Trees and their significance

Photo courtesy of Ailie Bauman

I was chatting with one of my friends earlier today and we were talking about trees and their significance to each of us. She had shown me a drawing she had made of an oak tree in winter.

We then started to discuss trees and how they look so mystically majestic in winter time. They show off their proud beauty when they share their total emptiness of both fruit and leaves. If you go in winter to view a forest, it looks entirely different to how it looks in summer because they are different seasons.

Winter is a time when animals hibernate and deciduous trees have shed their leaves and stand tall and proud in their own beauty. It is also a time when they use the cold weather and begin to build up the reserves they need for the next cycle of seasons coming up. I remember in Laura Ingalls Wilder book (I think it was Farmer Boy if I remember correctly) that Alonzo’s Father called snow the “poor man’s fertilizer” and he used it himself to help prepare the ground for the coming seasons.

I then started to think about how our lives are similar to that. We go through seasons in life. Seasons of growth and seasons of cutting back. Seasons where we feel we are alone and naked in our bareness and completely exposed to the elements. There are times we feel that we are in a holding place or that we are being cut back for new growth to form.

Sometimes we feel naked and exposed to the elements. A tree doesn’t grow strong when it is sheltered by anything else – it grows strong when it is exposed to the elements and can stand on its own. I felt so exposed when we lost our stillborn daughter, Natalie. I felt naked and lost in my own storm. But it helped me to grow into the next season of my life. However, I didn’t understand that at the time it was happening.

Just like the tree, we can stand in the majestic mystical beauty of our bareness and grow ready for the next season of life. Sometimes our lives feel “put on hold” but this is a season where we can cut back and rest and recover for the next growing season.

What season in life are you in just now? I would say that I am in the spring as I begin to flower and bloom and grow my business. I don’t know the fullness of myself or my business but I DO know that I CAN grow into the next season of my life and reach the time of ripened fruit.

I would love to hear what season you believe you are in at the moment and why you think that. It is so interesting to discover that we are all on this cycle of growing and changing but we don’t all do it at exactly the same time. If everyone were babies at the same time there would be nobody to look after them and feed and clothe them and ensure they were safe and warm.

Acts of Kindness

Acts of kindness are never wasted. They can have an impact that goes beyond the single act of one person helping another. It’s like when you drop a stone in a pond: the initial splash can be clearly seen, but there are then also ripples which spread outwards to encompass the whole pond. This “ripple effect” can take so many forms and range from tiny things to massive things.

For me, this week has been rather a big one as I am tackling redoing my website. It is a big job and not one that I particularly relish. But I have been helped by my mentor Linda Clay who has crafted a fantastic site for herself.

Linda has taken time out of her busy schedule to help me with the different problems I have encountered and has shown me the steps I was missing. I am very appreciative of her help and support.

It doesn’t matter what you do in life, helping someone almost always impacts them for the good. Now I’m not saying you should sacrifice your work, your self-care or your family life to help others, but the ripple effect continues. What you have to decide is whether it will be a positive or a negative ripple effect.

Tonight I was chatting to a new friend and she helped me see things that I hadn’t realised were weighing me down. When I was thanking her at the end of our conversation and saying what a blessing she had been, she was delighted to know that she had been able to help me.

I was reminded of a comment in a book that struck me years ago when the author got me thinking about the fact that we don’t tend to compliment people while they are alive but we talk about their good points once they are dead. But we really shouldn’t do this. Why do we wait until they are gone to compliment them or let them know what a blessing they have been to us?

I don’t think it’s wrong to thank people for their acts of kindness. You can carry that ripple effect into your next task or even the next day following and pass it on to others. It is only a small thing but imagine what you could inspire in other people’s lives!

For me there have been many acts of kindness from others, some of which I was able to repay to the person and some I was not. But the ripple effect still continues as the act of kindness is spread to others. We may not get it right for everyone but we can spread the negative or the positive.

And acts of kindness don’t have to be big or cost a lot of money. We can be kind to each other in small things. And you never know what a kind word or a smile might do for someone else.

Have you had any acts of kindness done to you? What was the “ripple effect?” Very rarely is it taken the wrong way and I bet you were able to give back to them or pass it onto someone else.

