10 Quotes for Positive thinking

Music of Life

Music of Life

Attitude to Life

Attitude to Life

Food for Thought

How many of us sit down and think about what the year should mean to us personally. Our hopes and aspirations. For some it will just be another year of joining the human race on the treadmill of life. Coping with issues of too much debt, too much to do and not enough time … or even a health related issue. This leaves little or no time for meaningful reflection about what we would like to see happen in our lives.

How do we discover what really gives meaning to our lives? How do we rectify and change the areas of our lives that have been, and are most neglected?

10 Inspirational Thoughts from Around the World

1. Reflect upon your blessings of which every person has plenty; not on your past misfortunes of which everyone has some – Charles Dickens

2. Look within for value, but look beyond for perspective – Denis Waitley

3. Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm – Winston Churchill

4. After climbing a great hill one finds that there are many more hills to climb – Nelson Mandela

5. It’s fine to celebrate success but it’s more important to heed the lessons of failure – Bill Gates

6. Life isn’t about finding yourself … it’s about creating your life – George Bernard Shaw

7. Bad things do happen; how I respond to them
defines my character and the quality of my life – Walter Anderson

8. Knowledge without wisdom is like water in the sand – African proverb

9. If you judge people you have no time to love them – Mother Teresa

10. To run is not necessarily to arrive – Swahili proverb

Everything begins with a thought. What we think determines what we do.

Most people’s number one challenge is their feelings. To make successful changes we need to know how to get past our emotions. Feelings come from thoughts.

I can control my thoughts. I can control my feelings by controlling my thoughts. By changing my feelings I can change my actions. And changing my actions, based on good thinking means my life can change.

I guess that’s transformation by renewing my mind (thinking right thoughts).

The more you engage in good thinking, the more good thoughts will come to you. Regardless of intelligence and education, every person has the potential to become a good thinker.

Action Plan

Start each day and determine to think only positive thoughts. A human mind with the ability to think good thoughts consistently, is like a diamond mine that never runs out. It is your greatest asset, it is priceless. Learning to think good thoughts is a great investment in yourself. The human mind can change … in fact that’s one of the things it does best.

Share this and let’s make hope contagious!

nothing negative

nothing negative

South African Funnies

cats

cats

mug shots

mug shots

Dancing Duo

Dancing Duo

With the holiday season starting I decided to share some uniquely South African images. So many of this country’s people now live around the world and I’m hoping that many of them will somehow get to read this blog and smile with fond recollections.

For those not really acquainted with South Africa I have added a little background information so that you can better understand the funny aspects of the stories.

Many South Africans are descended from the intermarriage of white settlers, African tribes and Asian slaves. As a result many South Africans speak both English and Afrikaans fluently. It is not unusual to combine the two languages in a distinctive, informal local dialect, especially in the regions around Cape Town. This has also become a popular South African expression for humour. Some of the local dialect is frowned upon by the more cultured and strait-laced, but the Cape Flats is what it is!

Potjie cooking is a popular tradition that belongs to all the different cultures of South Africa. A favourite is the three-legged, cast iron pot which is available in various sizes. Potjie cooking is a tasty alternative to a barbecue, cook-out, or braai. Various ingredients are added to the pot and the flavour develops from the slow cooking process over a fire, usually for a couple of hours.

South African culture can be compared to the evolution from its languages and pot cooking. In the same way the arts and culture platform is a popular form of self expression and cultural heritage has been passed down over hundreds of years.

This is what happened during a school play a few days ago. Imagine for a moment that the stage is set for a christmas story. The curtain opens to reveal Joseph and Mary sitting on a bale of hay. Mary is holding her baby, but has suddenly become very nervous in front of so many people. She hands the baby to his dad and says: “Here Joseph you hold the baby while I quickly go for a pee!” Obviously the audience had a good laugh at those impromptu lines.

