Sunday, November 24, 2013

You only lose what you cling to

You only lose what you cling to.

This quote has popped up a lot in my life over the past two weeks.  The origin of this quote is unknown.  Some sources say Buddha said it, but others say it is one of many fake Buddha quotes.

Where the quote comes from is ultimately irrelevant, what is being said is more important to me.

I encourage you to take 5 minutes of silence  and think about what this quote means to you.  Form your own opinion of the quote before you read my interpretation of it below.  I would love to read your interpretation, so please leave it as a comment.

My interpretation

I thought about this quote in 3 sessions of 5 minutes each.  Each session was a few days apart.

First Session:

In the first session I related the quote to the physical world, to my attachment to physical possessions. 

Why is it hard for me to give away clothing?  I have too much clothing, that is for sure, but I only buy clothes I need and clothes I love.  Unfortunately the clothes I love I cannot wear to work and the clothes I need I don’t like wearing around the home because they do not reflect my personality.  So I am sitting with a double wardrobe, clothes I love but cannot wear and clothes I wear but do not love.  Logically, I should have given away the clothes I love because I cannot wear them on a daily basis anymore (and I really don’t need 5 sun dresses and 20 t-shirts if I can only wear them on the weekend), but I love them.  Why am I so attached to these clothes?

Clothing is just one example, there are many other things I own that I love, in fact I don’t buy anything I don’t love.  These are things that I cling to and would feel a very real loss if I was to give them away.

I didn’t come to a conclusion, except that I need to teach myself not to cling to possessions.  By not attaching myself to these objects I wouldn’t suffer loss if I was to lose them.

Second Session:

In the second session, I thought of the quote more in a spiritual sense. This Bible verse came to mind:

“For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.” – Mark 8:35

If you click the link it will take you to a page where you will see the various translations of the passage, as well as cross references to other similar passages.

So I started thinking about how I am clinging to what I want for my life, what I think is best for my life, and how I am not trusting in the dreams that God has put in my head and heart because they are not “safe” options. 

A while ago I read a book with my husband called “When God Writes Your Love Story” by Eric and Leslie Ludy.  Why was it so easy for me to trust God with my love story (the one with Mark), but it is so difficult to trust God with my life story?  Why am I clinging to life?  Why can I not trust God and simply do what  I feel he wants me to do?

Yet again I didn’t come to a conclusion, just a decision that I needed to start working on this.

Third Session:

The third session ended in some form of conclusion: I’m clinging to my individuality.  I cannot get rid of the clothes I love because it is part of my individuality, it is an extension of myself.  I cannot get rid of my DVD collection because when I look at it I see 100+ different aspects of my personality, my individuality.  What I wear (or want to wear) hints to the world who I am.  The books and DVD’s I own shows my interests and likes to anybody who looks through them.  It is all part of me, part of who I perceive myself to be.

While I don’t like opening up my soul to someone until I am ready to (this post is something I am ready to open up, I never write anything I am not willing to be open about to the whole world), I still like to throw little hints of my personality and individuality out into the world. 

Skelanimals T-Shirts are my subtle hint at “I like the dark and creepy, but not too much”.

My jeans, hiking boots and T-shirts show the subtle hint at “I’m a tomboy. I am not a Barbie Doll. I am real. I am not fake. There is a brain in this head” and the summer dresses are my hint at “Even though I am a tomboy, I do like looking pretty, but you will only see me in it when I have proven my intelligence to you.”

By losing my attachment to these things, I will lose a vital tool that I use to show the world my individuality without actually speaking it.

Now comes the quest: giving over my individuality to God.  My individuality is the part of my life I am clinging to.  I am not trusting God to allow the person he created to show through regardless of what I wear, and the stuff I own.  I am using stuff to show it off in my own power instead.

Now it is time… figuring out the next step.  Changing my mind.  Not sure how yet though… when I have figured it out, I’ll let you know!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Media and advertising controls society

If you are reading this, it means you are connected to the internet somehow, so that means you are exposed to advertising and the media in some way or form. And that in turn means that you are at risk of being influenced by the media, just as I am.

Now before I start, I am not opposed to a healthy amount of media entertainment.  It is okay to watch a movie, it is okay to surf the web and it is okay to watch a series.  But you need to ask some questions.

Does the movie/series/website make you stop and think? Does it teach you something? Does it inspire you to do good? Or read up more about a topic?

I loved Stargate-SG1 for that reason, it made me think about real world issues, scientific possibilities and it taught me a lot. There were plenty of hidden warnings for our society in the series.

Other than Stargate-SG1 and a crime series called Life. It has been a very long time since I watched a series that I felt was giving me something to think about with every episode. As a by-product I no longer watch TV series, only documentaries and movies.  And even the movies I have become very selective with.

As far as actual TV goes, I have a TV and I pay my tv license as required of me by law, but I don't think I have watched more than 30 minutes of TV in the 6 months. I have no pay tv, I only get the free channels, and I don't even watch those.

This has allowed me to take a step back and really take a look at the world. How many hours do you spend a week watching a screen or paging through a picture magazine?

Have you seen all the successful people in the world? The ones that are making a difference or have a lot of cash? How much time do you think they spend in front of a screen (actual work on computers excluded).

