The Art of Snake Handling

Since my move to Australia, my life has changed dramatically.

In New Zealand I never got bitten by paper wasps that made my skin swell into a hard red balloon shape and there were fewer mosquitos. I could sit on the grass without getting covered in ants and my legs never got covered in so many itchy red spots that I looked like a connect-the-dots puzzle.

In New Zealand there were also no snakes. Since moving to Australia, I have had close encounters with several large snake, and last week I had a python in my living room.

It was six or seven feet long, grey brown with a diamond patterned top and white underbelly. I left the door open and it must have followed the sound of my TV, right into the room where I was sitting. It then slid into a quiet corner, curled up with its head inside its body, and went to sleep.

What to do?

I had three options. I could

1. Ignore it and hope it would go away by itself.

2. Learn to live with it. Find out what it eats, and what else it needs, and then make the most of having a pet snake.

3. Get some friends over to help me remove it

Of course I chose number three.

We are always going to have metaphorical “snakes” in our lives, so we have to choose how to handle them.

We can;

1. Ignore the problem as much as possible. Focus on other things so as to maintain our happiness.

2. Learn ways to lessen the impact. Find out how other people cope with similar issues. Take regular breaks from the problem. Learn more about the problem. Is it as bad as it seems? Perhaps there is another way to look at it? Just as many people enjoy snakes and even have them as pets, perhaps many people would be happy to have your problem. What are the positives?

3. If you have the option, remove the problem.

Just don’t spend time hating the problem. It is not productive. Do something to change it, move away from it, or just accept it.

Learning to cope with life’s problems will make you happier.


You're Not Normal!

A friend of mine was working for a roadside rescue service when he got a call that someone had broken down out of town. It was late at night so he got out of bed and went to help.

When he got there he quickly found the problem with the car and began to tell the owner what was wrong.

The owner of the car disagreed. He began to argue that the diagnosis was wrong. My friend tried to explain but the customer just got more and more wound up. Finally he could not think of anything else to say, so he reverted to insults.

“There is something wrong with you mate,” he said. “You’re not normal. I am and I can prove it. Can you?

Then he pulled out a letter from a mental health institution saying he had been judged of sound mental health.

I know my friend and he is the salt of the earth; kind, generous, and caring. He also likes lots of time alone and would sooner die alone than burden others with his problems. Is that normal?

I have a IQ that puts me in the Mensa level but I do not have a job. Is that normal?

Bringing out a certificate to prove you are sane. Is that normal?

It is quite normal for people to differ in their approach to life.

Some people spend days dressed up as Superman, or studying frogs, or climbing life-threatening mountains. In an English court it is normal for lawyers to wear string wigs and black cloaks. In New Zealand it is normal to paint your face black and white when the All Blacks are playing rugby.

As long as we don’t hurt anyone else, our unique roles, hobbies, and passions, define us and enrich our lives.

Do you like music that no one else seems to like? Do you avoid parties even though “everyone else” is going? Normal is different for everyone and there is no point worrying if everyone else seems to be smarter, or taller, or bolder, or better looking, or likes different things than we do. We are who we are, and we should be happy in our own skin.

It is normal to be unique, different, and maybe a little quirky. It is what makes us different, and interesting, and is quite normal… even if we don’t have a certificate to prove it.


Zest, Zeal, and putting some Zing in your life

This is going to be a short, sweet, last A-Z post.

How do you live longer and have more energy to enjoy it?

You know.

• Eat more vegetables and fish
• Exercise often
• Drink more water
• Socialize with friends
• Meditate or slow down for a portion of each day
• Eat less sugar and processed foods
Most of us know this list, and despite the fact that there are fads in healthy living, we know how ot be healthier.

So how come we are not?

Today is a good time to choose one thing to work on.

Take time each day for a walk. Cut out a mid-morning sugar snack and replace it with fruit. Seek out a nice salad recipe. There are a myriad of small actions that can make a difference in the energy we have each day.

Choose one that makes you smile and start living with more zest and zeal.


Y - Just Say Yes

My children were shy. Teachers used to tell me that they rarely put up their hands to answer a question, and they rarely volunteered for anything.

Often they didn’t get special opportunities like camp leader, or hall monitor, just because they held back, and there was no question of them playing the lead role in the school play.

As adults they have changed. One was in a stage show and played four parts. One is in the Philippines, living in a new culture and learning a new language. It took them time to realize that there were so many interesting things in the world that they could do.
For many of us life is busy and we can feel overwhelmed. It could be that we are not saying “no” often enough. We may have agreed to look after other people’s children, or taken on extra responsibilities at work.

The other way to look at it is to say “yes.”

“Yes, I will look after my friend’s children but in return I will have an afternoon off.”

“Yes, I will take on extra work that will increase my skills” or “I will concentrate on my core job and deflect work that will distract me.”

“Yes, I will help that friend who needs me, but I will do something fun on the way back.”

One way is negative and limits us from doing things. The other is positive and will increase the happiness in our lives instead of the stress.

What do you need to say “yes” to?


