Living Life While Squeezing Lemons
A Collection of Humour, Practical Tips, and Inspiration
by Jo and Leisa Creed
Copyright © 2016 Jo and Leisa Creed
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including, but not limited to, photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission, contact the publisher through the website below:
Part 1 -- Laugh More
Seven Reasons to Laugh at Yourself
Olympics in Jamaica
Open Letter to Myself Before Old Age Sets In
Six Thoughts About the New Drone Craze from Amazon
Better to Laugh
Part 2 -- Work Smarter
Useful Tips to Being More Productive
Why I Start Planning for Christmas in July
DIY Home Maintenance
Eat Your Big Frog First
Part 3 -- Give Back
Awesome Reasons for Fostering
Tips on Being a Good Neighbour
Phenomenal Women I Admire
When Was the Last Time You Did a Good Deed?
Part 4 -- Care for Yourself
Lifestyle Choices That Affect Your Skin
Seven Ways to Reduce Fat in Your Diet
Lifestyle Choices and Mental Health
Insomnia: What To Do When You Can’t Sleep
The Best Tips for Beautiful Feet
Part 5 -- Recharge Your Batteries
From the Pit to the Palace
What Would You Do on the Isle of Patmos?
When God Has Another Plan
Inspirational Quotes (Straight Outta Bible)
Forgive and Forget?
Keep Swimming No Matter What
Lose the Excess Baggage
Be Grateful for the Problems You Don’t Have
We have always had a passion for writing, so when we finally decided to funnel our passion into starting a blog, it inspired us to begin writing this book.
The idea of the book naturally evolved because what we wrote about in our blog was how to manage the stresses (lemons) life can bring. Sometimes life just seems so challenging! Bills, job-related stress, family issues, mental illness, physical illness, unruly kids, and the list goes on...
We thought long and hard about the battles, which led us to the actual categories for our blog which are: Laugh More, Work Smarter, Give Back, Care for Yourself, and Recharge Your Batteries.
One fantastic thing about this book is that you can hop, skip, and jump from chapter to chapter as it appeals to you! Work Smarter might reach out to you more depending on what you are going through and your present circumstances. Or, you can go to Recharge Your Batteries if your current need is a spiritual focus.
It has been an exciting journey preparing the content for the book. We certainly faced our fair share of ‘lemons,’ but we have come through victoriously. We must acknowledge those who have helped tremendously to see it through to fruition. These include:
Our amazing Mastermind group members: mental health blogger and author Jessica Bignell of moderndaygirlblog.com; lifestyle blogger Julie Hage of fillingthejars.com; and inspirational blogger Michele Cook of michelesfindinghappiness.com. These ladies have been tirelessly helpful, amazingly patient, and brutally honest with us from time to time.
We would also like to thank our Facebook group members from Book Launch Buddies who have encouraged us along the way. They have inspired us to keep going with their usual wit and friendly nature.
We must also thank our parents (dad posthumously) who made all the sacrifices necessary to ensure that we got a sound education to get us on the path to success.
We thank the next generation, too. Our children have helped in meaningful ways when technology got the better of us.
To you, our valued readers, followers, and supporters: We thank you tremendously for taking the time to read and take inspiration from what we know will help you when you face life’s “lemons.”
Jo and Leisa
One of the best ways we have found to deal with low times is to laugh! When we meet up, we have barrels of laughter! Plus, we like to surround ourselves with others who are jovial and know how to have a good time.
In this section, we provide a snippet of things we laugh about. It may seem silly, but laughter does ease the burden and tension of life’s lemons.
by Jo Creed
You know what? I love laughing! It pushes the blues away. Even when the joke is on me, I still laugh -- sometimes even harder! Laughter really is the best medicine. I bet reading through these stories from my life will prompt you to reflect and laugh at yourself when you remember some of your own moments and wonder, “What was I thinking?”
I would say that I am quite a sane, simple, and sensible person. But recently I have been reflecting on some decisions I have made and it got me wondering, “WHAT WAS I THINKING?” Looking back, I really had to laugh!
See if you can identify with any of these:
Okay, let’s put things straight. I am a Jamaican by birth. But when I came to live in England, I was amazed at the different looks and effects people had on their walls! Where I grew up, walls are just painted! Your choice of paint colour, a brush, some old rags -- that’s it! Job done!
Not here! I saw such interesting patterns, colours and textures on people's walls -- even in some office buildings -- that I began to investigate. What I discovered was that you could create the look you want by using wallpaper! Some people use it as a feature wall effect, basically just covering one wall in a room. It coordinates with the other walls as they are usually painted in one of the colours of the wallpaper, or a complementary colour.
So one day, I decided I was going to give my spare bedroom a makeover! To sum it up, I would say based on the choice of wallpaper I made, I have poor taste! I was completely mesmerised by the vast array of choices I had when I went into the store to choose wallpaper! I just chose one that looked unusual and then I exited the shop.
I don't know what was going through that handyman's head as he prepared the walls and put that paper up! I wonder if he sees me as a fool? Now I have to live with this on all four walls of this tiny room until I can afford to replace it.
Those who know me know that apart from being fat, I have, should I say, an unconventional shape, lol. Let me explain. You know how generally a woman's body shape tends to flare outward below the waist? Well mine does the opposite, it narrows inward. Of course, that means when I go shopping for trousers and skirts, in my mind I am thinking, “Camouflage, camouflage, camouflage!”
Recently, I found these trousers that are sort of stretchy and have a lovely, comfy fabric feel. I was so happy -- I could practically live in them! Well, the other day I finally turned them on the wrong side to wash them and noticed, written on the label in the waistband, the word SKINNY. What the… Me? Skinny jeans! I laughed so hard! Then I took a picture and sent it to my sister so that I would not be the only one laughing at me. Ever since then, I have not worn them just in case someone were to find out that a fat, almost 50-year-old woman is wearing skinny jeans.
You may not know that I don’t do well with driving to unknown places! Yup, I either have someone directing me, or I drive behind someone else.
I remember when I wanted to find my way to my last work place, I drove behind a bus the whole way, going through communities, stopping at almost every bus stop, and waiting until the bus took off again! Not only that, I did it for about two weeks! Then I found an easier way that was shorter and took considerably less time! Don't laugh.
I really struggle with geography and finding my bearings, anything like that. I have a mini heart attack every time I see a road block or diversion on a road that I know, because means I will have to navigate a road I do NOT know! OMG!
Don’t even mention motorways/highways! I have not yet attempted to drive on any. I am more confident driving an extra hour on small roads than taking the motorway! When I finally get to my destination, I have to laugh at myself and sometimes even wonder if I really did all that driving!
Do you think these are quite a genius idea? You get everything you need for an attractive piece of furniture in one box.
Only one problem… each item should come with a man who assembles it properly and then goes on his way after we check to make sure it actually works and does what it was meant to do. Every time I try to assemble one of these things or anything similar, I find an extra screw or two after it has been set up. If I wonder hard enough about why the extra bits are put in, the item falls apart and I am back to square one. I do not see the funny side then, while I am so frustrated, but remind me about it later and I will be on the floor laughing.
Before you start to judge me, no -- I am not a smoker! Have I ever tried smoking? Yes! I must have been about 7 or 8 years old.
Some older cousins made cigarettes with the leaves of this dried plant called cho cho (christophene). Well, after mine was lit and handed to me, I did the unthinkable -- I took a big old puff of it and swallowed! I almost died; I coughed so hard I thought my lungs would come through my mouth!
I think something saved me that day -- I was that close to dying! I made a solemn sworn statement to myself that day that I would never ever smoke again! I am so glad I learnt that lesson early! And now when I think about it, I have to laugh.
Let’s not even go there! Okay, maybe for just thirty seconds.
I am so uncomfortable in high heels, I don’t own a pair! When someone asks me why I don’t wear high heels, I always say, "I’m not ready to be so close to heaven yet." Mind you, I do admire other people in them, but they are not for me. I have even given up trying. If I ever have to go to some fancy event, I just find some low-heeled shoes that have some bling.
Do you do well in heels? High five to you! Well done. I am telling you now, you would laugh if you saw me in some! That’s why my favourite everyday shoes are Skechers. They are lightweight, they gently hug and caress your feet, and you can actually walk miles in them. Honestly, it’s like walking on air, and I absolutely love them! Can you identify?
I must admit that I love my hair. It is not too thick nor too soft -- it is just right. It gets longer and stronger daily. The only thing I don’t like about it is that nowadays I see some greys sneaking up in the front. I really don’t mind them in the middle or the back at all, just not in the front!
The other day I read a Facebook entry from a friend who suggested that as black women, we should allow our hair to grow the way it naturally does -- upward. She suggested that we stop trying to style it down and onto our shoulders, like Caucasian women. So I got up, took the band out of my hair and made myself an Afro!
My photo… no laughing!
You did laugh, didn’t you?!
Below is my favourite way to style my hair. Natural... now who has the last laugh?
Here are my issues with my God-given Afro: It is too high and would not fit in the car when I tried to drive. I think it would give my students a scare. My hair naturally gets tough when it is “let loose.” Finally, I don’t think it would suit my face.
What would you do? Ignore the obvious and still wear an Afro? Well, one day I just might go out with my 'fro to see what people think!
For an extra laugh, here is a bonus!
If you know anything about Jamaica -- apart from Usain Bolt and Bob Marley -- you know that Jamaicans love making music and dancing to it. The reggae beat is super catchy, you know! No matter how determined you are that you will not dance for fear of others catching you off guard, you will not win!
So here is what happened to me...
Last summer we spent a week at an all-inclusive hotel in Montego Bay, the hub of tourism in Jamaica. We met and mingled with people as we sat by the pool daily under a shady almond tree, with the blue sea behind us and the inviting pool in front of us.
Many local young men and women worked at the resort to plan and provide entertainment for the tourists. On a daily basis, at about 10 am, after the tourists (including me) were finished gorging up with the all you can eat breakfast, these young locals warned us about sitting down right after such a feast. We were told that instead we should join in with the “dancercise” classes held either in the pool or by the poolside.
For a few days we watched as the lively music boomed from the extra-large speakers, the staff demonstrated the moves, and they then encouraged us to join. It was such a laugh every day watching people amble over to the poolside to follow on with the moves and music! You could tell that some knew they were not getting the moves right. But as Judge Judy loves to say, they did not give a rat's behind!
I cannot say I know what got into me, but one day I found myself amongst the tanned lot, trying to jump, gyrate, hop, and skip around to the pulsating beat like a teenager! I was sweating like a hog! OMG! You know what brought me to my senses? Seeing a tourist recording his wife's offbeat moves on his phone! I was right by her and I am sure he must have captured some footage of me too! I had the dreadful thought, “What if that takes off on Facebook or YouTube?” I was not laughing then, but I sure am now! So if you see that footage going around, all I have to say is, like Shaggy, “It wasn't me!”
