Comes the Dawn

 

I cannot believe it’s been so long since I’ve written a post. Where has the time gone?

I’ve been so wrapped up in trying to survive financially that before I know it, not one week, but a whole month has gone by and I’ve not written anything to post.

It’s rather strange, really, because when I started out with my blog, I religiously wrote every single week, I put so much pressure on myself to make sure I posted at least once per week, and yet my blog never really attracted any followers. Yet now, in the past six months when I’ve not written at all, I’ve had so many new people sign up to my blog.

 

Welcome to all my new readers who have joined in the last few weeks and months. Thank you for taking the time to read my ramblings. I hope some of them at least make sense and resonate with you on some level. Do leave some comments sometimes so I know what you enjoy reading and what I need to focus on more.

One of the reasons why I’ve not really written these last few months is because of the lack of readership, I thought that I may have to change direction and re-look at the focus of my blog and try something new. At the same time though, I wasn’t sure exactly how I wanted to refocus and re-brand my blog.

During these last six months, I’ve written many posts (some complete) but just never got around to posting and when I had the time to post they were no longer relevant. Then there were posts that just never got finished and are no longer relevant anymore.

Now, with so many new people joining, maybe I should keep my blog as it is right now and see where it takes me. Please help by sharing your thoughts on my ramblings and let me know if I should continue writing or just totally throw in the towel.

I will now make a more concerted effort to write more often so I don’t lose all you lovely new readers so, watch this space!

Dear Diary: Life’s Curve Balls!

Photo by: Tami Magnin @rumtumtiggs

Photo by: Tami Magnin @http://www.rumtumtiggs.wordpress.com

Isn’t it strange how life throws you curve balls when you least expect it?

2014 was the year I would be celebrating my big “50th” birthday. I was so excited about the prospect, not knowing what to expect from my family in terms of celebration i.e. I’m the one always organising surprise parties and I wondered if one was going to be organised for me.

I started hinting about this a few months before Christmas (I like to be pro-active and be prepared in advance) and there was no indication from anyone that there would be a surprise party. I was on my own. If I wanted to have a party, I would have to organise one myself. Sigh!

October 2013 onward had me planning, adjusting the budget a million times to make the rands and cents work. I eventually settled on a plan. Instead of throwing away a whole lot of money on one big party, I would book mom and myself into a Spa for a day (the day of my actual birthday) for a spa treatment and we would “sleep it off” at the same hotel that night and leave the following day. I would also take the whole week off from work (as opposed to only taking the day of my birthday) and spend the rest of the week doing day trips in and around the city where I live. The Saturday following my birthday, we would have a High Tea for some close friends and family. By Christmas break, my plans were finalised and we were all set, waiting for the big day to arrive. The plans for my birthday were made based on mom having chemo treatment during the week of 27 January 2014.

Here’s where the first curve ball came: mom was scheduled for a CT Scan on 29 January 2014 to see whether her chemo treatment was working and, unbeknown to me, chemo treatment is not administered in the same week as a CT Scan. This meant that mom’s treatment was postponed to the week of 3 February (my birthday was on 4 February). Not a problem, I thought. There is enough time to make adjustments to my plans so instead of applying for one week’s leave, I would only apply for two days (seeing as mom would be sleeping most of the time after treatment, there was no point in being home if she could not join me). We would then still go for our Spa treatment and stay overnight at the hotel as planned.

Another curve ball: I was informed that with chemo treatment, it is not advisable to have a full body massage as the pressure of the massage could cause the cancer to spread. Not a problem I thought: I contacted the Spa and asked if they could change mom’s treatment to a Manicure and Pedicure only and I would still have my full body massage.