Hugs and XXXXX's

I have come to PDA (public displays of affection) late in life. My parents were English and we did not hug much. My ex-husband also was not affectionate.

I pitied those poor people who had to cuddle in public, as if they were trying to prove something to themselves. I thought they were all fake.

Then I met my fiancée.

Quite quickly I realized that I want to hug all the time and it doesn’t matter at all if there are people around. I just like to be as close to him as I can.

Research shows that I am likely to live longer now. Those regular hugs (and xxx’s) are good for my immune system. They foster endorphins, the feel good hormones.

I have really surprised myself and I began to wonder how many other people are denying their affectionate side.

Maybe you are.

Do you have someone to hug? Or something?

Some people have pets. Some people cuddle teddy bears. If you have children, you should be well hugged up.

A happy person needs someone to love (see my S post) and a hug is a great way to show love.

X is for XXXX’s. Lots of hugs and XXX’s.


Work Will Win Where Wishing Won't

I don’t know where I first heard the phrase above but it is a great saying as well as a wonderful way to use lots of w’s in one sentence. Work is important. As well as a means to an end it is an essential part of our life.

In my blog post called Using your Uniqueness to Unlock more Joy, I wrote about how a happy person needs something to do. We need some kind of role that creates a purpose in our life. It is good for our body and soul, and, despite books like “The Secret” and “The Laws of Attraction,” there still has to be an element of “doing” to make anything happen.

Sometimes we just have to roll up our sleeves and work.

Today I visited the friend of a friend, who is in a rest home. She is nearly blind and has limited use of her limbs. She spends her days in a bed, propped up so she can hear the TV. I left feeling incredibly sad.

There are many people who wish they could do nothing all day. The reality is not so much fun. It gets boring and is also more tiring than a productive days work.

I used to think work was a nasty four letter word. Now I am older I am happy to have things to do. Work brings satisfaction, fulfillment, and joy.
Mother Theresa captured the crux of the matter when she said “
I slept and I dreamed that life is all joy
I woke and I saw that life is all service.
I served and I saw that service is joy.

May you find lots of happiness and joy in your work.

(This post is part of the A-Z challenge. To find out more click on the link at the top of the page)


Value in the Volumes of Verbosity

It has been a busy three weeks since I signed up for the A – Z blogging challenge. This is my 22nd post in 25 days. Wow. All the way up to V and now just four more posts to go.

As part of the challenge I have read many wonderful blogs by others who are taking part. My favourite is probably Tale-Spinner. He started with the story of an apartment building blowing up and then each day worked through stories of the people in the building.

I have also read the blogs of many others who didn’t do so well.

Some struggled through and the posts got less and less interesting. Sometimes there were gaps, or just a photo. Sometimes there was a link to someone else’s blog. A few just petered out.

Sometimes life gets in the way of the goals we set and sometimes we just have to shift our focus for a while.

If we want to be happy, we have to be flexible. No matter how well we plan, things can change. Something becomes more difficult or causes more problems than we expect. Sometimes things happen to make our original goal unworkable.

Much of life’s anxiety is caused by thinking we should be somewhere else, doing something else, or even doing things a different way.

Life is not about having, or doing, the most. To truly enjoy life, we just have to accept where we are and value each moment, even, or maybe especially, when things don’t go to plan.

As I write this I am happy. I am happy because I love to write and I love to create. I am happy because I have successfully avoided having to clean house for a bit longer.

I am also happy because I am working on a goal. They say you have to write a hundred thousand words before you can become a good writer. I am getting closer to that goal.

I am also happy because I have learned that I can accept a challenge and keep going, … all the way through the alphabet.

I hope you have found reading this valuable too.


U - Using your Uniqueness to Unlock more Joy

A happy person has something to do, someone to love, and something to look forward to.
Something to do

Be glad you have things to do. Cut down if you need to, but don’t resent your work. Happiness comes from being productive and useful.

If you hate your job, it might be time for a change. That could be a change of job or a change of attitude towards your job.

Traditional advice has been to find something you love and to make that your life’s work. Timothy Ferris in his book “The Four Hour Work Week” says that for most of us that is not possible. We are not always able to make a living from our passion.

So then what do we do?

We decide to enjoy what we are doing now or find a job we can live with that allows us a lifestyle we do enjoy.

Someone to Love

It is a wonderful feeling when someone loves us, but what is essential to our happiness is that we have someone to love. Allow yourself to really feel that love and don’t let the little annoyances of everyday life spoil it for you.

Hug your children each day. Tell your spouse you love them often. Call a good friend and get together. Hug your cat.

Pets are also a wonderful opportunity to give love. See here for a video about some people who love their pets.
Something to look forward to

Being in the planning and preparing stage of a project can be exciting. Goals energize us and help us persevere when times are tough.

If you haven’t achieved all your dreams, you are lucky; having something to look forward to makes life worthwhile.

So, embrace your job, or apply for a new one. Hug your husband, or buy a puppy. Plan a shopping trip, or arrange to go on a yearlong retreat.