Differences that make us special

When I moved from the south of England to live near Glasgow in Scotland, I found the way of life and living such a contrast because it was so different. Two things I observed were no manic lifestyle and when people mentioned traffic jams on the M8, it was actually what would have been considered a good day on the M25!

It wasn’t just the contrast of lifestyles but the slower pace of life suited my personality much better. I don’t enjoy being pressurised AT ALL and initially there were none. Or I should say it felt like none because nobody expected me to live or behave a certain way. Some people love constant hustle and bustle, but I don’t.

Have you ever known that every snowflake that falls to the ground is different? In all of the world, there is nobody exactly like you. They may look like you but do not have your character and personality. In fact, how they express themselves will be unique as well.

What makes life so special is the differences. You have been gifted with talents that are not like mine. If you enjoy crafts – like I do, there will still be contrasts between the two of us. I will never be able to make or create something exactly like you because I am not you and never will be.

But you know what? That’s ok. The fact that each person on this planet is unique and there has never been nor ever will be someone like you is amazing, precious and wonderful. You need to find your purpose and passion in life. It is not for anybody to tell you what it is. You are blessed with a mind, body and soul of your own to be used for a particular purpose.

For many years I wondered not only what I was passionate about but how I would fulfil the purpose of my life as well. Now I am beginning to discover the talents and gifts I have been given in ways I never expected. I know the point I am moving towards and am beginning to take the steps to be able to get there.

You can do this, too. Your journey through life will be unique because you are. As we continue in our path, we encounter others that we may or may not become close to. Some are meant to be in our lives for only a short time while others are a more permanent feature.

Have you found your passion yet? Do you know why you are here on this earth right now? I wonder who it is your life is meant to touch. What are your gifts and talents you are blessed with and how are you going to improve them? I would love to hear from you.

Unrealistic Expectations in Life

Unrealistic expectations can come in many ways – imposed on us by ourselves or other people. There are times it can be our understanding of others that is incorrect, but we have the power to change all that. We can discover the real truth of where our and other people’s abilities are. This can bring such peace into our lives.

So let’s start with our comprehension of what we can and cannot do. Are we realistic? Do we push ourselves beyond our abilities which leads to burnout and prevents us from enjoying others and fulfilling the purpose in our lives? Or have we been accepting a lower standard and not allowed ourselves to function properly? I must admit I have been guilty of both ends of this spectrum. While we do either, we do not have a truthful viewpoint of ourselves.

And where do we stand with other people? Do we attempt to encourage them to perform to the best of their ability? Or are we happy with a lower standard for them? Sometimes we have false expectations of others as well as ourselves. Again, I am not saying I am proficient in finding the correct balance in this area, but that it is possible to do so. If you want the best for others, gentle encouragement is the right way to go. There is no need to push others beyond that which they are capable of, but you can enjoy seeing them blossom as they begin to believe in themselves.

Sometimes we believe that other people are judging us and what we do. This may not be the case, but this reveals our own insecurities and people pleasing tendencies. But the reality of the case may be completely contrary to our understanding. We can think others judge us by a harsh standard because we are hard on ourselves but our comprehension can be totally different if we take our courage in our hands and ask what their expectations are.

Knowing what you want to accomplish in life is an excellent place to begin mapping out the treasure you can obtain. If you start with knowledge of the end point and the length of time you wish it to take, you can work out what you need to do between then and now. But you must be realistic about yourself and your abilities. If you push yourself too hard and too fast or don’t give yourself enough credit as to exactly what you can achieve, you can always adjust your expectations accordingly.

My life has changed distinctly for the better since I have been working with a life coach. She has been gently prodding me to accomplish more and believe in myself and my abilities. Without God having placed her in my life, I would not have had the courage to begin fulfilling the purpose I know He has for our family. Is it easy? No. Can it be done? Of course. You need to have people surrounding you that believe in you when you don’t and show you what you are capable of. Having a false expectation of yourself and others can cause such difficulties for you. But you can change all that.

If you need someone rooting for you, go find a friend, family member or even a coach that does, regardless of your own expectations. Your abilities, purpose and passion do matter. You can make positive changes to your life no matter what it throws at you. So please, do think about this. Work out what you need and begin to make the necessary adjustments. If this has caused you to think about where you are now and where you would like to be, I am glad. Your life is important and you can make a difference in the world if you believe in yourself.