The small things….

Not long ago our eldest turned 16. Not surprisingly I found myself saying what has been said so many times before “Where did that time go?” There are not that many years left before she will be leaving the nest!

Recently, I personally have been finding it hard to be grateful for the small things in life. It has been difficult to value the small moments. It is so easy to be caught up in the pace and culture of the world around, looking at  who is doing what and then at what you are not doing. I have been trying to ‘Celebrate my smallness’ in a world that wants big!

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I want to share an excerpt for ‘The Minimalist’ blog which reminded me how precious our time is with our children at home is and what an important job it is. What can, at times, seem like the smallness of raising our kids and putting time in, is actually one of the ‘biggies’ in life!

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“An interesting story is told of Monterey, California, a coastal town, that quickly became a pelican’s paradise. As the local fishermen returned each day to clean their fish, they would fling the unused internal organs of the fish to the pelicans. The birds graciously accepted their gift and as a result, quickly grew fat, lazy, and contented. Eventually however, when the fishing industry in Monterey took a downturn, the free meals began to slow for the pelicans.

When the change came, the pelicans made no effort to fish for themselves. Instead, they waited around and grew gaunt and thin. Many even starved to death. Because of the free handouts, they had forgotten how to fish for themselves.

To remedy the situation, an unprecedented solution was sought: import new pelicans from the south accustomed to foraging for themselves. These new birds were placed among their starving cousins, and the newcomers immediately started catching fish. Before long, the hungry pelicans followed suit, and the famine was ended.

My son is 12 and my daughter is 9. Right now, and for a little while longer, we live together as a family. This, then, represents my great opportunity to prepare them for life. Whether we like it or not, our children are soaking up values from us as parents about how to live, how to work, and how to achieve significance. We serve as their most trusted examples for life.”

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May you gratefully enjoy your ‘smallness’ today.
R x

The beauty of silence.

I am having a weeks break from the study. I have missed the ‘soul’ side. Today I want to share about silence.

We had a weekend where I as a Mum packed too many things into the weekend for our family. I hear my own Mother’s voice telling me ‘You run them ragged!’ Don’t get me wrong, we had a lovely weekend catching up and meeting people, such kind, generous people who looked after us so well, it was so lovely to spend time with different people. But, as we returned home on Sunday afternoon I could feel and hear the family exhale and relax. In the time that followed each person found different things to do and entered into a time of silence and being.

Photo Credit: theraggedrobin.co.uk

Photo Credit: theraggedrobin.co.uk

I know that I struggle to find times of silence. I hear many people commenting about the crazy pace of life, the noise in life, the advertising, paperwork demands, the continual fighting against consumerism, the pressure to be socially active and popular, the opportunities to take part in so many fun exciting activities….it is just too hard to choose.

Photo Credit: techdraw.com

Photo Credit: techdraw.com

It was with a ‘amen brother’ that I read the following information on The Minimalist blog.

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“Meanwhile, silence quietly calls for our attention. Because only in extended periods of solitude, can we rediscover our hearts and the voice of timeless wisdom in our lives.

The benefits of silence and solitude in a noisy world are significant and life-giving. In quiet moments of reflection:

  • We remove the expectation and influence of others.
  • We hear our heart speak clearly.
  • We reflect on our past and chart our future.
  • We find rest and refreshment.
  • We break the cycle of busyness in our lives.
  • We become better equipped to show patience and love to others.

While anyone can experience silence at any time by finding a quiet place to sit for an extended period of time, I have found solitude does not occur naturally in our noise-centered world. It must be intentionally pursued by each of us.

But for it to be pursued, it must first be valued and desired.”

How much do you value silence?
May you find time today for some quiet moments!

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Joy

The idea of joy has been buzzing around in my head a lot lately. In a conversation with my sister, together we realised we had ‘lost’ the joy of the everyday things amongst the business. We realised how easy it is to lose ‘joy’ but also it can be restored.

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Photo Credit: letthefunbegin.co.uk

I have piles of papers that are to do with my children’s school books, paintings, love notes etc etc…what is to be done with them? As a result I found myself reading an article about decluttering.  Marie Condo has become a Japanse celebrity due to her way of  helping people declutter. It was with some surprise that I discovered her system is based on joy!