U - Use your uniqueness to unlock more joy in your life.

(This post is part of the A-Z blogging challenge. For more information see the icon above on the right)

Thankful - There are Toads on the Road to the Toilet

When I was first married, I lived in Samoa with my new husband. We stayed in a house with rickety walls, slide out slatted windows, and a concrete block bathroom without hot water.

Later we stayed with family that did not even have a bathroom. They showered under a cold water hose handing from a tree. It was visible from the house and at night it was all lit up so it was like showering under a spotlight. Even with a cloth wrapped around you for modesty it was uncomfortable.

The toilet was even further away. There were no septic systems there at that time so it was just a shed containing a wooden seat perched over a deep hole.

Sitting on the toilet was freaky. There were toads in the hole and you could hear them croaking from below.

There were also toads on the path to the toilet. Loud, noisy, and so many it seemed I was doomed to step on one at every step, especially at night.

The kitchen was a stone floor lean to on the back of the main building with a small gas stove.

It made me realize how lucky I have always been. I was born into a culture with indoor plumbing and hot water on tap. I have always had comfortable furniture, and convenient cooking options. I have numerous communication options, including phones, video calling, email, and even reliable snail mail.

In Samoa, I had neighbours whose home was a wooden floor with a coconut fiber roof and drop down mats for walls. I do not know what they did for a toilet but they often washed in a basin.

They were still happy.

Epictetus said “He is a man of sense who does not grieve for what he has not, but rejoices in what he has.


Suds in the Sink

I remember a wonderful American woman who invited me to dinner in her home one night. After dinner I helped in the kitchen and she told me that she loved washing dishes. I was a teenager and frankly I did not believe her.

I suspected she made it to encourage me to be optimistic about a chore that would be a big part of my life for the rest of my life. I thought she was making it up.

I was wrong.

Some years later, I read a story about a woman who had regained her sight after many years of blindness. She became mesmerized by the shiny rainbow bubbles in the dishwater and described it in a way that made me wonder what I had been missing.

I began to look more closely. I noticed the sparkling clearness of the water and how it churned a stripe of luminescent dishwashing liquid into iridescent bubbles. I began to take pride in a shiny glass and a spotless plate. I began to appreciate the ability to see, and to hear, and to enjoy all the little things that I often take for granted. And I became happier.

Is there anything that you do every day that you are seeing from the wrong angle?

Could you take more joy in cleaning your home? Many people don’t have a home to keep clean.

Can you appreciate your children, even when they keep you up at night? Many people would love to have children but can’t.

It pays to look at things from a different angle.

I will probably never grow to love doing dishes, and there are so many more things I would rather do than clean house, but I do make an attempt to look for the bubbles and not the dirt in each chore.

It really helps.


A Right Royal Roadblock

There is a fable about a king who built a wonderful wide new road to his city and then promised a huge reward to the person who travelled the road the best. People came from miles around to travel the road. They came in all their finery and with the most lavish vehicles they could find. Some travelled with lots of attendants dressed in fine clothes. So many people tried to impress the king but he would not be impressed.

Towards the end of the day, a humble villager travelled the road alone and without any fanfare at all. As he travelled he came across a huge roadblock in the road. A large pile of rocks and stones had fallen on the road and blocked most of the road. Previous travelers had walked around it, but this man got to work to clear it all away.

As he cleared the last stones, he was surprised to find a bag of gold hidden at the bottom of the pile. When he reached the city, he went to visit the king and told him of his find. The king was overjoyed. He said the gold now belonged to the traveller. He said it was his reward. He told him "he who clears the way for others, travels the road the best."

Today is a simple reminder that there are many roadblocks on the road of life. Death, divorce, illness, job loss, financial troubles. We all go through problems but helping make the road a little easier for others brings great rewards.

• We stop focusing on our own troubles

• We sometimes learn new skills and

• We feel good about ourselves

Everyone has roadblocks. Helping clear the way for others will make us stronger, kinder, and happier.

Is there someone you know that could use a friendly phone call or a quick email message? Could someone in your family use a special meal or a night out? Is it time you considered something bigger, maybe sponsoring a child, or donating your time to a charity once a week.

The world is full of people who just might need you to make the difference they need.


Three Crucial Reasons to Cultivate the Quiet

I have six sons and if there is one thing I would have changed about their upbringing it is that I would have had more quiet time to myself. If I had taken the time to recharge my batteries I would have been a happier and healthier mother.

But quiet time is important for more than just an opportunity to get some rest and recharge our batteries.

Here are three crucial ways that quiet can increase the quality of our lives.

1. Creativity thrives in quiet.

It is almost impossible to have a creative thought in chaos or when there is too much noise. We need quiet time even if it just created by ignoring everything around us and going within ourselves.

2. We make better decisions when we are quiet enough to hear our own thoughts

Prentice Mulford says “The more quiet is kept in our bodies, the more force is added to our spirit.” He adds “Our spirits have their own, their peculiar senses, distinct and apart from the sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch of the body.” We can only tune in to that special sense when we have enough quiet.
3. Quiet times increase our life span

Spending some time on your own and in a quiet environment is good for the soul and for the body. Statistics suggest that people who spend part of each day quietly meditating live longer. Dan Ferber also suggests on the Healthy Outlook Blog, that people who have quiet egos live longer.