The next curtain opens to an angel, a group of shepherds and their flock of sheep. The angel starts his lines with, “Fear not!” However one of the sheep jumps up to go to the loo, comes back … the angel starts his announcement again. Suddenly another sheep gets up and goes to get a drink of water. As he gets back the patient angel starts his announcement again. When a third sheep suddenly jumps up and heads for the bathroom he just loses it and says: “No man, vok, how is a angel supposed to make an important announcement to a bunch of kak shepherds who keep letting their sheep run off for a piss?”

Well the audience were in hysterics and the poor teacher was just standing with her head in her hands. This play will definitely be receiving many reviews from various critics for quite some time.

With inspiration derived from the culture and spirit of South Africa the Helderberg Youth Performing Arts Trust was birthed. It started as one woman’s vision and became a hair-raising leap of faith to make ends meet. From the humblest of beginnings in a village classroom, what had seemed impossible became a reality.

For more photos and information go to https://m.facebook.com/pages/Helderberg-Youth-Performing-Arts-Trust/152703294775407

Wash & Wear

Wash & Wear

Red Queen Contest

true beauty

true beauty

Maintaining good mental health is similar to maintaining good physical health. Our body is a host to parasites and viruses, any bug that makes us sick, locked into a competition with each other. The bug attacks and the host develops a defense. Then the bug changes to beat that defense and the host forms a new line of defense.

This is called a Red Queen contest – from the story of Alice in Wonderland.

Mental health works in much the same way. Our mental state is very much dependant on our emotional state and vice versa.

If we think of our mind and emotions as our personal government, it can help us set up an action plan, in much the same way as we would set up an exercise or eating plan.

Sometimes life becomes an uncomfortable place to be in and you just don’t know what to think or what to do.

When some dramatic circumstance happens in our life we are forced to deal with the implications of the event. With the loss of a loved one the experience initiates a new period of visible and emotional changes on many levels. That blatant change is very painful. We can rise to its challenge by using it as an opportunity for personal growth rather than retreat from life. Yet the process is often so painful and emotionally unsettling that some would rather abandon the present and try to create a new future – away from the circumstances of the current disappointments. The past tries to fool us, making us believe that we can recreate it and rid ourselves of the present difficulties. But the present is the reality, the place where we can gain a better understanding of what life is all about.

When I look at myself now, it is like looking in a dark mirror. I’m absolutely astonished and unsure of how I’ve gotten here. Mostly I can’t believe how ingeniously change slips by the consciousness so stealthily.

The more difficulties there are in mastering something, the more the possibility of deceiving ourselves.

By confronting the need to change, we eventually come to understand that we cannot prevent it from happening; but we can choose to direct it in positive and life enhancing ways.

The question we need to ask ourselves is not whether we can, or will change, but rather how we will change.

Everything around us and in us changes. Our bodies are in a perpetual state of change, literally rebuilding themselves over the course of days, months and years by replacing cells. Are we prepared to direct the changes for personal growth and development? Accepting change brings us into harmony with reality and if we are able to grow through the process, this in turn brings a certain peace and contentment which is what puts us on the road to happiness.

The chaos of crisis starves creativity, optimism and motivation.

Dark times are opportunities for change and personal growth.
So let’s start with this idea: every human heartbeat is a universe of possibilities. You can change your life with a single thought and a single action.

Most of the time we think, feel, act but we need to change that to THINK, ACT, FEEL. Try to monitor each thought you think, each action you wish to make and how you want to feel.

The quality of your life is determined by the quality of your thoughts.

THINK about all the things you can be thankful for – make a list that you can keep adding to – be creative and list even the smallest of blessings.

Take ACTion against physical and mental constipation – go for a walk, eat healthy foods, make your living environment clean and neat, read something that inspires you, listen to music that has a positive influence on your emotions, look for the beauty in all living things.

Expand your mind – figure out what is right and what is wrong in your day, strive to make improvements

We don’t laugh because we are happy, we are happy because we laugh. Watch something funny on TV, watch a comedy, read something funny … and laugh heartily! We underestimate the pleasure of good conversation, good food, good music. It does make us FEEL happy.

The cracks in your heart are there so that your light can shine through. And the most precious gift you can bring to others is love and care despite your pain.