Photo by: Tami Magnin @rumtumtiggs

Photo by: Tami Magnin @http://www.rumtumtiggs.wordpress.com

Next curve ball: The 3rd February arrives and I take mom in for her chemo treatment. We see the doctor first (as is usually the case on the first day of chemo) who informs us that mom’s chemo will be stopped immediately because it is not working and that the cancer has now spread to the liver, lungs and on the glands around the kidneys. The cancer is now at stage four (4). The emotional rollercoaster this put us on would not just disappear by tomorrow. This put a real damper on me even wanting to celebrate my birthday, however, plans were in place. There was no way I could cancel everything now. We arrived home at about midday, had lunch and started sending text messages to everyone we knew to let them know the bad news about mom. This, in a way, was therapeutic for both mom and myself as it seemed to have taken the sting out of what the doctor said. I, however, still have not had the time to deal with the emotional and Psychological effects of this blow and am still feeling very emotional about this whole ordeal as I write this blog.

Photo by: Tami Magnin @rumtumtiggs

Photo by: Tami Magnin @http://www.rumtumtiggs.wordpress.com

The day of my birthday finally arrives and mom and I check in at the hotel, have lunch, have our Spa treatment and relax for the rest of the day. We try our best not to talk about the cancer issue – I’m too emotional about the whole thing and did not want to “spoil” my birthday by crying my eyes out the whole day. I also don’t want mom to see me cry because it will upset her because she is always wanting to “fix” things and this is something she is powerless to “fix”. Mom and I then agreed that, for the sake of granting me at least ONE day to enjoy my birthday, we would not talk about the cancer issue.

Back home the next day we went back to reality and everything went back to normal. Responding to friends and family phoning and texting us regarding our news . . .

Photo by: Tami Magnin @rumtumtiggs.wordpress.com

Photo by: Tami Magnin @http://www.rumtumtiggs.wordpress.com

The Saturday following my birthday, we had a High Tea at one of our local hotels (The Cape Grace Hotel at the V & A Waterfront, Cape Town). It was a small group of about 20 made up of friends and family. I was hoping to use the opportunity to thank those present for the role they played in my life but was not able to say as much as I wanted to because of the pent up emotions regarding my mom’s diagnosis, I almost burst into tears a few times. Nevertheless, we managed to have a good time in each others company so everything turned out well in the end.

There is a saying that goes

“when life throws you lemons, make lemonade”.

Did I do this? I think I did!

A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.
David Brinkley

Conversations with myself: I am Woman . . .

Flowers feed the soul

In South Africa we celebrate National Women’s Day on August 9th each year. Our Government has declared the entire month of August National Women’s month.

In spite of all the new laws and legislation, we still grapple with gender equality in our country. Women who stay home to take care of the home and/or children are classified as “not working” when, in fact, they end up working harder than those who go out to work in the formal employment sector.

Most of the work women do is unpaid labour – what do I mean by this? When the woman is employed in the formal labour sector and gets paid for the work done, she still has work waiting at home for which she does not get paid a salary, for example: washing and ironing clothes, cooking, cleaning the home, taking care of the children. All this is left to the woman to do and she does not receive any additional payment for these duties. Community work – the woman may choose to serve her community in some way by volunteering her time and skills, again, she does not get paid for this work.

Men come home from the office, sit in the armchair in front of the television with their newspaper and wait for supper to be served (by the woman). More and more men are choosing to stay home as “stay-at-home-dads” these days but mostly because they cannot find work – very few do this out of choice.
So where does this leave us? When will the status quo change when a woman will receive acknowledgement for the work she does at home? Let’s take a look at the story below and I will leave you to draw your own conclusions.

MR MOYO GOES TO THE DOCTOR

“What is your job?” asked the doctor.
“I am a farmer” replied Mr Moyo

“Have you any children?” the doctor asked.
“God has not been good to me. Of 15 born, only 9 alive,” Mr Moyo answered.

“Does your wife work?” (doctor)
“No, she stays at home”.

“I see. How does she spend her day?” (doctor)
“Well, she gets up at four in the morning, fetches water and wood, makes the fire, cooks breakfast and cleans the homestead. Then she goes to the river and washes clothes. Once a week she walks to the grinding mill. After that she goes to the township with the two smallest children where she sells tomatoes by the roadside while she knits. She buys what she wants from the shops. Then she cooks the midday meal.”

“You come home at midday?” (doctor)
“No, no, she brings the meal to me about 3km away.”