Q is for Quietly Increasing the Quality of Life

(This post is part of the A-Z post a day challenge. See the icon above right for more details)

The Power of a Positive Perspective

When I was young I remembered watching the moon from the car. As we drove by, everything else was left behind, trees, buildings, houses, even mountains, but the moon just kept on coming. It seemed to be following me.

I knew in my head that it was because it was so far away but in my heart I felt as if it was following because I was special.

So many times, things are not how they look.

Sometimes people seem angry with us, but they are not. Sometimes it is a fleeting thought or an unrelated idea, or even a sudden itch they can’t scratch.

People do things that hurt and we assume they did it on purpose. Arguments, fights, and even wars, are sometimes started with false assumptions.

If you find yourself hurt by someone, you can assume they meant it or assume it was just a thoughtless remark. The first way will make you feel worse, the second way will allow you to forgive and forget.

It can take a while to develop an attitude of thinking the best of others but it is sure worth it.

Assuming others mean to hurt, leads to stress, anger and thoughts of revenge. That can lead to a spiral of hurt on both sides.

Thinking the best of others leads to peace of mind and ultimately more happiness, especially for you.

P is for the Power of Positive Perspectives.

(This is a post in the A-Z blogging challenge. To learn more, click on the link to the right of this blog. Day 16, only 10 more to go....)


It's Okay to be Ordinary

When I was young, there were times when my brothers and sister and I all had our own ideas of what we should be doing. I wanted to play “Cowboys and Indians”, my sister wanted to play “hide and seek” and my brother just wanted to be given a horsey ride. We argued, each one of us trying to get our own way and to be the boss of the others. My dad used to say there were too many chiefs and not enough Indians.

An important lesson in life is to learn to be happy when others seem to have the lead role. All of us have our own part to play and for most of us it will not include fame and glory. For most of us today is just another day at the office, another day being a mother, or caring for aging parents. For most of us each day seems ordinary, unexciting, and maybe even boring, and that is okay.

Sometimes you should be the person who takes the lead, but more often you won’t.

We remember Mother Theresa, but her work was amplified by those willing to help her in her cause. The world needs more ordinary, everyday people doing everyday roles, just as much as it needs talented leaders.

While you can sometimes change your role to make yourself happier, other times you just need to roll up your sleeves and to bloom where you are planted.

Have fun with the work you have to do, no matter how menial, or unexciting it may seem.

The world is full of ordinary people and that is perfectly okay.


Nice is the New Nasty

When I was a teenager, if we really liked something we called it “grouse” or “choice”.

Later, when my sons were teenagers and Michael Jackson was the world’s musical role model, it was a compliment to call someone "nasty". It meant clever, maybe a little sneaky, but overall, very, very good. It was also a compliment to call someone “phat”.

Most of that time, “nice” was a bad word. It meant that you were quiet, unassuming, and perhaps a little simple. To call someone “nice” was to write them off as being boring and naïve.

In the movie “Grease”, Sandy was not attractive until she began to dress in skin tight pants and ground a cigarette butt under her high heels. It seemed like the bold and the brave, those who took what they wanted, had all the fun, while nice girls stayed home alone.

Recently I read a book called “The Power of Nice”. It has a wealth of examples of how nice people are happier, healthier, and often more fulfilled as people.

I love it. There is real power in being nice. It benefits the recipient of the nice acts but also the giver. Nice has always been a good quality to have.
Is there someone you need to be nicer to? What can you do to make the world a better place? Can you pay someone’s parking meter, smile at the bank clerk, or donate to a charity?

You owe it to yourself to enjoy the benefits of being nice to others.

N is for nice.


My Mean Mother-in-Law and the Missing Mail

There is only one time when I held a grudge for more than a few days, and I held it for years. More than ten years actually.

When I was newly married we lived in Samoa near my husband’s family and my mother-in-law did something I thought unthinkable. Something I thought was so bad, so rude, and so absolutely wrong that I felt it was my duty to hold it against her.

At that time, Samoa had a fairly primitive postal system. To be sure to get your mail, it was best to collect it from the post office.
My mother-in-law not only collected my mail, but she opened it, read it, and kept it for herself. She kept letters from my mother, letters from friends so that I lost contact with them, my New Zealand citizenship certificate, and a cheque with my tax refund.

I never did get the tax refund but I was particularly upset about the citizenship certificate.  The one I have now says “replacement” in big letters and is not at all fancy. I was so mad, I thought it would be wrong for me to let it go.

I came from a culture that wouldn’t dream of opening someone’s mail, or touching someone elses “stuff”, or entering their home uninvited. She came from a culture where you not only walked into a home uninvited, but you took what you wanted. You could looked into cupboards and even into the cooking pots and help yourself.

Who do you think suffered most from my bad feelings? Me of course.