Do you laugh at your own silliness? Can you identify with any of my experiences? Don’t hold back! Laugh out loud and enjoy the moment. You are only stupid every once in awhile. So when you are not laughing at other people's silly stories, have a go at laughing at your own -- or mine for that matter!
by Leisa Creed
The story of how close Jamaica came to hosting the Olympics is chronicled here.
I was just nominated to be a Member of Parliament representing the constituency of South Saint Catherine, Jamaica. This was my first time since being voted in that I was attending parliament. To be honest, I had just put myself forward because I accepted a dare from my sister. Lo and behold, the people voted me in! Let me tell you, I do not have one political bone in my body. As a matter of fact, I have always hated politics, especially the squabbling and political tensions that seem to always permeate the air.
But the people thought I was a very giving person, so they voted me in. Anyway, I was sitting there in parliament and joking around with Natasha, who was also having her first experience in parliament. You must have pity on us; it gets pretty boring. I don’t know how some of you watch “Parliament Live” and political debates on TV! But we are usually bored as hell in there, so we must think of things to do to wile away the hours or we just fall asleep.
I don’t remember what Natasha said, but it touched my funny bone bad! I was just about to holler and howl with laughter when I saw the camera passing by my way. That jolted me back to reality, so I sat up, fixed my skirt, and pretended to pay careful attention. The charade didn’t last long at all! I was trying my hardest to focus on the boredom when Natasha passed me a sheet of paper that she had scribbled on. I quickly read it. OMG! I had to hold my nose and excuse myself, pretending to have a runny nose. I went to the toilet and read the note properly. It read, “What are you going to propose as your first thing in parliament ‘cause I’m gonna propose that Jamaica hosts the next Olympics.”
It occurred to me that this girl was madder than I thought! But at the same time, all sorts of funny thoughts started coming into my mind about Jamaica hosting the Olympics. So I thought, “It’s on!”
I took a wad of paper from the printer down the hall, composed myself, and walked back into the session. I sat in my seat and edged a little bit closer to Natasha. We started something I have often seen my daughter and nephew do in church. They would write notes to each other on a carefully folded sheet of paper so the sheet was not too big and obvious. When my sister and I got a chance after church to read it we would usually be howling with laughter. Anyway, Natasha and I were doing the same thing -- but this time, we were in parliament!
The gist of the discussion went like this:
Me: First of all, Jamaica does not have the space to accommodate all the people from all over the world who would want to attend the Olympics.
Natasha: We can, man! Have faith. We could borrow more money from the International Monetary Fund and build lots of self-catering facilities near the beaches. Jamaica would be rich!
Me: And where would you put all the shacks that are already by the beach?
Natasha: Just convince the people that they can live in the new facilities after the tourists go home. So then they will move and live temporarily with a friend or relative.
Me: You must be mad! Can you imagine the swarm of people who would suddenly decide to make their own quick shack so they can make claim to the new building? And anyway, poor little Jamaica would sink if so many people were to step onto the island!
Natasha: True about others wanting to make their own shacks, but we would put proper systems in place to prevent this. The country cannot sink with a couple hundred chalets.
Me: Get real! It would not be hundreds; it would have to be thousands. And you are not even considering all the facilities for hosting the various events like swimming, diving, athletics, that cycle track thing, gymnastics, kayaking, judo, wrestling, boxing, and all that.
Natasha: You know what else I did not think of? I didn’t think of all those workers and others who volunteer at the Games. Where would we get such a workforce from?
Me: All who live and work in Jamaica would have to give up their job to work for the Olympics. Whether they are sick or healthy, young or old, rich or poor, they would have to join the happy band of workers! That is how many people they would need.
I was just about to shove the paper back to Natasha when I was jolted back to reality as my name was being bellowed! I was being asked if I had any proposal for the people. OMG! What should I do? As you know, I had not given serious thought at all to these matters. So what did I do? I grabbed the sheet of paper on which Natasha and I were scribbling, unfolded it, and stood up. I could feel cold sweat flooding my face and I was weak at the knees. Although my mouth was open, my voice refused to obey my beckoning to speak...
“Mom, Mom! Aren’t you going to work?”
Flipping heck! I’m a teacher! I’ve overslept! It’s the first day of the school year! How did this happen, and what’s all this malarkey about Jamaica hosting the Olympics? Phew! Me! A parliamentarian! I’m so glad that was just a dream!
by Jo Creed
There are some grannies I like because they have the knack of staying young at heart -- and then some are just plain miserable!
Who wants to grow old gracefully? I would like to be a gentle, kind, caring old woman one day. Looking around at old women these days has given me some ideas of how I do NOT want to be when I am old. So I’m writing this letter to myself, and when I am old I will most certainly look back to see if I have turned into what I had always said I do not want to be. Hope you can identify with my letter.
The years are rolling by, aren't they? Remember:
Flip flops and socks do not go well together! They were never ever fashionable and you are not that influential, so don’t think you can change that now!
Always speak politely and be complimentary to others. A smile and a gentle spirit will take you a long way. Speaking about smiling, remember your dentures.
Don’t give anyone a hassle. Just be cooperative, as they are only trying to help. But if they give you a document with a lot of information and want you to sign right away, ask for a week to go through it first!
Have nice words to say to any visitors you have. They will enjoy each visit and want to come back.
Showers or baths will make you look and feel fresh and squeaky clean. Keep up with it for as long as you can.
If you do have to wear a wig, make sure it suits you! No point wearing a jet black wig when it is obvious you are an old woman. Don’t give anyone reason to laugh at you.
Take walks if you can, especially in the sunshine. Even if you walk slowly, you will feel better, and it is good for you. Walk even if it’s just around your bed.
Keep up with your friends and what they are doing. Getting a friendly email or letter now and again is something to look forward to. And do remember to reply so you have responses to look forward to.
Keep your mind active. You will still find pleasure from wordsearches, colouring, puzzles, and a good hearty debate. Avoid arguments about politics and religion if you can.
Be cooperative with those in charge of your care. They really want what is best for you. Be optimistic and hope that they see eye to eye with you.
Remember to revisit your will and make it how you really want it. You can always adjust it.
This next bit is really crucial if you want to stay young and be a groovy granny: If they try to tell you about the new technology and devices that have overtaken Facebook, Instagram, etc., try to keep up! After all, you do want to remain young for as long as possible, don't you?
Don’t worry about the past. You did the best you could under the circumstances. No need worrying about it anyway. It will not come back. Look forward to each day with a smile.
It’s not too late to try new foods. Who knows, you may like some of them.
Look out for little children. Treat them well if you want that sparkle to remain in your eyes.
Special occasions call for celebration and a reason to dress up! After all, you made it! To live to see more than fifty Christmases is a lovely thing.
Don’t let them fight over who should have you for Christmas! Take control, make a rotation!
Finally, keep this letter with you at all times, and keep checking to make sure you are the most gracious, graceful, and glamorous granny ever.
Love and kisses always,
Your Younger Self
by Leisa Creed
Recently, I was listening to the news and heard that Amazon is thinking of using drones to deliver the packages we have ordered. I don’t know why, but that just sounded so funny to me. Not really laugh out loud funny, but it caused me to conjure up in my already busy head lots of scenarios of how things might work. So I thought I might share my “confusion” with you. Obviously, I trust you with my innermost thoughts.
OMG, can you imagine! I would order my stuff on Amazon -- say for example a gym bag (I plan on starting to get this body ready for next year's summer… too much of this year’s summer has already gone… could not possibly make the grade, LOL). I place the order, pay my money, go get ready for work, apply my make-up, brush my hair, step out the front door to go into the car, and there beside my car is a drone with the bag I just ordered! How super-cool would that be?
I once ordered some crochet hooks on Amazon that took forever to get here. I ordered some from another online shop and got those way before the Amazon ones arrived! So for Amazon to be on time with delivery using a drone -- they get my vote!
Well, not really, but I have long dreamt about having a spacious property with space on it for a helipad so we could land our helicopters! I hear if you expect a drone with a delivery, you will have to mark out a “pad” on your property where you expect this drone to land. I can just imagine the look on my neighbours’ faces if the drone misses my “pad” and lands on something in their garden.
Sometimes I miss a delivery from Amazon (some of us have to work, you know) and find instead a delivery slip which gives me some indication of when and where I can go to pick up my parcel. I have always had no problem just going the next day to get my parcel. But thinking now of this drone malarkey, how the hell is this Mr. Drone going to know to come to the front door, ring the bell, wait a little, surmise from the barking dog that I am not in, and post my delivery slip through the door? Huh? Who can tell me that one? Will the drone wait until I get home from work to ensure I do not miss the delivery? Your guess is as good as mine.
Absurd? Not really. Some dogs have been known to eat or at least badly mangle paper. I know of people who have had to put a metallic mesh contraption on the inside of the mailbox on their door. Otherwise, their dog will get hold of the mail and damage it.
Some people have dogs -- not the small poodle types -- that roam about on their property whilst their humans are away at work or wherever else. In my mind’s eye, I can see a battle raging between dog (who has promised to defend his master's property to the bitter end) and drone (that has just been given this new job opportunity). I think I know who would win! Dog!
Personally, I have never had a parcel not get to me from Amazon. It might get to me later than expected, but it has always arrived eventually. On the other hand, I know of people who have purchased stuff on Amazon and never received said stuff. What do you think has happened to their order? Do you think the postman stole it, or the neighbour perhaps?
What if such thieves continue to steal not just the parcels, but also the drone? Alas! Can you picture a drone thief with a few stolen drones stockpiled in his (sexist, I know) house?
I can just imagine the news reporter on BBC saying in his polished tone:
“An ambulance worker has just claimed the reward of £1,000 after he discovered a stockpile of drones in the home of Joshua Keeds, a recluse from 887 Dragon Lane. The ambulance was summoned to the property by Mr. Keeds, who suspected he was having a heart attack. On entering the property, the ambulance worker had to wade his way through the pile of drones to get to Mr. Keeds’ bedroom.
“As it turned out, Mr. Keeds has been intercepting and stealing the drones from his back garden using a cloned remote control he made at home. The hospital confirmed that Mr. Keeds was not having a heart attack, but was treated for indigestion. He has received an offer from Amazon to work in their IT department, whilst the ambulance worker used his reward money to purchase himself a (wait for it…) drone.”
I am assuming these drones must use some power source.
What if one day a tardy workman did not check the power supply, and this drone did not have enough “juice” to get the package to you and return to base? What if it came crashing down just before it got to your “pad,” damaging the delicate stuff you had ordered from Amazon? Worse yet, what if it had just enough power to get your package safely to you, but no more to make its way back to base? Whose responsibility is it then? Yours? What if they want you to get it back to them? How much should your fee be? Your guess is as good as mine!