Don't you think that if 80% of the population got out and actually lived in the present moment, excluding screens from their lives a lot of change could be made for the better in this world?

By sitting in front of a screen all the time, aren't you just becoming a submissive, blindness sheep?  Aren't you helping keep the wealthy rich by only caring about how you are going to get your hands on the next season?

Then I come to another point, how much of the stuff you see and want do you really need to survive and be happy? Here is a good test... if you were to get all the raw materials (for free) and instructions how to make whatever it is you want, would you be willing to spend the next day/month/year making it yourself?  If the answer is no, then really consider if you need it!

Another question: how many shoes do you need?  In my mind: 4 pairs of shoes maximum.  1 for work,  1 for formal wear, 1 for exercise and 1 for casual/beach wear. I will admit I have more than 4 pairs shoes, I have decided that the ones I have are going to be worn until they wear out. No more are coming into my house.

Now the question is where did this idea that women have 50+ pairs of shoes originate?  The advertisers, movies and TV. Right from Clueless and probably even earlier. Clueless was the first time I was introduced to the idea of lots of clothes.

Going back to media and how it shapes society, I ask that you become aware.  You are not a mindless sheep. I encourage you, in this coming week, keep a notebook with you. Every advert you see or hear, make a note.  Every TV series you watch, make a note of the emotions it inspires in you, then stop and think, even if you are immune (or believe yourself to be) how does this advert/series/movie effect the mass public? How does it effect children who are vulnerable to this brainwashing?

Think for yourself, and if you need more convincing,  watch this video.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The empty church

One evening I was standing in church. The band was on the stage singing, the church was full, the minister was waiting for his turn.

Suddenly during one of the songs God put an image in my mind. I saw, in my minds eye, an empty church. Nobody was there except the pastor and one of the musicians. I was there, but not in reality.

I saw the pews empty. Not a person in sight. The minister got up to preach, and he preached to the empty pews. The musician played and only the pastor and the musician could be heard singing.

At the end the musician said to the pastor "why do we still do this every Sunday, nobody hears us?" The minister replied "God hears us. He will bring the people when they are ready."

God then placed an image in my mind of an old stone church, in a medieval setting. A monk was standing at the door while another man was ringing a church bell. The church was also empty. The man said "I don't think anyone is coming." The monk then said "Never mind, keep ringing that bell, it will remind the villagers there is hope."

The final set of images God placed in my mind was of the church I was in again. I could see everyone standing there singing. But they felt like empty shells, except for a select few, I sensed about 20 that were more than shells, their spirits in worship. I didn't hear a voice, it was just a feeling, a very strong feeling...

The feeling that the people there were not present in spirit, that they were going to leave as time progressed. That only a few would remain. Then the feeling that the few who are still faithful would feel that all hope is lost at rebuilding.

Finally there was the feeling that all God requires is that we keep doing our part and He will keep on doing his. A feeling of "I won't drop the batten, I will remain faithful." Because my God will bring the people, he will keep HIS church going even in the times of darkness.

I am sharing this because I believe that God intends someone else to read it. I don't know who that person is, or why.

Maybe you are the shell, the one who is in church, but not present in church.

- Seek to build a stronger relationship with God, or else one day you will be too far gone.

Maybe you are the pastor who is preaching to the empty church.

Maybe you are the musician who doesn't get why nobody is worshipping and is wondering what the point of continuing is.

Maybe you are the bell ringer... or in a modern context... the one praying, visiting, providing meals or doing another service for God and you feel like nobody is benefiting from all your energy spent.

- draw close to God. Always give him the glory. Pray and keep on keeping on. It isn't about the number of souls you knowingly reach, it is about the number of souls God reaches through you without you even realizing it. Give God your best, all eyes on him and let God do the rest.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

What have you done today to tick Satan off?

The title of this blog post might sound like a weird question but I am going to describe my train of thoughts in getting to it, and it may not seem like such a strange question anymore.

Who knows the Robin Hood story? That is the one where Good King Richard left England to go on the crusades and in his absence the Evil Prince John took over the throne. He taxed the people heavily and ruled by fear. Along came Robin Hood who refused to be terrorised by Prince John and worked for justice by stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When King Richard returned Prince John got what was coming to him, and King Richard restored order to the kingdom. At least that is the basics of the legend.

There is a good Disney movie with a fox that will give you the basics of the story. It is a great watch an one of my favorite movies.

Robin Hood has always been one of my favourite legends. I was always fond of the love story involved in it. While stealing is still a sin even for a good cause, I loved the fearlessness of Robin Hood and his loyalty to the true king.

What does the Robin Hood story have to do with God and Satan?  Well, picture Jesus as Good King Richard and Satan as the Evil Prince John. Jesus has "gone away" to prepare a place for us, he left us with the Holy Spirit though (Robin Hood). However, Satan has temporarily taken over the throne and is trying all his tricks to rule by fear and hate.

If you were trying to overthrow a kingdom, how would you do it? I know I would try to convince the people that the real king isn't coming back, and as time progresses, that he didn't exist in the first place. Then I would tempt the key people, the ones who have the potential to make a difference in the world with fame, money, power and as a last resort fear.

Fear of "what will people think of me" and "I will look silly" and fear of failure and as a last resort fear of torture and death.

