Story Of A Bear

It was worth a shot but it hadn’t worked.  We were very mistaken to think that the one she loved could be so easily replaced.

There he lied…on the floor… stubbornly ignored by the toddler who refused to acknowledge him after she threw him there.  Was it the fourth or fifth time now?

She stood there, refusing to look at it.  Her small body turned away with downcast eyes.  She didn’t want to look at us either.  She hadn’t thrown a tantrum.  She hadn’t cried.  Yet her communication was clear. ‘This is not my Teddy.’

For three nights, we had woken up to her heart-breaking sobs and her crying for Teddy.  She had lost it somewhere.  I had searched everywhere in the house but couldn’t find it.  Her real teddy was a tan colour, sort of like pine wood.  Most of its fur had been sucked off its nose. His foot had, ‘Baby’s first Teddy’ embroidered on it.

The one lying on the floor was not it.  I couldn’t find an exact replica.  I found another bear which I thought was at least equally cute.  I should have known it wasn’t about cuteness.  It was about attachment.

When we found her real Teddy bear about several days later in the church nursery, our daughter’s reaction was a bit strange.  She held it but didn’t react.  It was as if she had given up hope of ever having it again and now wasn’t sure if he was really there.  She didn’t throw it down on the floor but she didn’t smile either.  She seemed numb.  I realised that my poor sixteen-month old daughter had experienced her first form of emotional stress and shock.  She never lost him again.

Tara and Teddy

As for the replacement bear, we later gave him to my son. He was then passed down a few times till my fourth child had him.  We moved from the US to the UK with the bear. Then one day, it may have been a birthday or Father’s Day, my daughter gave him to my husband as a gift.  This bear is now nearly thirty years old.  He has never been truly loved – not in the sense of say, ‘The Velveteen Rabbit’ sort of way.  I suppose my husband and I have felt the closest to sympathy towards it.  Poor rejected bear.  I hadn’t realised Jim kept it all these years.

When World Vision said they needed 700 Teddy bears to be placed on the steps of London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral, Jim donated our sad bear towards it.  The 700 bears were used to raise awareness. They symbolise the 700 unaccompanied refugee children that are arriving each week in Uganda after fleeing their homes in South Sudan. The children had been separated from their family.  They have witnessed horrible atrocities.  Many have seen members of their own family killed.  This has left most of the children psychologically traumatised.  They arrive in Uganda terrified, hungry and exhausted.

Our Bear showing with the red circle around it. Photo Source: World Vision UK

Uganda have been exemplary when it comes to welcoming the refugees.  Hundreds of thousands have arrived and have been given sanctuary, compassion and a plot of land.  However, aid is still urgently needed to provide basic needs such as food, clean water and medical supplies.  Many of the children need psychological therapy for what they have suffered.  You can read more about World Vision’s campaign in the UK by clicking here.  To learn more about World Vision’s work in South Sudan, click here.

You may wonder what World Vision will be doing with those 700 teddy bears, once their Bears On Stairs campaign is over.  The answer is that every teddy bear is going to a child in one of the refugee camps in Uganda.  I am so happy to know that our poor rejected bear will finally go somewhere where he is loved.  In my heart, I am sending him off with a prayer that he will bring comfort to a child who needs it.


Christmas MUST Be Wonderful…

Picture Source

Picture Source

My husband and I sometimes have discussions about ‘Christmas-time’.  We both have our opinions as to when it is. Jim is English and more of a traditionalist. For him, Christmas time begins on the 25th of December and last twelve days.  For me, partly because of my American upbringing, Christmas begins the day after Thanksgiving and ends on Christmas day – two days longer than the advent season.  He celebrates Christmas when it happens, while I celebrate it as something to look forward to. He enjoys meeting up with family and having the big Christmas feast(s).  I enjoy the preparations and evoking the ambiance of Christmas.  I love having my tree up, lighting my Christmas-y candles, going shopping and seeing the Christmas decorations and watching Christmas movies.