What are your thoughts on the plan for Amazon to deliver packages using a drone? Enjoy the new Amazon craze if and when it does come!
by Leisa Creed
Got a riddle for you! A riddle which is a bit of a test. It’s a test because I will put the answer to the riddle near to the bottom of this page, but I want you to see if you can refrain from going to check the answer before you have read the entire article! I can guarantee that you are going to laugh or at least smile when you get to the end.
So here goes:
A man fell off a 20-ft ladder and landed on the sidewalk, but he did not get hurt. Why not?
(Remember, do not check yet!)
You know life comes with its ups and downs, right? Right. No one has all “ups” and no one has all “downs.” From this, you can conclude that life is fair. But it got us thinking. We should do something to change things around so more people can have more “ups,” which in turn will help us to have more “ups” ourselves.
As a result we have decided on a number of things:
We love doing crafts including knitting, crocheting, sewing, etc. We have been giving surprise gifts to unsuspecting people -- not just friends -- and we can see the joy from that little “up.”
We try to visit with elderly or unwell folk who might just need someone to sit and talk to.
We bake goodies and share with friends, families, and church members.
We meet up with friends, listen to each other’s woes, and try to find comforting ways to treat each other.
Now, back to the riddle!
Guess what? The man was on the bottom rung of the ladder!
You know what? This also made us think...
Sometimes we have a little setback in life. You know, things happen! Let’s try to see it as just falling from the bottom rung of the ladder, not from a great height. So not much hurt caused! Pick yourself up, brush off the dust, and get back on that ladder.
It helps as well to not just focus on yourself all the time. Sometimes giving a helping hand to those in need helps us to see that we are not struggling alone and that in fact there are others who are worse off than we are. It can certainly take our minds off our own issues. Try it!
In this section, we talk about issues concerning work and stress. We discuss how to achieve balance so that in the battle of lemons versus woman, you come out on top. Let’s show those “lemons” who’s boss!
One of the considerations is how we spend the 24 hours we have been given each day. Sometimes we don’t achieve what we should. But if we put some productivity plans in place, we could achieve our optimum goals.
This article is a contribution from guest author Jessica Bignell. She is just awesome! We know you are going to find things here that will change your outlook on being more productive. So read on...
As humans, I don’t think we are ever happy with what we have. We are always striving for a better life, more money, and being healthier. There is nothing wrong with that, I think ambition is a great trait in a person.
Being productive is part of this. I know I love being productive. I like to keep stress at a minimum and enjoy the challenge of a new project. There is no way I would be able to keep stress-free without a plan.
So how can you or I be more productive? I have some useful tips for you right now to keep your productivity levels on high.
I would not get through life without a planner. I use my paper planner, but I also make use of an electronic version. There is nothing better than seeing everything as it should be! Sad, I do get a feeling of accomplishment when I see I am organised.
The first step for you would be to get a planner if you do not already have one. If you already have one, but you are not finding it helpful, switch to an electronic or paper version and see if it sparks your planning ideas.
Spend time organising what activities are a must. For example, doctors’ appointments and time spent picking up the children from school are the highest priorities.
If you are a blogger, map out the time you want to spend on it. Depending on your situation, you will know what is highly important or not.
The next step would be to think about time you want to be social.
There is nothing worse than being fully prepared and ready to be productive when you suddenly feel burned out. Not having some kind of social time will lead you on the path to destruction. That is something you definitely do not want!
If you know you have some social engagements coming up, put them in your planner. Give yourself enough time to prepare for it, so you are not rushing around.
The key here is to use your planner as you see fit. Spend time thinking about what else you want to include so you know where you are. Not knowing where you are is not a great feeling, and your planner will help with that.
A stumbling block which prevents you from being productive is that you spend time doing things you do not want to do. To me, jobs like shopping are wasted time. I would much rather order on the internet, get it delivered, and forget about it.
I want you to think about all of the jobs that are wasted time now. Maybe you could do internet banking rather than going to the bank in person. This saves you time getting there and back. Or what about wasting time browsing the internet? Cut it out.
Another aspect tied in with this is learning to say no more often. I used to say yes to everything. Sometimes I just did not want to go out, but I would go anyway. Eventually, I realised that my friends will still be there even if I say no to them occasionally.
So the next time you get asked if you want to go shopping, but you REALLY don’t fancy it, say no. You might think you sound harsh doing this, but sometimes you have to think about yourself. You could be doing something far more productive instead.
It is SO easy forgetting about YOU when trying to be more productive. Even though I am telling you to cut the crap, I don’t want you to sacrifice “me” time. There is a difference between cutting out the wasted jobs and spending time doing what you want to do.
I think this is even more important for those who have children or lots of commitments. Making time for yourself might seem impossible to start off with. I do not blame you really -- you are probably very busy! But I have a few tips for you to take positive steps.
Don’t feel bad about having time for yourself. You did not stop being you when you had children. Although I understand how important they are to you, give yourself half an hour to watch TV. Or what about going for a walk on your own? You will feel better for it and lower your risk of burnout.
Block out a specific time for yourself. If you are always on the move, slowing down and actually making time for you and your wellbeing is key. You might not think you need it, but having that time to yourself might surprise you.
So if you know the only quiet time you get on your own is in the morning, block it out and focus. It will become easier the more you do it. Practise makes perfect!
My final point for you is to avoid procrastination at all costs. Browsing Facebook is fun to start off with, but it leads to many wasted hours. Once you start, it’s very hard to stop!
So the next time you feel like you just want to sit there doing nothing, get up. Do something more productive like reading a book on self-improvement. Or go for a walk and get outside. How about searching for some free online courses you can do?
The key thing here is to occupy your brain with someone or something better than Facebook. I am not slating Facebook, but I know how easy it is to get sucked in. The more time you spend wasting away the hours, the less you are focussing on you and your development.
As you can see, being more productive can actually mean being more aware of your own actions and life. It is so easy to get carried away with life and forget about you, the person who matters! Spend more time on yourself and you will naturally become more productive.
Well said, Miss Bignell. We certainly endorse your recommendations!
by Jo Creed
If you know me at all, then you know that Christmas is my absolute favourite time of the year! It has always been this way, but particularly since I came to live in England. The snow (or at least the cold), the lights, the goodwill and cheer by most at this time of the year are some of my reasons for loving the season.
Christmas is always coming, so let’s get prepared for it! Why do I suggest we start planning for Christmas early and what exactly do I do? Well, here goes:
I never ever write a list but it is always in my head! I don’t go looking for specific gifts, either. I just know I want to get one or two things for my nearest and dearest. The kids always write a list near to Christmas (as if they do not already know that I am done shopping), and to satisfy that, I buy at least one thing from their list.
I host Christmas at my home every other year. The next year it is hosted by my twin sister. And when I say I host Christmas, I don’t just mean Christmas dinner. Oh, no! Christmas holiday for us is from the day in December when schools close to the day in January before schools reopen! Yes, we take it that seriously. So if my sister is hosting Christmas, my family packs our stuff, we drive over, and we are there for the few weeks. If I am hosting, she packs up her car with her family and drives over to me. Mind you, this driving is no more than six minutes, but it is a part of our Christmas tradition.
We love to give the kids a lot of gifts! Now before you stone me, let me explain: They are actually a lot of little things that add up and seem a lot! We always make sure to include at least one book, one electronic item, clothes and/or shoes, personal care items, etc. These items are bought at different times throughout the year, usually on or around payday, but always in a sale -- whether in the shops or online. Sometimes we include a gift card that allows them some choice in what they get.
You might be wondering what kind of food shopping we can do in July.
Well, being Jamaicans, it is traditional to have sorrel drink at Christmas. But fresh sorrel is only available around Christmas -- and quite expensive, too. We outsmart this by buying a pack or two of dried sorrel each time we do our regular grocery shopping throughout the year. We also order the sorrel drink online months in advance.
We buy things like dried peas and dried fruits like raisins, prunes, and mixed fruits to make our traditional Christmas cake. The fruit is soaked in a bath of Red Label wine, which keeps our fruit lasting for months until we are ready to do the baking.
In fact, throughout the year we do shopping for anything we will need around Christmas time. We even purchase some meat long in advance, season/marinate properly, and freeze. On Christmas day our meals are awesome -- I cannot even begin to explain!
Each year we do up three trees: One in the empty house and two in the “house of the year.” This takes a lot of decorations, and we try to make them look different each time. We re-use and recycle the decorations and add a few new ones each year. The new things are usually homemade using ideas we get from Pinterest.
We foolishly used to put real candy canes on the trees and the little ones would eat them way before the big day came. So a few years ago I made fake ones using red and white beads and a bit of bendy wire or pipe cleaners. I made them in secret when the kids were not around, so imagine their shock when they tried their usual trick and found that the candy canes were not edible! I should have set up a hidden camera!
Every year I make a conscious effort to prepare a gift for each of my close work colleagues and also for children whose lives I want to impact. Last year for my work colleagues, I made some crochet items as early as September and October! Some colleagues were quite pleasantly surprised as they were not aware that I even know how to crochet! Each item was different and made with the recipient in mind. Now that is a good way to spread the festive cheer!
Being frugal (as well as trying always to be creative) and doing my bit to save the planet, every year after the Christmas festivities are over, I put away the dozens of cards we all received. Then, the next year on designated craft day, we get to work! Using card, paper, glue, glitter, ribbon, and fancy scissors, we make gift tags and Christmas cards using bits of card cut off from the old ones. Clever, right? We would have spent much more buying cards and not had half as much fun!
Here is a top tip! I wrap each gift in plain or wrapping paper and put them away in a closet with the name of the recipient written on masking tape. If the kids search and find them, they will know that they got gifts, but they will have no idea what is in the boxes. Talking about boxes, I keep neat ones that held various items purchased or given throughout the year on the back porch in a large plastic storage box with a lid. These make good packages to make the wrapped gift look amazing. Yeah, I know -- I am clever. LOL
When the big day is near and I start wrapping, I just need to put on the Christmas paper -- which I buy in the sales late December or early January! Sometimes even I don’t remember what is in all the boxes -- so when the gift is opened, I’m almost as surprised as the recipient, and my screams of cheer are even louder!
So why do I start preparing for Christmas in July? Simple! Because it’s smart to do so! It is way too hectic and expensive to do all this near to the big day.
Hooray for me and for Christmas! Ho Ho Ho and Jingle Bells and all that!
I love to live in a house that has a homey feel. You know -- lived-in. I don’t like to feel uncomfortable, like I’m in a museum and can’t touch or use anything! You know some homes you go into, and it’s like you are on edge as things are so pristine? I don’t like that. What I do like, however, is a home that it is maintained throughout the year, but still feels like a family lives there.
