Being true to yourself

See the source image

Last night I watched a series on Netflix callled ‘Unorthodox’, which is based on a book. It is a compelling drama about someone who leaves her very close knit community. I am being deliberately vague, because I don’t want to give anything away. But it was so compelling, I sat and watched 4 episodes in a row and went to bed after midnight!

One of the themes of this drama is being true to oneself. I think being real is very important and is an essential ingredient of hope. I remember when I was younger being sat in my own home drinking tea from a cup and saucer and feeling I was in an episode of ‘Last of The Summer Wine’, a tv drama about older people. I bought a house as a young person and I wasn’t ready to make a commitment like that. I sold it soon afterwards and went to live in Australia. Because I wanted to be true to myself and be real. Perhaps this wasn’t the best financial decision I ever made, however I folllowed my dreams and really enjoyed my time abroad.

I look back and think about that time. I think it is important to be wise about our decisions, however sometimes we can become enmeshed, stuck in a role that feels fake. Hope is about freedom, truth and shining brightly. I have always wanted to write and am free in this activity, because I love it. I have done other jobs and sometimes they haven’t felt especially congruent, but very good training nonetheless.

If there is an imbalance between what we are doing and what we would like to be doing, then something doesn’t feel right inside. I think it is worth talking to others, sitting down and reviewing life regularly, because we can always move forwards and change things. Nothing is set in stone and there are always new opportunities to be had.

Today’s recipe of hope is to consider whether you are being true to yourself. If you feel you are pretending, doing things for the sake of them or for others, then press the pause button. One way to go forward may be to write goals down. Or to speak to a wise and trusted friend. And if you are battling mental health issues, you can still make changes, start therapy, decide you want to take up a sport or a hobby. And please share with us your thoughts on this post.

May you be at peace with yourself X

References

Accessed 04/07/2020

https://www.netflix.com/gb/title/81019069 (accessed 04/07/2020)

For women

An aspect of hope that I have been thinking about over recent days, is sisterhood. What does this mean? For me it is akin to being in a tribe, where women would support one another while men went out and hunted. Yes we are talking about a very early period in human history, however I think this has a lot to teach us today.

Sisterhood is essentially women supporting one another, rather than being in competition. I have found that fellow female bloggers have been wonderful examples of this and thank you. (I will write about brotherhood another day, not to exclude male followers).

I feel hope is supportive, rather than combative or competitive. There is nothing wrong with healthy competition and certainly many have hopes of winning in specific competitions and that is a different subject altogether. But I think hope is essentially kind, generous and wants everyone else to achieve their dreams and hopes too. There is room for everyone. I think we can all aim to be the best version of ourselves and encourage others in this also.

I welcome any thoughts on this from female bloggers. This is my personal experience and I am happy to have a different opinion.

Let’s keep supporting one another X

Let’s talk about hope

I have been journeying with hope for a while now. Actually 6 months. And I want to look at some further definitions and how these can help us with life. Please do comment, share, I really love hearing from followers. Let us turn to Wikipedia.

Hope is an optimistic state of mind that is based on an expectation of positive outcomes with respect to events and circumstances in one’s life or the world at large. As a verb, its definitions include: “expect with confidence” and “to cherish a desire with anticipation.” Wikipedia

I personally love the ‘cherish a desire’ idea. Yesterday I was thrilled to film an interview for Meridian (should be out next Tuesday). I work in a wonderful community project and I cherish the idea of it helping many people and growing. It is a dream.

I also cherish the idea of growing my blog. I am excited when I get new followers (hello to you and welcome). I am thrilled to receive likes, reblogs (thank you Lady D’s) and it is lovely when my comments are liked by fellow bloggers. I expect my site to grow and expand, I expect and anticipate good things. I am hopeful as I write about and journey along my hopoe adventure.

I am persevering. I sit at my laptop and write daily. Sometimes I wonder whether my posts are helpful, some days I feel inspired, some days it is harder to write. But I cherish and hold onto my dream of being a writer and I nurture it. Hope is holding on and hanging in there, not about feeling hopeful or even happy. Sometimes the most powerful breakthroughs of hope are in the painful times, as my mum tells me ‘the darkest hour is just before dawn’.