Once I forgave her I stopped having that cramping, limiting, unhappy feeling when I saw her. I stopped feeling awkward around her and started relaxing.

At first I was just acting extra friendly, but eventually I really was friendly and happy to accept her for who she was and is. It was essential to my happiness for me to do this.

Do you have anything that makes you mad? Is it worth keeping it? Can you let it go? Can you pretend to let it go until it does go?
Why not give it a try? Your happiness depends on it.
M is for minimize mad moods and make amends


L is for Laughter, the sun that drives winter from the human face.

You may have heard the quote
"Children laugh 300 times a day and adults laugh only fifteen times a day."

When I heard that I was shocked.

Not by the difference. I was not surprised that children laugh more. Most children don’t have to earn a living, worry about the mortgage, or work out how to get the in-laws together for Christmas. Plus they think farts are funny.

What really surprised me was that I suddenly realized I did not laugh even once a day.

It was a defining moment for me.

I thought I was doing the best for my family by putting up with something that was making me very unhappy.  I wasn’t. My family were not laughing much either.

I had to make some changes in my life. I moved away, changed jobs, (pushed into it by redundancy) and started to do things I enjoyed.

Now I laugh at least as much as most adults. Some days I laugh as much as most children.
That is, if the statistic is true. And after some Internet research, I suspect it is not.
Adults can, and should, laugh as much as children.

We have more control over our environment and can choose to make our lives more fun.
Have you had your laugh quota today? If not, what needs to change?

p.s. The image is from It might be worth a look if you want to read more about laughter in your life.


Joy in the Journey

I know people who go on holiday in a rush, complete it in a hurry, and come back to their jobs to rest up. They spend many stressful days packing, dislike the plane trip, obsess over the defects in their accommodation, and resent the locals for being different.

Does a holiday begin with the plane ride? Does it begin when you settle into your hotel room? Or find your way around? Or visit the first attraction?

Isn’t the holiday in every minute?

Happy people make the most of every minute.
They enjoy the plane ride. If they hate flying, they take a book, arrange some food, or talk to their neighbours.  If they don’t like the room they are given, they accept it or ask to be transferred. They get to know people that are different than them. They make every meal and every walk an attraction. They make it fun.

Life can be likened to taking a holiday.

Some people are waiting to be happy until they get to the main attraction.
They think they will be happy when they get married, or when they have children, or when the children are grown. There are two problems with this.

They overlook the experiences they are having now. Someone waiting to get married might not value the experiences of making new friends. They feel dating is a failure if it does not find them “the one.”
The other problem is that waiting to be happy can put too much pressure on the event itself. What if you put your life on hold until you get married and then it fails? It is too risky and it is unnecessary.

Life should be fun now.

Every day can be special if you just do something different and special.
Go a different way to work. Eat somewhere new. Call someone you haven’t spoken to for a while. Do something different. Even just brushing your teeth with the other hand. It wakes up your brain and gets you out of a rut.

Have fun now.

See the roses, not the thorns. Dance in the rain. Laugh at chaos. Make your own fun.

William H Sheldon says that “Happiness is essentially a state of going somewhere, wholeheartedly, one directionally, without regret or reservation..”

Enjoy the journey. 


Introspection – Using your Imagination to Investigate your Interior

I am lucky enough to have a profession where I get lots of time alone. I have explored landmarks and forests and bushwalks and beaches, and I often do it solo. I can be amongst a crowd of families and couples and still enjoy myself, by myself. Not everyone is so lucky.
Some people need others around all the time to feel happy.
That is a mistake.
We have to be happy with ourselves before we can be really happy with other people.
I once read of someone who had a life changing experience with himself. When he could not find anyone to head out with him on weekend activities he became anxious. Then he realized that was kind of silly, so he decided to try something really different. He spent the weekend doing nothing at all.
He said he lay on his bed and just thought as little as possible.
It was an experience that changed him.
I had a powerful moment once when I was on holiday and stood in the middle of a field wondering which of the activities I needed to do next. I suddenly realized I did not have to do anything. I was on holiday. It had not occurred to me before because I was so busy running from one activity to the next.
Many of us never take the time to stop, relax, and do nothing.
If you have small children it can be hard to get the opportunity, but I am convinced that I would have been a better mother if I had taken the trouble to find some care for the boys so I could have some time to do less.
It can take time to get used to doing things alone but it can reap great benefits. It doesn’t have to be a deep and meaningful experience. Just turn off the TV and radio, eliminate as much noise as possible, and relax. Regroup, relax, and maybe even meditate. Slow your heartbeat, recharge your body, and smile. 
You really are worth it.


