Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Literature and movie review

The book I have chosen this week is Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell.  It was written between 1851 and 1853 and is set in Cranford, a fictional town based on Knutsford in Cheshire a village where she lived as a child.  

This book is best described as like a gentle walk in a park.  It is a series of vignettes about Mary Smith and her 2 friends Miss Matty and Miss Deborah,  both spinsters in this town.   The story explores the lives and relationships of a group of spinsters and widows in the Victorian era. 

Gaskell paints a wonderful portrait of the social class of this era.  She captures, through her wonderful portrayal of characters, the society at this time.  She cleverly describes moments in the lives of the women of this village while building  a humorous,  poignant and sometimes sad story line.

I really enjoyed this feel good book.  It was a lovely slice of life that was a pleasure to read. 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Inspriation Saturday


The Old Violin

'Twas battered and scarred,
And the auctioneer thought it
hardly worth his while
To waste his time on the old violin,
but he held it up with a smile.
"What am I bid, good people", he cried,
"Who starts the bidding for me?"
"One dollar, one dollar, Do I hear two?"
"Two dollars, who makes it three?"
"Three dollars once, three dollars twice, going for three,"
But, No,
From the room far back a gray bearded man
Came forward and picked up the bow,
Then wiping the dust from the old violin
And tightening up the strings,
He played a melody, pure and sweet
As sweet as the angel sings.
The music ceased and the auctioneer
With a voice that was quiet and low,
Said "What now am I bid for this old violin?"
As he held it aloft with its' bow.
"One thousand, one thousand, Do I hear two?"
"Two thousand, Who makes it three?"
"Three thousand once, three thousand twice,
Going and gone", said he.
The audience cheered,
But some of them cried,
"We just don't understand."
"What changed its' worth?"
Swift came the reply.
"The Touch of the Masters Hand."
"And many a man with life out of tune
All battered and bruised with hardship
Is auctioned cheap to a thoughtless crowd
Much like that old violin
A mess of pottage, a glass of wine,
A game and he travels on.
He is going once, he is going twice,
He is going and almost gone.
But the Master comes,
And the foolish crowd never can quite understand,
The worth of a soul and the change that is wrought
By the Touch of the Masters' Hand.
-- Myra Brooks Welch

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Jonah days

I am a Anne of Green Gables fan. The books are magical and so beautifully written.  One of the sayings I have picked up from Anne is I'm have a Jonah day.  you know.....those days were nothing goes right.  Everything seems to go to custard just as Jonah's day went. 

I found a list of things that I had written a few years ago of what had happened in 2 weeks in my home.  On the list was a stomach bug that went through the whole family,  a cold that went though the whole family,  My littlest was recovering from plastic surgery and when he came out of the bandage for that he fractured his elbow,  My hubby had put a hoe into his ankle I had cut my finger on a rotary blade while quilting and my grandparent and my husband's grandparents were all in hospital and I was recovering from post natal depression.  It was a Jonah fortnight. 

Life is just like that we all have bad days,  weeks, months and sometimes even years.  Jonah caused a lot of his problems himself, other challenges were out of his control. Sometimes we cause our own problems and sometimes things just happen to us.  Whatever way it happens, none of us are immune to them, whether we like it or not.

We need to have challenge in our lives to help us grow, learn and to develop relationships.  Have you ever noticed that after a tough time you seem to grow more, you have more resources to get over a future problem and more knowledge to help others.  Challenge is vital in the world we live in. 

Getting over challenge can be very demanding though.  I find the hardest challenges to rise above are ones that other people cause me.  When I cause them myself I can make changes,  sort out issues and work though things faster and easier because they are my problems.  Other that are forced on me are much more challenging.  I don't have control over others choices and decisions and how they want to deal with them. For example If I say something to hurt someone I can apologize and make it up to that person but they have to choose whether to accept the apology and forgive you.  If that doesn't happen another set of problems may arise.

