Category Archives: hope

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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Think the Snow Is A Nuisance? How to Change Your Mind

It’s still here. The snow, I mean. 

I heard this today: ‘It was fun at first. Now it’s just a nuisance.’

OK, I understand it’s difficult getting to the shops, you have to go without milk for a while and the schools are still closed, but this snowy time teaches us a lot about how we can look at life if we feel confident.

Here’s my Positive Spin on a snowy day. 

Snow is like Confidence. It transforms your life.

  • Snow smooths everything out.

Harsh shapes are rounded, spiky bushes are like balls, you can’t see the join between the path and the road.

When you’re confident you feel that your path is smoother. You see the way to diffuse spiky arguments, the differences between people are blurred. You become more tolerant.

  • Snow covers up imperfections.

Street litter is lost under the blanket, muddy patches become clean, every surface is garnished with a sparkle.

When you start to feel confident you find you don’t notice the imperfections in people so much. You focus on their good qualities, you try to see their point of view. You’re more agreeable.

  • Snow turns problems into opportunities.

So… you can’t get the car out of the drive! You have the opportunity to stay in, gaze at the beauty outside and reminisce about winters long ago. You are ‘allowed’ to watch DVD’s by the fire, make soup from those left over veg in the fridge, send friendly emails, and even write Christmas cards.

Confidence brings opportunities too. Instead of fearing changes in your ‘landscape’, you can see  new ways forward, possible new occupations,  new directions for your life.

  • Snow covers up tracks but lets you see fresh ones.

Muddy tracks disappear. The road is smoothed out. But we can see where the birds and animals have been wandering in our garden, under bushes and around trees.

When you learn to be confident (yes, you learn it), you learn to believe that very day is a fresh start. Yesterday has gone. You can’t change what you did/didn’t/do, wish you’d said/not said, the chances you missed. Today is like a fresh fall of snow on your ‘landscape.’ The new tracks you make are up to you.

  • Snow lets you use other people’s tracks.

Trudging up the lane is much easier if others have already made some tracks. It’s firmer, less slippery and you feel bolder as you stride along.

Confidence grows with encouragement, praise and positive feedback as you take steps towards your goals and make changes. Seeking and taking advice and help from others, walking in their tracks,  helps you make decisions.

  • Snowy weather lets you have fun!

It certainly brought out the ‘Inner Child’ in me. The lane was filled with neighbours and their children, all dragging sledges and throwing snowballs. A carrot was fetched for the snowman’s nose and mugs of coffee were passed around.

Confidence does that too. You can let yourself be child-like, try new things, travel to new places, have as much fun as you like.

Like the snow, Confidence transforms the ordinary into the extra-ordinary.

What would you be able to do if you woke up  to find your world covered in the soft blanket of confidence?

Header by cursedthing, post pic byAlice Popkorn

    

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Who Wants to Win an Amazing Car and Have £2,000 to Spend?

It was a TV ad on the Breakfast show.

It looked tempting, so tempting that many people  entered this competition. Hard to resist – the chance to show off a fantastic new car and go shopping with £2,000 to spend.

Imagine when the car’s delivered!

I want one of those!

It sits outside in the street or on your drive and everyone stops to admire it. You’re so proud. Can’t wait to take it for a spin. Off you roar, leaving those admiring glances behind, those envious faces wondering how you afforded it. After all, you only just changed last year’s model. They’d love a brand new car, given half the chance.

There’s nothing like the smell and feel of a new car. Leather seats, everything shiny, no finger marks, not even the tiniest scratch.  You stop at the lights and the guy in the older car next to you grins and waves, giving you a thumbs up. You grin back, basking in the sunshine of his envy.

You frown a little as it begins to rain. The auto-wipers do their best but it’s quite a downpour. On the motor-way the traffic’s heavy. Lorries soak you in muddy spray, wooshing past at speed. Reluctantly you slow down, it’s hard to see far ahead in this storm, even with the headlights on. It’s dusk and it’ll soon be dark. As soon as you can, you turn off and head for home.

You put your house key in the lock and call out.

‘I’m home, love!’