Of course, there is no right way or wrong way to celebrate Christmas.  I know of many different ways people celebrate Christmas.  I also know that for some, Christmas is a very difficult time of year.  Some choose not to celebrate it at all.  Strange as it may seem, I totally get it.  The problem is, we put way too much importance on the ‘how’ of Christmas.  I mean Christmas has to be wonderful right? We have to make sure everyone is happy.  So we negotiate with our spouses as to who we visit and when and who visits us.  We try desperately hard to get the right gifts for people otherwise misunderstandings happen.  (You thought I was a size 12?!) We bake till our backs break only to find out that Bree won’t eat cookies with oats in it, Jaz won’t eat anything with red food colouring (on the fact that she is a veggie) and Sara’s daughter has a nut allergy.  Not to mention all the dieters out there who won’t eat anything at all!

Then there are those who have Christmas memories where things went wrong.  A death. A break-up.  A vicious argument.  Which isn’t fair because like I said, we believe in the importance that Christmas must be wonderful.

We also believe that Christmas is about getting together with family.  However, many will be spending Christmas alone.  Some will not be doing this by choice.  There is a sad growing crisis in the UK of elderly people being abandoned by their family.  These people have grown-up children and grand-children who have cut them off.  Every Christmas, they sit alone at home; no visit, no phone call, not even a card.  As hard as it is to be abandoned, the feeling is compounded at Christmas.  They have many memories of Christmases past when they use to spend it with their family.  Christmas use to be wonderful.  Now they are alone.

Also, that first Christmas after a divorce…dismal!  There is a large family get together and everyone is either fussing over you because they feel sorry for you or they are avoiding talking about your ex altogether.  Then there is Auntie Jo, who perhaps is going a bit senile in her old age.  She keeps asking you where the no-good bum is.  Only she says, ‘Where is that lovely husband of yours?’

Christmas after divorce can be harder still if there are children involved. The anger and resentment may still be there.  Even if you and your ex have been able to work out Christmas arrangements with the kids amicably, the kids have voices of their own.  They may not want to spend it with you and visit Auntie Jo.  On the other hand, they may not be putting up a fuss at all, but you have placed all this pressure on yourself to buy them the best gifts and make it the best Christmas ever for them.  Why?  Because Christmas must be wonderful.

Many people take on a second job over Christmas to afford the gifts they must buy.  Many are in jobs which become more stressful around Christmas.  If you work for a delivery company or are in a retail related job then that usually means lots of late nights, over-time hours and angry customers.  After all, they are paying your wages by buying those special gifts which need to arrive in time otherwise Christmas won’t be wonderful.

Why do we do it?  Why do we put all this hard work and pressure on ourselves to make Christmas perfect?  Why are the gifts, the food and the festivities so important to get right?  Why does it have to be so wonderful?

Every year I find myself speculating on what I will and won’t do during the leading up to Christmas.  The truth is, I do want it to be wonderful for everyone.  I also want as little stress as possible.

How each of us celebrates Christmas is up to us.  However, if you have some concerns as to how Christmas will be this year.  If you are too busy and worried about stress or sinking into depression, then it is time to start planning.  What will bring you peace this Christmas? I’m not suggesting that you think only of yourself.  I am however, giving us all permission to give a bit of love to ourselves as well.

Christmas isn’t about an image.  It isn’t about outward perfection.  Christmas is the celebration of a mysterious, mystical and wonderful event.  As I ponder on that event, the imagery that it evokes isn’t garland, platefuls of food or presents wrapped in metallic paper.  There is no imagery but a starlit night which is sensed more than seen.

Picture Source

Picture Source

It is a feeling of profound silence.  A silence which grows deep within and warms the heart. A silence which is reflective of that mysterious, mystical moment in history….the birth of Christ. That very first Christmas was wonderful.  I suppose every Christmas must be wonderful if we but allow it to reflect that first.