H is for Healthy Habits

It’s hard to be happy when you are sick, tired, or stressed. It is also tough to find joy if you are addicted to harmful substances including common items like caffeine, nicotine, fat, or sugar.
Have you done an inventory of your eating habits lately?
Are you eating healthy food that nourishes and energises your body?
Are you avoiding items that disagree with your internal system?
The healthiest way to eat is to eat foods in their natural state and avoid processed foods. It should be easy.
But it’s not. There is more to know.
We need to know our own bodies.
I was the healthiest when I avoided sugar, all wheat flour, and all milk products. My friend swears by the blood group diet. Another was happiest when losing weight with shakes and protein powders.
Not everyone is the same. It can take a lot of time and persistence to find out what is best for your body.
But it is worth it.
You could see what happens when you give up one unhealthy item, or you could go cold turkey on a whole group of items such as anything that contains sugar.
You could also add something to your diet such as more fresh vegetables, or more water.
Health is so important for your happiness. It would be well worth finding out what suits you and your body and making the changes that suit.
H is for healthy Habits.

(This blog post is part of the A-Z challenge. For more information please follow the link above right)


G is for Gorgeous Girls in Gilded Garments

Okay the title is a bit fanciful, even for a daily A-Z blog.  
I am referring to the magazine models. They all look so skinny and so pretty, with flawless skin, and airbrushed to perfection.
I saw a documentary once, and watched the photographers work with some photos.
They didn’t just clean up skin imperfections, but sliced inches off the sides of thighs, enlarged the eyes, and elongated the legs. They smoothed out laugh lines, plumped up lips, and deepened check bones, all with computer software.
But the rest of us don’t want to look like the pictures in magazines do we?
We all know the pictures are often not real at all.
But without even realizing it we can take it all in and it makes us feel less.
Are your thighs too big? For what? How big should they be? Who says?
Are you too short? Too fat? Too thin? Again, for who?
It is time to celebrate who you are; real woman (or man) with all your uniqueness and quirkiness.
Don’t compare. Don’t judge. Just notice the wonder that is you; the marvel that is your fully functioning human body. The way your eyes work. The way your lungs breathe without your conscious mind noticing. The way you can hear, and taste, and smell.
Celebrate yourself.  And smile.

(This blog is part of the A-Z challenge. To find out more please follow the link on the right) 

F is for Fulfilling Friendships

Recently I caught up with a friend I had not seen in years. It was so much fun catching up. We found out how much we still had in common, including divorce, wayward kids, and big plans for the future.
After talking for hours I left her house energized, excited, and motivated to set and achieve new goals.
Why did it take me so long to call her?
Friends are the jam in the sandwich of life. They allow us to vent, to boast, to laugh, and to learn. Friends share evenings out, helpful advice, good times, and sometimes see us through bad times.
Friends can be family we choose ourselves, or acquaintances we meet once and never see again.
We all need our friends.
If you have been neglecting your friends, consider planning some time together. Go bowling, have lunch together, or just make a phone call.
Life can be so much happier when you share it with friends.
Marianne Williamson says, “We are not held back by the love we didn’t receive in the past, but by the love we are not extending in the present.”
Find a friend, and share the love.

(This blog is part of the A-Z challenge. To know more follow the link on the right of the page) 


E is for Embrace Emotions

I have spoken to several friends who all agree that the end of their marriage was not when they began to argue. The marriage deteriorated quickly when the problems were still there but they stopped arguing about them. The rot set in when the numbness and apathy set in.

Emotions are healthy. They keep us tuned into what is going wrong in our life and what is going right. Emotions are a natural part of what makes us human.
We learn about ourselves and about others through emotional experiences. They are a valuable part of who we are.

The healthy way to deal with an emotion is to accept it, express it and then get over it.

First, acknowledge you feel this way. Allow yourself to be human. Look deeper and ask yourself what is at the root of this emotion.

If you are angry, then ask yourself why? Is it that your husband is late again or that you haven’t had enough time with him lately?

Are you sad because you did not get the promotion or because you feel rejected?

Emotions can be complicated and sometimes it pays to look deeper to find what is really going on. Ask yourself if there is anything else under the feeling. Take as much time as you need.

When you are ready, express it. Share it with someone you trust.

I am angry with you. I am feeling miserable. I am so tired.

Make it an “I” message not a “you” message. It is your feeling. The other person can probably tell how you feel. Letting them know is often more helpful than keeping it to yourself.

Then let it go.

If you are angry, say so and then move on. If you are sad, take some time to grieve and then move on.

Don’t let unexpressed emotions become a tight little ball in your chest. It is almost impossible to be happy this way.

Honour yourself by being open to your emotions and sharing them appropriately and safely.

E is for Embrace your Emotions

(This post is part of the A-Z challenge. If you wish to know more, please click the link on the right of this page.)


D is for Death – Finding Motivation in a Cemetery

I am one of those people that love cemeteries. I love to read the short memorials and imagine what their lives were like.

Recently in an old cemetery I found;
  •       A six month old buried with her grandfather
  •       A mother who died when she had eight young children
  •      A family that lost four children in two years

It made me grateful to be me. I am grateful for healthy children, access to modern medical care, and incredibly grateful just to be alive.

I had an experience that also reminded me how lucky I was when I was pregnant with my first son.

Our neighbours had a beautiful three-year-old boy who was killed when a family member reversed a trailer into him in their own yard. The possibility that my own yet to be born son, might not be with me forever was brought forcefully home that day.

