Self-development

Spring: A Season for Planting

During winter we crave warmer weather and when the season starts changing, we become very excited. We however forget that when spring comes around, we need to start putting some energy back into our lives because spring is all about hard work.

We (my husband and I)  planted a garden to mark the transition from winter to spring in our lives. We planted two gardens;  a vegetable patch and a flower garden. It was hard work, but it was a wonderful experience. It was so rewarding to stand back, wipe the sweat from our brows, and see the end-result of our hard work.

Spring marks the time to come out of the darkness of winter and be reminded of renewed life. It marks the transition from winter to summer. During a winter season of rest, you should have gathered enough strength and vitality to roll up those sleeves and start digging into the soil of your life and work it.

Spring is really a season of hard work and here are a few keys that I think will help you make the most of a spring season in your life.

You need to put in the hours

Planting doesn’t happen by itself, there is quite a lot of preparation and hard work that needs to go into it. If you want to plant something new or pursue a new venture or opportunity, you need to be willing to work for it.  If you took some time during your winter season to do planning for spring, then this is the season for implementation.

Maintain the discipline and healthy habits that you cultivated through your winter season, as these will help you with the transition and consistency needed in a spring season.

It is a transition

Spring isn’t always a smooth transition. While planting new things in your life, some ideas will work (the seeds you have planted will grow beautifully), and others won’t (birds might eat your newly planted seeds before they even push through the soil properly). This just means that you need to get back to basics, make a new plan and execute.

Keep the energy flowing by continuing to engage in activities that fill your cup. And when things don’t quite go as planned, don’t lose hope. In the famous words of Marilyn Monroe, “Sometimes things fall apart so that better things can fall together.” 

New things

Spring marks the start of new things. Which means you need to do new things. You cannot keep on doing the same things and expect different results.

Be brave.

Venture into the unknown.

Cultivate new habits.

Explore new avenues.

Take the road less traveled. 

Consistency

Once you have done the initial hard work and planted your new venture/opportunity/business idea, keep on working on it. Consistency is the key to growth. You need to ensure you are following your planning, stay aware of new trends that might impact your venture, remove anything that is not working, and keep on investing your time into it to ensure that it keeps on expanding.

 

Spring is all about hard work

We had so much fun planting our vegetable patch and flower garden, but now we need to consistently work in them. Remove weeds, regularly give water, remove more weeds, track the growing of our plants and vegetables, turn the soil, remove more weeds… And so the work continuous, but we are preparing the soil for the growth that will surely come in summer.

It is lovely to come out of a winter season, come out of resting and stretch ourselves out, but spring is a season of hard work. So get ready, mark out your ground, and start digging so that you can plant something new in your life, tend to it, and watch it grow.

 

Remember: be the BEST you.

This post is the third in a series I am currently writing, titled “Seasons”. Keep an eye out for my next post – “Summer: A Season for Growth”. 

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Winter: A Season for Resting

In today’s busyness, we rarely make proper time for rest.  Even during weekends, there is shopping to be done, social engagements to attend, and it seems that the to-do list just never ends.  We have inevitably become human-doings instead of human-beings.  We do, do do, instead of just being.  And that is exactly why I think we are sometimes forced into seasons of rest, as we will rarely choose this season for ourselves.  There is a purpose to winter, and of all the seasons, it is probably the most important one that sets you up to be successful in the others.

When I talk about a winter season, what exactly do I mean?  It is a season in your life when your inner being grows cold, you don’t experience growth in any area of your life, you might wonder about your purpose and the road you are on, you might feel alone and lose your faith, and it feels like nothing good is happening.

Here are a few key thoughts that I have held on to during winter seasons in my own life, which I believe will help you too, especially when things get really hard.

A Time for Rest

Just like nature rests in winter, so we also need to rest during our winter season.  No growth happens in winter because the cold temperatures slow down metabolism in plants.  This allows plants to go into a dormant state and it is a survival mechanism to help them gear up for spring and summer.  Instead of resisting a winter season – lean into it.  Embrace the time of rest, gather your strength, engage in activities that will revitalise you, eat healthy and start cultivating healthy habits.  

A Time for Cultivating Discipline

When there are fewer demands on you, it gives you proper time to start cultivating some discipline in your life.  Cultivating discipline is sometimes challenging, but if you can become disciplined in every area of your life, you will be better equipped to handle bigger responsibilities in the future.  Cultivating discipline also shapes and develops your character, which is essential for withstanding storms that will come during seasons of growth and harvest.   You need to get yourself into a new state of thinking and doing things, as part of the preparation for the next season.