“And after that?” (doctor)
“She stays in the field to do the weeding, and then goes to the vegetable garden to water.”

“What do you do?” (doctor)
“I must go and discuss business and drink with the men in the village.”

“And after that?” (doctor)
“I go home for supper which my wife has prepared.”

“Does she go to bed after supper?” (doctor)
“No. I do. She has things to do around the house until 9 or 10.”

“but I thought you said your wife does not work.” (doctor)
“Of course she does not work. I told you that she stays at home.”

(Source: Presented by the Women and Development Sub-committee Ministry of Community Development and Community Affairs, Zimbabwe to Women’s Regional Ecumenical Workshop, 26 June – 6 July 1989, Harare, Zimbabwe).
The Oxfam Gender Training Manual © Oxfam UK and Ireland 1994: 183

Conversations with Myself: The Search for the Perfect Career

Woman Thinking at Desk Animation

After reading an article by Jeff Haden entitled “Three interview questions that reveal everything” which was based on an interview technique he learned from John Younger, the CEO of Accolo, a cloud recruiting solutions provider I started thinking about my own career in terms of where I started in relation to where I am today and how I got to this point.

In the article he suggests that every recruiter asks three questions when looking at the work experience/career path of the candidate applying for the position:-

1. How did the person find out about the job?
2. What did the candidate like about the job before they started?
3. Why did the candidate leave?

I reflected on my own career and asked these questions about each of the jobs I held over the years.

HOW DID YOU FIND OUT ABOUT THE JOB: Did I . . .
• Look at all the job vacancy boards available?
• Look at general job adverts in the various newspapers (print) and online newspapers and job portals?
• Attend job fairs and career guidance exhibitions?

This is where most people find their jobs but if you always find jobs in this way (according to the article), you probably have not figured out what you want to do – and where you would like to do it i.e. which company you want to work for.

This method shows the recruiter that you are just looking for a job – any job. It means that any job will do until something else comes along.

By the time you get to job number 3, 4 and 5 in your career and you have not been offered a job or recommended for a job by someone you worked for previously, it shows you did not build relationships, develop trust and you have not shown a level of competence that made someone go out of their way to recommend you.

WHAT DID YOU LIKE ABOUT THE JOB BEFORE YOU STARTED?
Great employees work hard because they appreciate their work environment and enjoy what they do. This means they know the kind of environment they will thrive in and they know the type of work that motivates and challenges them – and not only can they describe it, they actively look for it.

WHY DID YOU LEAVE?
• For a better opportunity?
• For more money?
• The employer was too demanding?
• You did not get along with the boss/manager/your colleagues?

The answer you give to this question shows whether you are a team player and take responsibility for your actions.

Some people never take ownership and always see problems in the workplace as someone else’s problem – they are never to blame nor see themselves as contributing to the problem – it’s always somebody else’s fault.

If you have always “had a problem with the boss/manager/your colleagues” it means that you will always blame others for what goes wrong at work – you will not take responsibility for what you did wrong in the workplace and in that relationship.

The article went on to speak about:

IF YOU ARE BEING INTERVIEWED FOR A LEADERSHIP POSITION . . .
“Great employees go out of their way to work with great leaders”. If you are tough but fair, and ou treat people well, they will go out of their way to work with you. The fact that employees changed jobs so they could work for you/with you, speaks volumes about your leadership and people skills.

All of this has made me think about my own career path and career choices. I have had good relationships with everyone I have worked for and with. I have not burnt any bridges in my quest to move on. I have not gone back to a company I have worked for before purely because I felt it was time to move on – I usually only leave when I have exhausted all the growth prospects available. My lifespan at a company is generally between six (6) and ten (10) years which means that by the time I leave, I have made the choice to never go back.

I am once again in that position. I have been in my current position for the last 10 years but joined the organisation as a temp/casual worker two years prior to that so I’m actually here just over ten years now.

