Did I hear a yes?


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I found this question while browsing Pinterest (as I do):

“What would you ask for, if you knew the answer would be yes?”

During my midnight meanderings, I thought a lot about this question because initially, I thought the obvious –
“Please buy a new car for me.”
“Can I have money?”
“Will you take me away on a island vacation?”

And while I would love the answers to these questions to be yes, I also thought about what I actually needed.
And the truth is that I don’t need much.
Yes, a life of luxury would be wonderful but what we really need is more love, more appreciation and more care.
I thought about how much a hug would make a difference and how a gesture of thanks would go a long way.
So my question became:
“Please sit and talk to me over a cup of coffee”
“Will you listen to what I have to say?”
“Will you hold my hand when I’m trying to be brave?”
“Would you notice what I do?”

What I know is that if we sit and wait for somebody to  answer yes by guessing what we want, we may wait a long time.  So unless your friend, partner, employer, parent etc. is a mind reader (and I would be quite fearful if they were), you need to put what you need out there.
The fear of somebody saying no makes us never ask.
And if you never ask, you may lose an opportunity.
Maybe they will say yes….
Give it a try.


A new year kind of attitude


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I’ve spoken to so many people who have started the year with a negative attitude
With the feeling that the new year will be exactly the same as the old one because – really? What would change from the 31st of December 2017 to the 1st of January 2018?
Well truthfully nothing!
Which, depressing as it sounds, is why I don’t wait up for new year to celebrate with fireworks and loud music. I wake up on January the first and carry on with my life just the same as I had done the day before.
Because life is what you make of it.
No change in year is going to miraculously change your fortune.
You want 2018 to be great?
Make it great!
The week is dragging… Do something to make it more exciting!
Your job is terrible? Look for a new one or enjoy moments in your job – like packing up at the end of the day and going home or having coffee with your colleagues.

We cannot control what happens to us but we can absolutely control how we react to it and what we do about it. That is why you will find people in really trying circumstances who are really positive and people who seem to have it all that never stop complaining (shame).
Attitude is everything.
So I won’t wish you a happy new year or a successful new year, I wish you continued wisdom, bravery, courage, commitment and self belief.
I wish you confidence, a sense of humour in the hard times and new journeys starting today!
I look forward to continuing to share my journey with you.

Wish upon a star


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Last night I lay down under the stars waiting to see a meteor shower.
I didn’t see much of a shower, rather more of an occasional shooting star across the sky.  Which was wonderful in itself.
Did I make a wish upon a star?
You bet I did!
I wished for more quiet moments like that one and I wished that I could always keep life in perspective – to recognise how small we are in comparison to the greatness of the universe. When we realise this, our problems don’t seem as huge as they were before.
Og Mandino said “I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars”
Yet without darkness we will never understand or appreciate the light.

Nobody wants to be in the darkness but if you find yourself there, remember to look for the stars.
They are there if you just look up (and while you’re looking, don’t forget to make a wish)
At this time of the year when things do slow down, take some time just to be quiet, to appreciate the things around you and… to look up at the stars.

A letter of inspiration


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I want you to do this:
When you are not feeling too stressed or sad and not anxious at all, and hopefully feeling pretty good about yourself, I want you to write a letter of encouragement to yourself that goes something like this:

Dear (me, your name, wonderful person….)
You are an amazing, strong survivor.
You might feel bad right now but that is just how you feel right now.  Your emotion does not define the person that you are – the person who is resilient and has been through this pain before.  The person who is going to make it.
This is why you are brilliant………….
This is what you are going to do to be amazing……….
This is why you are special……………
This is what you are thankful for…………

(Add anything else that you would like to say to yourself that is positive and motivational)

You can do this and you will do this!

I know that we live in the digital age but write the letter on a piece of lovely paper (or on a boring piece of paper that has been lovingly decorated or illustrated).
Add a picture of yourself that makes you feel good about yourself.  If that is really pushing it then add a picture of something (or someone) that makes you smile.
Now put it in an envelope (you remember those things that look like the mail icon on your phone) and write a message on the envelope like “open when you are feeling sad” or “a message for an anxious kind of day” and put it in a safe place or stick it into your journal for exactly that kind of day.

