Well, hello there, I can’t believe it has been so long since I last wrote to you amazing people. Huge apologies, but sometimes you just need to give yourself the gift of time, and so that is what I did. A whole year of it in fact. But I am back, and my eager heart and fingers are ready to share some good stuff with you, and hopefully connect on an even deeper level.
“The chief beauty about time is that you cannot waste it in advance. The next year, the next day, the next hour are lying ready for you, as perfect, as unspoiled, as if you had never wasted or misapplied a single moment in all your life. You can turn over a new leaf every hour if you choose.”
― Arnold Bennett
How are you? Maybe like me, you have been on a journey of discovery and decisions? If so, I am sure that our paths will lead us to even deeper knowledge, new ideas, unexpected surprises and wonderful victories. It is true, that our life experiences can add such value to how we impact the world and those around us. What we experience and survive allows a deeper awareness to grow in us, and we move from a place of shallow living to a depth we never before imagined. This also impacts our writing, and we suddenly feel even more sure that we have something bursting inside us that is worth writing. I am sure you have felt the same at times.
“There comes a time when the world gets quiet and the only thing left is your own heart. So you’d better learn the sound of it. Otherwise you’ll never understand what it’s saying.”
― Sarah Dessen, (Just Listen)
Every season has its time frame, and it is vital that we enjoy the season we are in, even with its lessons. But an even more important aspect to seasons, is that we know when it is time to start something new or end something old. If we are not careful we can end up remaining in a season much longer than we are meant to, and so we miss what is coming next. Don’t linger longer than you need to, and don’t allow past disappointments to hinder the ‘next thing’ for you. It is always good to ask yourself, “what next?”, but sometimes you must simply as the question, “what now?”
So what is your “what now?”, maybe you need some time to make some choices and get ready for a change. What next must first start with a what now! What you do now, will magnificently impact your tomorrow. Only you know what it is that needs to change in your life, and only you can make these changes happen. It’s not always easy, but the good news is that there are lots of people around you who want to support you and see you win. So reach out to someone who cares, and let the others help you achieve new things. I’ve learned so deeply that God is my greatest source of strength. He holds my world together, especially when I let everything go and trust Him completely. He is all we truly need. His always perfect strength!
“Don’t waste your time in anger, regrets, worries, and grudges. Life is too short to be unhappy.”― Roy T. Bennett
Before I go, you may be wondering why I have mentioned 700 words in my title. Well, it’s simply a quirky challenge I have set myself, that all my future blog entries, from today, will never exceed 700 words. I am absolutely 100% sure that there will be many days when I will want to write way more than 700 words, but I will restrain myself and meet this new challenge head-on. So, dear reader, is there a small little challenge you can set yourself, that adds fun or humour to something you do every day? If so, do it! ⏱
Sometimes you must simply allow your life to change, and there’s no better time. So I will see you soon dear friends, and remember it is time for what is now…so let us begin!
As I sit here writing to you, the very first snow fall has started outside my south Dublin window. I am mesmerised by the fluttering white flakes as they chase each other to the ground below. They are each so different and beautiful in their own right. Winter is here early, and the white visitors contrast against the backdrop of autumn colours that my trees display; it is so beautiful that it is hard to keep my eyes from the window. So I stopped writing, wrapped my warm faux scarf around my neck and opened my window to really feel the white wonder, and breathe in the crisp cold air. So refreshing.
♦ ♥ ♦
Today I am relishing the thoughts of an impromptu walk I took yesterday in our city’s main central park. It was unplanned and turned out to be perfect. I found my deer friends, and captured a few beautiful photos of them, as I always do. Today I want to introduce you to one of them, he’s one of my favourites. I call him Scar.
When I go to the Phoenix Park, I always look out for Scar. This time I was more concerned about him because of a recent deer culling in the park, and I was not sure he was still with us. I was glad to see him. For some reason he tends to be a loner and wanders off on his own, something I love to do too. If you look at his face you will see why I gave him the name I have. To me, even with his scars, he is beautiful. And today, my friend, I want to tell you the same incredible truth is true about you.
♦ ♥ ♦
When we look at Scar, we see his outside wounds, and the proof that he has been hurt, but we also see that he survived what it was that hurt him. The battle left its mark on him but he lived on, and so will you dear reader. Scars are a sign that you are strong, that you overcame something that tried to take you out. Your battle may include disappointment, divorce, the loss of a dream, the realisation that life sometimes gives you what you do not ask for; and you have a choice to make.
♦ ♥ ♦
Your scars may be on the inside, where nobody can easily see them, they may be wounds that truly only you and those who you allow to come close can understand. Let me tell you that these wounds, whether internal or external, are things to be proud of because they are proof that you are stronger than the hurt, tougher than what tried to knock you down, and more resilient than the battles you have endured. Your scars tell others to hold on, and not to give up. They shine around your neck like a medal of honour, and you should see your scars as a sign of great victory, even in days of loss or pain.
