or two in the water and they’d die of cold. No point in looking for survivors. Had to leave them behind and sail on.

No, a drop of rain was no problem for this immaculate veteran, with his medals proudly displayed. I asked him about the medals and he told me he was in the Russian Convoy Club.

‘You’re too young to have heard of it’, he grinned.

I grinned back.

‘Do tell me about it’, I asked.

And that’s how I met an invisible man.

And heard his story, while some people stopped to buy a poppy from him but most walked by. Perhaps they’d already bought one. 

I’m glad I had the privilege of meeting this proud man and hearing about his young self who braved the Arctic ice with his comrades, 3,000 of whom never returned.

As I drank my coffee in the coffee shop, I gazed around at  the other customers. Some of them were elderly. What would their story be? How was it for them in World War Two?

It’s easy to dismiss the old and frail with not even a glance. But they weren’t always old and frail. They were the same as us once, and they all have a worthwhile story to tell, if only we’d take the time to listen. They deserve our respect and our thanks.

Who will you remember, tomorrow, on Armistice Day?

  • I’ll think of my friend who never knew her father. He was killed before she was born. Every year her mother proudly attended a Remembrance service. She never re-married.
  • I’ll think of my own father, who repaired the gliders that carried men to France to parachute silently into occupied  territory. Thankfully, he survived the war.
  • I’ll  think about Afghanistan and the seemingly endless killing. I’ll think about the innocent children in that country who are addicted to drugs because it’s cheaper for their families to buy drugs than to buy food, now that their bread-winner  has been killed.

But this year I shall also think about the invisible man I met on a rainy day outside the supermarket.

Who will you think of.

Header image by cursed thing, post image by US Geological Society, on Flickr

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How I Learnt What’s Important

Let’s go to the Caribbean!

It was 7.00 am.

The phone rang.

We’d been sitting up in bed with a coffee, discussing our holiday plans. So many ideas, all sounding enticing, but which to choose?

We’d love to return to the Caribbean. Been before, twice in fact, and absolutely loved it. After all, what’s not to love? Jewell coloured seas, glorious skies we can normally only imagine here,  friendly people, white sand, rainbow fish…. I think you get my drift.

Or we could go over to Ireland. Again, very friendly people, delicious food, fuschia strewn hedges, ribbons of islands strung out in sparkling seas, confectionary-coloured cottages… emmmm.

Mustn’t forget Italy. Tuscan hills disappearing in a misty sky; traffic filled streets in central Rome, and a few steps away, narrow, quiet cobbled alley ways to explore; the Tower of Pisa: Venetian canals…

Or we could go to France. Only a short distance by Eurostar, to Paris. Can’t even begin to describe why we’d love to go to Paris. Eiffel Tower, flea markets, cafes, wine, Sacre Coeur , wine, Champs Elysee shopping, wine…..

As I was saying,… the phone rang. We looked at one another. It was early. Too early. No-one would be ringing at this time. Unless…

What if… my daughter was ill again?

What if… my son was in trouble?

What if… my brother ….

What if…  What if…

I perched on the edge of the bed to answer the call.   My chest thumped, my cheeks burned, my hand shook. I bit my lip as I slowly put the phone to my ear and listened…

Later, over a welcome and very much needed second cup of coffee, we talked about that phone call. It was a cold call. Nothing worrying at all. But we were so glad they rang. What a lesson we both learned. All our holiday plans melted  away as the fears crept in.

 Holidays are fun, exciting sometimes, but they are only 2/3 weeks out of our lives. The important and precious things in our lives are here.  All the time. If we’re lucky. We mustn’t take them for granted. We must give them the importance they deserve. And give them the love they deserve, too.

What’s important to you in your life?

Income?

Car?

Stuff?

How do you know what’s important?

Has that changed, over the years?

Header image by cursedthing, on Flickr. Post image – my own.

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Hey! We Have a Guest! Look For The Good in People; it’s Better for You

I’m very excited!
We have a Guest!

I’m delighted to introduce Kiesha Easley, from weblogbetter. She has written this post for us here on Positive Spin and you can read all about her here.

I know you’ll all make her welcome and pay her the compliment of leaving some comments.

One sunny afternoon, my hubby and I were driving Downtown and we saw a guy riding a pink girls’ bike.

The guy looked a little unkempt, and seeing him on it piqued my curiosity, so I said, “What in the world is that guy doing on that bike?”

“He probably stole it,” my hubby replied.

“Why would he do that? It’s probably the only bike he could afford; probably got it from a thrift store or something…”

“There you go, always trying to find the good in people. Why can’t you just accept the fact that people aren’t that good? Some little girl is somewhere crying about that bike and here you are making excuses for him.”

“That poor man is probably on his way to work. Maybe he works at a construction site and had no other way to get there.” I quipped back.

“Like I said…” my hubby continued, “You’ve just got to see the good in people…”

Now, neither of us really knew what this guy’s story was, but each of us had created scenarios based on our opinions. We’re probably both wrong, the guy could’ve been riding his daughter’s bike home after getting a tire repaired for all we know… or he really could’ve done something terrible.

