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Learning takes practice.

๐–๐ก๐š๐ญ ๐๐จ๐ž๐ฌ ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ ๐ก๐ž๐š๐ซ๐ญ ๐ญ๐ก๐ข๐ง๐ค?
Growing up in Scotland in the 1970โ€™s was a fun place to be.
I was oblivious to many of the challenges of the era, but I do recall one occasion at Primary school when I was around 9 years old, that Iโ€™ve never forgotten.
An announcement was made in class that a recorder group would be starting in school and that anyone interested to learn how to play should come along to the next practice.
I had grown up listening to my dad playing regularly on his chromatic mouth organ and like him I wanted to do something musical โ€“ he always seemed to be having so much fun!
The day came and along I went.
I was given a small descant recorder and duly started practicing in the weeks that followed.
Through lots of lessons, my playing began to improve, and I learned to read music too.

Lessons Learned

I began to understand that
  • Growth and development take time.
  • Learning takes practice.
As time passed by, one day I recall being picked upon and bullied by several boys.
โ€œYouโ€™re just a big namby pamby, a big sissyโ€ theyโ€™d say to me, along with a few other belittling terms.
Why?
I was the only boy, playing the recorder amongst a group of around 15 girls.
Despite the regular taunts, insulting and smart-alecky remarks, I continued playing the recorder throughout my school years and developed a resilient spirit to the comments.
Playing simple melodies, always brought joy to my youthful heart. And it still does!
In later years, in a little tender mercy, I discovered that like me, Monic too played the recorder.
Sometimes in life we have to persevere when opposition comes our way.
Oftentimes, its listening to the feelings of our heart, that can overcome the challenge of the day.
What challenge might you face today?
What does your heart think?

Agile Thinking!

“It’s okay” I said, “I’ll pop down to the car for it….”
Let me explain.
Recently whilst staying overnight in a hotel in Belgium, annoyingly, one of the elasticated ear straps broke free from my face mask. Walking to dinner later proved a little bothersome, with one strap fixed behind my right ear and the other side of my mask being propped into position with my left hand for a good wee while…
After dinner, it was time to resolve the matter!
We were sure that we had another face mask in the car. At that point I suggested that I’d go back to the car and look for it. Monic proceeded to give me some idea where it may be.

Then we hit another problem.

We had only been given one hotel entry card for the room and it was inserted into the light system to keep the power on. Removing the card would mean Monic would be in the dark for a few minutes whilst I walked back to the car to hunt for another face mask.
“Hmm, now what I thought?”
Hunting for a solution, I had a flash of inspiration…. “Aha” I thought, and duly inserted my name tag into the switch.
The lights remained on!
These first 3 months in the mission field have been filled with such moments – regularly!
This little experience, captures in a nutshell our initial period of service.
– A little challenge arises
– We consider solutions
– Something else usually happens to make things even more irksome and challenging
– Then somehow, from somewhere – we adapt, flex our thinking and with cheetah like agility we are able to move forward as the issue unravels itself with a little gentle coaxing.
Daily, each of us may face little challenges, irritations, problems that given time, can become even more difficult to resolve.
What do you need to do to adopt a more agile way of thinking?

Be Prepared

โ€œRemind me again, what did he wear on the old scooter?โ€ I asked mum, as we laughed together.

So, it was last night as we reminisced about dadโ€™s scooter.ย  Growing up in Dunfermline in the late 1960โ€™s I recall my dad in his train driver uniform leaving for work.ย  By the end of the 60โ€™s all of the steam trains were replaced with diesel engines.ย  As the engines changed, dad also had to switch depots and ended up having to travel to Alloa for every shift, a round trip of 35 miles or so.ย  Dad never passed his driving test until the early 80โ€™s, so every journey was made on his little scooter.

In the wintertime, the ride was not only treacherous on the old country roads of the time, but it was also a very cold one.ย  Before he set off for a night shift, on the chilliest of evenings, I recall dad padding and lining his jacket, sleeves, and trouser legs with old newspapers to lessen the biting winter cold and the piercing winds.ย  A simple old-fashioned way to stay warm, and his preparation was key.

A few years later as a young boy scout, I remember learning the motto of โ€œbe preparedโ€, which has remained as a constant with me throughout my life in all that I do.

Our world of 2021 is filled with uncertainty and I am sure for all of us, many more chilly and difficult nights are still ahead as we journey through the challenges life will bring.

So, are you ready for the next challenge and what can you do right now to be better prepared?

Feeling overwhelmed?

Stressed, anxious, worried, tense, overwhelmed, working harder than ever – sound familiar?

One of my favourite stories is told by Stephen Covey in “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. It’s based on a story by Arthur Gordon entitled “The Turn of the Tide”.

Arthur recalls a time when he was experiencing deep frustration at work and many challenges in life.

Finally, he went to see a Doctor who told him to spend the following day in the place where he’d been happiest as a child. Then, he gave Arthur four prescriptions in sealed envelopes, to be opened at 9, 12, 3 and 6 o’clock the next day.

As day dawned, off he went to his favourite beach.

At 9 – “๐‹๐ข๐ฌ๐ญ๐ž๐ง ๐œ๐š๐ซ๐ž๐Ÿ๐ฎ๐ฅ๐ฅ๐ฒ” – he heard the birds and sound of the sea.