♦ ♥ ♦
“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” ― Kahlil Gibran
♦ ♥ ♦
Look at this beautiful Fallow buck, who I have rightly named Scar; he is majestic and strong, and will hopefully live through many more battles, bravely using the skills he learned the hard way in previous encounters. In the same way dear friend, so are you. You are a strong soul with a mighty God who wants to walk through every battle with you. He promises to never leave or forsake you, but to be your refuge where there is found rest in and from the storms of life. Even if you already have scars, you are a display for His Kingdom, shouting gloriously to the world, that you never gave up or surrendered. Your scars tell a magnificent story!
♦ ♥ ♦
Scars are evidence of life, of risks, or trying new things, of fighting for something you believed in. They are proof that you moved out of your comfort zone and decided to be brave. So today, instead of hiding your scars, whether they are seen or unseen, choose to find someone who needs the story of courage that you carry in your heart. Tell them how you struggled, but that you are overcoming. Remind someone who is close to giving up, that they do not have to. Look for those who feel so isolated in their battle, and remind them that they truly are part of a great army of those who did not give up. This army may be scarred in many different ways, but their courage unites them. Each has a battle cry put in their heart by the Creator himself. Each one is as beautifully unique as each snowflake falling outside my window.
♦ ♥ ♦
Dear scarred one, your scars are the signs of strength and someone who feels weak today, needs to hear your story of strength!
♦ ♥ ♦
“Scars show toughness: that you’ve been through it,
Geese are elegant, intelligent, loyal, majestic and creative. They soar through the sky with a sense of destiny and beauty. I recently captured this photo of them as I walked along the port area of Dublin city. I stood there as the sun rose, watching them fly together in a unity so incredible I held my breath.
So allow me to share some of the stunning things I have discovered about geese, that quite frankly distinguish them from lots of animals or birds we have; and to be honest, I found myself wanting to be a lot more like our feathered friend than I had ever imagined before…
Geese mate for life and will live a loyal life of faithfulness to one partner, even after their mate passes away.
A group of geese is called a gaggle – if they are flying they are known as a skein or wedge.
They choose to fly in a”V” shape so as to increase their flying power and range by at least 70%. By sharing the air space they make the flight easier for those flying with them. They look out for each other.
When the goose in front tires or grows weary another goose takes its place and then the tired goose moves back to rest, and into position to complete the formation.
While they are flying in formation they honk at each other to send encouagement to each other on the journey.
Geese care for each other; they look out for the other geese in their gaggle, to see if they are okay. If one gets sick, is attacked or hurt and drifts or falls from the formation, others will also leave the “V” shape and go to protect the injured goose. They stay with the sick goose until it recovers or dies. They will not leave it alone.
A young goose will find a mate for itself when it is only 3 years of age. If one of the pair dies the remaining goose will live many years without finding another mate. Most times the widowed goose lives the remainder of its life without a partner.
Male geese prefer to show very protective and kind behaviour towards the females in the group. They have been known to stand or fly between danger and the female in the situation; so beautiful and so courageous.
Geese choose to vocalize their messages to each other in a variety of ten different ways; it depends on the situation but they can stretch their necks or make loud honks in order to send a signal to others.
Geese live together and hatch a new gosling yearly, then both parents are involved in minding and taking care of the newborn.
The list goes on…
So…which characteristic was your favourite? Possibly, like me, you chose a few. One thing I found myself thinking as I read this list, is that I want to be more like geese. I want to love deeper, care for loved ones in a more devoted way. I want to be known as one who is faithful to the mate I choose for life. I want to go to rescue the hurting and stay with them until they can fly and join the group again. I want to be known as one who looks out for the dangers that are lurking and preying on my counterparts. I want to be so much more like a goose than I had ever thought of before…
If you feel the same then let’s honk and make the choice to stick together…
If my little thoughts today have inspired you then please give me a share and a like…every ‘honk’ lets me know that you are with me…and we are looking out for each other…
It is so important that we do not let our failures break us, but that we choose to bend with the storms life sends us, and find a greater strength than before. Yes, these are easy words to write, but I can safely say I am doing this very thing myself.
I feel motivated by the deep emotion shown by the 2016 Olympians. Their enthusiasm and dedication has awakened a new desire in me to overcome obstacles and hindrances in my own life. How we handle defeat reveals more about our character than how we handle success. I am so moved by some of the Olympians who gave their very best, but were unsuccessful in winning a medal. Today they make their journeys home and try to pick up the pieces that disappointment and loss have dealt them. I want to tell them that they are champions too, whether they wear a medal around their courageous necks or not.
One such Olympian quoted the following:
“The only thing I ever wanted was to compete in the Olympics.”
(Syria’s Yusra Mardini, representing the Games’ first ever refugee team, after winning her 100m butterfly heat.)
I want to say to these amazing Olympians that you can bend without breaking; that what you’re waiting for could be just around the bend…if you can choose not to let the challenges drive you aroundthe bend or lose your mind in the process.
For so many Olympians like the horse jumping champion Nick Skelton, taking part in the 2016 Olympics was a matter of great courage. The veteran British Olympian, aged 58, who quit the sport in 2000 after breaking his neck in two places, vowed: “I am not going to stop now.” Nick Skelton, riding Big Star, won a dramatic six-rider jump-off to claim GB’s first show jumping gold to become the oldest winner of an equestrian event.