While in my current position, I have been “seconded” to the Human Resources (HR) unit on more than one occasion to assist with organisational transformation – gender and disability mainstreaming, the Employee Health and Wellness Programme, Employment Equity (compiling and submitting reports), assisting on recruitment and selection panels and even being part of interview panels. I have been responsible for internal electronic newsletters (one being an HR electronic newsletter) to keep staff up to date with what’s happening in the HR department and the HR field in general in terms of legislation etc. and even attempted to get the staff involved in Corporate Social Investment (CSI) projects.

I have made one last attempt to apply for a higher level position. If I don’t get that position I’ve applied for, then I have truly tried my best to move on within the organisation. So if asked why I want to leave my current position, I guess my answer will be because I’ve exhausted all my options and it is time to move on.

I will always enjoy the work I do now (Communications) and it will always form part of any other job I do so I will never really leave the field but I really would like to work in the Human Resources field. I have a passion for people (human behaviour) – for understanding why they do what they do.

My passion for understanding human behaviour and why people do what they do has led me to study towards a BA Criminology degree through Unisa. The aim at the end is to work as a Criminologist/Profiler but while getting there I would like an opportunity to use my skills in the Human Resources Department.

In addition to the degree I’m busy with, I am also currently one of the trainees on Disabled People of South Africa (DPSA) Disabled Women Leadership Development Programme (DWLDP) being trained as a workshop facilitator to work within the disabled community helping them to understand their rights as disabled people in their communities and in the workplace.

While in training, I initiated a newsletter for our group as a means of sharing information with other trainees. I am responsible for sourcing content, editing content, layout/design and publishing via e-mail.

I am also involved in an advocacy and lobbying group called Women Demand Dignity (WDD) lobbying for the rights of men, women and children in the area of gender based violence. I am responsible for the social media aspect for the group and manage the Facebook page as well as our blog at: http://www.womendemanddignity.wordpress.com

Conversations with myself: Journaling – what’s your story?

Coloured pencils writing

I am not really into writing journals – I’ve tried many times but always end up getting bored or running out of things to write and end up abandoning my writing as soon as it begins.

I found this piece on journal writing somewhere and thought you might find it useful for your own journal writing. I have adapted this from the original article extracting the information I thought was useful/good to know so I am not the original writer of this piece. The writer shall remain anonymous for now as I cannot remember who wrote it nor where I actually found this piece.

Journal Writing – What is your story?
Journal writing – the process of putting your thoughts down on paper and reflecting on them – is an easy, therapeutic way to explore life’s big questions and begin a constructive dialogue with yourself.

Personal Development
Have you ever made a map of your life? If not, try it:

Take a large sheet of paper and, starting with your birth, record the key events, the significant people, the major challenges and the high points of your journey so far. You can draw it any way you like; as a spiral, or the branches of a tree, or a series of bubbles linked together.

The idea is to put down what you remember, leaving space to fill in the gaps as other memories surface. What emerges in front of you is a picture of the path you have walked, the people who have travelled with you, the choices you have made and the curve balls life has thrown at you.

• What do you think of this story?
• Do you like the way it is developing, or would you prefer to change direction?
• What chapters still need to be written?
• How would you like the story to end?
• Which characters are uplifting and interesting?
• Which ones are draining and difficult?

Is this story full of angst and drama, or is it mostly safe and quiet?

Every woman or man has a story. Whether yours is happy or sad (probably a bit of both) acknowledge it, just as it is, for what it has taught you and where it has taken you. But acknowledge, too, that you are the author of the story.

Even though events may have shaped you into what you are today, you have the power to choose what influences you from this moment on. You may have a blockbuster of a story, but it need not control you or define you. The real you is the awareness behind your experiences; the real you can observe and decide what you want to focus on.

Most women and men see the world from inside their own particular story. They don’t appreciate that other people have had a different set of experiences that have shaped them in other ways. The trouble with only seeing your own point of view is that every situation, conversation or conflict is run through the filter of your past conditioning, leading you to react out of your history rather than being able to respond appropriately in the moment.

That is why reviewing your life is so important. It’s not that you want to wallow in the past; rather, you want to see what parts of the past need to be dropped, resolved or healed, so that you can have all your resources fully available to you in the present.