Read whenever necessary.
Repeat as often as needed.

Take this moment


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Having control over our lives is what we all want.
Having control is what most of us don’t have.
We fantasize about it, we dream about it, we work hard at getting it back yet it seems that there are always going to be times when control is just something that we don’t have.
It is so difficult to feel that your life is not really yours, that there is some unseen force that is making your life miserable.
And to make it worse, there is always someone around you who seems to have it all sorted out – they drive a better car, have a better job, have more success, their kids are high achievers.  This makes you feel even more miserable.

What if you can let all of that stuff go?
Can you make this moment, this moment right now, the best moment for now?
I’m not saying it is brilliant, but just for now, you have absolute control over the moment.  You can decide how deeply to breathe, you can decide whether you want to walk or run or dance.  You have a choice to smile or to frown, to sing or to stare out of the window.
They may not be big things, but they are yours.
Make the absolute best of this time.  It is the only thing that you can do.
What will happen next?
I don’t know!
Are you going to be okay?
I don’t know!
But I do know this – you have the ability to keep on surviving, to stand tall, to make a difference, to let go of some of your worries, to throw caution to the wind.
You can do all of this if you just take this moment for you.

Stress busting smoothies


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I have been asked numerous times for recipes for the smoothies that I drink – often to the horror of the people who are sitting in my therapy group thinking that I am drinking mud, scooping off the top of a murky swamp or even worse, sipping on blood.

For all smoothies, just throw all the ingredients together into your blender and blend until smooth (hence the word smoothie….)

Mud smoothie
This looks like mud because of the mix of purple and green.  What you should know is that any food that is purple or green is a super nutritious food filled with vitamins and anti-oxidants so this is really good for you.  Plus all the vitamin B is brilliant for your nervous system and will help you to deal better with stress.
1 apple cut into eighths (or big chunks)
1 handful of blueberries (I use frozen blueberries)
1 teaspoon of grated ginger root or a good shake of dried ginger
1 teaspoon of spirulina powder
1 teaspoon of chia seeds
1 cup of water

Murky swamp smoothie
Very green – very healthy
1 apple cut into chunks
a few pieces of pineapple
a few pieces of cucumber
a sprig or two of mint if you want
1 teaspoon of spirulina powder, wheat grass powder of a small handful of fresh wheat grass (grow it on your kitchen window sill – it is very satisfying to watch)
1 cup of water or cold green tea

Vampire’s smoothie
Thick and red and blood-like (I’m one day too late for Halloween)
Unbelievable anti-oxidants and superfoods
2 small or 1 big beetroot – peeled and cut
1 carrot – peeled and cut
1 teaspoon of grated ginger (okay I like ginger)
1 cup of water or cold strong rooibos tea
Sprinkle with cinnamon

My son’s version of a healthy smoothie
This is very thick and icy and he says that the effort required to drink it through a straw and the (irritating) noise that he makes when drinking helps him to deal with stress…
1 large heaped teaspoon of the finest cocoa powder
2 flat teaspoons of sugar
A lot of ice (yum, yum)
Cover the ice with milk

My husband’s version of a healthy smoothie
He may have a point here since chocolate is rich is feel good chemicals as we all know
1 cup of milk
a large scoop of chocolate ice cream
drinking chocolate powder
top with grated chocolate once blended


Taking control


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One of the most difficult things to deal with when life gets really stressful is trying to get ‘control’ back.
By control we mean getting life back to where we feel familiar with what we are doing.  We want things to function the way they have always worked.  And life has a funny (okay really not that funny) way of pushing you way out of your comfort zone which leaves you reeling and fighting to take control back.