How can we work though challenge? The first thing I always do is work out what I am responsible for and how can I fix it? I have learnt it is better to sort things out quickly than leave it?  It just always get harder if it is left.  I don't think about doing it, I just think about what I will do to sort it out.   Face the problem head on.

Others peoples problems aren't as easy especially ones that leave you picking up the pieces.  Open communication helps sometimes but not always.  Sometimes we just have get on and do our best with what we have.  Deal with is in the best manner and the try and move on. I find sometimes in these situations I need a paradigm shift or in other words I need to look at things differently.

Looking at the experience from another point of view or from a different angle can change the experience quite dramatically.  For example challenges with a teenager can be easier if I think about the little child hiding in an adults body or remembering that with all beautiful rose thorns are present too.  Just a small change in my attitude can change an experience.  It will never remove it but it can make it easier to bear.

The other type of challenge we can face is just life's challenges.  For example sickness,  death,  losing a job.  No one is really to blame.  They are things that just happen in life.  Talking to someone,  taking time out,  recharging your batteries when you can and doing something you love, can all all help to get though these experiences.  I find being creative helps me the most. Try and find something that works for you.  We are all different and we all have different needs.  We need to work out what is right for ourselves. 

“Opportunities to find deeper powers within ourselves come when life seems most challenging"
Joseph Campbell

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Literature and movie review

I love movies that deal with history of our world.  I love watching things I have read in books and on paper come to life through someones imagination and awesome effort. 

The movie Amazing grace does this and more.  It captures the history of William Wilberforce as he tackles the dilemma of slavery in Britain in the late 1700's.  It is one of my all time favourites.

The acting is superb and the set fantastic.  There are a few historical inaccuracies but generally it represents true facts of Wilberforce's life in Parliament in this time. 

The film starts out with Wilberforce sick after facing 15 years fighting his cause in Parliament to the old stalwarts of Parliament. Around this time he meets his future wife who inspires him to keep going with his passion and cause.  He returns to Parliament and rallies his supporters to help him pass the bill  to outlaw slavery at home and in the West Indies.

A great movie for over 13 year old and over.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Inspriation Saturday

"Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their
shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you are a mile away
from them, and you have their shoes."

-- Frieda Norris


Find something you're passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it."

-- Julia Child

The very best thing you can do for the whole world is to make
the most of yourself."

-- Wallace Wattles

You must accept that you might fail; then, if you do your best and still don't win, at least you can be satisfied that you've tried. If you don't accept failure as a possibility, you don't set high goals, you don't branch out, you don't try - you don't take the risk."

-- Rosalynn Carter


"You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage - pleasantly, smilingly, nonapologetically - to say no to other things. And the way to do that is by having a bigger yes burning inside."

-- Stephen Covey

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Body image

I have been reading a book about how to look nice no matter what size or shape you are.  The author talks about not worrying about what size the garment is but whether it fits you well and suits you.  Her job is to help women look good and feel good in what they wear but not to change the views we have about ourselves,  that's up to us to do. 

What are our feelings about how we look.?  Do we buy into the fashion industry and magazine industry's idea of a perfect woman?  DO we bow to pressure of other peoples opinion of what we should look like?

Body image is an interesting topic.  We believe our bodies to be what we think they are not what they actually are.  Even some of the slimmest models can see many imperfections in her body.  Our values and beliefs of our bodies start with how our mothers feel about their bodies.  Chances are if your mother didn't have a good body image you won't.  (not in all cases there are always some exceptions of the rule) But the good news is we can change how we view ourselves.  We don't have to buy into the medias idea of a woman.  I certainly wouldn't measure up.  I am 5 foot 3", with no waist and hips.   I put my weight on in my tummy and break out once a month in spots (What happened to that finishing in the teen years!) 

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But you know what we can't measure up because it is all fake.  Watch this clip from dove to see what I mean

Women are measuring themselves to an ideal that doesn't exist.  We need to fight against this onslaught of advertising.  We need to say we are perfect just as we are......we are beautiful and amazing human beings.
Instead of looking at the negatives we need to see the positives. 