“Ms. Kondo’s decluttering theories are unique, and can be reduced to two basic tenets: Discard everything that does not “spark joy,” after thanking the objects that are getting the heave-ho for their service; and do not buy organizing equipment — your home already has all the storage you need.”

The whole article is worth a look ….
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/23/garden/home-organization-advice-from-marie-kondo.html

 

Photo Credit: winsomeaunt.blogspot.com

Photo Credit: winsomeaunt.blogspot.com

This was then followed up by looking at the blog of Joshua Becker who is writing about the joy of minimalism. In a nutshell, more and more research is showing that belongings do not bring lasting joy, in fact they often do the opposite. Some people are now starting to experiment and see what happens when they ‘down size’ and simplify life. Their personal stories tesify to the joy they find in their new lifestyles. Have a look at this link for an example.
http://www.becomingminimalist.com/4-statements/

Photo Credit: wallspaperwide.com

Photo Credit: wallspaperwide.com

Before all this I had read the following in Psychology News

“David Pollay, one of the early leaders in applying the findings from positive psychology, asks us to make 3 simple promises to ourselves every day:

  1. Find joy.
  2. Do what you love.
  3. Make a difference.

One consequence of modern American life is busyness. We are brought up to believe that we can be anything, have anything, do anything if we only work hard enough. Technology and gadgets make everything so much easier and more convenient, so we can squeeze in more and more and more. But between work, taking care of kids, pursuing our passions and dreams, what so often gets squeezed out is our view of what makes life worth living. Time and time again, I have found that following Pollay’s structure brings me back again to the things that matter in life. These are the things that lead to the type of life you want to live.”

Photo Credit: Davidpollay.com

Photo Credit: Davidpollay.com

 

Joy makes such a difference in life. Joy is  an idea that is found in many religions.
As a Christian I find joy is a topic that I cannot blog about without reference to my faith. Joy is a gift, joy is something that is deeper than happiness. Joy can still be there during the hard times, it is knowing that hope is not lost, that there is a ‘bigger’ being than oneself, it is trusting that when things seem out of control there is still control, it is knowing when one messes up, there is forgiveness!

I believe it is this knowledge that then allows one to find joy, do what you love and make a difference.

Photo Credit: epjp.wordpress.com

Photo Credit: epjp.wordpress.com

How is your balance?

Today we are off on a camping trip. I am looking forward to having time to ‘balance’ life again, for myself and my family.
It is so easy for us to get caught up in life and the many things that vie for our attention and time.  It is time for all of us to recalibrate and sometimes that happens best when we are out of our comfort zones.

Photo Credit: www.thoughtware.com

Photo Credit: thoughtware.com

Joshua Becker (The Minimalist) recently wrote in his Newsletter about the need to care for ourselves.

“We are not merely physical beings, spiritual beings, or emotional beings. We are human beings. And by this, I mean, all aspects of our being make up who we are and they can not be separated from one another.
Our physical being influences our spiritual being… our spiritual being influences our emotional being… our emotional being influences our physical bodies.
Have you ever tried to think straight when you have a terrible cold? It is very difficult. Why? Because all aspects of our being mingle together to form who we are on any given day……”

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Years ago when teaching I remember asking kids to set themselves goals each term for the different areas of life  – physical, learning, spiritual and family. I was reminded of this when Becker went on to list the specific things that connect us in life and the way they all need to be balanced. He is talking in terms of what ‘great influencers’ do …

“They care for themselves physically in both diet and exercise.

They care for themselves mentally with rest and personal development.

They care for themselves intellectually by reading and growing and seeking challenge.

They care for themselves emotionally with proper self-awareness and healthy relationships.

They care for themselves spiritually with solitude and meditation and counting the universe bigger than themselves.

In other words, influencers seek to implement wise and healthy habits in all aspects of their being.

Is there any area you have been neglecting recently? If so, what might be your first, small step in the right direction?”

 

I appreciated his challenge at the end. I think as a family our fist step is to be reminded of the balance we need in life and then to purposefully pursue. Getting away from routine and having time to reflect is a gift for which I am grateful. I understand the time to get away is not there for all, but in and about your daily life, may you find a moment to reflect on each of the different areas of life that balance us out.