What is the key difference between Prince John and King Richard (in the legend) ? I see it as Prince John ruled by fear, King Richard ruled by love.

So if we (the Christian's) are the Merry Men (and women) of this time, because we are filled with the Holy Spirit (Robin Hood), what should be our goal? Reflect the Love of Jesus (King Richard) and strive to keep his kingdom intact, the way he intended it to be.

Remember how in the story, Robin Hood frustrated and infuriated Prince John by doing good, showing love and thwarting his every plan until King Richard returned to deliver justice? He really ticked Prince John off, and just by being a good man.

That makes me end with this question:

What have you done today to tick Satan off?

Friday, October 18, 2013

Writing Therapy

Have you ever had a time where you feel like you just can’t cope?  Where your thoughts are buzzing around your head like a swarm of bees and you can’t seem to focus on any thought for very long?  And the thoughts keep flying backwards and forwards through your mind?

How does a person focus on a single bee (thought) in the swarm bees (thoughts)?  Have you tried writing?

There are times when I have days that I cannot focus.  That certain things are bothering me so badly that I keep thinking the same thoughts over and over again without ever actually dealing with any of the thoughts in depth.

What helps me is to write.  Even if I don’t write each thought out in detail, only do a “mind map” of the thoughts going through my mind it helps.

Ever had a child that struggles to express themselves verbally?  It is probably because when they think, they think with pictures rather than words.  I think with both, but I see pictures first, then translate those pictures into words. Writing helps me put my thoughts into words.  Once I have written it, or even drawn the picture that was in my mind, I am better able to explain it to somebody else.  Why not try to get the child to write, or draw their thoughts instead of explain them?

The benefits I have found in writing include the following:

Focusing on a specific thought: By writing down one specific thought after the other, you slow down the swarm of bees in your mind.  Each bee is still there, but they are now flying in slow motion so that you can focus on each one individually and not loose tract of it.  You may find that the bee you are writing about will interact with other bee’s in your mind.  When this is happening in normal speed then you loose track of the bee you were busy with and jump to another one.  While writing, you are able to see how the bee you are busy with interacts with the other bees in your mind, you connect patterns that you normally wouldn’t have noticed.

Create patterns between thoughts:  By seeing how each bee interacts with the others you will start to notice patterns or observe more detail than you observed previously. 

Calming: It can get frustrating to have all these thoughts going on in your mind and not know how to express them to someone else quickly enough.  By writing them down, you can take your time to express your thoughts.  Not having the stress of getting your thoughts out there fast enough enables you to think in a more calm way.

Still not convinced?  Just give it a try for a day.  Take a pen or a keyboard and write whatever comes to mind.  Slow down those racing thoughts, and see the benefits for yourself.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Sit and think

Each weekend, for the past 3 weekends I have sat and thought for an hour or two.

I can honestly say that there is a distinct benefit for taking time out from your busy day, or week, to sit and think. Even if it is just for an 15 minutes.

Some of the benefits I have found:

1. Relax - it allows me to stop and breathe, free from stress and anxiety because I know that for the next time span, I don't have to worry about anything.

2. Extra insight and wisdom gained - I focus on a specific issue that is confusing me, or something I have read, or a quote I have heard and by focusing on it, I flesh out the details of "whatever it is" and gain greater wisdom accordingly.

3. Appreciation - I learn to appreciate the world around me with all it's details, especially the natural world.

4. Focus - I get focus to go forward into my day. Refocusing myself on what matters and reminding myself to let go what doesn't matter.

And that is why I think it is good to just sit, breathe and think.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

30 Days to make a habit: Walk the dog daily

Some time ago I heard the saying "it takes 30 days to make a habit".  I have finally started on my 30 day journey to turn walking the dog daily into a habit.

I am on day 11 now. I will definitely say that the "30 days to make a habit" phrase is true.

In addition to walking the dog, I am also getting up before 6am daily. If I don't, then I won't have enough time to walk the dog and shower before heading off to work at 7am.

Some of you reading this will get impatient thinking "I don't have 30 days to turn all I want to do into habits" and you may try to do more than one habit at a time.

I want to say, do some simple maths. How old are you? How long do you expect to live? Life expectancy minus age and multiply by 12. That is how many habits you can still learn by doing this method.

I hope to live to at least 90, I am 28. 62 years multiply by 12... that is 744 habits I can still learn (if the maths I did in my head is correct).

Also, I have found that by getting one habit I am also getting a side effect of other habits being developed... like reading my Bible in the mornings in the last 15 minutes before I leave for work and waking up before 6.

I strongly recommend trying this for yourself.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Highly Sensitive Introvert: Strengths, Weaknesses and Workarounds

Today I turn 28, and I had an emotional breakdown on my birthday.  Not because I am turning 28, but because I had too much social interaction this past weekend.  It was so bad this morning that my husband phoned the work on my behalf because I couldn’t bring myself to talk to anyone.

After being alone in a room for 15 minutes I was okay enough to make a phone call to reschedule a meeting I was supposed to have, but then I closed the door again and spent another 15-30 minutes alone, crying and thinking.

It is now 4 hours later and I am beginning to function again.  Enough to be able to write my thoughts and the discoveries I made while having this time of introversion. 

