Catriona Futter – Equip For Life Coaching Becoming your best self and living life to the full – 07713 974138

Tag Archives: Advent

Wishing you deep peace

Deep peaceChristmas is nearly on us…only a few days to go. You, me, most other people living in our Western society, are up to our ears in plans, preparations, cooking, cleaning, festivities, shopping, wrapping. On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your level of peace? Seems a bonkers question – and yet, what underlies it are the same issues.

What is most important to me?

Why am I doing what I am doing?

How am I taking a little time to care for myself in the midst of everything, so I can give more of my best to others?

How am I loving those around me?

This week, these words are running through my mind –

Deep peace of the running wave to you.
Deep peace of the flowing air to you.
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.
Deep peace of the shining stars to you.
Deep peace of the gentle night to you.
Moon and stars pour their healing light on you.
Deep peace of Christ,
of Christ the light of the world to you.
Deep peace of Christ to you.

John Rutter

I encourage you and me both to stop. Just for a minute. To breathe, to pay attention to the moment – the quiet, the stars, the light.

To recognise that we are unique and extraordinary human beings, and that we are part of something much bigger than just ourselves.

Whether you have a faith or not, to recognise and cherish the central role of love, grace and kindness at this time of year – especially to those for whom this season is really hard.

Deep peace – just imagine that with me for a moment. That is my hope for you over this Christmas season – that you would know peace and contentment in who you are and what matters most to you.

Merry Christmas!

Waiting in expectation.

Waiting in expectationOnly 11 sleeps to go….sadly, in our house the children are old enough to have lost some of the magic of the anticipation of Christmas. There is still much excitement, and planning and looking forward – as much to a holiday from school as anything else! But I remember with dewy eyed fondness the sweet, innocent wonderment in their eyes when they were little, the wide open faces of expectation, the sheer magic of it all.

Patience concerns a particular form or way of waiting;

it is one filled with expectation.

Robert Sardello, in The Power of Soul

 

As grown ups, do we ever feel like that about things we are waiting for?

What does it mean for us to wait with that kind of expectation, anticipation, mystery and wonderment?

How quickly do we get stuck in the instant-gratification way of living? Wanting what we want now, and without any hard work thank you very much. How often do we wait impatiently, consumed with to-do lists, lost in what comes next and not noticing what is happening now?

When you think about this Christmas season, what is it that you are waiting for, and what is most important within that? We easily get lost in the preparations and stress and risk losing sight of the mystery and wonderment of this season – at least I know I do.

Getting it all done, and getting it all done right, can take over from actually enjoying it.

Waiting in expectation, waiting with patience, and understanding that what happens within the waiting time is important.

Pull right back from life with me for a minute – what would you most want to change about yourself? About your life? It takes time – how well do you wait, show patience in the waiting, and remain expectant of the outcome you desire?

 

Waiting without the whole story.

Just a little story this week – pause with me for a minute and think about this, and what it challenges in you.

Two beggars knocked on the door asking for bread. One beggar was given a loaf and sent away. The other was kept waiting and waiting. At length, the second beggar became concerned.

“Why am I being denied? What is so lacking in me that the other one was favoured over me?” he asked himself. Unknown to the beggar, a fresh loaf was being baked for him inside the house.

Jamal Rahman, in The Fragrance of Faith

Patience in the process of waitingHow often do we see things in two dimensions, with our own filters on, and solely from our own limited perspective?

Perhaps this Advent waiting season is a chance to stop and think –

How quick are we to make judgements on circumstances or events around us?

Are we living life at a frantic pace, and what do we risk by not slowing down?

What blessings await us as we show patience in the process of waiting?

How can we show grace, kindness, gratitude even in the uncertainty and lack of clarity during the wait?

Simply food for Advent thought.

 

Advent waiting

We have entered the season of Advent, as we anticipate and count down towards Christmas. I generally love pretty much everything to do with Christmas, but I love it in December. Not before.Advent waiting

These next four weeks, my reflections are going to be short, and focused on waiting, with a little quote or observation from someone else. I have written many, many words this year, and this is not the time for long screeds to read.

Two things have struck me of late. Advent is a season of waiting, and yet often we lose sight of this in all the busyness, build up, and preparations. What does it mean to wait well? What are we waiting for – not just at Christmas, but in our lives in general?

Advent is also the anticipation of Christmas, whatever that might mean to you. Central to that is love, grace, generosity, hope and peace. But I know that these things can quickly get trampled out of my life in the weeks running up to Christmas, as my focus slips and my mind becomes preoccupied.

 

So I give you this as food for thought –

Being made to wait has another benefit.

It helps us figure out what we truly want and what really matters to us. . . .

Remembering that some things are worth waiting for helps us decide what it is that is worth the wait,

Advent waiting without seeingand to prize it truly when we do receive it.”