Today’s recipe of hope is simple: to hang on in there. If you are facing a battle then please continue to hold on. If you are writing then carry on, blogging then carry on. And if you are feeling terrible, then be kind to yourself today. If you are feeling hopeful please encourage others. I know many people struggling emotionally with the pandemic and some need a visit (with a mask) or a phone call, just to tell them they are not alone.

Keep hoping with expectancy everybody X

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hope (accessed 02/07/2020)

Stepping out of the boat

There is a very inspiring book by John Ortberg, entitled ‘If You Want To Walk On Water You’ve Got To Get Out Of The Boat’. This is based on a very well known bible story when Peter gets out of the boat to walk to Jesus, then starts to sink. Then Jesus stretches out his hand to catch Peter. John Ortberg talks about getting out of our boats (our comfort zones) and going into new areas.

So today that is what I would like to explore. I wonder how many of you are learning new ways of living through the pandemic. I imagine life has changed for both of us. However the hopeful side of lockdown is that it gives us new opportunities and new paths to walk down. I am embracing creativity; starting this blog, writing short stories on Reedsy Prompts (a great site to meet other writers) and trying new things. I think this is a fantastic new season when the ‘this is now’ principle can be set into motion ie putting old things behind us and embracing new patterns; doing those neglected jobs, sorting that drawer, taking up exercise.

Another aspect of this is supporting one another. I have been greatly supported during these weeks by my dear friends who have walked with me through this lockdown journey. And I believe we need to look to one another, rather than view life as a competition. W can learn much from others and share our sorrows and struggles. We can be vulnerable and build connection through this approach to life. This entails giving and receiving and following advice.

I often mention friends on this blog because I want to celebrate them. I am so proud of the lovely blog my friend Helen has now launched (Lady D’s) and I am also proud of the wonderful work my friend Amanda is doing too; touching many people’s lives. And a shout out to Bib for her care, compassion and kindness to others. And to her husband who is a great example of showing kindness and serving others. And to other bloggers who encourage me: Jeremy, Wandering Ambivert, Mama, Tangie (Mrs T’s Corner) and the fabulous Christian Mihai with his excellent tips for blogging, that I have used. And to Tina Onye for her lovely talk show ‘Walking In Your Calling’. All these people have hope in their hearts and are stepping out of their boat in differing ways. They have contributed to me stepping out of my boat.

I have some lovely news to share today. I am going to do an interview on Meridian news today about the community project I am honoured to work for. I was going to keep quiet about this, however I have been advised by someone I trust to share this. So those people in the UK can watch it. This is an example of me getting out of my boat. I have often been a bit shy about publicity, thinking it may be boastful, however I have spoken to a marketing expert recently and have completely changed my views around publicity. We need to share on the virtual platform; that is modern life. Gone are the days of word of mouth. I am embracing the blogging world, the Facebook and Instagram world. I think we need to be wise and not ram our projects down everybody’s throats as it were (less is more), but we have wonderful tools at our disposal to use.

Today’s hope recipe is to think about your boat and ask yourself some questions ( you may wish to read the book about this). Are you in a comfort zone, that has become stagnant? Has hope drained away because you are in an unbreakable routine? Are you frightened by new things? If you are stuck, there are always ways to become unstuck. I believe being stuck is a choice. Sometimes, drastic measures are needed. If you are feeling terribly stuck in depression, or addiction, then perhaps today consider changing. Pick up the phone and speak to someone for help. This may be a GP or a therapist. The first sttep is often the hardest.

Thank you for following, reading this today. I would love to hear from any followers who have found the blog useful; what has helped you? Have you taken any action as a result of the hope recipes? Please share with us.

May you have the courage to get out of your boats X

References

(accessed 01/07/2020)

(accessed 01/07/2020)

I see you

Hello readers. I have been thinking about loneliness. It has just been loneliness awareness week in the UK (15-21st June). When children play hide and seek they love to be found (seen). I think we all want to be seen.

During the lockdown, one of my most poignant memories is of people who have ‘seen’ me, namely remembered me, contacted me. Yes it needs to be reciprocal, have I reached out to people myself? But there is something special about someone seeing you and making that effort, especially when they are busy.

Hope is an embracing friend. Hope sees and looks out for us and encourages us forwards, towards a better tomorrow. Hope doesn’t ignore people. Hope is an action as much as a feeling. Hope in action.