Imagine what Skelton would have missed had he given up in 2000, or allowed the fear of ever recovering from a broken neck govern his future. His horse, perfectly named Big Star, had almost been put into retirement too, but Nick Skelton believed that they could come to Rio and win. To even have the opportunity to be an Olympian was a huge achievement for both rider and horse alike. If he had allowed a broken neck to literally break him, his future would not hold the amazing gold medal achievement he enjoys today.
But Nick is a winner, even if he had not won gold. Each Olympian is a winner simply because they overcome so many tough and challenging circumstances in order to compete. There are so many motivational stories being shared every day about the obstacles and personal health setbacks that many overcome in order to finally be in Rio. I am sure a book could be written with all their moving and exhilarating accomplishments. To me, it is one of the reasons I found myself glued to the televised overage each night.
“When life’s strong winds come blowing, bend with them and let go. By bending, you will become stronger in new places. By letting go, you will be making room for the new and the better.”
You are all amazing individuals; you have chosen to bend, but not to break. How you choose to handle your defeats speaks volumes to the world waiting to see strength overcome weakness. Well done! I applaud you because you move me to keep persevering and bend with the storms of life.
The 2016 Olympics have ended, and as I watch the energy of the closing ceremony, I want to awaken a desire in us to overcome the obstacles that try to break us. Make a decision now, that by the time the 2020 Olympics start, you will be able to look back and see how very much stronger you have grown!
I am currently reading the amazing book, The Unstoppable Golfer, by Dr. Bob Rotella. For those of you who are not golf lovers let me say that this book will help you gain a greater sense of control over your personal life and career objectives, not just your golf game. The psychology of golf can impact such areas of your life, as confidence, discipline, vision, and drive.
One of my favourite quotes in the book is: “Every golfer has two opponents, the golf course and himself”, we all can relate to this truth. As a business person or in your personal life, there are obstacles and challenges that seek to prevent you from achieving your destination. It matters greatly how you master these challenges; you must stand up on the inside before you will find the courage needed to meet the external challenges life throws at you. Bob Rotella mentions the importance of playing your game with no fear, with true passion and a belief that you can do it.
There are different beliefs in the golfing world about how much you should concentrate on your long or short game, and as I read the many theories on this idea, I was reminded that it is also true of the visions and plans I make regarding my own life. Do we have the right long-term goals for our lives? Does my present situation make it easy or difficult for these dreams to become my reality? If I identify obstacles in my way, then I must work and challenge myself to remove them. It is not easy to do, but what is right is not always easy.
So today I encourage you to dig deep inside your heart and search through the myriads of choices, dreams and plans you are cultivating there; are they truly leading you to living an unstoppable life? Are you living other people’s dreams or are you genuinely excited about the person you are becoming?
What you do today, whether in your game of golf or your game of life, directly impacts the game you experience a year, or ten years from now.
Your short game influences your long game: make sure it is a game worth playing…
I took this photo here in Ireland. It’s a beautiful little pansy growing from solid rock. Beautiful things can grow in hard places… so chin up buttercup!
We all go through tough times, where life is literally as hard as rock, and everyday feels like we are walking through quick dry cement. Look at this pansy: it is fragile, delicate and easily broken, yet it has somehow overcome the obstacles presented to it by the surroundings it is trying to grow in. Feel familiar?
Are you trying to overcome the tests of life? Are you determined to rebuild what circumstances have demolished? Has your courage been ravished by disappointment or heartache? Are there just too many whys and not enough answers? You are not alone in this tough place. But there is always a lesson to learn, and the things that happen on the outside, can bring about a tremendously precious lesson on the inside of us. Changes around us can become the perfect soil for growth on the inside, where nobody sees, but God. Right in this moment of pain, there are gems awaiting your embrace. It’s hard, and absolutely overwhelming, but God will not leave you alone. You may be trying not to be lonely while you are alone, and that could be exactly where God will meet you and change everything about you.
“God gets His best soldiers out of the highlands of affliction.” C.H. Spurgeon
You are not alone, you are not alone, you are not alone! You must choose to embrace this painful season, and keep believing that this too shall pass, and one day you will smile again. Not a fake, pretend smile, but a real smile that comes from a truly happy place.
God knows how to get you there. He knows how to get your tender, delicate roots through the hard cement of life, just like the little pansy. The amazing thing is, that although this pansy was in fact tiny, I still saw it. Even in what seems like a season of ‘smallness’ in your life, God will cause the right people to see you, (really see you) and He will show you the why of it all.
Hang in there…even in this hard place, you are still beautiful, inside and out. God sees you and He is guiding you with His eye.
Some of you will remember my original story about that wonderful little book called, The Language of Flowers…a small quaint book, detailed in the most simple yet decorated hand painting. I first discovered this book while staying with a dear family in Atlanta, and when I first picked it up I knew it was not like any other book I had ever seen. It looked like one of a kind, a once off created manuscript, printed for one reader, for one love, for the eyes of one beholder. I felt privileged to even hold it.
I flicked though the front pages, and soon discovered that I was not far from the truth in my observations. It was indeed a very special little book. Before my eyes, were lots of hand drawings of flowers, names inserted in a calligraphy pen, and then lists and lists of flowers, and the reason one may give them to another. It grabbed my heart. How happy I was that it had been so nicely arranged where it was, so that some guest or family member may be warmed by its presence. Looking back now, it couldn’t have found a more loving or deserving home, than the one in which I discovered it.