Writing helps, it helps me organize the thoughts which are usually whirring through my head like the London subway trains.  Writing helps me to focus on a specific train, the path it came along and where it is going to.  Writing helps me to block out the entire world around me and recharge my batteries.

Do you ever feel like there is too much going on in the world around you.  Do you ever feel like clear open spaces are just too much to cope with?  But then again a small cluttered space is just as stressful?

Have you ever walked into an open plan living area of a house, where the kitchen, dining room and living room are actually one large room and secretly wished you could lock yourself in the bathroom or bedroom?

If you feel this way sometimes, then you might be a Highly Sensitive Introvert.

A Highly Sensitive Introvert is a person who is overly stimulated by the world they are in.  Normally they cannot handle intense sounds, too much going on around them, bright lights or wide open spaces.  But then again, some of them cannot handle small cluttered spaces either.

For a long time, being a Highly Sensitive Introvert was thought to be a fault that needed to be fixed.  What it really means is that your brain is wired differently.  You have different strengths and weaknesses from the less sensitive introverts, and extroverts.  Learning to build the strengths, and cope with the weaknesses is what will allow you to succeed or fail.

Some of the strengths I have noticed include:

1) The ability to concentrate on something completely (single task), blocking out the world around you, to determine the ins and outs of a problem.  This intense concentration allows you to analyse and figure out the best course of action, and see all the potential problem area’s, if you have enough time to concentrate on the problem at hand.

2) The ability to pick up on the subtleties in your environment.  Some people may pick up the subtleties in the physical world (a light bulb that has blown), other’s may pick up emotional vibes and the subtle expressions in other people.

3) The ability to “fix yourself” when you have emotional problems.  When given the chance to go and be alone, then normally you are able to reflect within yourself and fix any emotional problems you may have or plan a course of actions to overcome your emotional problems.

4)  Conscientious. You often work carefully and thoroughly at anything you have committed to, whether it is writing a book or babysitting someone else’s child.  However, the key word here is “committed”, if you have not committed yourself to a task, quite often you become unwilling to spend your energy on it.

For example, you have committed yourself to becoming the top Mathematics student at the school, you will work extremely hard and carefully on all your Mathematic tests and assignments.  However, your parents see your talent for tennis, but you haven’t committed to it yourself, so you only do the bare minimum at that task to satisfy those around you.

Some of the annoying weaknesses I have noticed include:

1)   You get stressed out when exposed to large amounts of stimulation. This varies from person to person, it can be tangible or intangible stimulation. 

Tangible stimulation are things happening in your physical environment, a cluttered desk, a car alarm going off outside your office window, music being played too loudly, even bright florescent lights.

Intangible stimulation are the more subtle forms of stimulation.  The emotional state of the person you are talking to, or if you are at the party, then the vibe of the room.  The more people the greater the mixture of vibes you are picking up on, and the more it stresses you out.

I noticed that for me I get stressed out more from long-term exposure to intangible stimulation.  That is when I have been in social environments for prolonged periods of time, constantly getting an inflow of emotions/feelings/vibes from the people around me.  I am highly sensitive to other people’s emotions.  If I haven’t had at least 2-3 hours completely alone to recharge my batteries every 3 days then I suffer from an emotional breakdown where I will cry for no tangible reason.  The crying comes from an extreme sense of frustration at not having a chance to recharge my batteries alone.

2) You struggle to multitask and task switch.   This is a big one for me.  If I am in the intense concentration mode (single-tasking), as stated in the strengths, then it takes me a few moments for my brain to reset and cope with the new incoming stimulation (I have to adjust my thoughts). 

For example if I am working on Project A, and I have been working on Project A for the past 3 hours, and somebody phones me to get some information about Project B, my brain has to save Project A. Then boot up Project B, search for the information required and respond to the person who just phoned me.  The person puts down the phone, I begin to continue with Project A again… But now Project B is still sitting in the RAM of my mind (temporary memory), so I struggle to achieve the intense level of concentration I had previously had with Project A until I have had a moment to clear my temporary memory too.  Clearing the temporary memory is a lot harder than it sounds, because my London Subway has 2 trains running on it instead of only one.  I have to isolate the Project B train, and park it back in it’s place in the deep reaches at the back of my mind, so that I only have one train running on my subway again.  The more incoming stimulation (phone calls, emails, birds singing outside the window) the more trains join the subway and the harder it becomes to achieve the intense concentration mode.

3) Can be extremely emotional.  Due to the on-going incoming stimulation, an overwhelming of the senses can cause you to react in an emotional outbreak (crying or anger) due to an inability to control the intense frustration you are feeling.

4)  Can be completely detached from certain tasks.  This I briefly mentioned in the conscientious  point above.  If you haven’t committed yourself to a project, then you will only do the minimal you can with the project in order to move onto a project you would rather be doing.

This can become a problem when there are things you know you need to do, compared to what you want to do.

Coping/Surviving the weaknesses:

I am still trying to figure this one out myself, but so far, I have come up with the following:

1)  Determine your stimulation threshold and exercise it.  This will take some intense self-discipline.  You need to figure out how much stimulation you can handle before you have the breakdown, and push it to the limit.  Then schedule yourself some down-time or relaxation time to recharge your batteries. 