There are several things you can do to maintain your home. This will prevent you from having to do an almighty clean because you have visitors coming over. It will also save you some money, and might even save you having to ring your insurers about certain problems. This is one way you can get on top of the irritations and bother that can get you down.
Here are some simple things you can do:
Have you noticed sometimes a few little scuff marks on your walls that you can’t seem to explain?
The trick for dealing with this is to always have a small can of matching paint for each paint colour in your house. That way, as soon as a mark appears, if you can’t clean it, go get your little paint and brush and restore the look. If the scuff mark is not too bad, you can try a solution of water and a little detergent. Use a clean cloth that has been wet in the solution to wipe any visible marks. This is also good for skirting boards.
Every now and again, high traffic areas like the kitchen need a proper steam clean. This helps to lift dirt and especially grease from surfaces, leaving a fresh look and smell. If you don’t have the equipment to use, there are hardware/DIY places that sell them or rent their equipment at reasonable rates.
This is not a particularly pleasant job. However, it is well worth doing it as it can save you hundreds in damages to not only your house, but that of the neighbours! During the year, guttering can become filled with fallen leaves, dust that turns to mud, insects, bird droppings, and a whole host of other things. The resulting muck is actually a breeding ground for bothersome plants that don’t require much care! Yes, I have seen plants growing in the guttering.
If the guttering does not allow water to flow freely, the water can back up, overflow unexpectedly, and cause damage. You don’t want a nasty neighbour coming round to accuse you of causing damage because they cleaned their guttering and you did not do yours! It is always best to live peacefully with the neighbours.
If you have lovely carpeting or other nice flooring, then it’s a good idea to move the furniture around so the wear is distributed evenly. I remember when I was little, my mom changed around the furniture in the rooms so often, we used to wonder where she got all that energy from. I must say it is not something I have adopted from her, but I need to. Apart from the distribution of wear and tear, moving the furniture around gives the whole house a fresh feel that I just love. Also, moving the furniture around sometimes allows you to find hidden treasures like lost money -- or even that document you have been looking for!
Most insurance companies will not honour claims relating to window frames damaged by water, so take care of them! Depending on what your frames are made of, check for things like rust, water damage, peeling paint, swelling, etc. Adopt the approach of checking and fixing as you go along. Make it a good habit!
People who have nice, comfortable, lived-in homes use these tips to maintain their houses. (For those with trophy homes that no one can feel comfortable in, that is another matter.) Ensure that you utilise these tips to take care of your own lived-in space!
by Jo Creed
“Eat your big frog first” is a saying which basically means tackle your to do list by doing the most important thing first. So there you go, you can breathe easy now. We don’t have to actually eat frogs!
I had my blog page to set up and this would involve doing some things on the computer that I had never done before. Man, I hit panic mode. I had decided to invest all day doing it as it was a major job. Almost anything computer-related is major for me! Well, you should have seen me. I dusted, cleaned the kitchen again, put some laundry in, and then decided that I may as well have lunch so I could dedicate the rest of the day to the big frog.
Well, after lunch I thought I might as well use the toilet before I settled down to the impending task. On entering the toilet I noticed a few spots on the mirror and thought, "Can't leave it like that.” So I took to cleaning the bathroom mirrors and, while I was using the window cleaner, I thought it best to just use a few more minutes to clean the mirrors and windows in the bedrooms! I felt guilty when I realised it was almost 3 pm and I still had my blog page to work on!
The panic turned to serious teacher mode. I dragged myself by the scruff of the neck, sat down in front of the computer, and started the task. I breathed a prayer and started, willing myself to not give up till I was done. I found that following the instructions and demo videos was quite easy! In fact, it really was fun seeing my page take shape. I could not believe that the job I was putting off all day was actually not the major issue I thought it would be. I was enjoying my newfound knowledge and skills and was quite disappointed when I realized it was after 6 pm and I had to go to an appointment. Rushing to get dressed, I thought, "It really is true what they say: Eat your big frog first!”
What is your big frog that you’ve been putting off? Is it trying a new class, skill, or sport? Maybe the frog is getting the courage to talk to a family member or friend about a problem, completing an assignment, or getting a particular job in the home done?
Whatever the frog, psyche yourself up, open wide, and attack it. I bet it will not be half as difficult as you thought it would be. And the end result will be that you have the time, the will, and the courage to eat your other frogs. Go on, just do it!
We are firm believers that we are here to lighten the burden for each other. There is this invisible “circle of life,” and the more you help out in that circle, the more help comes to you when you need it. So if there is any way you can help another human being, we suggest that you do it.
by Leisa Creed
I have been a foster care provider for years. Most things have their pros and cons, I know, but fostering is one of those things which I believe has overwhelmingly more pros, and I am proud to say I would promote this as a viable “to do” for most people. There are many reasons why I foster, and I want to share some of them with you. Ironically, my first five reasons for fostering relate to the categories on the blog.
I was privileged to be born in a good home where I felt loved and all my basic needs were met. For many reasons, some kids are not so privileged, and I think it behoves the rest of us to give back to those who are less fortunate.
OMG! Foster kids are funny! I don’t know what it is about them, but they just seem to exude humour. I mean, they come out with the funniest things -- and you know me, I love a laugh. My foster daughter meets up with her brothers for contact which I supervise. Just thinking about the interaction between them now is making me chuckle. They are so funny!
Some children are fostered because they suffered severe neglect in their birth homes. Severe neglect means no attention was given to what the kids ate -- or even whether or not they ate. I pride myself on being a good cook, and I have a wealth of knowledge about healthy eating. In my role as a foster parent, I help the children in my care to improve their diets, which then means they have a better shot at making a success of their future.
For some fostered children, it seems like they (and their parents) were at the end of their tether! Some are just stuck in a rut. If they remained at home, they might never get unstuck! I’m proud to know that I help some of these kids recharge their batteries and have another go at life! If they can achieve their full potential by being in care -- especially if they didn’t stand a chance of this outside of the care system -- then I am happy to provide the opportunity.
Some kids have the potential to do really well. Somehow, some things in their background may make it not conducive for them to excel. In their birth homes, some are not encouraged to do homework, read, or even engage in stimulating, sensible conversations. In other words, their home environment holds them back.
With my foster daughter, I try to make sure she has every opportunity available and affordable to succeed. Once she came into my care, I ensured that she had additional support with her education as her prior school attendance was very poor. I encouraged her to do her best at everything she tried, and then praised and rewarded her achievements. She now has good study habits and is doing really well in school because I have instilled in her this “work smarter” attitude.
Who doesn’t like feeling good? No one! I get a good feeling from hearing compliments about children I have fostered. If someone comes to me and says, “I saw so and so (a child I have fostered) and they are doing really well,” my face lights up and my heart swells with pride. Just knowing that you have assisted a young person to develop, mature, and progress feels really rewarding!
Money is not all and to be honest, I don’t think I am at the break-even point. However, getting paid helps. So far I have fostered almost a dozen children ranging from days old to 15 years old. I have tried to make things special for all of them. Of course, money can’t buy some of the things I provide. But for others, only money can suffice. For my full time foster child, I take her on all holidays with us as a family whether it is overseas or nationally. There is of course some repayment by the local authority, but it never covers what I fork out up front. But I’m not complaining! I love what I do and would have it no other way. I foster because I want to!
So there you go. I know some don’t think fostering is something they could do, but please do give it a prayerful thought. You never know the impact you might make on a young person’s life. I say if you can, just do it! Deciding to foster might be one of your good deeds toward humanity!
by Leisa Creed
I’m going to share with you how you can make your neighbourhood better just by being a good neighbour. These are some really simple tips -- but so doable.
Where I come from, being a good neighbour helps a lot. I have fond memories of living on Logan Lane and Rosemount in Linstead, St. Catherine, Jamaica. I can still remember all the faces, even if I don't remember all the names.
Being a good neighbour sometimes saves you money, gives peace of mind and definitely makes for a more cohesive world. I knew almost all the people who lived in the vicinity -- except of course if someone new had moved in. We were invited to each other’s homes for most celebrations. In fact, it was quite inevitable that one would at some time or other need to ask a neighbour to keep something in their fridge or freezer on occasions when it seemed one had to “cater for the whole community.”
For the most part I like the “feel” of my present community. I've used some of the tips I’m sharing to improve its feel, and I’m going to adopt more of them for myself.
If your neighbour is old, ill, disabled, or heavily pregnant, certainly this is something you can do for them. I'm sure they would appreciate it. If nothing else, they’ll respect you for doing this “dirty” job for them.
Even when my neighbours look away as we approach each other, I still make the effort to say something... anything. Even if it’s a day when rain is pummelling the earth, I say something like, “Good morning, what a beautiful day!” You are likely to get a response, even if it’s a grunt. It’s a start. Before long you will start conversing, but the ice has to be broken somehow so be the one to break it.
We know there are times when neighboring families could do with some help. It may be transport for a wedding, something special for a christening, or even some support during bereavement.
We've all had the postman leave a “sorry we missed you” card for a package that they tried to deliver whilst we were out. Bummer! I've told my neighbours I will collect their package if ever I am in and requested that they do the same for me. This helps to build trust. Usually the postman will still leave a note to say where your package is.
Help them feel safe and accepted. Let them know that there is at least one friendly face around, and let them be pleasantly surprised when all the other neighbours start to do the same. It might seem daunting at first, but fight the fear and make the effort. My welcome speech goes something like, “Hi, welcome to the community. I'm Leisa and I live at number 3.” I've never had anything but a pleasant response. Try it!
Think about the feelings of others. Don’t play your stereo, radio, or TV too loud. Alert them if you are going to have lots of people over for a party. Ask them to remove their laundry from outside if you plan to fire up your barbecue. Even those simple things show you are a considerate neighbour.
It helps with the aesthetic look of the whole community, and this will boost community morale as well as perhaps keeping crime down.
So there are some sure, tested ways to become a better neighbour and create more harmony where you live. This is also a good way to collectively deal with the lemons we are all faced with, and in this case everyone benefits.
by Jo Creed
Women around the world have inspired generations of people for centuries. People like Maya Angelou, Oprah Winfrey, Indira Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Louise Bennett-Coverly and Hillary Rodham Clinton spring to mind.
Recently, I've been thinking of inspirational women from the small, beautiful islands. These women have each inspired me in one way or another, and this feature is a tribute to them and their wonderful ways. All these women have faced various “lemons” in their lives, yet they always seem to bounce back. We certainly could learn a lesson or two from them.
I’ll start with my very own mother, Zerena Clarke. If you really want to know what to do when life serves you lemons, talk to her! Her life has been through so many twists and turns, yet she soldiers on every day. As children growing up, we saw her trying her hand at so many jobs -- and she was good at them all!