Each day ask yourself these 3 questions:

  1. Did I think positive thoughts?
  2. Did I act with kindness and love towards everyone?
  3. If I made somebody else’s day just a little brighter, just a little better in some small way, how does that make me feel?

So take each sadness and pin it to the sky with love. The stars always shine brightest where the sky is darkest.

i love u

i love u

be the sunshine

be the sunshine

Silver Threads and Golden Needles

Sing a song

Sing a song

As I look at the entries in my journals of the last ten years, I realize that I have written mainly about the loss of loved ones … son, husband, mother, brother

Most of my writing was to help me cope with the kind of shattering tragedy that divided my life in two … the terrible news – the sudden death of a child – concentrating the mind on that reality and trying to figure out how to deal with it.

The other subject is a more subtle kind of tragedy – a sense of meaninglessness. In some ways this situation is more dangerous because we do not always realize that it is happening to us, but it drains the joy and zest out of life.

Ask the average person what they want from life, and they will probably reply, “I want to be happy.” I think it is fair to say that most people want to be happy and many work hard trying to achieve that. They buy books, attend seminars, change their lifestyles, all in an ongoing effort to find that state of mind – happiness. But in spite of all that, I suspect that many people, most of the time, do not feel really and truly happy.

Is it possible for people to be happy? Are those who are unhappy going about life in the wrong way? Why do even the rich and powerful yearn for something more?

I was perusing some popular English stories about people coping with the ups and downs of life. One of my favourite is the tales of a ruggedly individualistic, red-headed orphan girl whose gutsiness is legendary. She is, Harold Gray’s Little Orphan Annie, whose philosophy of self-reliance and disdain for governmental and other do-gooders mark her as a die-hard opponent of stunted thinking.

After a stint in a Dickensian orphanage that only makes her stronger, Annie famously finds a home with self-made billionaire Daddy Warbucks. But alas, if Warbucks is good at making money, he is also good at losing it. Indeed, in one episode we find him not only broke but soon after an accident, blinded. With help from his friends and some hard work he finds the courage to build his fortune anew and his sight is restored.

Warbucks is also good at losing Annie. Prior to his frequent travels – for example, a yachting trip with a gold-digger wife, or a business trip to lawless foreign places — he makes provisions for Annie’s care that invariably fall through, forcing her and her dog Sandy to take to the road and make their way as best they can.

Though often down and out, Annie never even thinks of declaring defeat or surrendering herself and her fate to public institutionalised aid. Instead she must rely on the kindness of others, and it is from individuals that she earns respect and friendship.

Repaying kindness in kind, she soon becomes of significant benefit to her benefactors. Annie’s wanderings are like a Pilgrim’s Progress in more than one sense.

Bonds are formed with friends who share and come to admire one another’s qualities.
They are willing to lend not only moral but, when needed, practical support.

Some of these friends are kindly and innocuous; others, such as the chilling Asp, are deadly dangerous. And though Annie does not turn to religion for help, the uncanny and supernatural do sometimes watch over her.

When it comes, friends support for Annie is like a drink to a thirsty traveller. If Annie and her creator had a motto, it could well be the old chestnut: ‘It’s a great life if you don’t give up.’

No quitting, no passive acceptance of unjust treatment unless fate has put you physically out of combat. Annie has not only the punch, but the heart of a fighter. An implicit believer in final causes, she acts on the assumption that if we have feet, they are for us to stand on. Like her friend and helper Jack Boot, she scorns the ‘petty cruelty of professional uplifters and officious busybodies.’ When he deservedly comes into money, Jack will use it to found a ‘home’ for other little people, like Annie – a real ‘home.’ That is, one utterly unlike the callous state-run aid factories administered by the likes of brutish Mrs. Durance that Annie has hitherto suffered in and bolted from.

Do Annie and her friends prize self-reliance more than safety and security? Or do they think that relying on yourself is the best way to be secure in the long run? For can you really expect others, even if they are well-intentioned, and no matter how cosy a salary they draw for helping you, to care about your life more than you do?