By 12 – “๐“๐ซ๐ฒ ๐ซ๐ž๐š๐œ๐ก๐ข๐ง๐  ๐›๐š๐œ๐ค” – happy memories came flooding back.

Then at 3 – “๐„๐ฑ๐š๐ฆ๐ข๐ง๐ž ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ ๐ฆ๐จ๐ญ๐ข๐ฏ๐ž๐ฌ” – he discovers he was focused too much on himself.

Finally at 6 – “๐–๐ซ๐ข๐ญ๐ž ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ ๐ฐ๐จ๐ซ๐ซ๐ข๐ž๐ฌ ๐ข๐ง ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ฌ๐š๐ง๐” – he did, knowing that the waves would soon wash them away.

This prescription works for everyone..

Make those internal adjustments now.

Why not apply this remedy for yourself today?

๐–๐ž ๐œ๐š๐ง ๐œ๐ก๐š๐ง๐ ๐ž ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ฐ๐จ๐ซ๐ฅ๐ ๐›๐ฒ ๐œ๐ก๐š๐ง๐ ๐ข๐ง๐  ๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ๐ฌ๐ž๐ฅ๐ฏ๐ž๐ฌ.

Optimism

Life constantly sends us challenges to test our positivity, and to be able to look towards the future with optimism, in spite of such difficulties isn’t always easy.
Recently I was reminded of the story of the two buckets that went down the well; as the one came up it said, “This is surely a cold and dreary world. No matter how many times I come up full, I always go down empty.” Then the other bucket laughed and said, “With me it is different. No matter how many times I go down empty, I always come up full.”
Much of life is dependent upon your attitude and how you respond to situations. Our attitude makes all the difference.
“Remember, a good attitude produces good results, a fair attitude fair results, a poor attitude poor results. We each shape our own life, and the shape of it is determined largely by our attitude.”
M. Russell Ballard
In the ups and downs of life – what attitude will you choose today?

Rule #6

How is your week going?
A little challenging perhaps?
Some problems to attend to?

Have you considered Rule Number 6?

The following story is from Benjamin and Rosamund Zanderโ€™s book “The Art of Possibility”

“Two prime ministers are sitting in a room, discussing affairs of state.

Suddenly a man bursts in, apoplectic with fury, shouting and stamping and banging his fist on the desk. The resident prime minister admonishes him: โ€œPeter,โ€ he says, โ€œkindly remember Rule Number 6,โ€ whereupon Peter is instantly restored to complete calm, apologizes, and withdraws.

The politicians return to their conversation, only to be interrupted yet again twenty minutes later by an hysterical woman gesticulating wildly, her hair flying. Again the intruder is greeted with the words: โ€œMarie, please remember Rule Number 6.โ€ Complete calm descends once more, and she too withdraws with a bow and an apology.

When the scene is repeated for a third time, the visiting prime minister addresses his colleague: โ€œMy dear friend, Iโ€™ve seen many things in my life, but never anything as remarkable as this. Would you be willing to share with me the secret of Rule Number 6?โ€ โ€œVery simple,โ€ replies the resident prime minister.

โ€œRule Number 6 is โ€™Donโ€™t take yourself so @%$~* seriously.โ€™โ€

โ€œAh, says his visitor, โ€œthat is a fine rule.โ€ After a moment of pondering, he inquires, โ€œAnd what, may I ask, are the other rules?โ€

“๐—ง๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ป’๐˜ ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐˜†.””

How can you use Rule Number 6?

Perhaps it is time that we all shift the way we think and lighten up a little – start today – smile a little more along the way!

When times get tough – try using Rule Number 6!

Storms

I celebrated my birthday in lockdown yesterday.ย  One of my daughters posted this picture of me on my Facebook page, which she’d obviously kept hidden from me for a while! ๐Ÿ˜Š

It’s from a few months ago, atop one of my favourite visitor attractions, the Wallace Monument in Stirling, Scotland.

As I recall, it was a relatively clear day. There was however a gale force wind howling all around the top of the Monument, blowing visitors in every direction.ย  As I looked at the photo, it occurredย  to me – the wind was so strong that just to stand still and in order to stand straight, I had to lean into the wind.

Figuratively speaking, there are some mighty strong winds, whirlwinds even, howling all around us at this very moment in time.

I sense too that many may feel that they are being tossed to and fro in this perilous storm of global turmoil.

My invitation today is a simple one, consider what you need to do to stand tall – lean into the wind and figure out what you need to do in the current storm.

Step by step, little by little, you can and will get through this.

Like all real storms, the winds will eventually pass.

Life

In “A Tale of Two Cities” – Charles Dickens wrote these words to describe life in France and England in 1775, maybe they describe even better the conditions of our day.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.
It was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity.
It was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness.
It was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.
We had everything before us, we had nothing before us”

In our day, we are daily witnesses to a sweeping panorama into the depths of despair, then upwards to the glorious heights of beautiful acts of kindness that lift our spirits and souls once more.

For many of us, it is unlike any other time we have ever experienced before. Eventually however, I believe these challenges will pass.

Now is the time to consider – what is really vital? What really matters most? What do I really want? What is my purpose here on earth? What is the highest priority in my life?

Why not take some time today, to pause and reflect upon these simple questions. As you listen for that still small voice, reach out for the insights and inspiration. You may have to wait a while, but answers always come.