A Story About Grace



The tempo of the music bursting from the speakers increased and so Dermia picked up her pace to match.  The hair on the nape of her neck had already become drenched through her efforts.  She felt proud of herself because she knew that her new exorcise routine was going to pay off and hopefully she will look great in the dress she picked out for her sister’s wedding.  It hadn’t been easy trying to find the right dress.  Every one she had tried on revealed some unwanted bulge.  In the end she decided on a dress that concealed her flabby arms even though it didn’t perfectly hide her round tummy.  Dermia chose it because she felt it was easier to lose a bit of fat more easily from her middle than her arms.  She only needed to lose ten pounds and the dress would be fine.  It was really important to look her best on the day, after all she was the sister of the bride and part of the wedding party.  The wedding was going to be a large affair and there was the chance that she may meet someone rather interesting.  It didn’t feel fair that her sister would soon be married to her childhood sweetheart while she being older was a single mom who had had her heart broken.  As if on cue, a small voice interrupted her thoughts from the doorway.

“Mummy, is it breakfast time yet?” asked Grace, Dermia’s four year old daughter.  “My tummy is rumbling.”

“It’s almost breakfast time,” Dermia panted.  “I just need to finish working out to this cd and then I will make you some breakfast.”

When the CD was finally finished, Dermia put it back in its case. She was about to run into the bathroom to have her shower when Grace popped in front of her with a hopeful grin.  Her blond hair was still dishevelled from her night’s sleep and her mother suddenly noticed that her pyjamas were in need of a wash. Grace’s large, bright eyes looked up at her mother’s.

“Can I have Cheerios with raisins for breakfast?”

“Um…Grace, can it wait till I have my…”


“Mummy is just going to have her shower first. I will be very quick.”

Dermia ran into the bathroom and quickly stepped into the shower.  She spotted the new shower gel she had bought and suddenly slowed down in order to inhale the fragrance of patchouli and jasmine.  It had been a bit expensive but it was worth every penny.  She felt a twinge of guilt for dipping into the money from her child support which she received from Grace’s father but then brushed it out of her mind by telling herself she often uses her own hard earned money for things Grace needed. After finishing her shower and drying off.  She went upstairs to her bedroom and carefully chose her clothes for the day.  Today she was taking Grace to her first day of preschool. She chose clothes which she hoped would make her look like a successful business woman to the other mothers even though she actually worked nights as a seamstress in a clothing factory.

Fully dressed and with carefully applied make-up, she went downstairs and walked into the kitchen to find Grace happily eating a bowl of cheerios without milk.

“Grace! What are you doing?  You were supposed to wait for mummy to get you breakfast.”

“You werm bishy so I wamted to hep by getting it myshelf,” said Grace with her mouth full of Cheerios.

Grace grinned up at her mother.  One solitary Cheerio was hanging precariously in front of her mouth making it look like an oddly shaped and enlarged tooth.  Dermia smiled back and went over to the refrigerator to get the jug of milk out.

“I’m sorry I made you wait so long for your breakfast.”

“That’s okay Mummy.  You had to get ready for my first day of school.  You’re pretty mummy.  I love you.”

“You’re right Grace.  It’s an important day today and you and I have to both look pretty.  So hurry up and finish your breakfast so we can get you dressed.”

Grace arrived with her mother at Little Acorns preschool looking adorable with her OshKosh B’gosh polo dress and denim jacket and her hair put up in one wavy ponytail with a Frozen hair ribbon. Dermia had a quick word with Grace’s teacher to ensure Miss Price was aware of how exceptional Grace was and how devoted a mother Dermia herself was.  She then dashed off to her ‘business meeting’ aka the nail salon to get her infills.

Grace was enjoying her day at preschool.  Miss Price handed out paper and crayons and asked the children to draw a picture of someone they love.  Grace worked hard and thoughtfully on her picture.  When she showed it to Miss Price, her teacher smiled quizzically but praised her effort.

Dermia was happy with the results of her new manicure and was about to do some grocery shopping when she ran into a friend of hers.  They decided to have lunch at a café.  The café was closed however so they went to a small restaurant across the street.  As they were both on diets, they decided to each have the soup of the day, a bowl of marinated olives and a glass of wine each.  What they ended up having was the soup of the day with crusty bread and butter, a bowl of olives and three large glasses of wine each.