I have lovely,  blue eyes that sparkle,  nice calves and forearms.  I can sneak into small spots easily.  I wear a badge of honour (actually it more like the map of the world He He ) on my belly which shows that I am a mother and proud of it.  I can say I am perfect because I am me. By changing our attitudes we can change our behaviour. 

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We can see ourselves in a better light and instead of hanging onto those jeans we might fit someday we can go out and revel in who we are now.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Literature and movie review

Every day is a good day by William Pike is an autobiography about the authors experience  of being caught up in a volcanic eruption on Mount Ruapehu (one of NZ's active volcanoes) The extreme courage and positive attitude this man had to face his ordeal is truly amazing and amazingly this book was written only 6 months after his accident. 

Pike's life changed dramatically in September 2007 when climbing on Mt Ruapehu.  His light leg was badly damaged when a boulder from the eruption plowed through the hut in which he was staying.  William lost part of his leg and almost his life.  Pike writes about his ordeal and his determination to still have a full life and to remain positive no matter what we endure. 

I really enjoyed this book.  It left me with hope with what ever life has to offer me.  That no matter what our challenges (and what could be much worse that what he went through)  that we have courage and strength to get up and keep going.  He is a great story teller and descriptive writer who leaves you longing for the next to page to see what happened next. 

P.S.  This is a book published in NZ but can be bought online.  Just Google answer to everything!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Gratitude journal

Hi everyone.  What a lovely week it had been.  I am so grateful for my wonderful family who love and support me so much. 

My life is filled with so many wonderful blessings.  Do you know if you live in a 1st world country you are part of the 8% of the world who have hot running water.  I had to remind my self of that quite regularly when having a shower in a gravity feed water system :)   There are so many things in my life many of us take for granted.  How often do you see this......

So how do we change those lines and how do we lead a more thankful life?

Are we just saving it for the right moment?

I have found having a gratitude journal really helps finding the right moment in every moment of our lives.  I promised more information on gratitude journals.  So today I am going to show you how to make one!! 

  1. First you need a journal or notebook.  What ever you can afford
  2. For a plain book make it your own by decorating it.  Try using magazine clipping so positive words,  pictures,  drawings, or make a slip cover for it.
  3. Read the rules.  You can print this out for your own use.

Gratitude journal

This book is to help you see life through new eyes.

  Everything in life can be a blessing depending on how we see it.


1.  Write in your book everyday
2.  Write at least 5 things you are grateful  for each day
3.   At least 2 things you are grateful for must be about yourself.


1.   You will feel more grateful for everything in your life
2.   You will feel happier
3.   You will enjoy life more
4.   You will appreciate people around you more

4.   Write in it everyday and soon all the promises will come to your life

Give it a go and see what miracles can happen

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What have you done to value 'you' more?

On Thursday 4th August.  I challenged you to spend some time each day to value yourself more.  How did you all do?   I also told you I would let you know how I am getting on.  So here goes....

Each day this week I have tried to find at least 5 minutes to think(sometimes that was 5 min broken up into manageable 1 min slots-in other words I was interrupted a few times with........)

I have reflected on how much more I need to practice this skill as I haven't done it enough for a while.  I discovered that some of me is missing, hidden under layers of other stuff (starting to sound like Shrek ......"ogres are like onions they have layers...." )  So how do I find that stuff?  I have to keep taking time to think,  write, blog, journal and to prioritise time for me.  On way that has helped me in the past,  which I am planning to start again,  is to write a gratitude list each day.  (My post on Saturday will go into depth more on how to do this) When I write things I am grateful for about myself and simple things in life I feel more connected to myself and those around me.  This cartoon says it all......