Few desire freedom, most are content with ‘fair masters’. Better to be free and independent, even if sometimes famished and often insecure than to be fed regularly by a master but always to obey, to wear a collar, and to be on a leash.

Even in the funnies, life is often far from funny. But in the long run you fare best by standing tall, and on your own two feet.

In Annie, this holds true even in the face of the most crushing reverses of fortune. And so the once-rich magnate Warbucks, though reduced not just to destitution but to blindness, staggers but does not fall. Though devastated he is not crushed. With Annie’s help and his own grit he sets out to rebuild his life, going hopefully forward as best he can.

Heroic resistance to life’s setbacks and perils is not just the job of a handful of famous heroes. Rather, it is part of the everyday task, perhaps even the everyday duty, of ordinary people.

At one level this is a scary message: you want me to do this? And at another, it may seem needless: why strain to be heroic if we can outsource the solutions to our problems?

In Annie, which is effectively a reply to such plaintive queries, Gray speaks to his audience with profound respect. He takes for granted that we are not perpetual minors, of necessity the wards of a social collective, but that we and no others are fit to be entrusted with final responsibility for the life we have. For Gray, as for Milton, our dignity lies in being free to fall but sufficient to stand. 

For the road is not only its own vocation, but its own reward. There you are sure to find the scope for your powers that bestows a joy on life which is all the greater for being earned.  
Though Annie has no family – she has friends, winning them by her virtues wherever she goes. Young, but standing tall, she meets whatever life throws at her head-on.

The qualities that make us human emerge only in the ways we relate to other people.
Could that be why we need our lives to have meaning? Are we in fact striving to figure out how to live so that our lives matter, so that humankind will be at least a little bit better for our having passed through it?

I would like to think that if Annie’s story had taken her into old age she would still have valued and admired kind people, rather than clever, wealthy, powerful people.

Friendship is after all a commitment to accept the frustrations and disappointments that are an inevitable part of imperfect human beings relating to one another.

Life is not a problem to be solved once; it is a continuing challenge to be lived day by day. Our quest is not to find the one answer that is right but to find ways of making each individual day a human experience that gives some measure of joy and happiness.

In this world not everyone will do great deeds or achieve great worldly success. But we have been given the opportunity to find greatness for ourselves in the everyday. Eating can be a quick refuel, or an opportunity to savour the life- giving miracle that comes to us from soil, seed, water, sunlight and human energy, brought to the table.

Here is where we require the wisdom to recognise that the miraculous is right in front of us. Let’s not rush to the next activity in search of something important and miss the moment of greatness before us. We have in us the capacity for finding joy.

For human beings the joys of life are not based on a few great moments but on the accumulation of many little ones.

Let’s take time out to rest and reflect as we walk this road called life, and let the moments of joy and happiness accumulate, add up to something that gives meaning to life.

As we learn how to live, how to give of ourselves, life itself rewards us with many ways to experience the meaning of life …

Basic 3 steps to Self Improvement

The photo shows a regular guy begging at the traffic intersection on most weekdays. When I saw his sign I had to smile. Mostly though, I would have liked to invite him into my car and then taken him to a lovely beach front restaurant where we could enjoy a leisurely meal and talk about life in general.

When was the last time you wanted to do something for the pure and simple bliss of it, but immediately dismissed the idea with a mental shrug and then chuckle to yourself as you huff and puff along in bumper-to-bumper traffic? We’re far too scared to indulge in a bit of a frolic in case we come across as eccentric, silly, stupid or “on something”. Most days we perform like cogs in a machine with our lives interlocking in the daily groove.

One of the advantages of being older is that one has had the good fortune to meet a lot of people who are experts in a vast and varied amount of information. I never cease to be amazed and gratified by acquaintances and friends who so willingly give of their time to share their hard-earned knowledge.

It also got me thinking about the resources available via the internet, good books and TV. From these we can learn about work, food, saving money, family issues and personal development in general. Probably the most valuable lessons I learned have been about human behaviour, cultivating healthy relationships and empathy. Everyone has weaknesses and insecurities and I also learned that it is okay to laugh at myself, be kind to oneself and most importantly to love yourself. These things don’t just happen, you have to work at it.