Suddenly, Dermia realized she had five minutes to get to Little Acorns and pick up Grace but it would take fifteen minutes for her to walk there.  She quickly said goodbye to her friend and toddled off as fast as she could to Little Acorns.  On the way there she passed some construction workers who were working on a new build.  One of the workers did a wolf whistle and Dermia deliberately tried to walk more provocatively.  Because of this (and because of the wine she had), she ended up losing her balance slightly and scraped her arm on a fence with a jagged splinter of wood sticking out tearing the sleeve of her designer lookalike blouse.

When she arrived at the school, Grace was sitting on a bench outside chatting away with Miss Price and holding her drawing carefully in front of her. She saw her mother arriving and stood up with a huge grin and ran to her.


“Hi Grashe, sorry Um late,” her still tipsy mother said.

“That’s okay Mummy, you’re here now!”

Miss Price scowled slightly at Dermia.

“Will you be driving Grace home?” she asked.

“Oh no, weesh only lif around the corner,” answered Dermia.

“Would you like to come into the classroom so we could discuss Grace’s first day?” Miss Price was no fool and she wanted to ascertain whether it was safe to send Grace home with her mother in the condition she was in.  Dermia agreed to come in.  Although she was a bit tipsy she was aware enough to realize what Miss Price had realized.

They walked into the classroom and sat at the small desks.

“So tell me about your first day at preschool!” Derma said smiling at Grace and trying to appear the doting mother once more.

“I made this for you Mummy!”

“What is it?”

“It’s a picture of someone I love very very much!”

Dermia studied the picture.  It was a picture of a rather gangly figure with several arms and legs.

“Who is it?” asked Dermia confused.

“It’s you Mummy!”

“Why do I have so many arms and legs?  People only have two arms and two legs each Grace.”

“Sometimes when you exercise and dance you move so fast it looks like you have lots of arms and legs.  Also sometimes you are so busy you can’t help me or hug me.  You have sooo much you are always doing.  But see that red thing there in the middle?  That’s your heart because I know you still love me even though you are very busy a lot.”

Dermia’s eyes welled up with tears.  “Oh Grace, I am sorry I am so busy sometimes.  Does it make you sad?”

“We-e-ll, a bit,” Grace said tentatively. “But it’s okay mummy because you are very very pretty and you are sometimes sad because there’s no daddy and I love you…THIS much!”

Grace held out her arms wide. Dermia hugged her daughter.

“I do apologise Miss Price for being late picking up Grace.  I can assure you, I won’t let that happened again.”

Miss Price smiled and could see that Grace’s mother was relatively sober and it would be safe to let Grace walk around the corner with her mother.

“I understand that sometimes business meetings can run late,” Miss Price responded tactfully.  “Please do try to not allow that to happen too often as it is hard on both children and staff alike.”

Dermia took Grace’s hand and walked slowly and remorsefully home.  She realized that she had been taking Grace for granted.  She realized that Grace is a beautiful and loving child who loves her unconditionally and that she was lucky to have her.  Dermia vowed to actively love and care for her child more and to never be too busy to spend time with her and to hug her.

Who is Grace?  Grace is the One who gives because of Love alone.  Grace doesn’t say I am for you because you earned my time, my gifts or my love.  Instead Grace says, ‘Here is my heart because in spite of what you put out, I see you.  Here are my hands ready to serve you and to help you because in spite of how little you give me, I value you.  Here are my arms wanting to embrace you even though so many others deem you unworthy.  I know you and you are not unworthy to me.  I am here for you even though you don’t yet know how to love fully and you don’t always see me.’

Photo by Marilylle Soveran

Defining and Instilling a Sense of Home

What makes a house a home?

Close your eyes and envision your home- not the castle or mansion you hope to have when you win lotto but the actual house you live in, looking the way you want it to.  No, wait!  Don’t open your eyes yet.  I want you to relax and envision with the eyes of your heart. I want you to think ‘home’ rather than ‘glam house’ or ‘show room’.  What would make your house feel like home to you?  Really think about it.  NOW open your eyes.  Take a look around you.  Does your house reflect home to you?  Is it a sanctuary? Is it restful? Is it how you want it?