The goal isn’t to become immune to the outside stimulation, it is to train yourself to cope with larger amounts of it.

I know when I was a teenager that I couldn’t handle being around people at school all day, and then being around my friends/boyfriend/parents at home afterwards (thank goodness I was an only child).  I didn’t realise it then, but it made me extremely depressed because my batteries were constantly running on empty and they never got recharged.  At that stage, I needed half day social and half day to recover.

Now I am older and working in a more social environment.  At first it felt like I was in High School again.  In the beginning I would come home, eat, sleep and repeat.  I wanted nothing to do with people after hours and even more so on weekends. 

Now it is 2 years later and I have trained myself to cope better.  I am able to survive the week, with 15 minutes in the evenings totally to myself and a Friday evening completely alone.  If the social interactions are hectic on Saturday and Sunday, then I also need a Sunday evening completely alone to be ready for the week ahead.

Today I had the emotional breakdown due to not having my Sunday evening rest.  I think that I could have coped without the Friday Evening rest, but not having it on the Sunday evening was the killing point.  This morning I woke up crying from having absolutely no energy reserve left.

2)  Struggling to multitask and task-switch. My best solution is actually to limit the outside stimulation as much as you possibly can.  The advantages of being able to concentrate intensely outweigh the advantages of being able to multitask or task-switch in my opinion. 

Try to arrange a work environment where you can single-task.  Ask people to email rather than phone so you can get back to them on your own time.  Show that the work you do while single-tasking is at a much higher standard than when you multi-task. 

Practice saying “Let me think about it and get back to you.”  This will give you enough time to close the first train of thought and start a new one, do the new one properly and thoroughly, then get back to the old one.

Another method I have learned to limit stimulation so as to allow me to concentrate is to do a task first thing in the morning, before I have even showered or got dressed, and to continue with the task until it is finished, that way it gets my complete focus.  Or alternatively to do the more intense tasks in the afternoon/evening when everyone else is shutting down for the day and disruptions are less likely to happen.  I get my best work done before 8am or after 3pm for this reason.

3)  Can be extremely emotional  This is another thing that can be prevented by making sure you are well rested and have had enough “me-time”.  I found that my emotional state becomes a lot worse when I am tired or haven’t had enough reflection time.  Schedule a calming activity as often as you need it.  Writing, meditation, prayer, solitary walks or simply sitting with a cup of coffee and thinking.   Whatever works for you.

4)  Can be completely detached from certain tasks  When faced with a task that I don’t feel committed to, I find it best to analyse why I have to do it.

For example, if you dislike a certain school subject, or doing a certain project, figure out why you are doing it.  For me the subject was Biology and it was a compulsory subject at my High School.  In High School I was detached from the subject, but now as an adult I know what I should have done to become motivated at it.

Why do I have to do Biology?  Because it is a compulsory subject, because either Biology or Science was needed (at that stage) to get into a University over here, so my school was looking out for the well-being of all their students by making Biology compulsory.

Once you understand why you need to do something, then you can make the choice.  Is the task really necessary? Is there any way I can give this task to somebody else? And if the answer is no, and you have to do it, start to focus on the positives of the successful outcome, commit yourself to the project in your mind and then do it as carefully as possible to meet the successful outcome.

And this is my nice long essay for the day.  On a side note, I think I should mention how much I love writing, and how relaxing I find it, especially when I need to clear my thoughts and get my emotional state under control.

Monday, June 17, 2013

How to motivate yourself to wash the dishes by breaking it into smaller chunks (without a timer) - a printable at the end

There are other people who just cannot get motivated to wash the dishes by hand.  I used to be one of these people.  I would look at my kitchen and think to myself, this will take hours to clean.  I don’t want to do it, I’d rather do something fun. The only way is to trick my mind into not thinking about the whole process, but just focus on the smaller steps.

Sometimes a task seems overwhelming, but by only focusing on the next step and not the whole project a person can get it done in a jiffy.

So here we go – how to wash the dishes by hand, step by step.  The dishes below are 2 days worth in my house of 2 people (myself and my husband).

There is a printable image (without the photographs of the progress) at the bottom of this post!

The kitchen when I started (12:02pm):


Step 1: Pack away and throw away anything that doesn’t need to be washed.  Spot the difference in the pictures above and below.  It already looks better doesn’t it? Time: 5 minutes – 12:07pm


Step 2: Collect all the dishes and place them together in one spot.  I collected from all over the house and put them together on the kitchen table.  It is also useful to put all the dishes of a similar type together, so all the bowls together, all the glasses together and all the coffee mugs together.  See the difference in the background of the picture above and below!  Time 5 minutes – 12:12pm.


