Divorce, Retirement, Seasons of Life, TRANSFORMATION, Transitions, Travel

VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF LIFE

This week Denise Mclaughlan shares other aspects of her life – she has made deliberate choices that have taken her life out of the mundane. …and helps to enhance her festive life.

Variety in my book is stimulating, it means new opportunities, it rules out boredom and rules out being stuck in a rut! What were the things that set me thinking in this direction?

It was when I looked at all the book s waiting for me to read- the variety of which – pleases me immensely. When I go to our wonderful library, I choose fiction, non-fiction, Afrikaans and English and I make a choice of different genres. I enjoy biographies, historical novels but then more specifically about the late 19th century/early 20th century and I adore novels set in the English countryside, or in Italy.

What a pleasure to read widely and to be able to completely immerse yourself in an era of long ago or to read about other ways of life in faraway places!  The library never ceases to excite me – I take my time and browse in the rows of different genres. I can look through the daily newspaper or find a magazine that fascinates me. Other options are DVDs or CDs, not to mention the courses that are on offer and the coffee shop!

Another area of choice and variety  for me are the creative colouring-in books for adults which have become popular in recent times. I love colouring in – and the books range from inspirational, the natural world, fashion and cityscapes. My special favourite- which I shall frame and hang in my home- are the Fashion fantasies – dresses designed out of leaves and flowers or a William Morris pattern book.

One could carry this theme through to many facets of one’s life…. thinking about my friends who are so different and all the more appreciated for their differences. I have single and married friends, some younger and some older – there is something fresh about the young ones and something familiar in older friends. Some are there in my time of need, others inspire me, and I find companionship with all of them.

Thinking of one’s daily way of life, I believe -why live a monotonous life of doing the same things at the same times and in the same ways? Why not a life full of variety and alternatives and choices? Even holidays…. I never wanted to go to the same place year after year. That is why road trips appeal to me and train trips with different stations and landscapes to gaze at. I cannot resist using this old cliché – a change is as good as a holiday.

Even in nature and in the seasons we find the wonderful variety of new buds in Spring, the sunshine of a summer day, the change of colours in Autumn and then the bare trees on a winter’s day . I don’t think life was meant to be the same every day, but then I have always shied away from too much routine and not enough new and different ways of living your life

It is said the only constant is change. Therefore, embrace the changes that you make or that are perhaps forced upon you. Sometimes when you are in the doldrums all you need is a change of scene or a change of mindset.

So, give me the spice and color that variety in any sphere of life brings… Have you perhaps changed anything in your life recently? I hope you also experience it as refreshing and uplifting?

Divorce, Retirement, Seasons of Life, TRANSFORMATION, Transitions, Travel, TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS

FINDING MEANING IN LIFE AGAIN

Article and Photos by Denise Mclaughlan

Denise continues to share her Festive Journey, how she in turn was inspired by her grandmother. How often we just need the example of someone who has done something before to inspire us on our own journeys. It seems their courage can synthesise and help us get a firm grip to say yes to life.

Highlights of my life in these past 28 years was a month-long visit to Italy with a friend, learning to speak some Italian in preparation, and the wonder of travelling at will with no pre- bookings.  Did I mention that I have an adventurous spirit?

Another venture I particularly enjoyed was my long-distance train trips over a five-year period from Cape Town to Johannesburg – a 1800km distance with one-night sleepover – to visit old school friends and attend some reunions. Despite the fears that many South Africans have about train travel in S A, I took it on wholeheartedly, meeting people of other cultures and feeling like a true adventurer. Of course, the lure was also my memory of childhood train trips since my dad was a railwayman. I had a few interesting encounters on that ShosalozaMeyl train!

To get back to the adventurous spirit, which I think has come not only from my brave grandmother who went overseas alone at the age of 78, but also the fact that I have been blessed with lots of energy and good health. As an extrovert I enjoy new places and faces! I like to be stimulated whether it is by reading all kinds of books, joining a photography group, doing computer courses, or enjoying music theatre and movies. I simply love swimming and am not fussy…river, dam, pool or a cold Atlantic sea!

A very meaningful part throughout my life has been writing – letters, diary keeping and then journaling. I love describing places and experiences, also tried my hand at a spot of poetry and then of course my Quiet times with the Lord is also affirmed in the journal. I usually use different devotional books like the wonderful Streams in the Desert By Mrs LB Cowman,    Come to me Beloved My Beloved by Frances J Roberts,    Joyce Meyer and a more recently I have used a book “ Fear is Never your Friend by Gary L Richardson. When I still get depressed or anxious it helps to write about it and to take stock of where you are in your life. I tend to do a fair amount of introspection.

Now in my 70’s I realised a dream to go back to camping and road trips (in my married years we caravanned and had an old Land rover) I missed the great outdoors and after watching a lot of Youtube videos about camper conversions and solo road trips, I managed to find someone to adapt my relatively small Mazda Soho 1,4 into a tour car. I have a full-length bed, some side cubbyholes for packing and storage under the bed for small tent, camping chair and other camping gear. I did two solo road trips and described the fun I had in some newsletters which I sent out via Facebook and e-mail. I then acquired a blow-up 2-man canoe which my son and I have enjoyed. Unfortunately, I had to undergo shoulder surgery and have been out of action for around 7 weeks.  Yes I am feeling the pitfalls of ageing in that I get stiff when sitting, my knee seems to be playing up, I drink all the usual pills  – but what is keeping me young are my thoughts and attitude- I try to stay positive and adapt to changes. I take stock of all the aspects of my life regularly and am dabbling with the new buzzwords – living mindfully!  I endeavour to stay in the here and now- to notice the small things around me; to forgive and forget, to take the best out of my past and hand over the control of my future to God my Father.

Denise has brought so much meaning into her life by being aware of her thoughts and attitudes, it can be so easy to slump into negative thoughts and attitudes, she has spent a lot of time cultivating the garden of her mind, pulling out the weeds of toxic thinking and replacing them with positive and affirming thoughts, this all manifests in her being able to take on her Festive Journey and enjoy the life she has been given. How about you? Do comment and let us know how you have taken something negative and made something positive out of it.