Personally, I have taken a step sideways from ‘interior design’ in order to focus on making my house a home.  Realistically, this isn’t always easy when you have:

a) children

b) pets

c) limited finances

If those are your challenges, then please take a deep breath and read the previous sentence again but with an inner and outer smile.  Why?  Because I want you to not think about how awful the mess is and how so many things are in need of repair and how little money you have.  It is so easy to view problems as …well…problems while losing focus on the blessings that often reflect these problems.  As I look at the puddles of dog drool on my laminate floor and the dog hair on my carpet, I remind myself how this big, hairy beast brings so much joy to our household.  Piles of shoes in the hallway?  That just reminds me that I am blessed to have some of my children still living at home with me; for the laughter around the dinner table and the long talks we share.  When I think of our limited finances, I am grateful for the choice I had to work part time in order to have less stress and more creativity in my life.  My life is how I created it…mess and all.

Throughout my life, wherever I have lived, I have always made an effort to remind myself to be grateful for having a roof over my head.  This was the case even with my most humblest of abodes.  Wherever I have lived, I dedicated my home to serving others.  It has been a shelter to troubled teens, free accommodation to college students, a house group meeting place and most often, a place to bless others with a meal and friendship. A sense of home is something all human beings crave and which I never take for granted.

There are several ways to make a house a home. A home should have a sense of harmony between all those living there as well as for those who just visit.  It should also be a sanctuary for those who need to feel loved and embraced at the end of the day.  A home is welcoming and comforting through the use of its decor and scents.  Above all, a home should emanate love. The word ‘home’ describes the spiritual or sensual aspect of the house.  When you walk into someone’s house, you will often immediately sense whether it is truly a home. Making a house a home does not require a lot of money because it starts within the spirit of those who live there.  If you wanted to begin at this very moment, you can.  You can pray or ask yourself, “How can I help?” or “How can I love better?”


…your teenage daughter who is studying in her room would feel more at home if you brought her a cup of hot chocolate.

…or your wife who has had a stressful day would feel loved by a scented bath being drawn for her.

Photo Source

Photo Source

…or your husband may love a surprise gift of a dvd he has been wanting to see or a movie downloaded and a bottle of wine and a cheese platter to share.

Little acts of kindness, done often enough, goes a long way to helping those you live with to feel at home. However, those acts need to take a back seat to ‘being there’ for those you live with.  When they want to talk, listen.  Listen with your eyes as well as your ears.  Stop what you are doing if you can to give then undivided attention.  Listen prayerfully with your heart so as to know the best way to respond.

Photo Source

Photo Source

Bigger acts of kindness sometimes takes planning.  Family meals can be a gesture of love.  Plan to have fresh vegetables prepared every day and you are planning to give love and consideration to the health and well-being to all who come to the table at meal times.  I found it to be more cost effective to shop for groceries on-line.  It adds the cost as I go along so I don’t over-spend and the cost of delivery is much cheaper than the taxi fare I would spend if I shopped in person.  Sometimes delivery is even free.  Also, if I shop little shops 2-3 times a week then I am not throwing away any fresh produce that went bad before I had the chance to prepare them. Preparing a meal can also be an act of kindness to yourself.  When you prepare a meal, you allow yourself to be creative and mindful.  As long as you are not rushed, it can be a meditative process.

Photo Source

Photo Source

So to recap: Start to bring a sense of home to your abode by being grateful for where you live and who you live with, by intuitive acts of kindness to those you live with and by asking yourself (and God), “How can I love better?”



Things You Love Or A Joyless Burden?


Well, what can I say about today?  It’s the 25th of November.  It is two days before Thanksgiving and then it is time to prepare for Christmas.  This morning I woke up and began to mentally make a list of what I still needed to buy for Thanksgiving dinner.  I wondered if I needed to add more to the menu or delete something off the menu.  I pondered on what housework I needed getting done as I had been at work and too busy and too tired over the last few days to get much done. I wondered if I had time to do my Christmas shopping in person without ordering on-line this year. I thought and I planned so many things that I soon felt that familiar twinge of the beginning of a headache in my frontal lobe sparked by stress.  As often as this happens, I am still surprised that it does.  I love holidays! I love preparing feasts and entertaining guests.  I love the change in seasons and the decorations.  it is my favourite time of year.  However, I do stress out the most during this time of year. Why is that?