Questions to work with:
• If your life story was a novel, what would the title be, and what would some of the main chapter headings be?
• Where in your life do you have a ‘poor me’ story? How much does this story define you?
• What is the payoff for holding on to this story? Perhaps you get attention; perhaps it gives you an excuse for not moving on.
• What or who would you be without this story? What would change?
• What are the best things that have happened in your life, and who should you thank?
• Who do you need to forgive, and who should you ask forgiveness from?

Conversations with myself: Perfect peace . . .

Dove

When Was The Last Time You Gave Away A Precious Stone?

There is much magic in the parable below. Without specifically saying so, it emphasizes the true rewards for having attained Personal Peace.

“There was once a wise woman traveling in the mountains who found a precious stone in a stream. The next day she met another traveler who was hungry, and she opened her bag to share her food.

The hungry traveler saw the precious stone and asked if she might give it to him. She did so without hesitation.

The traveler left, rejoicing in his good fortune. He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a lifetime. But only a few days later he came back to return the stone to the woman who had given it to him.

“I’ve been thinking,” he said, “I know how valuable the stone is, but I’m giving it back in the hope that you can give me something even more precious. I want you to give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me the stone.”

-Author Unknown

Conversations with myself: Understanding Criminal Thinking

Brain

This past week I spent two days at a workshop hosted by National Institute for Crime Prevention and the Reintegration of Offenders (NICRO) on the subject of Criminal Behaviour Foundations: Understanding Criminal Thinking.

I found this workshop very interesting and informative because I learnt that criminal behaviour, just like any other behaviour, does not exist in a vacuum. In order to deal appropriately with crime perpetrators, one has to understand the individual in relation to him/herself, the community and the world in which we live.

Some of the key learning for me was:
• How the values, beliefs and attitudes of perpetrators influence their behaviour negatively because of their negative world view and their negative view of themselves.
• The most commonly cited macro-level factors that contribute towards crime are: population structure, rapid migration from rural to urban areas, high levels of unemployment, inadequate education, insufficient welfare services, weak areas within the criminal justice system, large scale illegal immigration, availability of firearms, porous borders which makes crime syndicates, trafficking and smuggling a viable option and inequality and poverty.
• The development of behavioural problems early in life and critical thinking errors in later life also contribute to a life of crime. The eight most common static and dynamic risk factors for youth and adult crime are: history of anti-social behaviour, anti-social personality pattern, anti-social cognition (thinking patterns), anti-social associates/friends, family and/or marital problems, school and/or work problems, leisure and/or recreation choices and substance abuse.
• Brain development – what really stood out for me is that the brain does not fully mature until between the ages of 18 and 25 years of age which means that classifying a person as an adult at age 18 is actually technically incorrect because research has shown that the brain actually only completes development (matures) by age 25 – this includes impulse control, planning, reasoning, thinking before acting, the regulation of emotion, abstract thinking, resistance to peer influence and the ability to delay gratification. Whether a person is mature enough to be classified as an adult therefore needs to be decided on an individual basis.
• Schemas (the way we view the world) – we learnt that there are 5 schemas and there are 18 early maladaptive schemas grouped within 5 domains i.e. disconnection/rejection, impaired autonomy/performance, other directedness, over-vigilance/inhibition and impaired limits.
• The link between emotion and cognition and criminals do not necessarily lack empathy towards their victims but that there is a selective application of empathy.
• There are 8 criminal thinking styles or patterns which support or reinforce four behavioural styles i.e. problem avoidance, interpersonal hostility, self-assertion deception and denial or harm (to others).
We also watched a DVD of an interview of a child abuse survivor called Beth. The interview was done when she was aged about 6 years and she vividly remembers everything that was done to her by her father when she was only 1 year old. It was really heart-wrenching to watch her and how she could recall everything without showing any emotion whatsoever.

Here is the link to the interview we watched: http://youtu.be/ME2wmFunCjU

Do yourself a favour and get the movie/DVD called Child of Rage and see for yourself the events that led up to this interview.

We also watched an interview of a young man accused of murder and this was also moving because of the total lack of emotion when he recalled the events leading up to the murder.