A Time to Shake off the Excess

When you cultivate discipline, you also start identifying habits, thinking processes, things, people, situations, etc., in your life that you can (and sometimes should) do without.  Plants keep the most basic processing running and also change the way these processes run in order to save energy to aid in surviving the winter.  You also need to change the way you do things in order to survive a winter season.  It is a great time to look at the excess in your life, and clean out.  Similarly to when you clean out old cupboards, or throw out clothing you don’t wear anymore, or chuck away old kitchen appliances or clean out the garage; you need to shake off the excess in your life that will hinder you from moving into the new season.  Shovel snow and ice from the driveway of your mind and learn how to actually drive well on the icy roads of life.

A Time for Re-evaluation

During your time of rest, your mind gets time to just be quiet.  This is a great opportunity for you to re-evaluate where you are, where you’ve come from, and where you are going.  Specifically look for positive things in your life, because this fuels hope in your heart that is necessary to carry you through winter.  During a time of re-evaluation, you need to check in with your core values, work on your mindset, count your blessings, nourish your soul, and be patient for the season to come to a close.  

A Time for Planning and Preparation

The most important part of winter, besides resting, is planning for what comes next.  Winter doesn’t last forever, and if you use the time during this season well, you will pick the fruits in your harvesting season.  In your quiet moments, when you are re-evaluating where you are going, start planning for spring (which is the season for planting).  During winter, your character will be shaped which will make you a stronger person, ready for the work that comes with planting.  But you can’t just start planting, proper planning and preparation is required, and if you do this well during your winter season, when the season changes, you will be ready for it.  

A Time not to Compare Yourself with Others

In winter seasons it is so difficult to not compare yourself to others who might be in a harvesting season.  Remember, we are all going through our own seasons, and someone who is harvesting is probably gathering and preparing for a winter season.  So don’t compare yourself to anyone else during a winter season.  Rather focus on what is necessary for you to get through the season stronger and ready for what is to come.  Remember – comparison is the thief of joy.  So, don’t go there.

 

Winter might not always be a fun season, but there is definite purpose in going through it.  Lean in, don’t resist it, and gather your strength for when the season changes.  Take the time to prepare for the new season, seek balance, eat healthy and take care of yourself.  Don’t loose hope, there is always a silver lining to every dark cloud.  Keep the faith, rest, and prepare for the new season, because it will surely come.

 

Remember: be the BEST version of yourself.

This post is the second in a series I am currently writing, titled “Seasons”. Keep an eye out for my next post – “Spring: A Season for Planting”. 

 

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Just Be in the Season

 

Don’t you just love the start of a new season, especially spring.  The trees are sprouting new leaves, sweet fragrances start filling the air, and birds start returning after their migration to warmer countries during the South African winter.  I actually love the change of any season into a new one.

I love the anticipation of ‘newness’ that a new season represents.  And every season brings something new with it;  spring, summer, autumn and winter.  Nature changes with the seasons, and so do our lives.

Most of the time we are not very satisfied with the season that we find ourselves in.  Even during the natural seasons of life, we always want something else –  when winter is too cold, we wish summer would come;  when we are too hot in summer, we want the winter to return.  It seems that we generally struggle with just embracing our current season, and just being.

Of course some seasons are great to be in however, others are less enjoyable.  When you are in an abundant season;  your business is prospering, your career is sky-rocketing,  your kids are happy, friendships are flourishing, your marriage is bringing you joy, and life seems to just flow, easy, like a river without any obstacles.  When you are in a season of trials;  life gets a little tougher, it feels like you need to work extra hard just to get every day life to not fall apart, and things in general just feel like one big test, that you seem to be failing, most of the time.  Other seasons bring rest, and other complete change.

But no matter the season, you have a choice to be in it and to be present.  It is wise to buckle down and learn the lessons of your current season, as every season prepares you for the next one.  And if you haven’t grown and changed with your current season, you will not be ready for what the next season holds.

Being present in the season doesn’t always come naturally to us and I would like to share some ideas I think will help you be present in your current season, until it is time for your next season to begin:

Fill Your Own Cup

This might sound selfish, but truth of the matter is that you cannot pour from an empty cup.  If your cup is empty, you are not able to give 100% in the areas that require your attention and energy;  whether it’s your marriage, kids, work, career, friends, or any other area of your life that demands your time.  YOU need to take care of YOU!  You need to figure out what the best way is to fill your cup.  It might be taking time out to read a book, go shopping, enjoying a spa treatment, playing golf, go running, dancing, spending quality time with your significant other, quiet time with God, or whatever activity it is that you engage in that fills your cup.  When you engage in these filling-your-cup-activities,  it will give you the energy to look life straight in the eyes and say ‘Bring. It. On!’.