Well this is my exciting sequel to that beautiful romantic story. Since I originally wrote about this book on Valentine’s Day, I thought another Valentine’s Day would be the perfect time to reveal some beautiful details about the author and this book.
After my previous story about this book, I received an incredible letter from Laurie (who’s mother was the object of love, for whom this precious book was written) Laurie is now custodian of the book, and wished me to know some more details about it…so please read on to learn of the gorgeous gems I was sent to share with you.
Thanks for your prompt reply. I will try to give you as much information as I have regarding the book, The Language of Flowers, and its history. The author was F.W.L (Frederik Lucas) a Jew who was my mother’s (Margaret Florence Jean Pickston) grandfather. I know little about his life although he was an artist of some standing and my mother says his work was in the Royal Academy of Art, but I cannot confirm that yet as it needs more research.
Now this book was never meant to be published and was written for his wife as a token of love, for I believe an anniversary (in 1913) or birthday from, ” Father to Mother”. How long it took him is not known but would assume some time as he secretly undertook his work every evening after his wife retired to bed. For years it lay in pieces in my Grandfather’s clothes drawer, gathering dust, until 1967/1968. My parents were at a party, when polite conversation turned to the little book, and by chance a gentleman overheard who worked for Micheal Joseph, the book publishers.
He explained he was most interested in seeing the book as Michael Joseph had not published a book like this before. So the book was sent to London and rebound/restored to its former glory, including its original handmade leather dust jacket. Then the first copy went to print on 10/10/1968, which also happened to be when I was born.
You will see numerous mistakes in the book such as paint brush marks on pages and written mistakes. A little known fact is that this book was entirely illustrated by paint brush, including all the meanings of the plants, with the exception being the forwarding poem to mother. I am not sure if the book is still in print as Penguin books have taken over and produced a run a few years back to send to every library in the U.S.A. I hope this long letter builds a picture in your mind about what I call “the little book” AKA The Language of Flowers.
I am sure when this loving gentleman worked secretly on this labour of love for his wife, that he had no idea just how very loved it would be, by his wife and so many others. Today, may you find a labour of love to embrace, and make it your absolute passion to share it with the world. Someday I hope to make it to London and hold the original in my hands, so watch out for part three to The language of Flowers saga.
At the start of a new year many of us decide to make some big changes in how we do things…
This is my new ‘now’ reminder, to seize the day and make tomorrow better, by doing my best today, now.
On days when I want to change everything about the past or the future, it is refreshing to simply remind my heart of the tremendous power the choices I make today carry. The seeds I sow today will reap a harvest in the future, so the opportunities of today deserve my full attention, now.
These cool watches are made by @stealtimeback who donate to charities that help children in need! ~♡~ Having dealt with them personally, I must say they simply have a fabulous customer service manner and set the standard high in customer care. Kudos!
When I look at my ‘now’ watch, I find myself motivated to crush procrastination to the ground, and get things done that are essential and necessary. Maybe you find it easy to do the more challenging chores of today? Maybe you fumble through your day with low energy or fear of failure? Whichever circumstance you find yourself in, start to make some small, significant changes now. Each little successful step will soon recharge and motivate you to make bigger changes. I am doing it, and already I am finding that I spend less time in the procrastination valley, and I see ‘now’ as a place full of immense potential and endless possibilities.
The person you will be tomorrow, depends on the person you choose to be today… ⏰ Denise
Miracles come in moments. Be ready and willing. – Wayne Dyer
As I type, I am surrounded by construction work, drilling to the left, drilling to the right, and even drilling on the street outside my house. Everywhere I look there is rubble, or walls being torn down. While there is a lot of noise, in the midst of it there are things being quietly built back up: foundations being laid, walls being secured, and new designs being drawn. It is a noisy mixture of tearing down and rebuilding, in three different places. As I sit here, sipping my green tea and sharing a few quiet moments with God before the rest of my day kicks in, I am quietly reminded that our lives resemble the havoc that surrounds the place I currently call home.
Maybe you are in a season where all is being stripped from your life and things feel shaky and uncomfortable for you? It could be that there is a sense of old things dying so that they can be returned to you improved or mended? You may be struggling to surrender control over someone whom you wish you could change, or someone is trying to convince you that you yourself need to change too? Maybe you are in a glorious place of rebuilding and new things are appearing all around you, filling your heart and life with excitement and happiness? It is safe to say that all of us travel through these seasons at varying times in our lives, and we cannot always determine just when they will happen.
In the last few days, the word ABIDE, has grabbed my heart and invited me to be still, and to come away from the madness around me. This word reminds my soul that even in the midst of construction work, (whether internal or external), there is a place of deep peace. It is not found in rushing around glorifying busy schedules, but in the solitude of a quiet moment of surrender and reflection. Abide…Abide…Abide!
Are you rushing around in a state of mayhem, losing your grip on everything because you are trying to carry too much? A lazy man’s load never works, even with the things of the heart! Let it all go…surrender it to God. Choose to ABIDE in the knowledge that the only person you can change is yourself, and that God is walking and working with you to bring order to your life. I am right here with you…learning to ABIDE, when all you see is disappointment and change. Take a breath, put everything in His great big hands. Trust Him with the process, the outcome, the journey and even the tears. You are His masterpiece, so choose to abide, and let the Master take over…I know I am.
The Strength of Networking When You Are Not Working…
These are days of uncertainty for many, days where what seems firm and reliable can change in the blink of an eye. You lose your job, or your partner loses theirs. You are plunged into what seems like a valley of fear and confusion. I am here to speak a word of hope to the hopeless, jobless or despairing… NETWORK! Get out there and meet people, talk to people, ask people for direction, take a risk!
There are thousands in the world in the exact same predicament as you, but their strength lies in the attitude they have chosen! Yes, they are scared, worried, troubled, and possibly broke, but they have made a choice to do something positive in a tough situation. You can too!
You may have been made redundant from your job, but you have not been made redundant of the skills, strengths, gifts and talents that belong to you.
You have enormous potential and given a new and challenging role you can develop in so many ways. This new season could be exactly what you need, in order to develop those skills you forgot you had.
So, start small, but start.
Dig down deep inside that heart of yours and grasp every bit of hope and tenacity you have. Do one brave thing a day. Be brave five minutes longer than you thought you could, and pretty soon being brave will become your new default response.
Begin today, right now.
You can do it! Write it down, make it plain to see every day. Decide that by this time next year, you will have achieved more than you ever thought possible. Dream big, take risks, and surround yourself with people who believe in you, and summon the very best from you.
What are you waiting for? The very best is yet to come!
“Tough times don’t last, tough people do. ” ― Robert H. Schuller
As I sit here at my office table writing to you, I am surrounded by half-packed boxes and disordered belongings…all of which are screaming for my attention.
My freshly brewed coffee steams beside me, swirling amidst the scent of my favourite pumpkin spice candle, and the birds chirp and dance outside as the frost melts in the November sun…
So I choose to be still. I choose to be thankful. It is easy to be thankful when all about you is splendidly perfect and testing times have come and gone, but when you are in the midst of true battles it can be a difficult thing to choose. I understand my friend, as I too am in that place. Between the now and the not-yet can be the scariest place to find yourself, or the grandest adventure ever. We can either see it as an opportunity or a threat.
I am moving, well getting ready to move, to a place unknown to me. As I prepare, I have been reminded over and over to be grateful for the things I have, while waiting for the things not yet seen. We have a choice to make…we can wallow in fear or we can flap our wings and use the winds of adversity to take us only higher. I want to choose the greater thing, the activity of winners, of fighters, of eagles. Today my friend Katie Taylor won her fifth world boxing championship title. What a legend! And as I watched her interview after the fight, I was overwhelmed by the expression of pure joy and relief on her face.
I couldn’t help but think of all the times she must have felt like giving up, or quitting. There must have been days when the sacrifice seemed too hard or too costly, but it all paid off today. And what a day of thanksgiving it is for her and all of us who know her and love her.
So, my friend, today we must decide to be brave, to be thankfully courageous, and respond with strength, boldness and faith. We can let the fear of the unknown overcome us or we can choose to respond with determination and perseverance. In this season of Thanksgiving it can be hard to be thankful when things are not as we would love them to be, but when we start to focus on the many beautiful things in our lives, joy will come and fill our tired hearts.
As we embrace the winds of adversity and change, thankfulness and bravery can be our companions. Choosing to be thankful creates a strong foundation in our lives that becomes our default response, even when circumstances are completely challenging. It is not easy but it is possible. I am sure there were days when Katie Taylor had to fight to believe that she could achieve her dreams, and today she celebrates where discipline and training have brought her. We can too my friend!
I invite you today, to be thankful, to be bravely thankful! And now back to my boxes…the adventure awaits! ¸.•*¨) Nisey K
I hope my title grabbed your attention…an odd one I know, but this short thought for today will inspire you, I believe.
I woke one morning, eager to start my day with soul food and coffee, but before my feet even hit the carpet, a deep dread overshadowed my short-lived enthusiasm. I was quickly overwhelmed by thoughts of the things in my life that were seemingly incomplete to me. My mind became overcrowded with unanswered prayers and waited-on promises. I instantly felt down in the dumps, and downtrodden by worry and regret. I knew I had a choice to make…I could either choose misery or joy. But misery was winning.
Then in the stillness of a kettle boiling and birds singing near my open window, the still small voice of Hope spoke to my heart: “Life is like a donut…you can either choose to look at the hole in the middle, which represents all that you feel is missing from your life… OR you can choose to look at the amazing things that surround you every day, that fill your life with joy, hope, goodness and countless other precious things…the choice is yours!”
My negative worrying was stopped in its tracks… and with a freshly made cup of brilliance in my hand I made my way over to sit bathed in the sunshine beaming in through my window. For a few moments I quietly let those powerful words permeate my being. It made no sense to keep staring at that empty hole in the middle of the gloriously beautiful donut of life, and yet my heart was weary of waiting, weary of trying to figure things out. I was just plain weary. I picked up my reading passages for the day and continued to try to banish those irritating negative thoughts. Then I read this: ‘What God accomplishes in you while you are waiting, is often more important than the thing you are waiting for.”(UCB Radio)
BOOM! I was stunned by the truth of those words…that even though what I am praying and waiting for is of such importance to me and God, and indeed those involved, there is a deeper work that is far more attractive to the heart and plan of God. He is watching my growth, my faithfulness, my determination to trust Him, among many other things. Suddenly my shoulders dropped from their anxious position and I realised I could find peace instead of striving. My agenda was refocused and I could see the donut, instead of what was missing in the middle. Peace came. I did not find the answers I wanted, but I found the answers I needed for that moment. Tomorrow is another day, and He will come with what my soul needs. So for today I will enjoy the donut, the blessings, the journey and all that is happening to make me the person in whom God finds delight. There are treasures in dark times, and great joy to be found in the waiting seasons of our lives…It all boils down to which part of the donut you choose to focus on and appreciate.
Enjoy the donut that is your life…find the genuine blessings that surround you every day…for this is the key to unlocking true joy in every circumstance of life.
Today I want to introduce a new writer on the block, and in the theme of love and romance it seems only right that he share a beautiful love story with you… Take it away Andy! It is a pleasure to have you write your first (of many) blogs on my watch. Denise
“Is This Love?”
by Andy Patton
“Is This Love?” If you are anything like me or grew up in the 80s, when you read those words your mind was instantly transported back to the year 1987, and you began to hum the tune to that classic ballad by Whitesnake.
When I first saw her it wasn’t love… or was it? When I first talked to her it wasn’t love… well maybe it was… no it definitely wasn’t. I know it wasn’t, because I couldn’t understand most of what she said! Not because she was soft spoken, shy or timid. In fact, just the opposite. Honestly, it was her thick Dublin accent that held me at bay and forced me to nod, smile and pathetically attempt to piece together the few words I did understand.
She was full of life and it manifested itself in the fast paced manner in which she bounded into conversation. It flowed from her lips with such ease and joy. She welcomed the opportunity to share her delight and vigor for life with any who would engage her. Desiring to express her glee with life, her conversation seemed to gain speed the more she talked!
That morning she had gathered with several ladies for their customarily tea and talk, and I stumbled into the kitchen looking for a bucket and sponge. Being a 20 – something young man of course she captured my eye, but I fought desperately not to ogle. I do believe I eeked out a disastrously awkward “good morning” greeting as I hurried to disappear. All the while, it was her carefree poise that silently screamed at my heart.
Was there any doubt I was an American in Dublin? Could she tell that I was from a far distant mysterious place called New England? Could she know without me saying a word that I was instantly drawn to her?
I hoped so….
As the next week unfolded, I found myself more and more in her company. Each time I felt a bit bolder to interact with her. Now mind you, I wasn’t intimidated, but excited to hear what new adventures or experiences life had brought her since we last chatted. Okay maybe I was smitten. Her brown eyes sparkled and her smile was intoxicating. But at least, I could now grasp most of the conversation. Either I had honed my listening skills or she had slowed down her talking speed, or maybe a combination of both. At any rate I was enjoying every second of it.
Is this Love? Well maybe the start of it, for me at least. What I had discovered was all that I had encountered, all that I had been privileged to experience during my times with her, it wasn’t special to her, it was normal. She was just being her! I realized the interaction I had with her was the connection that everyone had with her. Not because of them and their efforts, but hers. She loved people of all shapes, sizes and colors. She just simply loved being around and involved in the lives of the people she came in contact with, anywhere and any time. That is what I loved first about her. Love is a two way street and are these two people, moving in opposite directions, willing to step off the sidewalk? After all it had only been a week!
Are you serious? Come on! Could that have really happened? I must have been dreaming! Was I? For more than a week I had been chatting off and on with this wonderful young woman, and she had captivated me with her zest for life. She cherished each moment of each day and that trickled down to anyone she spoke to, myself included.
We had spent lunches in cafés with friends, bowling events with fellow team members and site-seeing tours around various attractions in the city. Our conversations were centered on our cultures, young adult life in our respective countries and our families. I was staying with a host family outside the city center, which required me to catch a bus each evening.
My routine was to hop on and make my way upstairs to the top deck so I could take in the sights from a better vantage point. From there I could witness the bustling streets filled with pedestrians, cyclists and peddlers, I was enamored with it all.
Most journeys my mind retraced my steps of the day, and many of them guided me back to my daily communiqué with the energetic, inspiring woman I was growing so fond of. I found myself wanting to extend our get-togethers in order to spend more time getting to know her. Talking with her was effortless and time seemed to stand still when I was around her.
One evening early on in my summer long adventure, I was actively engaging life with my host family. Our talks ranged from me trying to fit into their culture, to learning the slang vocabulary and decoding their accents. I figured the more I talked with them the easier it would be to understand the people I would meet during my travels in town each day… after all it was English they were speaking so I just needed to listen more than I talked.
On that memorable night my I learned more about their family than I could have imagined. First of all they had five kids… Up until that point I had only known the two youngest. The older three were moved out of the house. The two older sons were living in England and their oldest lived in the city with a couple of roommates. As I shared my family dynamic of having three older sisters and no brothers, they related that their family makeup was just the reverse. There was one girl and four brothers. I was the youngest and their daughter was the oldest. I remember thinking I haven’t even seen family photos around the house to tip me off to how many children they actually had.