But regardless, we could’ve gone on all day creating scenarios about that guy, and no matter what, I would’ve continued to choose the positive side.

Why, you ask?
Because you get what you look for – you look for the good, that’s what you get.

People who insist on focusing only on the bad are more likely to be grumpy and angry all of the time. They tend to believe others are out to get them – when that’s not the case at all.

These people build walls around themselves that they believe will shield them from the bad without realizing that it’s also shielding them from the good.

While they’re trying to protect themselves, they’re missing out on the best in life; the good and the humanity that resides in all of mankind.

Looking for the good in others might seem a little delusional, especially in a world where serial killers run rampant and war is the norm. I’m not pretending those things don’t exist, but I make a conscious choice not let it control my opinions.

I look for the good in people because it helps me to see the good that is within me. It takes the sting away from the fact that I; that none of us can ever be perfect. It allows me to keep my good mood and helps me forget the times people have done me wrong. It’s a far more nourishing way to live.

It’s funny, because people seem to be divided – they are either pessimistic or optimistic about the nature of people and life in general.

What about you?
Are you leaning to one side or another? Do you always notice the bad or the good in others and why?

Kiesha blogs at WeBlogBetter.com. She’s a writer, writing instructor, and blog consultant for small business owners. Connect with her on Twitter @weblogbetter

Header image from cursedthing, post image from woofiegrrl, on Flickr.

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How To Achieve Your Scary Goals

Ever met a wizard?

I have. I was waiting at the station entrance and there he was. Tall, with a purple silver cloak covered in stars, a pointy, black  hat and a deep voice. And specs. The specs didn’t really ‘go’ with the wizard image but I guess he needed them to decipher his spells. They were a bit ‘station office manager’, but never mind. Even a wizard can’t be perfect all the time.

It was Wizard Week at the Preserved Steam Railway and I was waiting for my two gorgeous grandchildren.  They came bouncing along, wondering what we would see.  Witches waited at the dark entrance to their ‘cave’ with a tempting Lucky Dip, and thick cobwebs hung across the door in swathes.

It’s hard to explain a wizard to a two-year old. It’s hard to explain about pumpkin lanterns, broomsticks that fly and why witches have green faces. It sounds a bit silly when you say it, especially when you don’t want to frighten the listeners.

Zeb (two) held my finger, (he was only a little bit scared,) and Ruby, (four), ran ahead to where the steam engine was gently hissing. As it began to pull the carriages, vast clouds of steam rose into the autumn morning air and I was remembering the ‘Railway Children’ story. There was even a tiny allotment, marigolds still in bloom, for the signalman to tend.

It was scary, just a bit, for Zeb, being in the company of magical creatures, but holding my finger made it safe and it was even safer when his daddy scooped him up in his arms. He could be scared, but from a safe place.

Up on the green metal bridge that crossed the railway line we had different, amazing view. We could look down on the engine, steaming away, tiny witches and wizards waving from the platform, and grinning parents wishing they were still allowed to believe in magic. Perhaps they did. I hope so.

How amazing is this...

Ruby found  a real spider in its sparkling web, carefully attached to the metal struts of the bridge. We all examined  it, admiring its spots and sparkles and wondering at its skill.

On the drive home I started thinking about the cobwebs in our mind.

We’re so used to thinking in certain ways. We adopt prejudices, opinions and attitudes. We have ‘mind-sets’ about stuff that we refuse to change. We’re right. And that’s that…

Except… perhaps we’re not?

Here’s my Positive Spin on –

Why we need to ‘stand on the bridge … and look at the cobwebs.

1.   We saw a completely different view from that bridge.

‘I couldn’t possibly go back to work.’

Why not?

Sweep away those artificial cobwebs and take a different view.

Really think it through. Perhaps you could take a part-time job. Or start by doing some voluntary work. Whatever it is that scares you about making a change, try looking at it form a new perspective.

2.   Is it so scary?

You have a goal in mind. You haven’t told anyone because you’re scared. But you know in your heart it’s achievable. But what will people say? They’ll laugh. They’ll try to put you off. 

Or… they might support you. They might help. They might not put you off at all.

That real spider was beautiful. Delicate, friendly looking and fragile. Not fierce at all. Only scary in our minds.

 3.   Spiders’ webs aren’t all bad.

Spiders’ webs are amazing. I wonder how long they take to create? They’re so versatile, to provide a ‘home’ and a ‘food store’ for the occupant. Brilliantly designed.

Don’t try to clear away all your cobwebs at once. After all, it would be unkind to the spider if you did that, she worked so hard.  Let light in to the corners gradually, when you’re ready to make changes, large or small. Climb up slowly on to that bridge and stand and stare.  Enjoy the fresh view. For as long as you like.

What is getting in the way of your ‘view’ at the moment?

Which cobwebs are lurking in  your mind?

Are you going to get out that cobweb brush?

Tell us about that ‘goal’ that scares you, then it won’t be so scary!

 

Header image by cursedthing and post image by Bagoogoo, on Flickr.

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