Today’s recipe of hope is to truly see people. I would like to refer people to a wonderful post on photography by The Wandering Ambivert, a great blogger. It talks about seeing nature and I think is applicable to life. And do check out Lady D’s, a brand new health and wellbeing blog which my friend Helen has just launched. We can see one another and we can see other bloggers too.

May you have 20/20 vision for the important things in life X

Walking in your calling

Today I would like to give a shout out to Tina Onye who runs this lovely Facebook talk show which is all about hope. Tina has very kindly offered to feature the Hope Blog on her show. This will be from 5-6pm. This is a very hopeful Christian show and well worth a visit. Details below.

What hope isn’t

The etymology of words is very interesting. Thanks to the very helpful blog ‘Words, Words Words’ for this helpful information:

The word hope is of unknown origin. It is possibly a general North Sea Germanic word coming from either the words hopen or hoffen (“to hope”) borrowed from Low German. The word hope also has a possible connection to the word “hop” with the correlation being that of “leaping in expectation”.

I love the idea of leaping and hopping into hope. I hope you are all doing okay and feeling hopeful. I thought it might be helpful to look at the things I do not consider as ‘hope’, as sometimes it is easier to define something by what it isn’t rather than what it is.

So here goes

Hope is not

1 Selfish

2 Unkind

3 hurtful

4 resentful

5 Vicious

6 Violent

7 Abusive

8 Impatient

9 Pessimistic

10 Doubtful

And that’s enough to be getting on with. I think we can learn from this exercise, so today’s recipe of hope is to consider your character and think about aspects that may not be so helpful in your pursuit of hope. I am prone to rumination and so am trying to avoid doing that because it leads to negative speculation and I don’t get anywhere. Sometimes challenging our thought processes is the best way to make progress in making life more hopeful and positive.

I wish you a very hopeful week X

References

(accessed 29/06/2020)

Even when life seems terrible, there is always hope on the horizon

Yesterday, I wrote about hoping beyond our feelings and being kind in spite of feeling terrible. Today I want to talk about making mistakes and turning tragedy around. There is a phrase ‘he who has never made a mistake has never made anything’ and I want to explore this.

One of the great heroes of the bible, Paul, had a Damascus experience and ‘saw the light’. He had been murdering Christians and then after a divine encounter totally changed and became a Christian himself, serving God for the rest of his life.

Another wonderful heroine of mine, Joyce Meyer, was sexually abused for many years by her father. She used this dreadful experience to help her become the amazing powerful speaker she is today.

And there are many celebrities who had a very very bad start

Charlize Theron

Black Cloud: It was a succession of beyond-bad-luck stories for the stunning young South African. When Charlize was a 15-year-old farm girl, she watched her mother kill her abusive dad in self-defense. She moved to Manhattan to pursue a career in dance, but her knees blew out, pronto—and with them, her future as a ballerina. At 19, the neophyte actress was living in an L.A. dive, subsisting on stale rolls ripped off from restaurants. Final indignity: after begging mom for cash to stave off starvation, a Hollywood bank refused to cash her way-out-of-town $500 check. “You don’t understand—please,” she unsuccessfully begged the teller. So she freaked—a screaming, flailing temper tantrum in front of the lunchtime crowd. It was her biggest and most rapt audience to date.

Silver Lining: Little did she know, it was also her first successful audition. Talent manager John Crosby, waiting to use an ATM, was captivated by the gorgeous, if high-strung, young woman. “If you’re interested, I’ll represent you,” he told her. As Theron later explained to Oprah, “If I hadn’t been in the bank that day, I honestly don’t think I’d be here right now.” A few months of acting classes later, she landed her first screen role. Ok, it was in Children of the Corn III, but still. 

We have all made mistakes and sometimes life has dealt us bitter blows. But there is always hope to turn things around. If you are about to make a big decision about your life and aren’t sure-press the pause button. Speak to someone for wise words. And if you have made a mistake and you are battling regret, then perhaps consider getting some help to get you through. There are great therapy services out there. Sometimes we can’t do it alone.

So today’s recipe of hope is to start to hope again. For those who have made terrible mistakes, forgive yourself. For those who are in a hopeful place, spread this to others. And if you are wrestling with a decision, please speak to someone you really trust.