They told me all about the their kids as they were growing up and we laughed at similar stories of childhood. Then they pulled out a few photos to introduce me to the three older kids I had not yet met, obviously the two older boys were out of country so they didn’t see them much. Their daughter had not come by to visit, at least when I was there. As they showed me pictures of her when she was little and progressively through her younger years.
She looked familiar, so familiar I felt as though I knew her. Then came one photo that had been taken a few months prior to me arriving. To my amazement…it was her! The girl that so captured my near every thought, the girl that sauntered into my life nearly two weeks ago. I was living in her old bedroom and eating evening meals and enjoying laughter filled chats with her dad and mom!
To be continued…
More of this wonderful story soon so stay tuned… Andy
Hi everyone ~ I just found out that the following short story I wrote has won a prize in the open category of this year’s Creative Writing & Cultural Studies SCC short story competition in Inchicore College. I have been invited to a formal prize giving ceremony in the Teacher’s Club, Parnell Square on Thursday 3rd May. How exciting! I just thought I would share my story now that it has been announced.=) Denise
THE VIEW FROM HERE
Written by Denise Kennedy❤ღೋ ೋღ❤
It was a beautiful sunny Irish day…and I witnessed a very touching scene. They say that it is the journey that matters more than the destination. They also remind us that we should squeeze all the value, meaning and adventure out of the ordinary, and mundane activities of life that we can. I am inclined most surely to agree, for having come across some of the most beautiful surprises on very ordinary days, I could have certainly missed them had I not been willing to recognise them. This was one of those seemingly ordinary days, where I was allowed one of those lovely treasures.
Let me explain; I had decided to take a trip to the country.
I craved some clean air in my nostrils and a fresh green field to walk in, where all I could hear were horses neighing nearby and the bleating of the farmer’s sheep as he herded them in for feeding time, and the beautiful sound of the wild deer as they called to each other in the evening light. I needed to get out of Dublin city for some rest and relaxation.
So I packed my bag and jumped on a bus destined for green fields, deer trodden rural lane ways and fresh babbling brooks. Yes the beautiful county of Kildare.
I had only been a few minutes on the bus, and soon I found myself finally unwinding and starting to relax. I was ready to enjoy a long bus trip through the countryside and away from the busy traffic of Dublin city. I leaned my head against the window frame, on the very back seat of a double-decker bus, enveloped in lovely warm sunshine and drifted away in relaxation and escape.
Just then a commotion startled me from my peacefulness; an elderly couple made their way on to the bus and approached where I was sitting. I didn’t really feel like being surrounded by others at that particular moment, I was craving isolation and silence, but they both sat carefully on the two seats directly across from me. There was something playful or mischievous about them.
Although I had my sunglasses on, they still somehow managed to make eye contact with me and we exchanged pleasantries and smiles. Pretty soon after they had made themselves comfortable, a nearby passenger stood up to leave his seat at the far end of the back row, to get off at the next stop. Suddenly the elderly lady opposite me, hopped up from her seat and sat nearer to me but now she was also sitting on the back row. There was plenty of room either side of her, which she seemed grateful for, as she gave a deep relaxing sigh and stretched a little.
She smiled over at her husband and then lifted her grey tight-clad short little legs up to rest on the material covered vacant seat opposite her.
She glanced again at her husband, who smiled warmly at her as he kindly said, “Your legs are too short honey.”…To which she replied, “Oh I know love, but I still like to do this, it helps my circulation.” He chuckled at her with fond amusement.
I then found my gaze again out the window, and thought of the many elderly folk I have heard ‘tut tut’ at the younger teenagers for doing exactly the same as this adorable elderly lady had…somehow the not so polite behaviour was more easily accepted as it was a sweet older lady who just seemed to want to relax her tired legs. Her years gave her a well deserved right it seemed. I am being honest when I say I may have frowned a little on the position of her shoes on the seat had she been much younger. Instead I lost myself in the thought of her looking to her husband for his accepting smile across the empty seats that divided them, but only in measure, for although I had only been in their presence a few short minutes, I could already tell that there was a bond between them that I doubt anything could weaken.
Shortly after her excited move to the back seat, which positioned her facing the opposite way to that of her husband, she giggled towards him and said ”Oh anyway I like facing this direction because then I can see what’s ahead, I like to see where I’m going. I would much rather look that way rather than where I have been.” and she smiled at him.
He then adjusted his gaze towards the rear window which stretched along the back of the seats his wife and I both sat on – Then glancing back towards his wife he said ”Oh you know my dear, I like to look at where I have already been…I like to look at the past.” At that point she chuckled at him and then she looked at me. Maybe she wondered if I knew what he meant or was I even listening. I hid a smile as I looked again out the window beside me, as trees and sheep covered fields rushed past me in the glorious sunshine. Little did they know that my thoughts remained firmly on what this dear pensioner had just said to his darling wife.
What an interesting response he gave her. This couple, who had interrupted my quietness just moments earlier, had now also gracefully interrupted my thoughts, with remarkable ideas of their own. They intrigued me slightly, with their interesting ‘doors’ of life. I was grateful already for their presence.