Step 3: Get the sink and all the stuff ready for washing dishes.  I recommend getting some rubber gloves.  The hotter the water the easier the dirt comes off the dishes.  Time 1 minute – 12:13pm


Step 4: Wash all the eating utensils first. Gather them up nicely together and wash them first in the cleanest water (since these go into your mouth).  I also including the dishing up spoons, chopping knives and so on in this bunch.  The pot in the picture below was only what I used to hold them.  I did not wash the pot yet. Time: 7 minutes – 12:20pm




Step 5: Wash all the glasses. The next step is to collect all the glasses next to the sink (or into the sink) and wash them.  I put fresh water in the sink at this step, but you must judge if it is necessary.  Total time: 5 minutes – 12:25pm




Step 6: Wash all the coffee mugs. The next step to washing dishes by hand is to wash all the coffee mugs.  I used the same water that I used for the glasses. Time: 4 minutes – 12:29pm




Step 7: Dry the dishes you have washed. Excellent job on the washing so far.  Give yourselves a break and dry/put away the dishes you have washed so far.  I found that I love bright and colourful dish towels, it makes the drying process much happier.  Also take the time to clean up the sink properly for the second time at this point.  Time: 11 minutes – 12:41pm




Step 8: Wash the plates and bowls. I cleaned the sink and put fresh water in for this step.  Starting time 12:42pm.  Normally I would have taken a break after step 7, but I wanted to get this over and done with today.  So here are the pictures below of this step.  Time: 8 minutes - 12:48pm




Step 9: Wash all the plastic containers and the other bits and pieces.  It is almost over now.  You can do it!  Time: 5 minutes : 12:55pm



Step 10: Soak the pots and pans in the sink.  At this step it is a great time to put hot soapy water in pots and pans to let them soak a bit.  Make yourself a cup of coffee and relax for a while.  The table is now clear!  It is very tempting to stop at this step, but don’t you need to finish the job! Time: 2 minutes – 12:57pm



Step 11: Wipe down the surfaces in the kitchen and dry dishes.  Time to wipe up any spills on the newly clean surfaces.  Look how shiny it is!  I also dried the dishes and put them away, giving myself a clean work space for the greasy pots and pans. Time: 5 minutes – 13:38pm (remember, I took a nice long break!)



Step 12: Wash the pots and pans – then shine your sink! That was the last of it!  I usually let the pots and pans drip dry. Time: 8 minutes – 13:46pm



And as promised, here is an image that you can print for your cleaning file (click the image below to open up a bigger one to print):

How to wash the dishes

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

In my dreams: Dad, Church and the Mercedes

Sometimes I have quite vivid dreams, and I remember them rather well.  There are times when I have dreams with other people in them that I wouldn’t feel comfortable talking about to the other people, but other times I have dreams that only relate to myself.  I think it would help if I had a place to write about them, so I’m going to include them onto my blog. 

A little background may be needed first. My dad past away on the 30 June 2010.  He bought a Mercedes Benz second hand, which he paid to be fixed up, but he passed away before it was finished and never got to drive it. I have my dad’s Mercedes now.  I have a dog, Zoey, who is a Black Cocker Spaniel.  I am married to Mark Letley.  I grew up in a Baptist Church, and Mark grew up in a Methodist Church.

Last night my dream went as follows:

I was in a parking lot at a shopping centre.  In this parking lot I was redoing a drivers license, but I was doing it in my dad’s Mercedes.  I failed my the license because the edge of the cars right hand tyres was touching the white line of the parking space when I was reverse parking (or ally docking) into the space.

The instructor drove me back to where my dad was waiting and he [my dad] got into the drivers seat.  My mom was in the shopping mall looking at books or something in one of the shops.  My dad and I decided we were going to get a milkshake at the Wimpy on the beachfront while waiting for my mom.  I had a distinct feeling that we were in East London.  Zoey was sitting on the back seat of the car.

While we were driving to the beach front, my dad asked me if Mark and I had been going to church.  I said we went to a specific Baptist church twice [I actually remember which one I said we went to, but I personally have never been into that one, I have only seen the outside], but the people there were VERY traditional – as in over the top traditional, as in the pastor preached on tradition more than on the word of God. [I haven’t been to a church like this before, and definitely not with Mark]

So Mark and I had found a different church that we were attending, one that was multidenominational, a little more lively and preaching the solid word of God.

My dad was happy about that, he also asked who had “broken in” his car, and commented on the excellent care of it.  Basically he was happy that we was getting to drive it finally.

It was then that I woke up with the alarm clock this morning (about 5am)

Some strange thoughts:

The church that Mark and I “tried” in my dream I actually remember going to in a previous dream I had.  In my dream I remembered back to a previous dream.  I remember some of the faces of people in the congregation, I remember the layout of the church, I remember being bored stiff through the sermon.  I remember having to politely tell the people why we had decided we were not going there a third time, telling them which church we were going to now.  Trying to explain ourselves, the criticism when we said we were leaving… I remember all the details of a previous dream.

This is the street I remember driving down with my dad in my dream, I remember it clearly:

Street In East London

Tick Bite Fever

Yesterday, Mark went to the doctor.  It is official, he has Tick Bite Fever.  The doctor has said he needs to stay in bed for a week. 

I have taken the day off work today to look after him.  Hopefully he will be well enough to look after himself from tomorrow, if not I will be relying on his mother to keep an eye on him.  He should be well enough to move to her house.

So how did he get this illness?  We think it is because he rides his bicycle to work through a veld (field).  There is a definite bite mark on his foot, we didn’t think anything of it though and it happened a week or so before he got sick.

What we suspect is that the tick caught onto his shoe or sock.  He then took his shoes and socks off at work and put on work shoes/socks.  The tick then crawled into the sock, which he put on after work to cycle home.

Moral of the story: Check your socks/shoes for ticks, or pack an extra pair of socks.