MJ Ryan in The Power of Patience

A touch of kindness at Christmas

Two days till Christmas….our senses are on full alert.

We have seen, listened to, heard, smelled, tasted andtouch of kindness enjoyed our way to this week. For many, this is a wonderful time of year: to celebrate with family and friends…to enjoy some time of rest and refreshment….to sample delicious food and drink….to see sights and sparkles galore…to perhaps focus on the bigger picture of what it is all about.

To extend a touch of kindness to another that communicates care, joy, time.

It is a very tactile time of year too, with much embracing – from the bewhiskered elderly aunt to the work colleague you would never normally hug, Christmas somehow seems a socially acceptable time to be more huggy.

For some, this time of year is really hard. Lost loved ones, illness, financial uncertainty, natural disasters. All can serve to make what should be a time of celebration all the harder and more lonely. For many, there is little time off work, and work is busier and it can all feel just a little too much.

I don’t want to put a damper on things – simply to say, how can we seek to share love, encouragement, hope, a simple touch of kindness, to those around us in these days?

And I wish you a very happy Christmas, and time to stop and enjoy the moment.

Hearing is believing

They say that seeing is believing. I’m not so sure. Of course, it depends on what it is we are seeking to believe in – be it a person, an event, a reality.

Hearing is believing

Hearing is believing

Sometimes I wonder that it is when we hear – and really listen under the surface – that we believe. Because it is often through truly listening, to what is being said and more importantly what is not being said, that we get an insight into what is going on inside the other. The other person feels valued and respected, the connection is strengthened, and there is greater understanding and empathy.

There is much to assault our auditory sense at this time of year. It is all too easy to tune out everything extraneous because we are so focused on the pre-Christmas preparation tasks or events in hand.

But what do we risk missing?

An innocuous comment that belies a deeper worry or fear might go unnoticed but for the tone and heaviness of the speaker, indicating a desperate need to share….a longing to be asked.

A cross remark might spark an argument, but the irritation of the speaker masks an underlying anxiety and stress about something much bigger – do we take time to stop and hear what is really going on?

Days can pass in a blur of events and preparations, and it is so easy to pass our nearest-and-dearest like ships in the night, communicating nothing more than instructions about who has to be where when and with what. How much harder it is to stop…make time…ask about the other and really listen to the answer….to believe in them again and in what makes the relationship important.

All those Christmas songs in the shops – can drive you nuts…..but it is all too easy to have noise constantly going, and sometimes silence is the tonic that brings calm and a right perspective.

Hearing is believing – what are you listening to, hearing, believing in this week?

The tastes and smells of Christmas…remind you of what?

The smell of Christmas

The smell of Christmas

It’s a very tasty and smelly time of year. And generally that makes me very happy. Let me qualify that…

Our moods are affected most by what we take in through our senses – what we see, hear, smell, taste, and how we experience touch, can affect quite dramatically our mood. Think of simple things like a beautiful sunset, a delicious meal, a compliment, a well-timed hug. And in contrast, a wet, gray day; earache; a harsh word; a disgusting scent lingering unwantedly in our noses.

Of all our senses, our sense of smell is most powerful in reconnecting us with memories, emotions and past experiences. That is because there is a direct route from our smell receptors to the limbic system in our brain where we process our emotional memories (lovely article about this link here.)

I only have to smell mixed spice to immediately be transported back Dr Who style to my childhood and I am kneeling in front of my grandmother’s large wooden dresser that contained her spices and baking ingredients, sticking my head in to get a good whiff. Her presence is almost tangible and it reminds me of her, and how much I miss her and my grandfather.

Fresh cut grass boosts my mood as I think of summer, parks and picnics. The smell of hot wet pavements after rain immediately relaxes me as I am back in a hot holiday destination.

And the smell of Christmas?

Tangerines are memories of opening stockings on Christmas morning as a child, and now doing the same with my children. Roast pork is many happy Danish Christmas Eve celebrations, remembering my other, Scandinavian grandmother. Cloves make me laugh and think of the orange pomander thing that my cousin painstakingly made as a gift, following the Blue Peter instructions (happily, no dental associations for me with cloves!).

What smells have the strongest associations for you, and why?

What smells and scents are you aware of this week, as we head towards Christmas?

When we stop and notice, what memories, emotions, associations come with those smells?

And ultimately, rather than just noticing, how can we respond – with thankfulness, appreciation, generosity, kindness – to our nearest and dearest, to those with little or nothing, to those for whom Christmas food smells simply reinforce the gap between those that have and those that have not?

Smell and taste – intimately connected, enhancing each other. Lots to savour, and in a house of foodies, much deliciousness to anticipate.

In contrast, we have all experienced the bitter taste of an unpleasant, harsh conversation…the sourness of negativity…the lingering ‘off’ aftertaste of an unkind word, be it from our own mouths or that of another.