 Schedule Time to have Fun

Yes, you read that right – schedule time to have fun.  Life demands so much of us and if we do not schedule time for certain activities, life will happily continue to dictate what we spend our time on.  So sit down with a calendar and your diary, and book time out for fun activities, weekends away, bucket-list items, picnics in the park – whatever you consider as fun.  When we engage in activities that make us happy, our brains release four feel-good chemicals – endorphins, oxytocin, serotin and dopamine.  Each chemical does something different in your brain and body, and you can read more here.   But remember, life is as much fun as you make it.

 Practice Appreciation

When you are in a difficult season it is so easy to get lost in everything that is wrong.  We can easily get wrapped up in self-pity or negative thinking by focusing on everything that is wrong with life in that moment.  Instead of looking at your current season through a negative lens, change the lens to one of appreciation.  Be mindful of what is going right, even if it is something small like getting a parking spot right in front of the shop you need to go to.  There is always something to be thankful for.  Appreciate your life.  Appreciate the people in your life.  The more you focus on the things you can be grateful for, the more you will train your thoughts to focus on the positive side of things, irrespective of the season.

 Share your heart with a Friend

Life is best when shared, and in every season of our lives we need some friends.  Have at least one friend who you can confide in;  someone who you can trust with your heart, but mostly, someone who can hold you accountable.  They’ll let you moan for a while, but then remind you to get up, dust yourself off, and keep on fighting the good fight.

A true friend sticks it out with you, no matter the season.  They can be a sounding board, someone who can listen to your fears and worries and tell you it will all be okay, that YOU will be okay.  Your friend will encourage you through the tough spots, celebrate with you when you win, and importantly, they will witness your journey and remind you of how far you have come, and how far you can still go.

 So Be In The Season!

You get one life, and your life will always be going through seasons.  Just like we cannot control the seasons of nature, we cannot control the seasons in our lives.  But you can decide to be thankful for what you have, spend some time on activities that energise you and choose the people you share your season with.  The best thing you can do for yourself is to embrace it, grow with it, and just be in it.  Because whatever is happening in your life right now is making you stronger, helping you grow, and teaching you valuable lessons for the next season that will inevitably come to pass when it is time.

Remember: be the BEST version of yourself.

This post is the first in a series I am currently writing, titled “Seasons”. Keep an eye out for my next post – “Winter: A Season for Resting”. 

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Ignite Your Fire

Fire.  What is it that burns inside of you? What moves you? What is the sparkle in your heart and soul that is weaved into everything you do? What is the flame that defines you; that gives you motivation, that pushes you forward, that inspires you? And how do you ignite it?

 

Finding your sparkle

Before we can talk about firing you up, we need to know what we are working with. Sometimes it takes people quite a while to figure themselves out, to understand how their hearts are put together, and to understand what makes them tick. There are numerous ways to figure this out, but the easiest way for me is to ask you this question: “What is your favourite movie and which part(s) in the movie moves you the most?”

The answers to these questions will reveal much about your inner spark and what the flame inside you looks like.

My favourite movie is the animation How To Train Your Dragon. I have lost count of how many times I have watched it, and sometimes I even have it on repeat. I smile at the same scenes every time, and cry in exactly the same places, even though I can recite the movie from start to finish and know exactly what is going to happen in the end. I get emotionally invested in the characters and what they are going through; their triumphs, their trials, their joys, their heartache. I relive it every time I watch it.

I really do love the whole movie, but one particular scene stands out for me. The first day Hiccup (the chief’s son, who is a misfit, wanted to kill dragons but then realises that he can’t) spends with Toothless (the most feared dragon, who no one has ever seen, or knows anything about) in the gorge where the dragon is grounded after losing a tail fin. Hiccup really wants to make a connection with Toothless, but the dragon will have none of it. Every time Hiccup comes close, he moves away or just gives him a scary glare. Then, at the end of the scene, they meet face-to-face. They are so close that Toothless’s breathing moves the hair on Hiccup’s head. Hiccup tries again, reaching out to Toothless, but again, the dragon moves away and won’t be touched. Hiccup realises then that he can’t make Toothless do what he doesn’t want to do. He keeps his hand outstretched, closes his eyes, bows his head, and, gives the dragon the choice.