There was just so much information shared at this workshop over the two days that it will probably take a while for everything to sink into this little pea brain of mine.

I now see perpetrators of crime in a new light. Where it was easy to judge them before and write them off as the scum of the earth, I now look at them and say “why?” and “what went wrong?”

Don’t forget – you can also find me at: http://www.womendemanddignity.wordpress.com

Conversations with myself: I’m in turmoil

cat_fish_bowl_md_wht

 

 

The conversation with myself I planned to share with you this week was supposed to be about the importance of community paralegals. However, I am currently in such turmoil about desperately being in need of a career change that I thought I better get this off my chest first.

The job I have currently (which I am extremely grateful for because it enables me to put food on the table) is no longer challenging. I have been in the same position for the last 10 years and have become bored and stifled with no room for growth or upward (or sideways) movement. I feel like a goldfish in a goldfish bowl going round and round in circles and getting absolutely no where. I’ve exhausted all the avenues via the hierarchal structures for movement within the organisation which has all fallen on deaf ears and, quite frankly, I’m now tired of asking, talking, begging, pleading etc.

I am currently working as a Communications Officer for a national Government department specialising in Internal Communications – managing website content, internal publications (newsletters etc), printed resources, promotional material etc

I’m being trained as a workshop facilitator (Train-the-Trainer programme)by Disabled People SA which is a 3-year voluntary programme I signed up for and which is one avenue I could pursue (to offer my services as a Workshop Facilitator). I would be able to provide advocacy type training as opposed to certified courses for which I am sure there is a need out there somewhere?

I have a Paralegal Diploma and am currently studying towards a BA Criminology degree so a Community Paralegal is also an option.

I have more than 30 years working experience as an Administrator so I’m very seriously considering starting a Virtual Assistant business from home, but, like any business run from home, the risk and financial insecurity is high and as sole breadwinner in my household, I’m not sure I’m ready to take the plunge. I am extremely diligent in the execution of tasks, excellent time management skills and “organised” is my middle name. I am a firm believer in “To Do” lists and have a “To Do” list for a “To Do” list (if you know what I mean?). Setting up database systems, bookkeeping to Trial Balance stage are all duties which formed part of my portfolio over the years.

The other gift/passion I have is event planning and organising. I absolutely loved organising surprise birthday parties and celebrations for my family – coming up with a unique concept, planning, implementing the plan and watching the reaction on the day is priceless to me but, do I want to do this for a living? Will doing this for a living take the fun and pleasure out of it for me? Will this then become “just a job”?

If I have all these options available to me, why is it so difficult to make a decision? I know the perfect career is out there somewhere just waiting for me, I just have not found it yet.

My biggest fear of walking away from what I have right now is the job security. Where I am now, the chances of being fired are almost non-existent (unless I do something terribly outrageous which is not part of my nature to do) and with the unemployment rate in South Africa being what it is at the moment, job security is what you need to hold on to as long as possible.

So what do I do? Do I walk away from the security blanket or do I stick it out? What do I do in the meantime while I stick it out? I’ve exhausted all the possible ways I could make my current job more interesting and exciting and have run out of options.

What do I do? Mmmmmm??

It’s been a while . . .

Image

To all my loyal followers out there, a sincere apology from me for the silence you have experienced in terms of me not blogging for a while.

Leading up to the Christmas/New Year season “life” simply just happened and got in the way – I started a blog, then got interrupted and by the time I tried to pick up where I left off, it was too late – it was old news.

I tried again and I think I managed a blog in the first week of the new year? Then again, “life” happened and so it has been going for the last few weeks. I have so many blogs started and not completed . . .

I will continue trying – I promise. I will do the best I can to have another blog up soon.

Just WATCH THIS SPACE!

In my opinion – Life is like a Butterfly!

butterflies_flowers_md_wht

 

 

The country and western singer Dolly Parton sang a song that went: Life is like a butterfly. Soft and gentle as a sigh!

I have never been one for new years’ resolutions and usually refuse to make any. I generally choose to live my life one day at a time, believing that tomorrow will take care of itself – why worry about tomorrow when you have today to deal with – right?