When I think about my childhood with my mom, the thing that always brings a smile to my face is the amount of people my mom helped! I swear we almost always had someone who wasn't her child living with us, or there would always be someone else she was providing for. She was a single mom, yet life was fun, chilled, and relaxed. Being poor never prevented her from teaching us important life lessons. We learnt values like saving for a rainy day, doing with what you have, being respectful, and to be willing to share, no matter how little you have. I am grateful for the many lives she touched, but most of all, that I got the chance to be influenced by her. If I had the chance to choose my mother, I wouldn't have it any other way.
Have you stayed friends with anyone you went to school with? I have, and one of these women is Yvette Martin, owner and CEO of Miracle Pharmacy in Portmore, St. Catherine, Jamaica. Her pharmacy has come to the rescue of hundreds of Jamaicans. Growing up with Vetty was fun! She knew my family and I knew hers, as we visited each other from time to time.
The things I most admire about Vetty are her love of family and her drive and passion to succeed. I see Vetty's extended family as her life. I think that she spends more time at her mom's house as an adult than she does at her own house! It just seems to me like she'd be empty without her family. I know for sure that her family would be empty without her!
Vetty has faced some setbacks and disappointments in her career, but she keeps her head high, refocuses, and plans and executes her next move. Not one to be boastful, she maintains her strong spiritual focus, and this is something I admire greatly. She is such a good role model for all women. She also really loves young people, always looking for opportunities to help them succeed and flourish.
During my college years in Jamaica, I met some really amazing women who have gone on to do well in life, impacting others right across the globe! One such “superwoman” is Arlene Harris. OMG, I can't begin to describe what a super person she is! In fact, when I grow up, I want to be just like her, no joke!
Arlene is one of these women who can take on a lot and go through a lot at one time, but she never seems flustered or fazed! I don't know what it is about Arlene, but I so want some of it. Arlene is selfless, kind, and devotes so much to the welfare of others. To me, she demonstrates Christianity in action in so many ways. Arlene's family is very important to her, and she has a way of reaching out and connecting with others.
I remember the last time I saw Arlene in her “superwoman cape.” We were on the train going to New York with another friend for a girls' day out. Well, a young lady alighted from the train at one of the stops and fainted right there, with half her body still inside the train. I've never been so scared and I’m a trained First Aider!
Arlene calmly got up and pressed the emergency stop button while all around was panic and disorder. The train was quite full, but had to stop temporarily because of the incident. Arlene was also the first person to the young lady's aid, while others mumbled about how late they were going to be, etc. When the lady came to, she was offered a drink by “superwoman,” reassured and encouraged to get herself checked out, and then they exchanged numbers. Whether they have kept up, I don't know, but I suspect Arlene has checked in on that young lady to see how she is getting on.
Hats off to my phenomenal friend, Arlene Harris! I admire her because she is one of those real, down to earth women.
I've taught in four schools in three different countries, interacting with thousands of students in my 27-year teaching career. There are a choice few women I keep up with from among my past students because as women, they have made a positive impression on me for some reason or another. One of them is Sharlene Reid. Talk about feisty! She is a small bundle, but her touch is felt in several countries.
What I admire most about Sharlene: She's strong-willed, opinionated, friendly, professional, hardworking, gracious, and independent. Now you see what I mean when I say she is a lot wrapped up in one phenomenal woman!
Sharlene, although my past student, has often advised me on situations that needed a second opinion, and I greatly treasure her friendship. Quite the diva, Sharlene always looks after herself well and also does tutorials on makeup application to benefit others. She is determined to learn as much as she can.
Though she has had upsets in life, she has come to treasure her scars by learning from each situation. A Christian by choice, she sometimes upsets others with her reasoned opinions, but she is always quick to point out that “everyone is entitled to their own opinion.” Confident yet caring, Sharlene is a good homemaker and host. She lives a purposeful life. No wonder her friends think she's simply amazing!
Brainy, beautiful, and bighearted is how I would describe my next phenomenal woman, who was also a past student. I met Tiersa Smith (now Hall) years ago when I taught in the Turks and Caicos Islands. She was a tiny but confident first form student, and I was captivated by her from day one! She never stopped talking! But it wasn't that annoying, constant chatting about nothing significant. She had a way with words and wasn't shy in showing it! She was knowledgeable, excited, hardworking, and such a pleasure to teach. Tiersa always had big dreams and planned on being the best she could be.
One day, I overheard her and some of her friends planning their graduation with such intent you would have thought they were in their last year of high school -- yet they were just in their first year. They planned colour schemes and all! It was Tiersa who voiced that she would love to be the valedictorian!
I've kept in touch with this young lady over the years and watched her evolve into an executive, wife, mother, and passionate friend to so many. Tiersa is thoughtful and considerate of others, gracious about her family, and willing to go the extra mile to make others feel special. What inspires me most about Tiersa is that she always leaves the praise, thanksgiving, and glory for all her successes where they belong -- with God. Tiersa is a phenomenal woman in my eyes. Her grace, beauty, battles, and triumphs are an inspiration for countless women and proof that life is what you make it, planned and purposeful.
I am a firm believer that we are shaped and moulded by the people whose lives impact ours daily. Everyone is different, but what a good mix when we all share our awesomeness with each other. I would like to think that I have impacted others, but today the accolades and thanks go to these five women who, in their own way, have made this world a better place.
To whom would you give your accolades? Give careful thought to this, and perhaps see if you would consider yourself a phenomenal person. Yes, life will present you with lemons, but it is how you use them as inspiration that will determine how awesome a person you are!
by Jo Creed
A good deed done for yourself -- or better yet, for someone else -- can leave you feeling refreshed. Taking a few minutes to be thankful for the chance to see a new day, still in your right mind and without debilitating pain or illness is a great mood enhancer. Some old folk I know used to say, "Thank God you wake up alive, some people wake up dead!" Impossible, I know, but you get the point.
When getting ready for your day, smile, be positive, and tell yourself you are going to have an awesome day no matter what! You would be surprised how much self-motivating you can do and how far it takes you.
Promise to do something special for yourself today, and then do it! This could include going to the gym or for a brisk walk, eating a portion of vegetable that you don't like but that you know is good for you, planning to NOT be negative or complaining at all for the day, or even something as simple as reading a motivational post.
Did you know there are many people worse off than you are, people who are really struggling with life’s lemons? With this in mind, there are simple deeds you could do for them. They will make you feel better and make the world a better place. Here are a few things you can do:
Smile at a stranger.
Make a donation, no matter how small.
Smile and make conversation with little kids on the bus or in the shops -- in front of their parent, of course!
Assist an elderly person with carrying baggage or crossing the street.
If you can think of any others, go ahead, do it. You will feel better!
I've recently joined a small group of adults doing some training. Some of it involves watching videos and then discussing the content and filling out answer sheets. There's a lady in the class whose first language is not English, and she really struggles to keep up with everything.
One evening, after everyone left the training, I stayed back for half an hour to help her to fill in her answers based on the video presentation and discussion. She was so grateful, and our conversation led me to learn so much about her and her culture -- but most of all to see that she is a beautiful person!
After training I went to do some shopping in a supermarket where you have to pay for parking privileges first and display the ticket in your car or risk being fined. I have been fined before, and it wasn’t nice! Imagine my pleasure when I pulled up in the parking lot, realised I didn’t have any change to pay, and an elderly lady shoved a ticket my way! "Here," she said, "I only popped in for eggs and milk and it took me half an hour as I stumbled upon an old friend and we started chatting!" When I looked at the ticket, I realized she had parked at about the same time I decided to stop back and help this other lady with her responses to the video presentation. Not only did the lady from the class benefit, but I benefited from having that free parking!
From our everyday lifestyle habits to the food we eat, we can reduce the impact of life’s lemons by making healthy choices. With a healthy, cared-for body and mind, we can be strong, confident, and positive.
by Jo Creed
Ok, I'm going to be forthright now! I know some things are hard to give up as you'll have to change your lifestyle. But the truth is that everything we do affects us in one way or the other. What am I on about? Well, today I want to talk about our skin, the largest organ of the body. The skin is the first thing that others see when they meet you. This means we need to look after it well and avoid making some poor lifestyle choices that leave us worse off.
Recently, my friend Opal and I were having a casual conversation where she shared that she had stopped putting dyes in her hair as she feels that those chemicals must seep into your skin somehow -- and who knows what damage they are doing? Then I thought about my lifestyle and how it may be affecting my skin. I'm not much of a make-up girl (shocker, I know), but I know there are many other poor lifestyle choices that affect the skin. Below, I will share a few of them with you.
I don't mean to judge your lifestyle, but it's a known fact that smoking does more harm than good. The pores of the skin absorb the toxins from cigarettes, which leaves you with a dull look, pimples, and that smell no one likes. No matter how much skin cream and body lotion you use, it can’t mask the odour. I’m no medical professional, and neither are most of our readers, but we know smoking has no positive benefits for the skin.
We all know that excessive alcohol impairs our judgement! Right? Right! Well, when one drinks too much alcohol, it actually dries out the skin while perhaps giving the person drinking the impression they have had a lot of water. Nothing could be further from the truth! That type of damage is hard to repair. I can recognise a heavy drinker when I see one just by looking at the state of the skin on their face! Wise up, and do what's best for you and your skin!
It has been scientifically proven that overexposure to the sun's UV rays is directly linked to skin cancer in addition to other risky skin conditions. Whilst we are on the topic of sun exposure, it is important to mention overexposure can also come from sun lounges. Watch it! Don't say you weren't told! Think about it. Does the look warrant getting skin cancer?
Want to have healthy, beautiful skin? Start by drinking plenty of water. Let it be your drink of choice. Top up at every opportunity. This is something I'm trying to improve on in my own life. I don't think I drink enough water each day. I actually have to force myself to drink it, just because I know of the benefits to my health and well-being. Lack of water leaves you dehydrated and makes your skin lack lustre and suppleness. Drink more for your skin's sake.
By the way, water is found naturally in most fruits and vegetables. Can you think of some of these? I've tried this trend of putting some fruits or pieces of fruit in a bottle, then topping up with ice and water. When it's refrigerated overnight, it makes an amazingly refreshing drink! Lemon and cucumber water is my favourite.
The less grease in your food, the better your skin looks. This is another proven lifestyle choice! Eliminate more of the fat and you will see improvement in your skin's appearance. Of course, a little fat in the diet is necessary for healthy joints and brain function. But don't overdo it! What I do to remind myself to lay off the fat is to imagine each teaspoon of fat of any kind as a tablespoon of yellow ugly fat around my heart! Yuk! That strategy works sometimes to help me avoid greasy food.