But what if you weren’t meant to have control over it in the first place?  As terrible as it sounds, and no matter how much we hate it, when we lose control it is just not worth fighting to get the control back.  You have to find a new way of doing things.
Losing control gives you a new perspective and a different angle on your life.  It gives you a chance to start again.
When it seems that everything is out of control and you feel that you are falling apart tell yourself:

– I take responsibility for myself
– I do not blame others for my problems (not that it isn’t their fault but that you don’t give them power over you)
– I can take control back by changing the way that I do things
– I can make decisions for myself
– My emotions are determined by me

You have no idea how strong you really are or what you are capable of until you go through this.  I really hope that one day you will look back at this stressful time and be really proud of yourself for overcoming this and taking control back in your own unique way.

World Mental Health day


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Today is World Mental Health Day so here are some ideas on how to mark the day and make it meaningful:

1.  Sit down and discuss your diagnosis with somebody who may not understand mental health issues.  You don’t need to tell them about your problems or what happened to you but just share some information on what it is like to have anxiety, depression, bipolar etc.

2.  Do something nice for somebody who you know is going through a difficult time.  Buy them a cup of tea, share your chocolate, give them a flower, give a compliment.

3.  Do something to nurture yourself today – treat yourself to a manicure, lie down quietly with a book, doodle on a scrap of paper, start a journal, meditate, light a candle next to your bath.

4. Eat or drink something healthy and nourishing.

5. Offer to help somebody in need.

6. Greet every person that you meet with a smile (don’t worry if they don’t smile back – that’s their problem).

7.  Take a moment to count your blessings.  Write them down or share them with somebody.

8.  Spend a few minutes just breathing deeply (preferably outside in the fresh air)

9.  Send an sms or whatsapp to somebody that you haven’t spoken to in a while – tell them that you are thinking of them and that you care.

10.  Tell your manager (or your partner or kids) that it is World Mental Health day and for the sake of your mental health, you will be leaving work/responsibilities early today (okay if not today, make sure you schedule a day off or a few hours off for quality ‘me time’).

Too blessed?


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There’s a saying that I hear people using all the time – “too blessed to be stressed”
It’s a lovely saying but I think that sometimes it’s a challenge to feel that way.  It is implying that if you have blessings (which, let’s face it, we all do) that you can’t get stressed.  Everybody feels stress and sometimes your stress can become overwhelming.
What helps is to accept that you are going through a stressful time but also to be mindful enough to recognise what you have right now (other than stress) – notice the good around you.  Even if all you can think about is that you are still breathing.

After a week of experiencing losses and deprivations – from the loss of my dear friend, to my son going overseas and going through the insomnia that comes with those worries and then going through the fast of Yom Kippur with no food or water for 25 hours, I was really aware of what I was missing.  But I was also very aware of what I have.  To be starving but knowing that a great meal is waiting for me at the end of the fast is far more than most people have.  Some people feel that way on a daily basis and they have no end in sight.

No matter how much you are going through, when your mind starts racing ahead to worry about what you haven’t got, learn to focus on what you have.
You may not be too blessed but you definitely are blessed.

You’ve got this! You can go through this stress and this worry and you will come through this on the other side.
Just keep reminding yourself that you can do it, keep focusing on right now.
“I have this, I am in control”

A last message for us


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Last week my dear friend and mentor, David Patient passed away. I’ve mentioned him a few times before because he did so much inspiring work in HIV as well as in teaching everyone to be survivors.
In true David style, he left a message to be posted on Facebook after he died and I really hope that he doesn’t mind if I share part of it with you.
“My final wishes?
Be kind. Kindness costs nothing. It need not be a grand gesture. A simple smile while looking someone in the eyes as you pass in the hall. Saying please and thank you. Acknowledging that the person in front of you exists. If they have a name tag, call them by their name. Be present with that person. The Zulu greeting is Sawubona and directly translated that means ‘I SEE YOU!’
Don’t squander time… you’re only a breath away from being a corpse yourself. It’s only when time is running out that you really get its value. Don’t wait to tell those you love that you love them. Stop assuming ‘oh well, they know’…tell them and do so often.
Cry until it’s funny and laugh yourself to tears… take off the mask and be vulnerable. Vulnerability is a strength not a weakness.
And don’t wait too long to find the funny side of any situation, no matter how dark.”
May David rest in peace and may we all benefit from the life he lead and the legacy that he leaves for all of us.