You shake the drips from your coat and hang it up.

‘How’s the car, love? Pleased with it?’  She comes to the door to take a look.

‘What a pity it rained, sweetheart. It’s lost its shiny, new look. You’ll have to wash it tomorrow. Still, I suppose it can’t stay ‘new’ for ever! ‘

You’re gutted. It was fantastic having it delivered. And now it’s not new anymore. Looks just like everyone else’s. Muddy, smeary, tyres all spoilt, mats muddy.

But at least you’ve still got that £2,000 to spend…

We all get a ‘high’ from having more ‘stuff’.  It lasts for… well… at least a few minutes… and before long we’re thinking about the next ‘new thing’.  At least that’s how it seems to me sometimes.

I wonder how long the novelty and excitement of  receiving their ‘new stuff’ will last with most children this Christmas…

Is there anything we can do about it?

How can we help our children to be less greedy when many adults are just as bad?

How do we show them that having more ‘stuff’ won’t make them happy?

or will they discover it for themselves…

  • What does happiness mean to you?
  • What has to happen for you to feel happy?
  • Is it a lasting state or is it fleeting?

Do tell us in the comments…

Header image by cursedthing, post image by Kraetzsche Photo, 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 Two Ladybirds Taught Me About Friendship

It was the bright red that caught my eye. It looked stunning against the dark green of the mint leaves that grow by my kitchen door. They shouldn’t have been there, not  in November.

Constancy...

I bent down, feeling my eyes widen with a curious smile. I sat down on the step and watched them.  What a privilege it was.

As I watched I knew they were ‘friends’ for that was how they behaved and the sight of them stayed with me all the rest of the day. Now, every time I pick some mint I look for them, but they’ve flown away. I hope they return…

These two tiny insects taught me so much that morning and because I like to notice the ‘small stuff‘ I knew I’d have to write about them. A new blogging friend, Kathy Sprinkle, of ‘Bliss Habits’,  said she was wondering what I could possibly write about ladybirds when I told her my idea, so this post is for her in particular.

Here’s my Positive Spin about…

What two ladybirds taught me about friendship.

1.   They were on one  another’s side.

They were crawling up the mint stem, side by side.

Sometimes we don’t agree with what a friend is doing or saying.  We listen and watch and although their decision may not be ours, we’re still on their side. We defend them and help them get where they want to be.

2.   They took turns to lead.

It was strange. First one of them was way out in front, then it seemed to wait for the other to catch up, even allowing it to overtake.

Friendship should be like that. We take turns to have the ‘good ideas’ or the ‘fantastic’ plans. We are delighted for our friend when they succeed at something, just as they are for us. When my friend overtakes me in, say, cooking, travelling, keeping fit, losing weight; that’s fine. It’ll be my turn another day.

3.   They eased one another’s path.

They really did! I couldn’t believe what I was seeing! One ladybird actually seemed to hold down a leaf to help her friend across a ‘chasm’! She waited while her friend slowly clambered over and then they continued up the stem, one behind the other.

That’s what friendship is all about, isn’t it? Easing one another’s path? Listening when they cry down the phone, helping when they’re not well, enabling them to make a decision, giving advice if they ask for it. 

4.   They withstood the ‘storm’ together.

There was a sudden breeze, disturbing the mint. For those tiny creatures this was a ‘storm.’ The stems swayed about and I expected at least one of them to fly away but she didn’t. She stayed where she was, quite still, beside her friend.

The phone rings in the middle of the night. There’s a crisis. You drive to the hospital with her. Or her car breaks down, or her she’s worried about her teenager who still isn’t home. You stay with her, because she needs you. As she’d stay with you. It’s called constancy.

I won’t forget those ladybirds. Some might say I’m silly with my imaginings but it’s noticing the small stuff that makes my life fascinating and thought provoking. I could easily have missed them. And their message.

Do you notice the ‘small stuff’?

What can you notice today, that’s easy to miss? Do you look for the ‘small stuff’ too?

What positive message does it have, for you, and for me?

Header image by cursedthing, post image by nutmeg66, on Flickr.

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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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