To summarise: eat healthier and avoid smoking, alcohol, and overexposure to the sun. You will be so proud of your flawless skin when you see improvements after making these lifestyle changes!
by Leisa Creed
I struggle with my weight and have had the struggle for years. Perhaps some of you can relate! To avoid health-related diseases, we should make the effort to reduce the amount of fat in our diet. The British Heart Foundation has been trying to tell us this for years.
Here are seven really simple ways we can do this:
Think about how much milk you consume on cereal, in tea, in coffee, etc. Using semi skimmed milk will definitely go toward the fat reduction. In fact, after some time of having semi skimmed milk, you could perhaps try skimmed milk. It might be too great a jump to go from full fat milk (whole milk) to skimmed.
I think you may already know it’s good to grill or roast meat to reduce the fat. Another way to get rid of fat is to cut off any visible fat from meat before it is prepared. If the meat is served to you with visible fat, discreetly cut it off before eating the rest of the portion.
When cooking stews, casseroles, etc., reduce the amount of meat you add, thus reducing the saturated fat content. Add nuts, pulses, peas, or beans. You still will have the flavour from the meat, but in addition some “healthy bits” of protein, fibre, minerals, and vitamins.
Some people just like the taste and texture of fried food, so I’ll let you have that. (See, I’m being kind!) But instead of deep fat frying or pan frying for a long time, you can do a quick flash fry, then place the food in the oven or on the grill to finish cooking. Sometimes a good first step is reducing rather than attempting to go without. We all know what that feels like. This method works well for meat and potatoes.
Soups tend to be healthy and filling. In addition, you have control of what goes in. (My favourite has to have pumpkin and celery!) A quick, easy, and hearty soup could have a variety of vegetables, onion, and a piece of celery. After cooking, this could then be blitzed with a stick blender.
When you do eat out, when it is time for pudding (dessert), try the fruits rather than the pastry products or cakes. The fruits are usually healthier. When you go toward the dessert section, have in your head this little verse, “A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips.” This might deter you from choosing the fatty versions of dessert.
Food labelling laws have changed a lot, and it’s now much easier to see the fat jumping out at you! It's not even such a great chore anymore! Honest! So read for yourself and choose the healthier options.
Go on, follow these tips, make the effort. Here’s to a happier, healthier life!
by Jo and Leisa Creed
Mental health and wellbeing should never be ignored. So much is riding on your mental health!
If you have children, they're depending on you to stay well for them. Even if you don't have children, your friends and family want you to stay healthy and well. Most importantly, you need to look after your mental health for your own sake. Ignoring mental health problems don't make them go away.
Here are some issues that can negatively affect your mental health:
I'm not one for drinking alcohol, but I do know many people who manage to take alcohol and still maintain a decent living with their work, family life, relationships, etc. These are people without mental health conditions. Mixing alcohol and/or drugs with a mental health condition is only asking for trouble!
Drugs and alcohol distort reality and can push you closer to the edge if you have a pre-existing mental health condition. There are also dangerous contraindications if alcohol is mixed with drugs prescribed for mental health conditions. If you have a mental health condition and have to take medication, you will see it clearly written on the accompanying leaflet: DO NOT TAKE ALCOHOL.
Convincing yourself that you do not have a mental health condition and therefore do not need to take your medication is nothing less than foolhardy. If you find out that you have cancer, would you go around ignoring it and just hope that it goes away? No, you wouldn't. Mental illness, whatever the type, is just another illness and needs to be addressed by the way of medical attention.
Trained specialists are available to help you deal with mental health issues. These are people who have years of training and experience, and their advice should be valued above your own or other untrained individuals'. Of course, there are some conditions that can be treated with herbal remedies or over the counter medication. But, once you have a serious mental health condition, you cannot rely on your own impaired judgement to decide how, when, and how often to treat it. You must rely on the professionals for help.
If you know of someone who is in need of mental health help, share this -- but do try to convince them that they need help. Too many children and others suffer when mental health conditions are not treated as they should be.
Look after your own mental health. Avoid a stressful life, but be the best that you can be. This also means sometimes leaving a few things to be done at a later time. After all, nothing will happen to the dinner dishes if they stay in the sink until the morning. You are in charge of your life choices, so do take care with this “lemon.”
by Jo Creed
I'm no sleep specialist, but I've certainly suffered in the past from the inability to just fall asleep and get a peaceful night's rest! A friend and I were talking about this and sharing tips. Here's the gist of our discussion and what we came up with. I really hope you find something that will help you with this struggle.
My friend couldn't sleep because she had recently been diagnosed with the Big C, and the worry of the situation kept her up at nights. Poor thing tried so many different sleep remedies, and she was overjoyed when she found one that actually worked.
I was in an energy zapping job and was doing way too much until I was totally burnt out, stressed, and unable to perform to the best of my ability. The worst part of this was that I could not sleep at night! Have you ever been too tired to fall asleep? Well, I was. And it was horrible! As a result of my lack of sleep, I was having scary hallucinations that felt so real! I hit panic mode and sought out some counselling.
When I did counselling, I was told that you have to work at the root of what is causing your inability to sleep. For me, it was a stressful job that I wanted so badly to leave, and I told her. She asked me to think about how I saw myself in the big picture of things, and also whether I was feeling less than the rest because so many people seemed to be coping when I clearly wasn't!
She suggested a few inexpensive reads that I cannot recommend enough! Honestly, they helped me to put things into perspective and to make some decisions regarding my life and future. The books are: “Introduction to Coping with Anxiety” by Brenda Hogan and Leonora Brosan; and “An Introduction to Improving your Self Esteem” by Leonora Brosan and Melanie Fennell.
The books opened my eyes to my reality and guided me as to how exactly to treat how I was feeling. Talk about soul searching! I had to face the problems head on and make some drastic moves in my personal life and my career. I even quit my job! To this day, I still think I would have had a nervous breakdown if I hadn't quit.
My readings have shown me that people suffer from insomnia for a number of reasons: from chronic pain to noise pollution, relationship issues, and everything in between. Your solution has to be something you test -- not everything works for everyone! Point is, you may not get results with the first thing you try.
My friend and I did try a few things to get that elusive sleep back to a regular pattern. Some worked, but were only temporary. Some didn't do anything for us, but we've heard of others who have had luck with them. Like I said earlier, it's a matter of trying them and seeing which one works for you. It's just like taking advice people give about growing your hair! Some remedies work for some people, but not for others. Here are some of the things my friend and/or I tried:
Kalms herbal tablets. Some people swear by them, but the first night I took them I had a funny feeling, so I didn’t take any more.
Blinking your eyes really fast.
Having a warm drink before bed. I tried my favourite hot chocolate drink, but I think it's partially to be blamed for my weight gain. (It's easy to lay blame, isn't it?)
Read a book. But who is going to switch the light off if you haven't got a bedside light? And by the time you get up to switch the light off, you'll be wide awake anyway.
Deep breathing and concentrating on each breath. This actually worked for me for several months.
Wake up at the same time everyday. I actually don't know how this would help. After all, the problem is falling asleep!
Use window shades/blinds to block out light.
Read boring classified ads on things you have no interest in. I did this for some time and it did work, but again there was the matter of switching the light off.
Avoid high drama -- whether in your personal life or on TV before you fall asleep
Listening to soothing music/talk. My friend says she has found a YouTube channel that has some sort of dreary male voice set against some equally dreary music, and also a cloudy background that is bound to let you fall asleep. She says it works for her, and she says it's the man's voice -- it's too boring to keep listening to, plus he keeps saying things like, “In your mind's eye, watch your body drift off into the clouds… just relax.” That particular video was actually a little over 3 hours long! That's a long time to stay awake when you should be sleeping!
I would strongly suggest you try some of these ideas and see what works best for you. There are many things you could try, and I'm confident you will get the result you are after. Whether it is medication, simple changes to your routine, or reading up and making changes to your life, it can be done. If not, you may need to see a counsellor or sleep specialist.
Good luck with whatever you choose to do!
by Jo Creed
These two body parts that hold us up are really meant to last us a lifetime if we treat them well. Here are a few ideas to show your feet some love. They support us, so we really do need to take care of them!
Every now and again, particularly on a day when your feet have taken a battering, soak your feet in some warm water with any two of the following mixed in: a tablespoon of body lotion or baby oil, 1 teaspoon of washing up liquid (yes you read that correctly), half cup of mouthwash, or half cup of vinegar. After soaking for at least 10 minutes, you will find that your feet are not so achy. Moreover, any dead skin peels off easily, leaving you with soft, beautiful feet. Give them a scrub or massage if you feel up to it. Go on!
On the night of your foot soak, rub your feet with petroleum jelly and put some socks on overnight. In the morning, all those cracks are gone! It’s amazing! When I do this, I find the tiny cracks on my heel are gone for about a week. It can be even longer if you continue to soak and oil your feet. As summer nears and pretty sandals beckon, give your feet the beauty treatment. They'll thank you for it.
This one can’t be overemphasized! Who has never had the painful experience of wearing a pair of shoes that were either too tight or too loose or just plain uncomfortable? This can actually distort the shape of the feet, causing painful corns and callouses! If you are not one who can manage the really high heels and be comfortable, my advice would be to leave them well alone.
Every so often, give the job of pampering your feet over to the professionals. There’s nothing like having someone else giving your tired, achy feet some attention. A pedicure and long foot soak every two months is so refreshing for tired feet. Some nail shops allow you to get a full back massage while your feet are immersed in some sweet-smelling bubbly liquid. It does tickle sometimes, but nothing beats it!
Here's the best piece of advice for beautiful feet:
What? Yes, the Bible says, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" Go look for yourself! Romans 10:15 NIV. So, be a bearer of good news! Speak politely and kindly to others. If what you're about to say or share means you'll be putting someone else down, then don't do it or you'll end up with “ugly feet.” Instead, look for ways to do good deeds for others.
If you treat your feet well by giving them a pampering every now and then, they'll serve you well and you'll be pleased to show them off in sandals or other pretty shoes. And don't forget to be the bearer of good news, because then you'll be among those with beautiful, happy feet!
In this section, we want to focus on the fact that as human beings, we need to stop sometimes to zone in on our spirituality. We are firm believers that we are all born as spiritual beings and that the Creator of the universe wants to connect with us.
In the busy spheres of life, we often get bogged down with various issues that annoy, depress, and put us off being productive human beings. We need to centre our thoughts and find our faith. Often, that will give us the push we need to go on. There are various stories throughout history that we can look back at to learn valuable lessons and gain inspiration.
by Leisa Creed
I like the story of Joseph in the Bible. Joseph faced his fair share of “lemons,” but what an awesome ending! This goes to show that we should never just focus on the negatives of our lives. We can be overcomers and must battle on until we win. This first snippet we will share with you looks at the way Joseph overcame and experienced triumph.