I made these decisions
  •   to make the most of the time I had with all my children     
  •  to enjoy every moment with them and    
  • to teach them to be good citizens who would be loved and respected by others if anything happened to me
Being reminded that life does not last forever helped me get through many a long night with fussy babies.

Does life seem hard? Picture yourself years from now. Will you wish you had made more of this time? Will you be sorry it is gone?

What will people say of you at your funeral? Is the way you live your life now, the way you want to be remembered?

Make the most of your time. Appreciate the opportunity that is yours. Live well. Laugh often. Have fun now.

On the refrigerator in the home where I am staying is a magnet with the saying “whenever life sucks, remember that you are going to die one day.”

Wherever you are in life, enjoy it as much as you can. After all any day above ground is a good one.

Consider your Current Wealth

There was an email going around by an unknown author that says; 

If you woke up this morning
 with more health than illness, you are more blessed than the
 million who won't survive the week.
If you have never experienced
 the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment,
 the agony of torture or
 the pangs of starvation,
 you are ahead of 20 million people
 around the world.
If you can attend a church meeting 
without fear of harassment, 
arrest, torture, or death, you are more blessed than almost
 three billion people in the world.
If you have food in your refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof over
 your head and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of this world.
If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change 
in a dish someplace, you are among 
the top 8% of the world's wealthy.

Now does life look so bad?

Just the fact that you have access to a computer and are reading this tells me that you are one of the world’s wealthy.

With all its ups and downs life is a wonderful opportunity for those of us in developed countries. Make the most of it.

And if you need something else to make you happy, take minute to do a small act of charity for those less fortunate. Donate money for the homeless. Sponsor a child. Write to a soldier. Visit someone in hospital. Pass along a smile.

There is real joy in counting our own blessings and even more joy in helping others less fortunate.


B is for Be Blissfully Happy with Better Beliefs

Yesterday I told you how a change in my attitude moved me towards my dream. A dream I hadn’t even considered was possible until life dealt me some lemons I did not expect.

But what if you believe you can’t change things?

Sometimes we believe the things we want are not open to us. A dream is not possible because we have families, jobs, and other commitments.

What if you think you can’t do something? How can you change your mind?
Is it time for a belief adjustment?

Consider these questions?

Is anyone else doing what you would like to do? 
Is there a creative way of getting what you want without depriving others?
Is it possible you are putting others needs too much ahead of your own?
Is your dream something you can plan for the future?

If you have a young family and would love to travel but feel you can’t, I know people who have;
·      Left their young family including a baby, for six weeks while they travelled (The children were just fine)
·      Taken their children on a long road trip with them and home schooled them
·      Taken five children on a five week overseas trip
·      Waited until their children were grown to sell their house and live in a campervan for years

Don’t let faulty beliefs hold you back. Look at things from an outsider’s point of view. Consider whether some of your beliefs are holding you back. Choose to believe that you deserve happiness.

W. Clement Stone said, "Whatever the mind of man can conceive or believe, it can achieve."

B is for Be Blissfully Happy with Better Beliefs


Adjusting your Attitude for an A+ Life.

Can you imagine a tropical beach? There is sunlight reflecting off the crystal clear water and frangipani scent in the air. A gentle breeze brushes across your bare arms and the sand is warm between your toes.

I had such a holiday once. I went to Fiji and spent my time head down in a lagoon studying the tropical fish through a facemask, exploring the island, and building a tan while lying on warm sandy beaches.

For years I remembered that holiday fondly. In the midst of the humdrum of everyday life, I figured that if I was really lucky, I might get that experience again. Or I might not.

Then one day my life changed dramatically. My marriage broke up and not long after that I lost my job.

I grieved for the loss of my “forever marriage”. I cried about losing a job I loved. I was a mess, but I got over it by changing my attitude.

I began to look at this as a new opportunity. It occurred to me that many people are living my dream of sun, sand, and beaches. Why not me? Suddenly I had options that I never had before. I made the move to a tropical climate.

I followed my dream.

What is it that inspires you? What makes you smile? What would you love to do that you haven’t? What would make you happier? How could you make it happen?

Is it time for you consider an attitude adjustment? Are you moving towards your dream? Do you believe it can happen?

Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you are right.”

I know people who have lost their marriage or their jobs and who are still limiting themselves by lamenting lost opportunities. I live in a land of constant sun, powdery sand, and gorgeous tropical beaches.

When I began to believe it could happen, I made it happen.

Maybe you could too. A is for Adjusting your Attitude for an A+ Life.


The A - Z of Happiness Challenge

This is one of my favourite blogs to write, but with all the travelling and the book writing and promoting I have neglected it. 

I am about to challenge myself to a blog every day. Don't worry they will be short, and sweet, and hopefully inspiring.
Why not join me.

Let's get happy, happy, happy together.


Serving up Happiness

If you read my book or some of my other blogs, you will know I do a bit of geocaching, hunting for containers hidden by others who do the sport.