Blessings R xx

photo credit: lifefitnessbydane.au

photo credit: lifefitnessbydane.au

 

Make time for exercise

This week I began a 6 week full time teaching contract! It is a number of years since I have worked full time and it will certainly be a challenge for our household and me. As we have discussed  the lifestyle changes at home, my husband has been encouraging me to make sure I manage to find time for exercise. Already I have found it hard to find that time!

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Photo Credit: timemanagementninja.com

Today in my reading of The Minimalist, there was a list of some interesting research that has been done in practical areas of Positive Psychology. Amongst the list, I came across this article that certainly makes me want to make sure I exercise!

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Photo Credit: kidsinaustralia.com.au

“People who exercise on work days are more productive, happier and suffer less stress than on non-gym days, scientists revealed today.
University of Bristol researchers found that employees who enjoyed a workout before going to work – or exercised during lunchbreaks – were better equipped to handle whatever the day threw at them.
It also found that people’s general mood improved on days of exercise but they became less calm on non-exercise days.”

Can I encourage you to start small and make some plans?

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Photo Caption: myfitnessinspiration.com

Ponder awhile

In my part of the world it has been holidays, hence the quietness of this blog. School holidays for me are a break from the routine of being out the house early and an opportunity to spend more time with family, both my immediate family and extended family. I love it, but it can be exhausting at times!

Amongst the business of it all, this blog arrived by The Minimalist. I really enjoyed taking some time out to ponder on the thoughts and simple yet incredibly challenging words. May you too be encouraged!

10 Images to Inspire Simplicity in Your Life

Owning less.

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Happiness.

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Gratitude.

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Contentment.

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Relationships.

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Try the experiment

I have a confession to make. Despite writing an entry months ago about getting up earlier, I am still often the last person in my house out of bed! I experimented, but it didn’t seem worth it. But now, may I plead my case?

My 8 year old wakes around 7 am and comes and crawls into bed. We have cuddles and often that is when he tells me those things that a Mum wants to know but a boy doesn’t always share! “Do you know I am sitting next to 2 girls, but Mum, they are really nice girls?  One of them Mia is the girl I sat next to in my first week at school.” As a friend kindly pointed out, I should enjoy that special time, he wont be doing it much longer.

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Experimenting is something that our society does not always look upon favourably.  We are so goal orientated and to not reach a goal is seen as failure. But, it is difficult to make changes without experimenting.  It is difficult to experiment if you do not give yourself permission to fail.

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Photo Credit: yale.edu

Experiment. Try living differently for a month, see if it changes your outlook on life. Give up television, sugar, or alcohol. Exercise, write, or leave work at 5 every day for a month. Notice how it impacts your overall well-being. 30 days will provide enough time to see if the change is worthwhile.” Joshua Becker

Before that he had written a list that at first reads quite negatively but really it is incredibly positive and presents a great challenge. That challenge could be for ourselves, our family or class at school.

When we eat unhealthy, we miss opportunity to fuel our bodies properly.

When we watch too much TV, we miss opportunities to interact with people in the real world.

When we buy more than we need, we miss opportunity to live free and unburdened.

When we neglect to exercise, we miss opportunity to enjoy adventures available to those with physical stamina.

When we stay up late and sleep through the morning, we miss capitalizing on the most productive period of our day.

When we focus too much on vacations or entertainment, we miss opportunity to discover the joys sitting in front of us each day.

When we spend more than we earn, we burden ourselves with the bondage of debt.

When we spend too much money on ourselves, we miss opportunity to find greater joy in being generous to others.

When we choose leisure over work, we miss opportunity to contribute and benefit society with our skills.

When we work too much, we miss opportunity to refuel, recenter, and rest.

(Becoming Minimalist)

Here’s to experimenting, taking a risk, choosing something we would like to change in our lifestyles.
Give it a go, does it really matter if you decide you liked it better the other way? At least now you are making an informed choice in living.

What is one thing from the list you would like to experiment with?

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Photo Credit: stjohnshigherwalton.org.uk