Hubby all tucked up with fresh sheets!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

In sickness…

Today, Mark and I have been married 3 months, and we are officially experiencing a little bit of the “In sickness and in health” part of our wedding vows.

Mark is sick in bed with something or other.  Headache, nausea, fever and body aches.  He will be going to a doctor tomorrow.

What have I done today?  Slept late next to him this morning, fetched him water, green tea, soup and anything else he wants to try and keep down.  And I am enjoying reading Treasure Island out loud.  I was going to read it anyway, just thought I would keep him company by reading it out loud.

I also admit that I spent a large portion of the day playing The Sims 3… like I enjoy doing over the weekend.

So that is my weekend, and the first experience with the “In sickness”  part of the marriage vows.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Cottage 51 at Kaysers Beach, Eastern Cape – Our Honeymoon Destination

Just 40km West of East London, Eastern Cape you will find the little coastal village of Kayser’s Beach.  This is where Mark and I went on our honeymoon.

We stayed in a self-catering cottage, quaintly named Cottage 51.  The owner of this cottage, Dee, lives on the premises, and in fact, her house is separated from the cottage by a single door.

Mark and I arrived after dark at the cottage, and Dee welcomed us with open arms.  She had stocked the little fridge with a few basics, like milk, butter and some delicious marmalade, not to mention a cookie jar of rusks on the shelf as well as tea, coffee and sugar.  It was so welcoming to sit down to a cup of coffee upon arrival.

Waking up in the morning, Mark and I were welcomed with the beautiful site below from the patio of the master bedroom.

Cottage 51 - Kayser's Beach - Eastern Cape - Sea View From Master Bedroom Patio

Cottage 51 - Kayser's Beach, Eastern Cape - Sea View from the Garden

We had heard the ocean during the night, but I had no idea how close we were until that morning.  We were able to walk to the beach (about 500m or less) and often did so twice a day during our stay at Cottage 51.

We had a comfortable stay in the cottage, and found ourselves spending most of the time in the living area of the cottage (when we were not on the beach), and we can safely say we made ourselves quite comfortable in the chairs to the right of the photograph below.

Cottage 51 - Kayser's Beach, Eastern Cape - Living Area

My favourite part about the stay in Cottage 51 was the discovery of a little book in the bathroom called “The Specialist”, a story which I read in one sitting and had me giggling along to the various ideas and comments… the story can be read online here.


And this is all I have to say about Cottage 51.  More pictures and details can be found at the following link:

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Wedding Photographs - 1

As I have promised various people, here are the first of the wedding photographs, these are the ones taken by Mark’s parents, the only ones I have so far:

Mark Letley and Ashleigh Langhein Wedding- Walking down the aisle 0

Mark Letley and Ashleigh Langhein Wedding- Walking down the aisle 3

Mark Letley and Ashleigh Langhein - Bloemfontein Men's Choir Singing Amazing Grace

Mark Letley and Ashleigh Langhein - Wedding 1

Mark Letley and Ashleigh Langhein - Wedding - Bride

Mark Letley and Ashleigh Letley - Kiss the Bride

Mark Letley and Ashleigh Langhein Wedding 2

Mark Letley and Ashleigh Langhein Wedding 1

Mark Letley and Ashleigh Langhein Wedding 3

Mark Letley and Ashleigh Langhein Wedding 5

Mark Letley and Ashleigh Langhein Wedding 4

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day 2013

Happy Valentine's day to all of you!  I hope you are all having a great day, and if you are not being spoiled by someone else, I hope you are spoiling yourselves!
My Valentine's Day has been super special!

I got home from work to find Mark washing my dishes for me.  He said "I hope you don't mind if we just stay in tonight, money is a little tight right now."  I know that money is tight, I haven't got him anything, but I did say I'd make supper tonight.
I noticed one of my candles was missing from the bookcase, Mark said he found it chewed up outside... the cat must have knocked it down and the dog got it.

Mark suggested we sit outside and chat a bit.  I opened the back door and there was a pathway of candles to the outside table.  On the table was a bottle of wine and two glasses.  Around each candle was a little material bag (from my jewelry box) with a note + an item of MY jewelry inside.  The first note said I had to find the odd bag out.
Eventually I found a bag with a key inside.  Then I had to figure out where the key fit.  It fit into the chest in my bedroom.  Inside the chest (right on top of my winter wardrobe) was a tiny little gift box.  Inside the gift box was a bracelet.  Every second link in the bracelet has something different written on it.
Mark says chose the links himself (you buy them individually).  The links say:
Friends for life, Cherish, Forever in my heart, Music lover, Integrity, Live Love Laugh, Follow your dreams, Faith Hope Love, I love You.
I must hand it to Mark, he always finds really cheap ways to be romantic, and he knows exactly what to do to make me feel like a Queen :-)

Oh, and my dog had a red bow around her... :-)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Recipe: Black Forest Trifle

My family always makes Black Forest Trifle for Christmas, and this year I was given the recipe by my mother.  I have decided to share it with you.  I hope you enjoy this recipe.