A friend and I were discussing the poor life choices people make and how young people are influenced by this. When told to go and clean his room it was interesting to note how a sixteen-year-old rolled his eyes and glared at the same time, which I’m sure must come only with lots of practice. I suppose it’s better than some of the verbal abuse I sometimes hear, but what lessons is sixteen learning from the silent acceptance of his behaviour?

Sometimes we wonder why someone rides us pretty hard. But it can be a good thing. When you’re screwing up and nobody says anything to you anymore, that could mean they’ve given up on you. When you know you are not doing something to the best of your ability and nobody’s bothering to tell you anymore, that’s not good news. You may not want to hear it, but your critics are often the ones telling you they care about you and want you to reach your full potential.

Many people just want to be molly-coddled. But without a healthy balance of discipline and hard work how will they ever know what they are capable of? Those who have climbed the ladder to personal success, understand and appreciate what teamwork, perseverance and the ability to deal with adversity is all about.

Contrary to popular belief complaining is not a problem solving strategy. Time spent whining won’t help achieve goals. In fact we are more likely to alienate the very people who could/would offer resources and support. And it definitely won’t make us happier. So have a pity party and then get to work …

3 basic steps to self improvement

Recognise your talents and abilities
Acknowledge your own weaknesses

Are you realistic about how your actions affect others in your home and outside environment?

      By developing the real ability to assess ourselves we can improve. If we won’t, how can we tell if we’re getting better or not?

And last but not least, let’s do lunch, I’m buying!

Jarva Junki Fun Stuff

Ok, so I’m a Jarva Junki and I enjoy creating a stir! This is Jarva inspiration on the wild side … Africa, home of the big five and the echoes of drum beats in the bushveld.

The Art of Coffee Drinking – Sensual Sensation

Imagine this – an
inviting tray of breakfast … cappuccino and a warm croissant … scoop up a little froth or cream and slowly lick it off your finger … close your eyes and put the mug to your lips … feel your mouth flood with the taste of coffee – pleasant, berry-like and winey flavour with a heady aroma, sliding in a warm trickle down your throat … you gasp … have another delicious sip.

Make time to enjoy the art of drinking coffee and elevate the traditional into something to be remembered, long after the last delectable sip.

Coffee Quote
The ideal cup of coffee: ‘Black as the devil, hot as hell, pure as an angel, sweet as love.’ Prince Talleyrand, French Diplomat and wit.

Bean Around the World

The Café de la Paix opened June 30, 1862, to serve the Grand-Hôtel de la Paix (named after the nearby rue de la Paix), whose name was later shortened to Grand-Hôtel.
On August 22, 1975, the Café was declared a historic site by the French government.

Coffee eAfrika
This is an African coffee brew with a difference
1 cup strong coffee
8tsp condensed milk
4 tsp chocolate sauce (or chocolate liqueur)
Blend the coffee, condensed milk and chocolate/liqueur together till smooth and creamy. Serve in chilled wine glasses (optional over crushed ice)

Music Inspiration – You’re the Cream in My Coffee

Coffee Egg Nogg
This is a special coffee drink for the festive season
2 eggs separated
1 cup cold strong coffee
1/2 cup cognac, whiskey or rum
1/2 cup double cream
Sugar to taste
Ground cinnamon/nutmeg to decorate
Beat egg yolks and sugar together. Heat gently, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon.
Allow to cool slightly and then stir in the coffee and alcohol.
While stirring add the cream.
Beat egg whites to stiff peaks and fold into mix.
Pour into cups and add a dollop of whipped cream. Sprinkle with cinnamon/nutmeg

Want to become a Jarva Snob? Check out http://www.thecoffeebox.co.za

Barnyard Cottage Renovation Cont.

Some more BEFORE photos of my little barnyard cottage

Common sense comes mostly from the trial and error of our everyday life, the positives and negatives of accumulated experience. Try to adjust your way of thinking because circumstances tend to change, often when least expected, or often beyond our expectations.