On the trip from Wellington to Napier, I was prompted to stop at several points of interest because there were geocaches to find. There was a lunchbox behind an 1870’s horse and cattle trough, a plastic bottle under the tiny 10 by 10 red wooden store from last century, and a screw top jar at one of the lookouts. I found a hidden picnic park, a rest stop with wild chickens, and sculptures carved out of tree stumps.

I had so much fun in the journey and found places I had passed many times without noticing. I was having a great day, but there was an underlying sadness that spilled out into tears on a long stretch where I had too much time to think.

The Memorial
One relationship has been tough lately and I am trying to keep busy and not think about it. I am trying to concentrate on what is going right in my life, and I am generally happy, but sometimes it hits me all at once and I am sad again.

While I was feeling sorry for myself I stopped at the next geocache. It was near a large monolith type memorial to our fallen soldiers. It was very remote for such an imposing structure. I took out my camera but something didn’t seem right.

It was sadly neglected and full of waist high weeds. I know how much I personally benefit from the freedom that I have. Much of that is thanks to those who were willing to go out and fight for justice and freedom.

Then I thought of the goals I had just set for myself. “Health” “Wealth” (I just need an income not a fortune) and “Contribution.” I want to contribute more. Do daily good deeds. Show more kindness.

I got to and pulled some weeds, glad I was in my usual casual explore clothes and shoes and wishing I had some gloves with me.

It was hot work. I cleared away all the larger weeds but left the small ones; there were just too many. I took away the empty yoghurt pot, but left the weeds to rot into the grass. It wasn’t a great job, but the memorial looked a whole lot better when I took the photo.

What surprised me the most was the change in my attitude.

Just ten minutes before I had been having a little cry over a problem I was having. As I left the memorial I was smiling and happy. I was also energised.

Contribution is not just about helping other people. It is about bringing out the humanity in myself and being a better person. It is about getting past my own troubles and realising I am luckier than most. It is about being connected to others and less introspective.

I have heard many times that we love those we serve. I have noticed we also love ourselves more when we serve. And… we are happier.


Six Ways to Overcome Rejection

The path to happiness is not easy and smooth. Sometimes we feel rejected, and that can make a serious dent in our happiness.

Just a few years ago I was happily employed as a middle level manager. I had a good income, a company car, a laptop and phone, and nice people to work with.

Then one day I was made redundant.

It was a real blow and it felt like a personal insult.

I was assured the redundancy was not performance related. The organisation was restructuring to cope with the recession, and I did not have the right qualification for the new role, but I took it badly I still felt miserable, rejected and humiliated.

It took most of the weekend, but I managed to find a way to overcome the rejection and hurt, and to move into a better space. These are some processes that helped me not only cope, but thrive.

Look for the positive in the situation.

I asked myself what were the benefits of my situation. My first happy thought was that I would no longer have to work with my immediate manager who was difficult and made life stressful for all around her.

I was also thankful I was not responsible for supporting a family.

Make new plans.

Rejection often changes our plans for the future, so make some new ones. I took full advantage of free retraining that was offered and made plans to move overseas to be closer to family and friends.

Don’t take it too personally.

Most rejection says more about the other person than about you. I was made redundant because the senior management decided that the person in my role needed a qualification I didn’t have. Other times people lash out at each other because they feel bad.

Being rejected is part of life and does not mean we can not be perfectly acceptable somewhere else. While I felt unwanted and unappreciated at first, I chose to see it as a business decision and not a personal insult.

Consider how it affects others.

Are others affected too? My workmates were the ones who had to stay and cope with my job as well as theirs. They also had to manage the difficult boss. Thinking about others helped me feel less sorry for myself and it took my mind off my own difficulties.

Accept the inevitable.

One of my colleagues decided to fight her redundancy. It made her last few weeks bitter and unhappy and she still had to leave. By all means fight rejection if it is unjust, but if the situation is unchangeable, accept it, and work with it.

Trust it happened for a reason and can be over come.

Life is always changing, and the only option is to keep moving. Say to yourself; where is this challenge going to lead? If you have trouble with this, look for others that have gone through the same rejection and succeeded.

In my case I didn’t have to look too far. My husband had started his own successful business after he was made redundant.

I started travelling and house sitting. I love what I do now and I wouldn’t go back for any amount of money. Both people who worked in my office have also moved on because of the manager. I might have been lucky to get out when I did.

Taking this road instead of the “poor me” route takes courage and perseverance. It is sometimes easier to fall in a heap and feel sorry for ourselves.

After thinking things through my situation using this process, I went into work for my final few weeks feeling cheerful and happy. I was the one smiling and my workmates were the ones feeling anxious about the changes.

With a few simple techniques and the right attitude, it is possible to overcome rejection and even turn it into something positive.

Now I have a new life that I love so much I wrote a book about it called "HouseSitting in Australia."

We all get rejected some times, but with the right mindset we can move on quickly.

Inspiring Thoughts on Happiness

and how to bring more happiness into your life.

Some of my other blogs are about My Travels in Oz, House Sitting and Writing Blogs. See Below