The original recipe (given to my mother by Hazel Myburgh):


Here is the recipe in text, easy to copy and paste or print out:

  • 1 tin condensed milk
  • 1 x 250g smooth cream cheese ( 1 cup )
  • 1 chocolate swiss roll
  • 1 tin black cherries (stoned and halved)
  • Flaked almonds
  • 1 chocolate Flake
  • Cream
  • Method:
  • Mix condensed milk, cream cheese and lemon juice together.
  • Slice swiss roll thinly and place layer at bottom of dish
  • Pour a little cherry juice over.
  • Dot with cherries
  • Sprinkle with flaked almonds
  • Spoon a layer of cream cheese mixture over.
  • Sprinkle with choc. flake
  • Repeat layers.
  • Decorate with cream (stiffly beaten) and chocolate flake

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

God’s Year in 2013

I woke up in the early hours of Sunday morning.  It was still dark outside with no sign of light for a few more hours.  In circumstances such as this I would have normally turned over and gone back to sleep, but not this morning.  On this particular Sunday morning I could feel God tugging on my heart. 

Have you ever noticed that when God is trying to get your attention he usually does it halfway through the night?  I like to believe that when I wake up in the night it is God calling me to spend some time with him, and that is what I did on this Sunday morning.

What did God tell me?  Nothing in particular.  What did I learn from God?  How important it is to spend time with him.

Mark and I get married this year on 9th March.  At that time we will really be starting our walk together.  Our lives are very close right now, but living together is bound to bring more challenges, and hopefully strengthen our spiritual lives, no longer as two, but as one.

This year is full of uncertainty.  Uncertainty regarding Mark’s work, my ability to step up to the role of helpmeet, our ability to serve each other, weather it will be sunny for our outdoor wedding, if my dress will be here in time, how to fit all his stuff into my house, but most of all, uncertainty on where God is going to lead us in our spiritual lives.

Amidst all this uncertainty, the best we can do is pray and say “Blessed be the name of the Lord” in all circumstances.

I can tell that this year is going to be God’s Year.  Already he is working wonders in both our lives.  It is not like he wasn’t before, but 2012 was a fairly relaxed year as far as spiritual turmoil, a refreshing rest after 2011.

This is the season for rejoicing in the Lord, for growing in Him and for prayer.

What are my New Years’ commitments?

  1. To pray more regularly and spend more time in reading God’s word.
  2. To listen to God more.
  3. To get more involved in his Church.

This morning I read the following Psalm and it spoke to my soul.  I hope it blesses you too:

Psalm 33

1 Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous;
it is fitting for the upright to praise him.
2 Praise the Lord with the harp;
make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.
3 Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully, and shout for joy.

4 For the word of the Lord is right and true;
he is faithful in all he does.
5 The Lord loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of his unfailing love.

6 By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,
their starry host by the breath of his mouth.
7 He gathers the waters of the sea into jars[a];
he puts the deep into storehouses.
8 Let all the earth fear the Lord;
let all the people of the world revere him.
9 For he spoke, and it came to be;
he commanded, and it stood firm.

10 The Lord foils the plans of the nations;
he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.
11 But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever,
the purposes of his heart through all generations.

12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
the people he chose for his inheritance.
13 From heaven the Lord looks down
and sees all mankind;
14 from his dwelling place he watches
all who live on earth—
15 he who forms the hearts of all,
who considers everything they do.

16 No king is saved by the size of his army;
no warrior escapes by his great strength.
17 A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;
despite all its great strength it cannot save.
18 But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him,
on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
19 to deliver them from death
and keep them alive in famine.

20 We wait in hope for the Lord;
he is our help and our shield.
21 In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.
22 May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,
even as we put our hope in you.


May God bless each person who reads this blog.  I pray that you experience God this year just like I have begun to.

Matthew 5:13–Saltiness

Matthew 5v13 (Saltiness)

Last night I read Matthew 5:13-16.  I’ve read this part of the Bible many times before.  Have you ever noticed that when you read a verse or section it means something to you, then you leave it alone for a while, and come back to it after a few months it means something different, or you have gained more insight into the verse?  This proves that you are growing spiritually.

While reading the verses about being the salt of the earth and the light of the world, I had an Ah-ha moment, slightly different from ones I’ve had in the past.

When you think about salt, it can be good or bad.  If a person uses salt on their food it enhances the flavour, if a person pours salt into a wound it hurts, a lot.  It will definitely bring attention to the wound.

In the same way, if you, as a Christian, fellowship with other Christians, you enhance each other.  You can be there for each other in times of trouble, in prayer, in joy, in sorrow and in spiritual growth.  Christians fellowshipping with other Christians improve themselves.

On the flip side, if you, as a Christian, spend time with non-Christians, it is like pouring salt into wounds.  Let’s say (theoretically) you spend a lot of time with people who drink heavily, but you don’t touch a drop, at some point they will notice.  What makes you different from them will cause them to examine themselves and their drinking habits.  Usually people don’t like to see faults within themselves and they will be hurt (like pouring salt onto a wound), but the hurt makes them acknowledge there is something wrong.

People who get hurt usually try to bring the person who hurt them down to their level, or they try to get away from the person who hurt them, or they try to heal the wound.

Maybe, by being the salt of the earth we shine a light into the darkness in other people’s hearts, and expose their darkness to themselves.  What they do with it once it has been exposed, is between themselves and God.