So this week, in this season of waiting and preparation – how can we bring a taste of goodness to others?  How can we ensure our words are sweet tasting, enhance the lives of those around us, bring joy and encouragement?

Smell and taste your way through this week, taking time to stop and notice, to remember and celebrate, and to spread goodness.

 

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…..

It's beginning to look a lot like ChristmasAt the start of December, what do you see as you look around you?

What does the beginning of Christmas look like to you?

Sight – one of our five senses. When our sight is good, we tend to take it utterly for granted. But I am challenged to take time this week to stop and really notice things, not just see them.

To really notice people around me in the street or in shops, and take time to say hello, or make eye contact, or simply smile rather than just hurtling past or seeing them as a nuisance because they are in my way.

To try to see under the surface of those closer to me, to notice body language and posture that might be clues to tension and frustration. To see what is really going on, rather than simply seeing on the surface because I am too preoccupied with what is next on my list.

To see and enjoy all the twinkly things and sparkly things that are everywhere, and to take time to make my own home somewhere bright and light and inviting, particularly on those days when it never seems to get light.

To really notice and appreciate decorations and gifts, and value and celebrate the person behind it – from the special bauble that belonged to my grandparents to the (ghastly) decorations made by my children when they were at nursery which I still keep (to their horror!).

When it is very dark, seeing what things are and how to move forward can be difficult. So too when our perspective is lost in the midst of dark times – it can be hard to truly see what is going, and our ability to see where we are going becomes clouded and foggy. Perhaps these days of preparation can also prompt us to prepare a time for ourselves in the New Year to take stock and regain our vision for what is important and where we are going with our lives.

And what about the absence of sight – blindness? The weeks leading up to Christmas can be very full and busy, with preparations, shopping, school or family events, work to finish up if we are able to take time off between Christmas and New Year. Sometimes all this busyness stops us seeing what is really important to us – be it the meaning behind Christmas, the importance of family, appreciating good health.

What stops us seeing what is around us? What do we become selectively blind to? Perhaps we can choose to allow what we see to trigger our ability to notice…appreciate…celebrate…one little thing at a time.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas….

Enjoying Christmas with all our senses

Tuning into your senses!

Tuning into your senses!

Christmas is fast approaching – it is impossible to deny it now, despite my best attempts. I absolutely love Christmas, but generally like to keep it to December. But all around us, the evidence of it’s approach is growing, and enthusiasm in this house gaining momentum. A fully lit and decorated tree has been spotted in a window in a nearby street. Christmas carols are being practiced for concerts, the shops are full to bursting with things that – it is put to us – we couldn’t possibly get through another year without.

And so it goes on.

And so I came to wondering, how to approach Advent with fresh eyes, fresh wonder at the beauty of it all, and a day-at-a-time enjoyment that prevents list-making mania and stuff-that-needs-to-get-done overload?

It is two years next month since I left my previous twenty year long career as a physiotherapist (physical therapist) and moved into coaching. But there is still much of the physio in me – I cannot switch it off. I am a very tactile person, very aware of how astonishingly wonderful and complex our bodies are.

I love the connections between body, mind, soul, emotions. And at this time of year, I am particularly aware of how powerful our senses are to connect us with our world. There are so many fragrances and tastes, smells and sounds, lights and physical experiences that are peculiar to the Christmas season – I wonder how our internal sources of sensation of the external world complement our experience of that world?

Can we taste, smell, notice, listen and embrace our way to a deeper daily enjoyment of the build up to Christmas?

This comes back to a familiar theme – that of being present in the moment, stopping to notice what is happening now. Mindfulness contains many of these elements, and is rapidly gaining popularity as we look for ways to contend with an external world that is often jam-packed with information and stimuli 24 hours a day.

Immanuel Kant in the 1760’s proposed that our knowledge of the outside world depends on our modes of perception. Most of the things we enjoy in life – whatever the stimulus is – are derived from our five senses. Think about that for just a minute…..go back over today and register how many of your senses were involved in what you have enjoyed: the delicious taste of good coffee, a bear hug from a loved one, the laughter of a friend, the smell of fresh baking. You get the idea! Now, imagine every day over Advent taking time to sharpen your perception of the world by paying attention to your senses:

  • taking time to perceive our outside world, especially the little things
  • paying attention to what we are perceiving, and to what emotions are then surfacing
  • responding in some way – thankfulness, appreciation, service towards someone in need, reconnecting with someone, simply stopping and enjoying the moment

It is all too easy to become anaesthetised to the little, the ordinary, the momentary, in our headlong rush towards Christmas Day. To literally become numb to it all because we allow ourselves to be swamped with all there is to do, and lose focus.

I love the family celebrations, presents and feasting of Christmas, but also have a personal belief that there is more significance to the day. But whether there is a faith component for you or not, perhaps over these next four weeks we can take a little time to explore how to sharpen our enjoyment of Christmas preparations by tuning in to our senses and making connections that enrich each day.

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