Try and take a moment today to write 3 things you are grateful for about yourself and 5 things that you are grateful for in you life.  Think from your heart and be creative.  To start with when I wrote about myself it was things like I am grateful for my reading skills or I an grateful for my blues eyes now I find it easier to say I am grateful that I am beautiful (took a long time to get to that point!!!!)

If you need a way to be alone to do this .....maybe this technique will work.....

After you have done this reward yourself with another 5 minutes on your own to read or eat chocolate :)


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

literature and movie review

The autobiographical series Two pence to cross the Mersey written by Helen Forrester comprises of 4 books written during the depression and 2nd world war years.  The four books titled 

Two pence to cross the Mersey

 Liverpool miss,

By the waters of Liverpool


Lime street at two

are set in liverpool England in one of the darkest times in world economic history.  These stories are about the authors childhood and young adult years. 

Helen Forrester had a difficult and very sad childhood.  She was raised for 12 years in a wealthy middle class home in southern England. During the depression she went from a pampered existence to poverty in Liverpool, north west England.   In the first two volumes of her autobiography – 'Twopence to Cross the Mersey' and 'Liverpool Miss', Helen tells the story of her families change in circumstances, rich to poor.  It is a hard story to read, Helen has a constant struggle to feed her family and to keep her mother happy and to help her spiritless father. She lives without any luxuries and education which she longed to have. The last 2 volumes are more optimistic.  Helen has gained some Independence from her family and is living in slightly better conditions.  The books conclude with he meeting of her future husband and the happiness she gains from this. 

They are a wonderful set of book which leave you thankful for what you have and the time we live. The history of the depression is captured well in these books through her great skill as a story teller. She leaves a great sense of hope in overcoming terrible adversary and troubles .  A great read!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Inspriation Saturday

I want to share a story with you today about hope and love.  It is one of my favourites and everytime I read it I feel the desire to hang on and hope even when others hope has gone.

The brand new pastor and his wife, newly assigned to their first ministry, to reopen a church in suburban Brooklyn, arrived in early October excited  about their opportunities.

When they saw their church, it was very run down and needed much work. They set a goal to have everything done in time to have their first service on Christmas Eve. They worked hard, repairing pews, plastering walls, painting, etc. and on Dec 18 were ahead of schedule and just about finished. On Dec 19 a terrible tempest - a driving rainstorm - hit the area and lasted for two days. On the 21st, the pastor went over to the church. His heart sank when he saw that the roof had leaked, causing a large area of plaster about 20 feet by 8 feet to fall off the front wall of the sanctuary just behind the pulpit, beginning about head high. The pastor cleaned up the mess on the floor, and not knowing what else to do but
postpone the Christmas Eve service, headed home.

On the way he noticed that a local business was having a flea market type sale for charity so he stopped in. One of the items was a beautiful, handmade, ivory colored, crocheted tablecloth with exquisite work, fine colors and a Cross embroidered right in the center. It was just the right size to cover up the hole in the front wall. He bought it and headed back to the church. By this time it had started to snow. An older woman running from the opposite direction was trying to catch the bus. She missed it. The pastor invited her to wait in the warm church for the next bus 45 minutes later. She sat in a pew and paid no attention to the pastor while he got a ladder, hangers, etc., to put up the tablecloth as a wall tapestry.

The pastor could hardly believe how beautiful it looked and it covered up the entire problem area. Then he noticed the woman walking down the center aisle. Her face was like a sheet. "Pastor," she asked, "where did you get that tablecloth?" The pastor explained. The woman asked him to check the lower right corner to see if the initials, EBG were crocheted into it there. They were. These were the initials of the woman, and she had made this tablecloth 35 years before, in Austria. The woman could hardly believe it as the pastor told how he had just gotten the Tablecloth. The woman explained that before the war she and her husband were well-to-do people in Austria. When the Nazis came, she was forced to leave. Her husband was going to follow her the next week. She was captured, sent to prison and never saw her husband or her home again. The pastor wanted to give her the tablecloth; but she made the pastor keep it for the church.