Toothless hesitates for a moment, moves forward slightly, but draws back again. And then something heart-warming happens. He makes a choice. He leans his head into Hiccup’s hand and closes his eyes. They connect for a moment. Hiccup breathes a sign of relief, Toothless wriggles his nose, and stomps off.  B E A U T I F U L!

 

Unleash your sparkle

The movie has so many amazing moments and unleashes so many emotions in me. It makes me think of the sparkle that each of us has inside and how the world tries to snuff it out. But if you push through, the fire inside is ignited and you change the course of history.  The story of Hiccup and Toothless provides a blueprint of five things that you can do to identify and unleash the fire inside.

First and foremost, I believe we always have a choice. No matter the circumstances, you have a choice in how you are going to respond. Hiccup tried to force a connection point between him and Toothless, but when he changed the situation into a choice, a connection happened. You need to make a choice whether you are going to find your sparkle and allow it to turn into a flame.

You might be stuck in a position that makes you really unhappy, or you have a dream, but fear is keeping you back. You are the only one who can change how you respond to the things in your life. You always have a choice.

Secondly, we need to persevere when we really want something. Hiccup could have given up the first time Toothless growled at him or moved away when he leaned towards the dragon, but he stuck around and finally an opportunity for a connection presented itself. In the beginning, the friendship is beautiful but unfortunately things turn ugly as the story unfolds. His father disowns him, his beloved dragon is captured and bound, and he is an outcast. Only through perseverance does he save his tribe and become a hero.

If you want something, keep at it. Obstacles will come and at times you will struggle, but keep on pushing through. You are stronger than you think you are. Follow your fire.

Thirdly, sometimes your destiny, looks different than how the world says it should. Vikings were in battle with dragons since the beginning and they were taught to fear them, fight them, and kill them. But something inside of Hiccup compelled him to seek out a connection with Toothless. And as he pursued this, he realised that everything they were taught about dragons were built on the basis of lies. Even when an opportunity arose for him to show the village the truth about dragons, the voices of how things are usually done, shouted louder than his.  He was born to be different but ridiculed for it. The voices made him believe that he had to deny himself and live up to everyone else’s expectations. But only when he started being true to his heart, he unleashed his sparkle, which changed the essence of his tribe.

Don’t let the voice of the world tell you that you don’t have a sparkle, because YOU DO! Follow your destiny and be bold enough to do so even when everyone around you tells you differently.

Fourthly, you need to have courage to go up against fear. Fear will always speak out against you. There will always be fear when you start walking down the road less traveled. It may be your fear, it may be the fear of those around you. You can either listen to the voice of fear, or you can push through it into a place where your sparkle will catch alight and your flame will be born.

Later in the movie, Hiccup rounds up the other teens and he needs them to fly on dragons, but they are afraid. This has never been done before and even though Hiccup had time to build a relationship with Toothless and learn that he doesn’t have anything to be afraid of, the others don’t have the luxury of time. They need to have courage and go against everything they have been taught.

Trust your sparkle. Push through the fear, have courage, persevere, and your sparkle will turn into a flame. 

Lastly,  find at least one person who can challenge you to be true to your sparkle. Astrid challenges Hiccup from the beginning. I love the scene where they stand on a ledge and watch the boats sail off to Dragon Island, and she keeps on asking him questions that remind him of his sparkle.  Finally, through her pushing, it ignites the flame in his heart and he comes alive.

It is so important to have people around you who will challenge you to rise to the occasion. Through these challenges, what sets your heart on fire will be unleashed.

Spreading your fire

Once you have identified what your sparkle is, and how to turn it into a flame, you have to do something with it. Your fire is your gift to the world. Just like a candle under a bucket is no good to anyone, your gift, if not shared, doesn’t help you or anyone else.

If your sparkle isn’t discovered, and turned into a flame, it will just remain a sparkle. You will go about your daily life, you might even be happy, but you will miss out on a great adventure.

My gifts are motivating others, asking challenging questions, walking the journey with someone, celebrating victories, and helping others to keep their flames alive.

That is exactly what I want to offer you. If you would like to embark on a journey to discover your sparkle, igniting your flame, and ultimately unleashing and spreading your fire – give me a shout and we can have some tea together.

Remember,

Find your sparkle.

Let the flame be ignited.

Bring light to others.

Share your gift.

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