As I reflect on this, I realize it is because a) I put too much pressure on myself and b) my spirit struggles to keep up with my mental busyness…hence, the stress headache.  Now I suddenly get it!

I have been taking notes during this past week’s meditation time. I need to take notes.  My spirit learns but then my mind forgets.  Luckily, I can go back and read what I wrote.  As I was re-reading my notes this morning, I realize there has been a common thread and that what my spirit (or God) is teaching me is that when I choose to do things, even though they may the things I desire to do, I must do them with joy and peace. If I stress out about them because I am putting too much pressure on myself then even my desires lose their colour and become a joyless burden.  Has that ever happen to you?…  That things you love suddenly become a joyless burden?

So how do we begin to put joy back into our chosen tasks?  Thanksgiving is there to remind us of the very first step. It begins with being thankful. It shouldn’t be difficult to be thankful for the tasks we choose to do.  Why do I choose to make a Thanksgiving and a Christmas feast? Because I love to create.  I love evoking the senses.  I love seeing everyone happy.  To prepare a feast is a love offering to my family and friends.  Therefore, in a spirit of love and gratitude, I can go about my tasks and say, Thank you. Thank you, I was able to find all the ingredients in the supermarket to prepare a meal for those that I love.  Thank you for these wonderful people in my life. Thank you for this opportunity to bless others.  And although I awoke at 6:30 AM worrying about all that I had to do and it is now nearly 1:00 PM and I have gotten nothing done except some laundry and this post, I am thankful for the beautiful photo that my friend Marilylle took of her lake and her allowing me to use her photos in my blog. I am also thankful  for the time I took to slow down to write while sitting by my fireplace and my scented candles while John Michael Talbot plays on the stereo and the peace within tells me all good things will get done.

Love Abounds

My time away has been longer than I had expected!  My days have been busy ones since I have been back from New York.  A project with a deadline, a friend in hospital, work, housework, etcetera.  But one thing I have been diligent with is my daily meditation.  it is both my source of renewal and my preparation for the day ahead of me.  It is time spent in the fountain of love so that I in turn can bring forth love to others joyously ad effortlessly.  For this I am truly and humbly grateful. Because without this fountain, I deplete and I lose the spring in my step, the joy in my heart, the sense of communion with God who is love Himself and I see more of myself and less of others.  I encourage anyone who has yet to begin a practice of meditation to begin one now.  I encourage all to keep it up and never give it up.

The wedding was beautiful.  I am so proud of my daughter for her hard work and creativity in putting it all together.  Upstate New York is beautiful during the autumn season.  The colours are vibrant, rich and gorgeous.


A sense of the outdoors was brought in with faux autumn leaves, decorated pumpkins and bouquets made with love using autumn colours.  Brittany with her natural red hair and her lace wedding dress was breath-takingly beautiful. I loved seeing Dan’s (the groom) expression when she first appeared in all her glory.  There were three beautiful flower girls scattering rose petals of red, peach and yellow which seemed to me to mimic the fall leaves fluttering down outside…but with a touch of humour as the youngest flower girl grabbed handfuls of petals and tossed them down with enthusiasm.

It was a strangely emotional day for me.  In a sense I felt like I was in a dream and found myself feeling a rush of love towards every guest.  On reflection, everybody seemed to be feeling this.  It is unusual I think where the bride’s parents are divorced to suddenly see those who once you called family to feel they are family again.  The love was palpable.There was a sense of heaven throughout the wedding ceremony and reception.  I don’t yet have all the pictures but here are a few:








Home Office For Small Spaces

Over the past few decades, society’s perception on family has slowly gone through some changes.  When I was a child, it was the norm for fathers to work and mother’s to be at home with the children.  It was generally presumed that it was the father’s role to earn the living and the mother’s to be nurturers and home-makers.  However, women wanted equal rights to a career and equality in the workplace so soon it became more and more common to see both parents working and earning while children being looked after by grandparents or childcare providers.  Society’s views changed again as it began to see that fathers as well as mothers can and should be nurturers.  Then came a sense of regret as both parents would love to spend time with their children. These views were often accompanied by sad comments such as, ‘We both need to work in order to get by.’