The pastor insisted on driving her home, that was the least he could do. She lived on the other side of Staten Island and was only in Brooklyn for the day for a housecleaning job. What a wonderful service they had on Christmas Eve. The church was almost full. The music and the spirit were great. At the end of the service, the pastor and his wife greeted everyone
at the door and many said that they would return. One older man, whom the pastor recognized from the neighborhood, continued to sit in one of the pews and stare, and the pastor wondered why he wasn’t leaving. The man asked him where he got the tablecloth on the front wall because it was identical to one that his wife had made years ago when they lived in Austria before the war and how could there be two tablecloths so much alike? He told the pastor how the Nazis came, how he forced his wife to flee for her safety, and he was supposed to follow her, but he was arrested and put in a prison. He never saw his wife or his home again all the 35 years in between. The pastor asked him if he would allow him to take him for a little ride. They drove to Staten Island and to the same house where the pastor had taken the woman three days earlier. He helped the man climb the three flights of stairs to the woman’s apartment, knocked on the door and he saw the greatest Christmas reunion he could ever imagine.

Based on a true Story - submitted by Pastor Rob Reid

Keep holding on to hope. 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

"Be yourself; everyone else is already taken."

-- Oscar Wilde

Who are we?  Do we really know who we are deep inside? 

My mother said "That there have been many days were she has sat down and wondered about the answer to this question. Who am I? Am I (here goes it is a long list....)  A mother, wife, friend, sister, community worker, daughter, volunteer, employee/employer (what ever that label might be for you), sister in law, daughter in law, mother in law,  grandmother, great grandmother, auntie, cousin, niece (I spelt this as nice first :) ) church worker,  quilter, etc?"  She said "It is hard sometimes to figure out who you are meant to be because we have so many roles in our lives"  (phew! are you tired reading that list.  I cetainly am)

These are all wonderful roles but do they describe who we really are?  I don't think they do.  The role we often miss or undervalue is that we are a woman, unique, individual special and brilliant. We give a lot of time to the many roles in our lives but do we prioritise time for the role we have as a unique woman.  There is no other person like us in our lives. No one else can have that role, no one else can help us grow and no one else can see the world just we do.  

What can you do today to value 'you' more?  Here's a couple of ideas to get you started
  • Sit down for 5 minutes today and think about the qualities you have.  Write them down. (if your house is like mine you might have to lock your bedroom door and put a note on the door saying leave me alone for 5 minutes :)
  • Lie on the floor and listen to a favourite piece of music and just be
  • Sit and listen to your heart (see if you can find it! it might take some practice)
Good luck and let me know how you did.  I'll let you know how I did too.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Literature and movie review

One way I feel uplifted is to read about or watch movies about people who are inspirational.  I come away feeling a better person and with hope that I can be better and do more with my life.  So every Tuesday I am going write a post of literature and media that influences me to do better.  I hope this will help you to find inspiration in your life.

The first movie I have chosen to write about is Shadowlands. PG (Not for younger viewers as it is quite sad)

Shadowlands is about the life of C.S.Lewis the famous theologian and writer.  It is a romanticised movie about the relationship C.S.Lewis  (Anthony Hopkins) develops with Joy Gresham (Debra Winger) an American writer.  The movie was released in 1993 and produced by Richard Attenborough.

The movie begins by discussing the mystery of suffering, what is it's purpose and why do we suffer.  As the movie progresses this is explored further though Lewis' own experiences and personal suffering.  Lewis meets Gresham after she requests a visit with him on a trip to England.  The unlikely couple develop a Platonic relationship which progresses further after they marry for the convenience for a green card for Gresham.

The movie left me thinking a lot about what suffering is for?,  why we suffer? and how we move through difficult experiences?  I also helped me consider the way we interact with people and how we cope with tragedy.  

It is a movie well worth watching (with a box of tissues)  and one that leaves the viewer a better person for seeing it.