Every experience in life has it’s funny moments and my 2 1/2 years spent volunteering once a week at my local RSPCA shop was no exception. There was never a boring day, for so many different people would visit us and make our afternoon something to smile about. Two of our regular customers included a rather large woman pushed in her wheelchair, squeezing between the rails by her harassed and nagged husband, huffing and puffing. They bought no end of nick-nacks, which we later discovered were stored away in a small flat. Unfortunately we always had to spray the shop with room freshener after they left.
We would always be grateful for the generous donations that we received, well almost always. There was the time when a dear lady brought in her husband’s unwanted underpants, announcing that they should still be good as they had only been worn for one week!
Our charity shop became a lifeline for some, including an anxious mother, who came in one Summer with a rather wet little boy in tow. Apparently he had been a bit too inquisitive in exploring the nearby sea and now needed a dry set of clothes. We were only too glad to oblige! However, when a member of the public brought in a wounded seagull for us to fix, we were unfortunately unable to help, apart from directing them to the nearest vet!
It was lovely seeing how our goods went to good homes. Even that would bring surprises though when we discovered they didn’t always go to the places and in the manner we might expect. Such as when a casually dressed young man bought a very smart suit. It was actually a very good quality one and probably nearly new. Was he going to a wedding in it or maybe a job interview? No, he would cut it up and wear it in a play he was starring in at the local theatre! Or the lady who wanted to try on a skirt and promptly did so in the middle of the shop floor, ignoring the privacy of the changing room. At least there were no men in the shop at the time!
Well my RSPCA days are over now that I have found paid employment elsewhere, but the memories will continue to bring a smile to my face for many years to come!
“The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy, but I have come that you might have life abundantly.”
My family is at the stage where we have gradually been letting go of our four boys. With the eldest it was hard, with the second, well he seemed to go before we could complain, the third one is wanting to go but hasn’t quite achieved it and the fourth goes and returns again. This got me thinking.
It is normal and healthy to facilitate our children leaving the nest, but strangely, I feel at times as if I need to leave my own nest too. After 30 years of being a stay-at-home mum, I no longer need to hide away where it feels safe and warm. I still have many years ahead where I could do new things, even those that take me to new places.
South Korea where I am visiting at present, is a country rich in bright colours, pungent in street food sellers smells and noisy with large, busy roads with people coming and going on a large scale. It’s lots to take in in two weeks. Their Hanbok dress is particularly colourful, and everywhere you go you see people selling their wares and bright lights to tempt your eyes and your wallet! Shops stay open well into the evening and some even all night. The subways are full of chattering people always on their mobile phones, waiting for trains, buses or taxis.
The food is often spicy and normally includes rice in some form. It’s amazing what they produce with rice, which I suppose is plentiful. I love the way they always seem to share their food. It really is a social event with communal dishes placed in the centre of the table and everyone dips in with their chopsticks and spoons. Forks are rare and knives even rarer at the meal table.
This is the way we experience the world. Without our five senses we would be poorer people. Photos can capture some of this, but the full picture can only be seen through all of our senses. Sometimes we are too busy to notice, yet every smell or touch can remind us of some precious experience that gets stored away in the albums of our minds.
We learn this from a young age, as long as we are given encouragement and opportunities to enrich our lives.
Check this out for nurturing and teaching this in young children: I Am Special- The Five Senses Lesson Plans
I haven’t always been a great traveller. I have many excuses I could give, such as the commitments of a growing family, lack of finances and being prone to travel sickness. However, when my children started flying the nest, slowly my wings emerged too! I no longer needed to be there for them all of the time and I could find myself a job that I would enjoy and would provide some extra income.
So when my eldest son moved to South Korea five years ago, I didn’t immediately believe that I would visit him. However, once he announced that he was engaged to a Korean girl whom we had never met, the thought was planted and began to grow in me, that maybe I could pay them a visit. They were busy saving for their future and our son hadn’t been home in over two years. I felt I needed to go there to not only see him and meet her and her family, but in doing so, to understand the culture and direction our son was going in. Also to give him a little input from his family in the western world!
It felt a little daunting travelling all that way alone, but that was just a hurdle to get over. This was when my faith that God was with me was being tested. I needed him in a place that was unknown. And it seemed as though he reassured me when I walked into a charity shop and found the much-needed large suitcase which I had only just realised I needed and when I began looking at possible flights, the best ones that popped up were from an agency of my son’s name- Lee’s Travels! These small things gave me strength!
By the time I boarded the plane at Heathrow I really felt at peace and confident that I wouldn’t be alone. Of course I was excited and it was wonderful seeing my son and his beautiful fiancee with her family as soon as I arrived at Incheoon Airport.
Since being here I have been made to feel very welcome and have been able to experience first-hand many of the attractions, people and experiences that our son has grown to love and call home. Next week I shall be returning enriched with many good memories and warm in my heart as I have got to know and love the people I have met, despite the cold temperatures!
There have been times when, like many people at this time of the year, we have wondered what to buy our loved-ones for Christmas. Looking back over the years with four children, I have to say that the best gift ideas have been the gift of music.
Bringing music into our family has brought with it fun, harmony and achievement. When some kids have been roaming the streets wondering what to do, ours have been mastering that piece of music they so love and want to play. It has given them a sense of purpose.
From the moment they were born we would sing and play music. Many a time it would lull them to sleep and during the day they would sit with us whilst we played and sang. We had friends who would sometimes join us with their instruments and voices.
We never pushed them, but inevitably, once the early years had passed, they wanted to master their instruments. Sometimes their gift was a set of music lessons, at other times they received the instrument itself that would carry them through many years.