When I looked at them, I was reminded of the fact that some people do actually love each other forever. I wanted to know their story. I wondered what circumstances had led them to this very moment in time, that they should hold such interesting and different opinions on life. They both were comfortable in their unique viewpoint of the past and the present. He liked looking through the door that showed him the years gone by, and she wanted to stare ahead, through the door that revealed the future. The other interesting fact to me is; that they were quite at ease to discuss it even in the presence of a fellow traveler whom they did not know. That revealed to me how very secure they both were.
Just then I noticed that she seemed to be making gestures to him to come and sit beside her. The romantic girl in me imagined she wanted him to hold her hand and chat for the rest of their journey. He motioned a gentle no with his head, he was quite content where he was, it would seem. His declaration that he likes to look at where he has been was a surprise to me. I tried to understand what it said about these two pensioners, and their different focus points. She was happy to look ahead at what was to come, and welcome it with her feet comfortably perched on the bus seat in front of her. Maybe she feared nothing, or loved the thrill of the adventure ahead. Possibly she had grown up with a skip in her step and a hunger to jump spontaneously into what ever dream life gave her next. While on the other hand, or other seat it would appear, her partner for life preferred to look through the rear view window and what he left behind.
Part of me felt sad for him, just a little. I wanted to tell him not to fear the future, but quite honestly he looked so happy and peaceful, that I think his love for the past was sincerely built upon the wonderful memories he had left there. Quite possibly, his reason for not looking ahead was because he loved the element of surprise that unexpected things would bring into his life. Anyway, his wife had him covered. She was looking out for both of them. Some people firmly close the door to their past, feeling quite relieved to leave all it holds safely behind, making the future their primary focus; but not this quietly assured gentleman.
I decided, that she must be the one who plans ahead, while he possibly holds on tightly to the experiences of the years gone past. She may be the one who longs for new ground and new shoes, and new places to see, throwing all caution to the wind and not worrying about the time that is already spent.
At this point I could no longer delay my own reflection,
“Which one am I?”
Unknown to them, they had really turned a quiet bus journey into a thoughtful evaluation process of my own life. I decided that I resemble both of them…I cherish the memories that are behind me, that have made me the person I am today. I truly value the amazing people that I have been able to share my past and my present with. Suddenly tears started to fill my eyes. As I blinked them back to where they came from, I was grateful to be hidden behind my sunglasses.
I also thought about the strengths in my heart, that have motivated me to push forward into the future, to always be ready to plan new adventures and see new places. I tend to be spontaneous but also quite a cautious dreamer.
I had a mental image of one of my hands reaching lovingly back into the past and desperately wanting to take all the people I cherish and memories I have made, with me into my future…while at the same time my other hand grabs the next moment the future gives me, deciding to jump to the next page or pursue a new dream with all of my heart. I guess these days I am somewhere between the past, the present and the promised.
The delightful thought comes and wraps itself around me, to remind me that heaven knows the seasons I am in and that there is a God who travels with me through yesterday and into the days that await my footsteps. There are so many open doors yet to be walked through, some will be amazing and some will be difficult. But that is the beauty of the unexpected, it makes us who we are.
Could it be, that the reason this adorable couple, could take a bus journey together, yet comfortably sit a few seat cushions apart, was probably because they knew where they had been, and also where they were going. He had her back covered while she was looking ahead. He was delightfully safe knowing she was already thinking about tomorrow, and the future and what it would bring them. This may not seem like the usual male/female role, but like any relationship and marriage, we all bring our unique perspectives and strengths with us to compliment the other person. He sat there looking behind, cherishing every detail, while she sat there smiling, looking ahead.
And again, I found myself a million miles away, lost in my thoughts, gazing out the window, remembering all that had touched my heart until now, and all that the unknown future had yet to reveal.
Moments later, it was my stop and time for me to leave the back row of the bus. I was reluctant to go. I wanted to stay there and spend more time just in the presence of this remarkably interesting couple, but leave I must. I smiled again towards them as I moved past, and they graciously did the same. I felt like I knew them. Even now as I write this, I wonder where they are.
As I walked away from the edge of the road, and the bus drove out of sight, I wondered did they move seats? The romantic heart in me imagined them now sitting closely next to each other, holding hands and on the same side. Probably they now sat where I had been sitting, with their silver hair shining in the sunlight, and both of them looking in the same direction. Or maybe he stayed where he was, but she moved to sit where I had been. I imagined them gazing lovingly into each others’ eyes, yet comfortably facing the direction they felt the safest in. They allowed each other the freedom of vision and focus, yet they shared a strong bond of companionship and trust.
There are many doors in life, some lead us to amazing white knuckle adventures, where our adrenaline is flowing and life is exciting. For others, the doors are slower to open, and it seems a struggle to see the path ahead. There are some doors I wish I had never opened, while ahead I see unopened doors that invite me to take a chance. Maybe the best viewpoint is to open the doors that are the right ones for you, based on what you believe to be true at that moment in time. That decision is really up to you.
So back to my travel companions – Which direction do you think they sat facing? I guess it really doesn’t matter which seat they now sat on, for one thing is certain, their hearts were most assuredly united, and already on the same side.