Nowadays both parents see their careers and their role as parents as equally important.  Therefore, many have looked for solutions such as starting their own business.  Likewise, many businesses now make working from a home possible for their employees.  It isn’t just people who have children who choose this option.  It has become increasingly obvious to people that they need more balance and less stress in their lives.  More time for creativity, hobbies, social life and relaxation is needed and less time travelling to and from the work place.

However, in order to work from home, you first need to set a up a work area or home office. This alone can be challenging if space is limited.  Below are images of home office set-ups which show creative ways of maximizing your space.

One clever place to set up office is to use the space under the stairs.  It doesn’t have to look messy or cluttered.  Be creative as with the wood panelling used in the picture below.




How about a home office wardrobe? You can have a fold down or pull-out desk and still have plenty of storage.






Have a corner you can spare somewhere?  The great thing about setting it up in your living space is you can keep an eye on the children if necessary.  This office takes up little space but has plenty of shelves for storage as it utilizes wall space.






Another option may be to divide an existing room so that you have a small room for a private office with its own door.  It doesn’t need to be big as you can still be creative with organizing.  Having your own private room for your office means that you can truly make the space your own.





Here’s another great idea.  You can use the alcove next to your fireplace to put a desk in.  You may even choose to have a desk built in.





If you have an attic or loft, you can turn that into a cosy office.




I really like the idea of a built to purpose attached desk.  The wall lamp and shelving unit makes the space feel separate from the rest of the room.






So for whatever reason, having an at home office can be viable, functional and be made to look beautiful!


Note:  All photos were sourced from

Our Sense Of Autumn

It is generally noted that the season of Spring is a time when one thinks of new beginnings and hope for the future.  Trees and flowers start to bloom,  the weather is warmer and all throughout nature there are signs of new births.

Then comes Summer, the season where many plans are made to take vacations, bask in the sunshine or meet up with friends at a pub garden.  The mood is happier, the clothes are lighter and there is in a small way, a sense of freedom.

However, it is an Autumn landscape which speaks volumes to me. There is a sense of maturity. A sense that all my hard work has now paid off. You see it in the way the rays of sunshine capture and illuminate bright ochres and ambers as if a painter has added touches of gilding here and there.  The world feels richer, deeper, wiser.  The harvest is reaped and there is much to be thankful for.  There are new comforts in fleecy jackets, hot soups and root vegetable stews.  It is a time of  year when one feels the most nurtured and wishes to reach out and bring nurturing to others.



Picture Source

Picture Source


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Picture Source

Perhaps it is just me but Autumn brings out my deepest mothering instincts as well as my deepest feelings of contentment. It is about seeing small children with big smiles while they crunch fallen leaves under their feet.  When I was a child, I felt more keenly that I was another year older when school started up again then when it was my birthday.  Autumn begins and it is the season of acquiring new information, deeper contemplation and becoming more grounded.

Picture Source

Picture Source


Decisions and commitments made in Autumn are decisions and commitments made in wisdom.  So today, let’s reflect on this season as the season to focus on our wisdom.  What is important?  What is right?  How do we serve? How do we nurture both ourselves and others?  What decisions do we need to make?


Reflections of Mamá

Her hair once dark was now half silver.  It was as if the moonlight gleaming through the bedroom window had decided to take sanctuary by gently interweaving itself within her dark tresses.  I didn’t blame the moon as I too found sanctuary in her presence.  She was very old, yet young still.  I was proud of her for I was sure that many of her age ordinarily had hair pearly white and I considered it a privilege to be allowed to brush it.  I had to be very gentle as it was delicate and came off easily with the brush.  My heart was so full of love for this ancient relative of mine.  I spoke to her in limited phrases because my Spanish was not fluent and she didn’t speak a word of English that I knew of.