None aspired to be famous, although they have played in bands at different stages, but all have retained a love for music. At the end of a stressful day, what better way to unwind than to sit down with the piano, guitar or whatever it is and play out in expression of the song in your heart.
Working in my local French restaurant in the SE of England
I sometimes serve our delicious, home-cooked French Cuisine to visitors from other countries! They always love our food, which begs the question:- why didn’t they visit an English restaurant for some real English food? Well firstly, where are these restaurants?
An English Pub?
Where they serve dishes such as beef and ale pie, fish and chips, cottage pie or ploughmans lunch. Not exactly dining delicacies, but rather hearty, filling food for hard-working people. You can imagine them being served to hungry workers from the fields, who would need something filling. But other people who really only moved from carriage to restaurant and to home- well what would they be dining on? Given our typical English pub food, they would soon be overweight. I guess they too resorted to foreign cuisine for the delicacies they needed and would dine from one to the other.
Influenced by foreign lands
The English didn’t include many such dishes, but were influenced by countries such as France to supply them. In recent times, they have rather preferred instead the fast food and ready meals which are vastly available for people on the go. Not so the French and many other countries. Their food is loved and respected by eating it slowly, lovingly and together, as a way of celebrating life itself. Not an inconvenience, but an occasion that brings people together and I believe makes them healthier and happier in the process. This is just our ethos in the French restaurant, to provide a relaxed and pleasant experience which leaves them feeling content as they leave. This can also be carried over into normal family life. What better way to eat, relax and communicate regularly with those you love and live with.
So let’s learn from the French and other countries. I have lived for many years in Germany and have picked up some of their cuisine too. How about you?
I was sitting at home alone, awaiting my next shift at work and my family to return later on in the day from their three day camping trip. It got me thinking what it will soon feel like when the last of our four sons leaves home. In two weeks one will be leaving for university and then the last remaining one will no doubt be making plans to move on.
For the last three days I have made the most of my time alone (inbetween working) and have enjoyed the company of some of my friends. My plans to clean the house whilst it was empty were thwarted at the beginning with the breakdown of our hoover. In hindsight I could have embarked on a decorating project, which although not exactly my forte, would have been a nice surprise for me as well as my family! The writing platform where I write and express my passions creatively is also closing and I haven’t quite got my head around my new plan of action.
The three days is nearly over and as I fight a little today to think positively about this next phase, I notice these beautiful pink flowers growing through the wall in our garden. It makes me think that even when some things have died, there will always be something new poking through, if you will but notice it. The wall might be old and crumbling, but the flowers poking through are perfect, fresh and full of new life.
New life is to be embraced and I intend to embrace mine with gratitude for all that I have and the new things to come.
How about you?
During those lovely hot, summer days, I love trying out different salad recipes that can be prepared in advance and eaten cold whenever it suits you. We live in a seaside town and sometimes we spontaneously decide to throw everything into the picnic bag and head for the beach. The ideal food is salad! My family are coming and going, some working shifts and needing meals at unusual times. A ready-prepared salad is again a great solution. Everyone can dip into it when they are ready. In any case, who wants to be sweating over a hot stove, arriving hot and flustered at the meal table anyway? No way! I like to make the salad and then join everyone else in the sunny outdoors for pre-dinner drinks, maybe just nipping in at the last minute for the cold meat and cheese.
Now I’m not of course talking about lettuce, tomato and cucumber every day. Here is my latest pasta salad recipe. It’s creamy and easy and can easily be transported into the garden or onto the beach. It contains pasta that makes it a little more filling. Check it out and enjoy your summer the easy way!
I am intrigued by some aspects of history, although give me a list of treaties and dates and I will run a mile! However, wrap it up in a bit of fiction, with drama and romance thrown in and I’m hooked!
Imagine my surprise, when after reading a book by a new author that appeared to be a along these lines (you never quite know the first time), I really enjoyed it. I was waiting for the let-down after tearfully finishing the last page and yes, it left me longing for more! Imagine my surprise when I discovered there were 33 more books to follow in this series! It felt like Christmas. I love a good book, because you can take it with you anywhere. We all know the value of encouraging children to read, to improve their language and grammar skills. Kids need to see their role models reading if they are going to catch the bug!
Everyone needs something to get them started and there’s nothing like a good book review to recommend something so that you aren’t completely in the dark.
For me, I have decided that my favourites are historical novels. They answer my inquisitive questions about how people lived before my time and provide me with a sense of happiness and escape from the cares of the world, even if only for a short time. Yes, I know they don’t cure them, but they often provide an insight that gives me a better idea of how to live today. For now, it’s on that sunlounger in the garden, drink in one hand and the last of the Morland Dynasty series in the other.
Time is transient and eventually becomes a dimming memory. That is why it’s important to live in the present and enjoy life whilst we still have it. However, it is also helpful to understand and respect time.
For most of us, we don’t seem to have enough of it. Why is that? Maybe some won’t even have enough time to finish reading this article!
If I am passive about my allotted time, I find that it can easily slip away. It’s almost as if it doesn’t want me to have it! Yet if I respect and consider it, it stays with me and fills my allotted spaces so much better. Who knows, maybe I can even product it?
As with most things in life, it begins in my mind in that I gain more time by spending some of it each day by thinking and planning. Just as with money, time lasts longer if I budget it and there may even be some left over.
Who knows how much time we have left? Procrastination is an enemy of time! Don’t put off until tomorrow, what can be done today, for tomorrow may never come!
What are the qualities that could give you more time? Here are some that I benefit from:
Resolve, focus, patience, perseverance, peace and purpose. But maybe most of all, to realize that time is a gift, so don’t waste it.
Take time to think about these things and time will come back to you!
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