A peek inside my little cottage AFTER the renovations – so much better than most thought it would look!

The human mind is capable of great change. In fact that’s one of the things it does best.

If you don’t like what’s on your mind – change it!

Weapons of Mass Distribution

einsteinMany war heroes are honored with medals for courage but courageous women, more often, have only the medals of the scars on their heart.

Judge others with kindness and not with your perceptions.

Do something small for others and be a part of something big … hard working people lose their jobs, become disabled so they can no longer work, or are forced to quit because of circumstances beyond their control – who comforts them? Who helps them? Where do they go?

Often they are helped by women in their community. They collect money to pay bills, cook meals, deliver groceries … and they do it with love, empathy and the knowledge that we are all part of the supportive undercarriage of a community.

The danger we face today is that we lack the confidence to act bravely … real bravery in today’s world is doing for each other what is right and proper.

In the end, this courage is far more powerful than the gun, the stealth bomber or the nuclear weapon.

Barnyard Cottage Makeover

So here are some of the BEFORE pictures as promised. The AFTER ones will follow next time. Some thoughts about this experience: We all experience adversity and challenges in life but the main thing is not to become discouraged. The question is, ‘how to do this?’

 

Remember when it feels like you are hitting your head against a wall – look for the door. And if there is no door – make one

I did it!

Organised Chaos

I like to collect “stuff” and I like to display them on my verandah. Some are considered to be in poor taste while others are just not worth a mention. Most would probably use the definition of ‘kitsch’ if asked to describle my little cottage. Also on my verandah are odds and ends I am saving for that special project I have in mind for later.

So how did this little farm cottage have it’s beginning? I needed a place to stay and some family members live on a smallholding in a little village called Sir Lowrys Pass, South Africa. I was shown a row of stables used for the horse and donkey, some sheep and a few cattle. Next to that was a very old storage room, probably the size of two stables. After the festive season was over the hard work started. Clearing out, sorting through and scrubbing the walls and floor down. That done, we hunted for an old door and window, bashed some holes in the wall and proceeded to put them in place. Our team consisted of two guys who could do the heavy work and myself.

It takes vision, grit and perseverance to knock into shape a dark, gardenless outbuilding and turn it into a lived-in home that is relaxed and allows one to be free to express oneself. At the same time I also wanted the cottage to reflect a feeling of nostalgia and reassurance that would make it a place of escape from the pressures of life. Of course a shoe-string budget also means having to make do with things that are not ideal.

At first everyone who came to view our progress just saw the chaos. There was so much to do to make the old building fit for human habitation. I decided that I would go for quirky and rustic as an excuse to leave some of the quaint features in place. There are old wooden beams exposed in the ceiling. The plaster is so rough in places that it looks as if a few kids had a mud fight and that it was just left there to dry. The list is long and varied.

Once the building was plumbed and painted it was time to bring in some furniture and create that cosy place I had in mind. Unpretentious and rustic this cottage look is an economical option – furniture is an easy mix of second-hand pieces donated from garages and storage cupboards. The challenge was to mix and match all the different bits and pieces to create a cosy, comfortable haven of tranquility.

Then there was the non existent garden. We spent weeks relocating the huge compost heap and demolishing the unused reservoir. A few truck-loads of soil later and there was, what resembled a flat surface of mud and clay – ready to be turned into an exotic feast of green.

One of the great things about living in the country is having enough space to keep lots of domestic and farmyard animals. As well as being pleasurable, animals are so purposeful. In exchange for your care they offer affection, loyalty, security, food products and manure to fertilize the land. It’s always a treat to pause and see the animals peacefully going about their daily activities.

So why am I telling you all this? I believe in the capacity of every human being to triumph and to achieve what is important to them. I’m not one who expects things to come easily but thought it would be good to at least attempt to fulfil a lifetime ambition to write about some of the things that have taught me valuable life lessons. Maybe others out there will read my stories and it will give them some insight and ideas to manage whatever chaos they may have to deal with.

Next time I will share some before and after photos for those who would like see where this all started and how it is going to progress.