Keep hoping onwards dear followers X

References

https://www.aarp.org/entertainment/celebrities/info-2017/7-famous-people-who-hit-bottom-and-turned-it-around.html accessed 28/06/2020)

Even if you’re feeling terrible you can still be kind

I said this to my mum yesterday. I must be honest with you all as I promised to be, I have been really battling the last two weeks. I have been struggling emotionally, questioning whether my life has been worthwhile, turning myself inside out with negative feelings and ruminations. But in it all, I have tried to be kind.

Because I think Hope is a comfort, there to offer the promise that one day there will be a breakthrough with the pain, with the emotional pain, with the trauma, with the disappointment, grief and loss. And Hope helps us when we are excited too, looking forward to dreams coming true (Helen looking forward to your blog with two followers even before it is launched!)

But through pain, through happiness, joy and laughter runs the thread that is humanity, human connectedness. But what does this look like you may be wondering? It looks like this: cinnamon buns that someone has prepared straight from their wonderful wood fired oven (thank you Mr and Mrs Bib). It looks like Helen letting me know how to grow my blog and pushing me to challenge myself (look out for Helen’s excellent blog coming very soon). It looks like the beautiful comment from Writing Presence (hello and welcome) on my post yesterday who gave me my 300th like (yay looking forward to my badge WordPress!).

And it looks like a thank you from my lovely goddaughter, who enjoyed the strawberries I was given from a wonderful new food bank and took round to her house. And it looks like my friend who honoured me by asking to me a godmother and have a wonderful role in her daughter’s life (super special as I don’t have my own children). And my other friend who asked me to be a godmother to her lovely daughter, and sends me wonderful photos and videos. And finally it looks like my weekly catch up and inspiration from my dear friend Amanda who sent me a coaster last weekend, stating ‘self-care like a koala bear’. I have used names where permission has been given.

We can see the ripple effect when we look for it. And when we feel most in pain, I think it is most important to be kind. And for those who are struggling on a very deep level what this kindness looks like is being kind to ourselves, asking for help, eating nice food, getting out of bed, reading, sitting in the sun, walking. stroking a pet. Being kind and compassionate to oursleves and others.

And that is today’s recipe of hope; to be kind to yourself and to do one kind act to someone else, if you have the strength. And if you don’t, then to think a kind thought about someone. This changes us because we feel a little better inside and also changes the world around us.

May you know the kindness of others today X

Starting small

As many of you are aware, this blog started with a simple idea of doing a ‘hope experiment,’ which entailed writing hope recipes for 365 days and seeing what happened. Starting small-with no followers, no comments and no likes. Just an idea. And now six months later I have written over 200 posts, have over 50 followers and have received many likes (new milestone coming shortly!) I started small because we all have to start somewhere. And my small blog has grown a bit bigger.

I have been encouraging my friend Helen who is starting her new blog soon (this will be well worth a visit) and sharing my knowledge with her. My main piece of advice for any new blogger is simply to start. Build your blog sentence by sentence day by day, build relationships with other bloggers (thanks to Christian Mihai for his excellent advice on this) and don’t expect too much too quickly. I write for myself as much as others, I am not aiming to have a huge readership, although I do very much appreciate my followers. But I know that big oaks start from tiny acorns.

I work in a community project as many of you may know. This is now in its second year. We started small with a little group of our wonderful guests. I had a vision for a small food bank and we were blessed with having two very generous harvest festival donations, which we gave away to our guests.

When the lockdown started, I was sad to have all this food just sat there. So we gave it away to another food bank. And then the church where I work was approached by a food bank who needed to move. So there is a very big food bank now, serving 160 families. We started small and then gave away what we had, another important principle. And it returned to us in a different way.

So today’s recipe of hope is not to despair if your best efforts are bringing small return. Small can grow. And if you are just starting your blog, may it grow. Appreciate your first ten followers (thank you to mine), appreciate your next ten (again thank you). Things build slowly but surely. And help others on their journey. If you see them starting small, add your voice of hope to encourage them. Encouragement may seem small but in my eyes it is a massive thing (thank you Bib).

May you all see your small starts growing tall X

%d bloggers like this: