Tuesday, March 4, 2014

100 Happy Days - 10%

Last month we had a Relief Society activity on being happy - on looking after our mental health. One of the speakers talked about "Learned Happiness" or "Learned Optimism" which is the idea that happiness or joy is something we can learn to cultivate.

The "100HappyDays" project is all about getting people sign up to find something to be happy about every day for 100days, take a photo and post it on social media #100HappyDays. I signed up for it because I like the idea of recording moments of happiness - it sounded fun - and I plan to compile the photos in a book as a sort of photographic gratitude journal to complement my written one. I am a great believer in gratitude and happiness!

Here are some of the happy moments in the past 10 days.
Doing family history research - finding out about my roots....

Little Possum's fashion sense and funny faces despite being sick. She is always cheerful this little one of mine.

I love dark chocolate. I love pistachios. I love marzipan. A combo of all 3? Perfect!

I love this word.....   so useful.

My accidental garden. Grew from where we buried the bunny poop.....

Aaaaah. A browse in a bookshop. Bliss.

Little Possum's sock monkey Toto that she made herself.

A letter from my aunt sharing childhood memories, family information and a beautiful photo of my great aunt who died before I was born.

Going to the temple. Can't top that for a source of joy and peace.

And... that is a secret to happiness...  We can make our own happiness and feel joy by doing the things that will lead us to the temple. Learning to see the happy moments in a day is closely aligned with seeing the Lord's hand in our lives, to being grateful. The more I learn to look for it, the more I will find.

"Be of good cheer" is an admonition often repeated in the scriptures. It is so much more than telling us to "cheer up". It is a reminder of whom our source of happiness is:

"These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world"
John 16:33

"Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you; and ye shall bear record of me, even Jesus Christ, that I am the Son of the living God, that I was, that I am, and that I am to come."
Doctrine and Covenants 68:6

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A birthday message

Today would have been my mother's 75th birthday and I wish I could wish her a happy birthday.
Grief is a strange thing. Over the past 9 years it has been like the waves on the beach. Sometimes the occasional gentle wave and other times like a freak tidal wave crashing over me. 

I still catch myself thinking about picking up the phone and calling her to tell her something. Then I remember.
But, I am grateful for my faith and testimony of the plan of salvation which lets me know that all is as it should be. She had completed her earthly mission and it was her time to return. Her life had been one filled with trials, more physical and emotional pain than anyone would imagine because she never complained.
At the end she said she was ready to go 

"I have had a good life"

She knew the secret of gratitude.

Today I will celebrate her life here on earth. I will celebrate this wonderful woman who taught me about patience, about enduring trials of every kind with a faithful heart and cheerful demeanour. She taught me the value of a good sense of humour and of looking outward to others and forward with hope.

 Although she was small in stature, she was a spiritual giant.

She had soft and gentle hands and a gentle manner, and I grieve for my children who have missed out on her hugs and her fruitbuns. They have to settle for my memories of her for now.

She was diagnosed with cancer in the same week that we moved out to Australia, 
these photos were taken on our last visit to her before we left and although they were snappy snaps, they are treasures.

 I love this last one of Bestemor with our Little Possum. 
She must have wondered about seeing her grow up.

I hope that my mother gets to look in on us occasionally. I hope I am making her proud.
I will see her again, of that I am sure. In the meantime I shall continue to miss her but cherishing wonderful memories.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

"Northern Lights"

I just discovered this beautiful choral piece by talented composer Ola Gjeilo and it fills me with joy and peace.

The clip below also has some stunning images of Aurora Borealis. 

Enjoy :)

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Summer evening

I'm grateful for moments of joy and beauty. Especially those that sneak up on me.

Last night while Turtle was out boating with the other Young Men from church, Little Possum and I sat by the bay along with Tina. It was a beautiful and restful spot to spend a late afternoon.

We had chocolate and there were rocks to jump around on. What more could we possibly want?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Camp Liberty - teambuilding exercise

Last week we had our annual stake (equivalent of a diocese) YW (Young Women, girls from 12-17yrs) camp. This year the venue was the beautiful Bungonia National Park. Full of kangaroos and wombats that were easily spotted. Probably also full of snakes which I had been nervous about, but they had enough sense to stay out of our way. I was grateful about that since I was the camp nurse - my visions of having to treat snakebites thankfully did not happen.

On the first day there was a series of team building exercises, and my friend Tina and I were in charge of one. We had chosen a game involving plastic tubs and plastic balls of the type you find in ball pits. We only used 4 colours - 2 for each team so we could tell them apart.

We drilled holes in 2 tubs and threaded lengths of rope in different places. The ropes had loop-handles at the end for the girls to hold on to. They were only allowed to hold the rope by the loops.

The girls were in competing teams, 2 at a time. Our area was marked in a triangle with the start/finish at one point of the triangle and a cone in each of the other two points.

The rules were:
Teams were to choose one thrower. All the others would hold the bucket.
The girls were only allowed to hold the rope at the end/the loop and they had to work together to move their bucket.
The throwers stood 2-3 metres away from their teams and threw the balls for their team mates to catch in their buckets. Any balls that fell on the ground or bounced out of the bucket were lost.

 When a team had caught 5 balls in their bucket, they had to run to each of the cones before returning to the start area where they had to manoeuvre the bucket (without touching the bucket, and only holding the ropes at the end loops) to empty their balls into a third and smaller bucket. Again, any balls that fell out during the running around, were lost. 

With the empty bucket they were able to catch 5 more from their throwers.

We made the game a timed game, 5 minutes, after which we counted each teams balls. The team with the highest number won.

Unfortunately I had to settle for hastily snapped photos at the time, but hopefully they are enough to give you an idea of what we did.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


We have a rabbit called Spartacus Sniffles (the children of the household could not disagree which of the names, so she has both)
I love rabbits, and our lop-eared cashmere bunny is very soft, but a bit grumpy so she doesn't get cuddled a lot except by me since she bites everyone else. She even scares the neighbourhood cats.

My gratitude today has to do with rabbits... sort of...

Pondering the the mathematical problem of population growth of rabbits, starting with one pair,  let this man - Leonardo Fibonacci - come up with a solution known as the Fibonacci sequence
This sequence is a series of numbers 
0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21, 34.... finding the next number by adding the previous two... so simple... so clever.
I'm not a fan of maths, but this sequence fascinates me because how it pops up in nature and all around us. 

in a sunflower

in a sea shell

in space


I am grateful for this earth we live on. When I look at the marvels of nature and these patterns that are everywhere, there is no doubt in my mind of a divine Creator.

I am so grateful that when God created this world for us to have our mortal experience, He not only made it functional, but He made it beautiful! He made it a place of wonder with stunning landscapes, great varieties of flora and fauna.

Particular mention shall go to the cacao bean which makes chocolate possible.

 I'm very grateful for chocolate.


Sunday, January 19, 2014

Carpe Diem

The Dalai Lama IV said:
"There are only two days a year when we can do nothing. One is yesterday, and the other is tomorrow"

I thought of that quote this week and the link between procrastination and regret as I was working on my family history trying to find some particularly elusive relatives and ancestors. There are only a few people left in my extended family now who have personal knowledge, information, anecdotes and memories to share. So I have contacted relatives both sides of my family, reaching out to distant cousins of my parents in the hope of tapping into their valuable memories before they are gone.

My aunt is the keeper of family history on my father's side, and I am so grateful that she is still remembering and still sharing information with me. She has always been a faithful letter writer, and I regret all the times when I felt "too busy" to sit down to write a letter to her. This week she sent me some photographs of my grandfather's cousins who emigrated to North Dakota, USA. My aunt corresponded with all her cousins and 2nd cousins who had emigrated and recorded names, dates and places.

I was touched to see this on the back of one photograph (and the funny little verse!) - cousin Jennie was always very interested in her father's family and on this occasion requested photographs so that she could make a photoalbum, presumably for her children. I'm certain my aunt answered promptly.... she's wonderful like that!... and I hope that cousin Jennie was able to complete the photoalbum. 

Cousin Jennie passed away 6 months after this request.

Time is precious.

I'm off to write more letters!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Thoughtful Friday

(photography by Mikka Lagerstedt)

"That we do a lot may not be so important.
That we focus the energy of our minds, our hearts, and our souls on those things of eternal significance.... that is essential"
- elder Joseph B Wirthlin

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The latest in positive affirmation...

The Positive Affirmation Potato!..

As Little Possum said: "Potatoes are wise.... should listen to them more often."

(I love my girl with her off the wall ideas and boundless energy and enthusiasm)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


In this vast universe and among all the creations of God, we are seemingly insignificant

and yet.....
most significant of all

so much so that "He sent His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16 KJV)

"This is my work and my glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" (Moses 1:39)

Saturday, January 4, 2014

names and faces

During the Christmas break I have been sorting through a treasure trove of photographs. I have inherited photo albums and piles of photos from both sides of the family since I have no cousins on either side. As I have said before, I seem to have become the curator of my family's history.

On my mother's side photos were neatly placed in albums, and photographs were labelled with names:
By studying my pedigree chart I have been able to place these people and put faces to the names in my family. As I take their names to the temple I feel I know who they are and I feel a connection with them. These people give me roots and a sense of belonging as I forge the links between generations.

On my father's side however, the photographs do not provide me with any clues at all about who they are.

They could be family members or friends, possibly even suitors? I have been frustrated with the lack of organisation or even a little note on the back of the photo until I realised something....

 "Hello, Kettle.... My name is "Pot" and you're black...."

My own recent photo collection is extensive. I never did get around to beautifully crafted scrapbooks or photoalbums after the children were born. There are photos in albums that are not labelled or dated... and piles of photographs in a box. Then there are the multiple digital albums....

 I am not so different to my g grandparents. Maybe they did not anticipate that a couple of generations on someone would want to know who they were and be interested in their lives. Maybe they assumed that the information would be passed on?

I try to give my children roots and connect them to their ancestors by telling them the stories I was told when I was a child adding stories from my own childhood. My new year's resolution is to go one step (or 5) further by working on my personal history, and to organise all our photos into albums whether hardcopy or digital so that my children and their children will be able to put names to faces.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Norma and Cuddles - a mission memory

I only spent one Christmas in the mission field.
My companion at the time was Elizabeth Gaye Reid - my 4th companion. Kind hearted and funny, ardent dr Who fan and talented artist who introduced me to tacos which are surely a celestial food!

 We served in the East Grinstead ward which had both the London temple and Scientology headquarters in our area -  it made for an interesting mix.
The London Temple visitor's centre holds many fond memories, most of them connected to elder and sister Roundy who served their mission there, and became our honourary grandparents. Feeding us dinners (dinner appointments were few and far between in that ward), entertaining us with amusing anecdotes and encouraging us through the challenging times.

For Christmas they gave us teddy bears (on the floor in this picture) which we named "Norma" (yellow bear, mine) and "Cuddles" (blue, sister Reid's) in memory of the Roundy's. 

Sadly sister Reid was not well, and ended up getting an early release from her mission. As her parting gift, she made me my very own cartoon/mission chronicle that I treasure to this day:

Vale Beth Reid