Joseph was a troubled young man. He was well-loved by his father, but hated by his brothers. What a dilemma he found himself in! How can one person be so loved and yet so hated? Well, the problem was really jealousy! Joseph’s brothers were jealous of him. They were tired of him telling them about his dreams -- dreams which sounded like he wanted to laud it over them!
One day, the brothers dropped him into a pit. A real pit! It was their intention to leave him there, but something made them get him out of the pit. (Praise God!) The brothers contemplated what to do with Joseph. They decided to would sell him into slavery, and that is just what they did. Joseph was miles from home, his father missed him, and his brothers continued to despise him although they were sure he was out of their lives for good!
Guess what? Joseph’s life was having a total transformation! In fact, he went from being a slave to being an esteemed man! Joseph had moved from the pit to the palace.
How do we get from the pit to the palace, and what do we do once we have arrived? Well, Joseph’s experience started out just as a good dream. You see, Joseph had allowed God to guide his life. So when he received dreams, he was assured they were from God. Are your dreams from God? Is God the “force” in your life? Have you entrusted all to Him, including your dreams? Joseph had.
In his dream, Joseph saw himself as leader over his brothers. (cue dramatic music) Then, Joseph had the audacity to tell his brothers about his dream! (cue even more dramatic music) To be honest, I’ve often wondered at this. Why did he have to tell the brothers the dream? Well, I’ve concluded that when you are sure your message is from God, you won’t mind sharing it with everyone!
You will remember that Joseph’s brothers had first of all dropped him in a pit. They thought it was of themselves that they decided to take him out and sell him into slavery. No! God decided! They just had to follow God’s plan. You see, sometimes our enemies seek to do us harm. Sometimes they even juggle their evil plans to see which is the better evil to serve us. But once our lives are in God’s hands, He will seek to work out that which is best for us, that which will get us from the pit to the palace.
Outside of his brothers’ sight, Joseph flourished! He grew in stature and favour with God and man! Pharaoh put him in charge of his whole kingdom! Whether you are in or out of your enemy’s sight, remain in God’s sight and you will flourish! Don’t let evil plans against you come to pass! Put your trust in God. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your path.
In the end, Joseph was able to use his pit to palace experience to help his brothers and the rest of his family. When you have moved from your pit experience to your palace experience, remember the depth from which you have risen. Use whatever resources you have to help those who are still going through their pit experience.
Like Joseph, we are loved by our Father and hated by some of our brothers. Let the love shine through. Love can pierce through the darkness presented by hate!
by Leisa Creed
I'm not much of a historian, or even one for reading and enjoying historical accounts, but recently I've been drawn to the story of John the Revelator and his Isle of Patmos experience. I think I can hear many of you asking, “Who is that?” You know the books of the Bible? Well, John the Revelator was inspired to write the Book of Revelation whilst banished to the Isle of Patmos. Historical accounts say it was quite a horrible place!
John was a follower of Jesus Christ, and he would talk about Jesus to all who would listen. The ruling powers of that day were tired of hearing him, and some say he was touching a nerve with them or pricking at their consciences. They banished him to the deserted Isle of Patmos, hoping he would suffer so much that he would forget about his faith and shut up!
Well, he did not forget! In fact, he was so inspired by the Spirit that he had Revelations of things to come! John was so amazed at what he “saw” and “heard” that he decided to write it down. It’s in the Bible for us to see and read for ourselves! Isn't that amazing! You can read Revelation to see what he was inspired to write. It is heavy reading and you will definitely need help in interpreting some of what you read.
Some who have read Revelation say it is quite scary, but I think it is so full of imagery that John must have been awestruck when he saw those things. What an inspiration! Think about it. What would you do in John’s place? Some people would want to drown their sorrow in booze or drugs. Others would wile away their time crying. Some would seek the most eloquent lawyer to argue their case, some would sulk and slip into deep depression, and others would use their time to plot revenge.
What would you do? What would I do? I really don't know, but I'd love to think that my faith would keep me strong. That I would remember what I believe in. That I should not lose hope. But would I have the presence of mind to forget my suffering and write about my situation? Would I think that others might learn something from my experience? Or would I side with those who had banished me, ask to be forgiven, and promise not to express my faith again? Lots to think about, isn't it?
There are other awe-inspiring stories of people who faced adversity and didn't let it stop them from doing good. I'm reminded of Jesus Himself when He was about to be killed. Was He feeling sorry for Himself and bemoaning His fate? No! He was thinking of others, even those who had done wickedness all their lives. You can read the account of what was on Jesus' mind when he was about to be murdered in the Gospels in the Bible. That reminds me of a well-loved song: “When He was on the cross that day, you and I were on His mind.”
What will you do next time you are having your Patmos experience? Will you give up what you stand for? Will you turn that negative experience into a positive, that lemon into lemonade? One thing you can do beforehand is to make up your mind about how you will handle negative situations. Keep in mind some inspirational quotes from the Bible or elsewhere that will help you to keep strong whilst you endure. Don't be caught off guard. Don't let anything shatter your faith, no matter what! And you know what? Feel free to share your Patmos experience. Who knows, in time it might inspire others to endure and rejoice as they go through their own Patmos experience.
by Leisa Creed
Most working people I know didn’t start off wanting to work at whatever it is they do now, myself included. Growing up, I changed my mind many times about my lifetime ambition. I think I first started out saying I wanted to be an “air hostess” because that was just the nicest-sounding job. I never even ventured in that direction, nor gave it a second thought when the time came to choose a career!
When I finished secondary school, I just wanted to work. Work at what, I didn’t know, but I wanted to work! I thought I had had enough of school and wanted to try the work world. It was really hard and disappointing trying to find a job. In fact, I didn’t find any.
Then I told my father I wanted to be a secretary because I liked typing. My dad had his own ideals for me and preferred that I did something that took more years of training, something which would be more sustainable and earn me a better living. I was not pleased when he said this because I was headstrong with my view that I wanted to be a secretary.
What did you want to be? Not when you were very little and had those fairytale dreams. I mean when the time came for you to actually choose a career path, what was your first choice? Is it what you do now? I believe with all the best will in the world we desire certain things for ourselves. But God, who sees and knows all, might have some other ideals for us.
God allows us choice, so we are creatures of free will. But if we put our trust in God, He will help us in making right choices. He will not force us, but when we surrender all to Him, listen and obey His counsel, He will come through for us. Sometimes we are not wise in our choices and He allows us. Being the gentle, loving Father that He is, He will prompt us, but He will never force us.
Have you ever been in a job that was hurting you in many ways? Deadlines you could not meet, poor work/life balance, colleagues whose ideals did not match up with yours, bossy bosses and never-ending “to do” lists? I know I have!
Have you stopped to wonder if God might have another plan for you? I believe this, because God does not want to see us suffering, broken, stressed, depressed, or overwhelmed. I was inspired by the song “When God Has Another Plan.” Do you know it? You can look for it on Youtube. Play it over and over, then sing along as it ministers to you. God always has better things in store for us!
Are you disappointed, lonely, depressed, and stuck in what seems like a time warp? God has better plans for us. In fact, in His Word, the Bible, it says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
What to do next? We must come to acknowledge that God has good plans for us. How do we access those plans? As I said earlier, we have to let God take control of our all. As humans, we sometimes feel we can manage on our own. We can’t! Sometimes it’s hard to tell if we are to move on or stick with the job we have. But if we bear in mind that God wishes good things for us, deep in our hearts we will know.
Sometimes we have the tendency to hold tight what we have for fear of losing it. I firmly believe that God wants desperately to bless us, but sometimes we are just holding onto the “evil” we know so tightly that we find it difficult to “let go and let God.”
I find it difficult, too. My job has changed so much! Sometimes I don’t like the way it makes me act and think, and I believe God must have another plan for me! At the same time, God expects us to use the brain He has blessed us with. For example, I know that I can’t just leave my job because I don’t like it. I must, with God’s guidance, put plans in place for the transition from what I do now to the “other plan” God has for me.
God wants us to prosper and be in good health as our soul prospers. Will you give Him a chance to show you His other plan? Remember to “let go and let God.”
by Leisa Creed
Sometimes we all just need a “pick me up” and a few thoughtful words will do.
Inspirational quotes are appearing everywhere! What do I like about them? I like how they are written in nice fonts, and how they grace walls in various rooms of homes and business places. Perhaps the thing I like most about them is that they serve a real purpose, especially if they are thought-provoking.
Here I have taken time to share some inspirational quotes from the Bible:
“But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” – Joshua 24:15 NKJV. I can see this as a bold statement gracing one of the walls in the family room or living room.
“Honour your father and your mother...” – Exodus 20:12 NKJV. Appropriate I think on the wall in a child’s bedroom.
“...He who has begun a good work in you will complete it...” – Philippians 1:6 NKJV. I’m planning on using this one on my daughter’s bedroom wall when she goes off to university.
“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” – Colossians 3:23 NLT. Suitable I think for the staffroom at work, or the common room or lunchroom -- or even in a factory setting.
“Honour her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.” – Proverbs 31:31 NIV. Craft room/sewing room?
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” – Jeremiah 29:11 NIV. How amazing is that! When the road gets rocky, we just need to lean on the promises the Lord has made. One thing I do know, he never fails. This could go in any room of the house I think.
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28 NKJV
A few years ago I made a quote on canvas for a friend's birthday. She was really struggling at the time with several issues. So I did this inspirational quote: “When life gets too hard to stand, kneel.” I know some people won't get this, but some will. Being a Christian, my friend was moved by the gesture and expressed her delight at the reminder to kneel down to pray whenever life served her another lemon.
I hope these inspirational quotes have prompted you to think, and maybe to use one somewhere in your home. What about doing one up for a friend or neighbour as part of your good deed? Inspirational quotes can certainly help to recharge your batteries and lift your mood every time you come across them.
by Jo Creed
Have you ever been hurt and hurt and hurt by the same person? Feels like torture, doesn't it? You know the right thing to do is forgive and forget! The forgiveness part is difficult. The forgetting part? That's much worse!
How can you forget the pain? How can you forget when others keep reminding you of what happened? How can you forget, especially when you see the person almost every day. How can you forget when you bear the scars (sometimes physical) of the assault you suffered at their hands?
Whether you read the Bible, the Quran, or some other book that offers guidelines for living, you will see the advice such as: “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) Also, how often is it suggested that you forgive the same person? Up to seventy times seven! That's a whopping four hundred and ninety times! (Matthew 18:22)
Ever heard this seventy times seven malarkey? Well, I have, and I've started to practise it. How? I let it go and give new chances after chances! (And I usually get hurt again and again and again.)