“Usted es muy bonita Mamá.” (You are very pretty, Mama)

We all called her Mamá; my mom, dad, mi abuela (my grandmother) and my brothers but she was la madre de mi abuela (my grandmother’s mother) and they lived together. At this time she was about 100 years old.  She was relatively healthy but I knew on account of her age that she wouldn’t be here much longer.  Knowing this caused me to reflect sadly and so …very discreetly…

“Su pelo es precioso Mamá.” (Your hair is lovely Mamá.)…I pocketed some of the strands of hair which came off with the brush.

About a year or two before this, I had interviewed Mamá for an assignment I had to write for school.  My mother helped by translating between us.  Through this, I learned that she was born and raised on the island of Puerto Rico.  She had lived on a farm in the late 1800’s wearing long skirts and dresses.  She told me how challenging it often was to milk the cow; how the udder wouldn’t fill with milk so readily. She had to get the calf and bring it close to the mother so that the milk would let down.  Mamá would then quickly move the calf out of the way so she could milk her. Obviously, these are the facts from the interview that I found the most interesting because it is all I now remember except that I got a good grade on it. It was probably the longest dialogue we ever exchanged.  We communicated in other ways but I can’t really recall how we did it.

When I was very young, we would often sit rather serenely next to each other on the sofa.  I would bring my hand up and down her arm amusing myself with smoothing her wrinkles in one direction and then another.  She would smile at me and call me, ‘Nena’ (little girl) and I would always call her  Mamá and tell her she was pretty.  Perhaps that is why she felt pretty.  She refused to wear spectacles because they made her look ugly she said.  She loved her peach floral dress that she wore on her 100th birthday but she wasn’t happy with her gift of a rocking chair because that was for old people.

Mamá passed when she was 102, two days before John Lennon was assassinated.  I was fifteen.

Looking back, I sometimes wonder if the love I felt from her was all in my head.  I don’t think so though.  Children are intuitive and as a child I think I would have known.  When I was born,  Mamá lived with us.  She was there when I was a baby till I was two years old.  She showed love and I showed it back.  With language limitations we got along splendidly through the gift and power of love.

In a burgundy velvet jewellery case lined with with a piece of vanilla satin cloth holds a few strands of  hair that was touched by moonlight long ago.

Petra Hernandez

Petra Hernandez

With So Much Love And Adoration…..

When my son Brandon was about two years old, he would often wake up in the morning before I was ready to start my day.  Being pregnant back then with my sixth child caused me to need a lot of sleep and I found myself rising at later times in the morning.  That is to say I tried to but it is impossible to ignore a toddler who is awake and ready to start the day. What I often did was to pick Brandon up and bring him to bed with me in the hopes he would go back to sleep himself.  He would nuzzle close, place one chubby thumb in his mouth and with his other hand caress my face all the while murmuring, “Mommy, Mommy.”  With so much love and adoration, how could I possibly go back to being asleep?  I have never risen from bed in the morning so happy and content as I did in those days.



There is something about small children that makes me feel their spirits are more pure and not yet tarnished by the woes of life.  Jesus spoke about the importance of being like a child.  The more I contemplate this, the more I see why.  When we are small, we love our parents unconditionally and quickly forget when they anger us.  Then comes a certain time in our lives when we begin to perceive more and more faults within our parents and others.  I think for me it began between the age of nine and eleven.  When we are still young we learn that people aren’t perfect but rarely find fault with ourselves.  Then we enter adolescence and find all we perceive as faults within ourselves….you know, the ones nobody else sees.  If we decide to take the spiritual path of love and wisdom, we begin to discover what our true faults are only then to discover that there are no faults, only ways we have to learn to love and grow better.  One such way is realizing that we must grow younger.  Like Brandon when he was two, we need to look at individual people with love and see right to their spirits and know that’s who they are.  Have you ever had someone look at you that way and see your real self?  It’s the part of you that you know intimately and hope that others would see…but they often do not.  If you have ever had that experience then you know that what comes next is that you begin to yearn to be who you really are.  You end up courageously allowing yourself to shine through. You begin to trust and love people more and see the true in others.

When we begin to love and receive so much love and adoration, how could we possibly go back to being asleep?