Reading through my Twitter feeds at the beginning of the new year, I was inspired by @startupprincess to replace new years’ resolutions with a focus word instead. They suggested you could choose a focus word per week, or per month and use this to guide your goal setting, motivation etc for the weeks and months ahead.

Mmm . . .  not too difficult, I thought until I tried to come up with a few words. After much thought and deliberation with myself, I decided that my first focus word was going to be AWESOMENESS – I was going to be awesome in everything I did for the month of January – at work and in my personal life. Yeah, right!

When I looked up the word “awesome”, some of the meanings assigned to this word were:

  • Inspiring or displaying awe
  • Excellent or outstanding
  • Impressive

Now I had a real problem. How was I going to apply the word AWESOMENESS in love (relationships), business (wealth) and my decision-making? How was I planning to be AWESOME to my friends and family – to those I love and who love me? How was I planning to be AWESOME at work and in my decision-making? Turns out, it is not that easy to come up with creative ways to apply this focus word to my daily life. Mmm . . . what now?

A few days later came another Tweet (from @Idealist this time). They spoke of a relationship between gratitude, happiness and health. Apparently a great study has been done on this. I blogged (not too long ago) about the value of a gratitude journal and wondered if I should not go back to the gratitude journal idea and re-look at this. Maybe I should read this study and see what they say about the relationship between gratitude, happiness and health? There was also something on Facebook recently about starting a Gratitude Jar i.e. use a glass jar with a lid. Make a slit in the lid of the jar (like a moneybox).

At the end of each day, take a piece of paper and make a note of a surprise gift you received on that day, a goal you accomplished on that day, the beauty of nature you observed on that day, a “laugh-out-loud” moment you had that day, a memory worth saving for that day or a daily blessing. The idea is to do this between 1 January and 31 December and on the evening of 31 December when you are getting ready to celebrate the forthcoming new year, you could go through every piece of paper in your jar to remind yourself of all the little “good” things that happened to you and you will realise that life was maybe not as bad as you thought.

While all this was going around in my head, I also started working on drafting a business plan for a Virtual Office business I would like to start running from home. I found a template I’m working on which asks specific questions to get you thinking about what your business is all about and how you actually plan to get your business off the ground. This template also then automatically structures your thoughts into a logical sequence which makes it easy to have all the critical information you require for your Business Plan.

This opened up a whole new can of worms for me because the emphasis of my business is on making a difference and going through this template, forced me to think about the changes I have made and want to continue making in my life in order to realise my dream – this brought me to transformation/change/metamorphosis. I came across a blogger’s page (cannot remember the name right now) who shared this beautiful story about a butterfly which I would like to share with you right now . . .

A story is told of a caterpillar named Yellow who was trying to find out what she should be doing with her life. In her wanderings she discovered another caterpillar seemingly caught in some gauzy, hairy filament. Concerned, she asked if she could help. He explained that this was all part of the process of becoming a butterfly.

When she heard the word butterfly, her whole insides leapt. “But what is a butterfly?”

The cocooned caterpillar explained: “It’s what you are meant to become.”

Yellow was intrigued but a bit defiant. “How can I believe there’s a butterfly inside you or me when all I see is a fuzzy worm?”

On further reflection she pensively asked, “How does one become a butterfly?”

And the answer? “You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.”

(By Trina Paulus’, HOPE FOR THE FLOWERS)

I have always thought that the metaphor of the butterfly for transformation is mind-boggling. If you really think about it, what the caterpillar calls the end is actually only the beginning of one of the most beautiful creatures on earth.

So coming back to my story I started with – am I going to focus on a “focus word”, am I going back to starting a Gratitude Journal or am I going to continue focusing on my metamorphosis and transformation this year?

Where will I get direction (to follow), patience (to wait) and knowledge (to know when it comes)?

I have decided that whatever direction my life takes this year (2013), I am going to let go of everything that is no longer serving and supporting me and I will make room for what will, and like the caterpillar becoming a butterfly, it will be a worthwhile trip, I am sure!

“Life is like a butterfly. Soft and gentle as a sigh . . .”