If you really think about it, someone who hurts you or wrongs you so often just has absolutely no idea just how much they are hurting you! And that's the reason you should forgive them... They just don't know!
Now turn the tables. Do you know that you hurt people every day, too? Sometimes it's planned, but sometimes you do it inadvertently! Would you want the other person's forgiveness? Or would you want them to constantly be angry at you for what you've done? Because the shoe is on the other foot, it's hard to see. But you do hurt people, more than you will ever know! So forgive, and get rid of the anger!
Forget about it? I've tried, but I can't. Can you? Then again, who says I should forgive AND forget? That's not even biblical! It's man-made! Someone came up with this idea to add “forget.” And that's where I find it difficult. No -- impossible. The pain of physical abuse, a cheating spouse, wilful lies, or being robbed, mentally abused, and treated unfairly -- those are impossible to forget.
Well, the Bible does not mention forgive and forget! It says we should forgive. So, that's my resolve. That's what I will do when I am wronged. In fact, I will try to have a forgiving spirit so that even if the perpetrator doesn't seek forgiveness, I will forgive anyway. I will take Matthew 6:14 and Ephesians 4:32 as my guide. And I will seek to be forgiven when I know I have wronged someone. Even if I don't know that I have wronged them, I hope they will have the same forgiving spirit and not hold anger against me!
So, how to forgive? Follow this advice: “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32 NKJV) You let go of mental baggage when you forgive. It leaves you feeling so much lighter and makes you a better person! It just feels like your batteries have been recharged!
by Jo Creed
I must admit that I'm not always chirpy and bright and singing Pharrell Williams' hit number “Happy.” There are days I really wish I didn't have to pretend to be chirpy and bright! Do you have those days, too?
We sometimes feel overwhelmed and just can't seem to snap out of the lows. How do you deal with it? Imagine yourself in a river. You wouldn't just give up! My advice to you today would be to keep swimming. In other words, don't give up.
We all have options in life. Sometimes these don't seem readily available because you are overwhelmed with the current situation. Here's my advice: keep swimming.
Here are some general pieces of advice. You can even share with someone else!
Life is what you make it, so try to make smart decisions that are easier to live with.
Doctors are necessary sometimes, so take their advice -- especially when things are overwhelmingly difficult.
Counselling is one of those things that helps. Always look out for others. Lots of people are having a hard time too, so reach out.
Enjoy the sunshine. It does so much to uplift your mood and make you feel better.
Learn a new craft, skill, or hobby. Nothing is nicer than learning something new and enjoying it! It also takes your mind off your worries.
Do something different, even daring. On the days you feel low, that's the time to, as they say, “Get up, get dressed, and show up!”
Get some sort of pampering treatment done. Hair, nails, massage? You decide.
One Sunday morning I woke up at about 4:30 and just couldn't fall back to sleep. Then I realised that I felt rather cold and shivery with a rousing headache! I must admit that I haven't had the cold or flu in a long time, but I was sure I was coming down with something! My nose was running, my throat was slightly sore, and I generally felt lethargic and almost useless! I told myself, "There are some people in parts of the world who are giving out their last breath, so don't give up. Keep swimming, there are others who are depending on you!"
So I did just that. I got up about 5:30 and did some laundry, made breakfast, tidied up downstairs, and even made dinner! I was moving slowly, but I was swimming. Against the tide, too!
By 12:30 I was back in bed and stayed there for the rest of the day.
I have two friends who found out recently that they have cancer. Guess what? They had to make quick decisions about their life and future and families. No time to even think of giving up! I'm sure that you wouldn't just keel over and die, either.
Point is, if we consider that there are always other people who are worse off, we'll keep swimming! But if we selfishly think only of ourselves, it means we will stop swimming, and you know what that means!
So my advice to you is, no matter what, keep pushing and keep swimming.
by Leisa Creed
How would you like it if you were required to tie cinder blocks to your back each day and take them around with you wherever you had to go?
No? You wouldn't like it?
I propose that we wouldn't want to do that because it would hurt physically. Right? Right! This is what some refer to as walking around with “dead weight.” It’s described this way because trying to carry a dead person would be difficult. Because the person is dead, they can’t shift their weight to make it comfortable for you to carry. Nor can they volunteer to stand for a while to give you a chance to rest.
Extra baggage isn't fun if you have to carry it around with you! Most of us are carrying around “dead weight” with us every day. Personal situations, jobs, cares, burdens -- or even people who add nothing to our life but burden, strife, chaos and misery. So why do we do it?
I say, “Drop the baggage!” Yes, you heard me right! Drop the baggage! What is the point? In most cases, this extra baggage causes us so much excruciating emotional pain that we live a great portion of our life being sad and bitter. We must realize that we have made wrong choices, but it should not mean that we are doomed because of those choices.
For example, my sister finally got rid of her excess and feels so much better for it! Her job was the excess baggage, depressing her and causing health issues!
Perhaps you have chosen to be friends with someone, but as the friendship develops you see really vile character traits that you don’t want to be associated with. There might be the inability to control anger, habitual lateness, or this friend might think nothing of indulging in petty crimes. It might be that your so called friend makes you feel inferior or talks negatively about others all the time. It might be that they don’t make any effort to call you up or check on you or show any interest at all in your life! Drop the baggage!
My mom used to say, “Be careful of the friends you keep,” and, “Show me your company and I will tell you who you are.” This is serious. Think about it. Think about your friends and acquaintances. What are they adding to your life experience? What are you adding to others’ life experience? Are you a “dead weight?” Or do you often do a good deed? Think about it.
In law now, in some countries, there is a standard called “guilty by association.” Guilty by association means that you personally didn't do something wrong, but people whom you are associated with did. You are judged by the company you keep, so you can be viewed as guilty because of your association with wrongdoers. It’s a serious matter. We must take a stand. We must dare to do what is right. Yes, along the way we might lose “friends” -- but I put it to you that it’s really just losing excess baggage! Food for thought, isn't it?
I like the way Jesus used different analogies to reach different sets of people depending on their background. I'm going to try this technique here in case you don’t get what I am talking about.
Imagine you are in a boat with some of your friends. You are out at sea and the sea is suddenly raging. Some of you are frantically rowing, trying desperately to get to dry land. Some are just sitting, watching you. They might even be snickering. They’re not helping and you know your life's in danger if you just let them sit there. Would you be okay with that? Some others on the boat are not only not rowing, but they are using the available oars to dig holes in the boat! That is actual sabotage! Would you be okay with that too? I bet not, so you need to make a decision.
Now imagine you try to plant beautiful flowers with friends. Each time you plant one, they walk behind you and uproot the flower. What do you do? Another “friend” not only uproots your flowers, but puts a choking, useless vine in its place. Sabotage again! So what do you do? I repeat, get rid of the baggage!
Take stock of your life. Start a spring clean of your life and rid yourself of everything that adds no value. Do it. It might just save your life!
by Leisa Creed
Are you a complainer? Think about it! Do you have problems? Do you spend quite a bit of your time complaining about this, that,and the other? Consider this vital point: There are some people who are going through much worse than you are -- and they don’t complain as much as you. In fact, there are some who don’t complain at all. I’m no saint myself, which is why I have decided to write this -- to give encouragement both to myself and to you.
I once read a story about a man who thought he had more problems than he could bear. He decided to end his life after eating the last thing he had, a banana. He climbed into a tree, rope in one hand, banana in the next. His plan was to eat his banana, make a noose with the rope, and jump to his death. He sat on a limb, peeled the banana, and dropped the peel to the ground. As he ate the last mouth full and prepared his rope, he looked below and noticed a man had arrived on the scene below. The man picked up the banana peel, thanked God aloud for providing it as he had nothing else to eat, and set about eating the peel! The man in the tree could no longer carry out his planned suicide. Instead, he came down, counted what few blessings he thought he had, and went home to work on finding solutions to his problems.
All of us have at some time or other been disillusioned with our circumstances, but we do need to stop and take stock of reality and the fact that many people have things so much worse. Proverbs 17:22 is a reminder. It says, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.” (KJV) Instead of wallowing in self-pity, find something you can do to help someone. Make yourself useful. Believe me, that will cheer you up!
The next time someone has to ask you for a loan or aid of any sort, instead of wondering why they are asking you, thank God that you are in a better situation than they are. Thank God that you are not the one who has to ask, and also thank God for providing you with the means to be able to help. Consider it an honour.
I’ve seen a mother with no arms taking care of her baby -- feeding, changing, everything. I’m aware of women who have had numerous miscarriages or have babies with various forms of disability, men who have gone to defend their country and returned with lifelong scars and injuries, and children who regularly go to bed without dinner.
Do you have any of those problems? Do you have any that compare? No? Then don’t be a habitual complainer. Thank God for the problems you DON’T have. Go out and do a good deed for someone. You will be surprised how good this makes you feel!
When we started writing this book, we hoped it would be an awesome experience for us and also useful for others. To think of it now, this is an understatement. We have had so many complimentary comments, words of encouragement, and thanks from people who were really grateful as the content met various needs.
We are so grateful for the feedback and testimonials we have received. We did set out to be as helpful as we could be in providing useful content that others could relate to and share. This is a book that is definitely meant to be shared!
The most important thing we hope you have got from the book is that life WILL serve us all lemons. The thing to do is purpose in your heart before the challenges come that you will face them with a positive attitude and be an overcomer! It is going to be hard whilst you are facing the challenges. But if you are resolute that absolutely nothing will faze you, set you off balance, or cause you to lose your faith, then nothing will!
Whether you need to have a laugh, remind yourself to work smarter, encourage yourself and humanity by giving back, or you just need to zone in on your spiritual centre, feel free to dip back into the chapter or section that you need and recharge your batteries.
Now we would like to end with a challenge to you. Are you up for it? Here goes: Life can sometimes be rough. We have enough experience to know that it will, from time to time, be like this. It will not all be rosy. We will be faced by some major sour lemons at times. Health issues, challenges in the workplace, family matters, breakup of friendships, and even death of loved ones will face us. What will you do?
What will you do if someone you know is facing the lemons? You should be able to point them to a particular section or sections of the book, shouldn’t you? And that should keep the love flowing from person to person.
If we have provided you with a resource to which you can turn in times of need, our wishes have come true and we have done what we set out to do. It’s really good to be of service! Together we can have the power over lemons. Lemons are inevitable, but let them know you are unbeatable!
Look out for our next book where we will address the sour lemon issues related to finances. We will advise you on how to make the best of your financial opportunities so that you can continue to face life positively. We realise that one of the major issues causing discomfort and distress in life is the state of our financial affairs.
Thank you for reading, and take some time to look on the blog at joleisa.com, where we have added a new focus on money-making and money-saving ideas.
Jo and Leisa