Judith and the Simple Smile

Judith was extremely tired. Every step seemed to weigh a tonne and she couldn’t wait to get home, away from the crippling cold and get into bed.

Just then, she turned a corner into one of the most derelict streets in the city. She didn’t like going through here but it was a short cut that would help her get home quicker.

She noticed there was a woman sat by the side of the road, staring blankly ahead. Usually, Judith would’ve put her head done and walked straight past. But something about the woman stopped her in her tracks.

She approached cautiously. She cleared her throat and asked, ‘Hi, are you.. are you okay?’

The woman glanced up. Her eyes were bloodshot, heavy with tiredness. But then she smiled.

Judith felt herself smile back instinctively.

‘No one has asked me how I am all day. You’re very kind. You have a kind smile’, the woman remarked.

She had never been told she had a kind smile before. Judith was startled and moved.

Dear you,

We cannot predict the power of even the smallest acts of kindness.

Often, we may feel like we don’t know how to help others in need. We may feel helpless faced with all the inequalities and injustices in the world.

But the world is made up of people, like you and me. Each person has their own story and their own struggles. And we all have the power to connect with each other and help in small ways which can leave a lasting impact.

Next time you walk past someone in need or come across some who is hurting, remember, you don’t have to have all the answers. You don’t have to fix their life. All you have to do is be yourself and extend care and compassion.

And smile. Your smile has the power to change the world, one person at a time.

Thank you for reading. And don’t forget, spread your smile 😊

Judith and the Folly of Freedom

Judith was in the staff room having lunch. Her colleagues were eagerly talking about how long they had left till they could go on holiday.

‘Two months till I go to Spain..’

‘You’re so lucky. I have to wait ages now till I get to go to Portugal.’

‘I love going on holiday.. It makes you feel so.. free!’

Judith looked up at this. She paused for thought.

‘What do you mean by free?’, she enquired.

‘Well.. Like freedom.. On holiday, you can do what you want’, her colleague Tom said.

‘You can do what you want here too’, observed Judith.

‘Yeah but it’s different. On holiday, you have no responsibilities or rules or restrictions’.

‘You do though. You have so many rules at the airport and on the flight. And every country has plenty of rules.’

‘Okay Judith, why are you ruining this for us?’, Tom asked laughing.

‘I just think you’re only as free as you think you are’, she stated.

Dear you,

What does it mean to be free?

In the UK, we are coming to the end of many restrictions which have been in place for over a year.

Does this make us more free?

In a sense, it does. We are able to do things or go to places we were not able to before. However, freedom doesn’t mean no responsibilities.

We still have many responsibilities not just to ourselves and the people we know but also the wider society.

When we make decisions, we always have to consider how it will affect others around us.

For example, even though masks may not be compulsory anymore, we would have to be sensible and choose to wear them to protect others as needed.

Freedom does not entail just doing what you want. We always have to think of the consequences to our actions too.

Thank you for reading. And don’t forget, spread your smile 😊

Judith and the Selfless Step

Judith felt like no one understood her. She wished someone would reach out to her and check how she was. After all, that’s what she would do for a friend.

It dawned on Judith that there would be many of her friends going through difficult situations at that very moment. It would be a brave and selfless step for her to reach out to them instead of waiting for them to reach out to her. 

If she decided to just mull over her complaints, she would be left feeling unhappy. However, if she reached out to someone else, they would feel better and she would feel better as a result too. 

Surely that was the better option. 

Dear you,

We expect a lot from others sometimes. When we are struggling with something, it is natural to want to be understood and cared for. However, others might not respond in a way we are expecting or hoping for.

Perhaps instead of complaining and getting upset about this, we ourselves can take a more compassionate approach. We can be the friend to them that you want them to be for you. 

When we set aside our own issues and take a more selfless approach, our kindness can have a lasting impact. This can deeply touch others and who knows, maybe this will motivate them to help you in the future too. 

When we do things for others without expecting anything in return, we show true kindness. When we are in difficulty, it can help to take the focus off ourselves and put others first.

Thank you for reading. And don’t forget, spread your smile 😊

“Only in the darkness can you see the stars.”

A starry night sky is a beautiful sight. But if it wasn’t dark, you wouldn’t be able to see the stars at all.

What does this mean?

This reflects how it can often take times of darkness and difficulty in our lives to bring about good. Things aren’t always clear cut into ‘good’ and ‘bad’. Good things can come out of bad experiences.

If we did not have bad experiences, then the good experiences would become meaningless. It is only because we know about life’s difficulties that we are able to appreciate the blessings in our lives.

This is not something that is easy to grasp. For us, when things are bad, it’s hard to see past that. But that’s because we have a very limited perspective. Often, it is in hindsight, maybe years after something has happened that we realise why things worked out the way it did.

So next time things seem dark, just remember that this is an opportunity for you to overcome it and shine like the stars.

Judith and the Brilliance of Beauty

Judith had never been much of an outdoors person.

Her brother Jude on the other hand loved any opportunity to be with nature. He had convinced her to go camping.

She was not enjoying it so far. There were insects everywhere. She felt itchy and uncomfortable. The air felt sticky and humid.

‘Come on, this way. We’re nearly there’, Jude said enthusiastically. He was leading her to a spot suitable for bird watching.

‘Can’t we go watch a film instead? Or look at birds on the Discovery channel?’, Judith had asked in exasperation.

Trekking through the hilly terrain just to go look at some birds did not appeal to her. But she had grudgingly agreed.

They finally arrived and Jude handed her some binoculars excitedly. She looked through them unwillingly.

‘Just wait, in a few minutes.. you’ll see’, her brother said.

Judith didn’t know what she was waiting for. But in a few minutes, the moment came. She saw a massive flock of birds gathered in formation. Their feathers were gleaming. They were poised for flight. She watched with bated breath as they took off.

‘Wow!’, she exclaimed and smiled at her brother.

Dear you,

Beauty is all around us.

But we can often fail to see it. We are so focused on our own lives. We are too busy staring at phone screens to fully appreciate everything going on around us.

Nature has so many marvellous aspects. Spending time outdoors may not be as comfortable and convenient as consuming digital entertainment. But it can have such a profound therapeutic effect on us.

I invite us all to be more aware of the beauty around us each and every day. The birds, flowers, sounds. When we choose to unplug from technology and fully engage with our senses, we realise what a beautiful world we live in.

Thank you for reading. And don’t forget, spread your smile 😊

Judith and Temporary Troubles

Judith was talking to her cousin who seemed deflated.

‘What’s wrong?’

‘I don’t know, everything seems really hard right now.’

‘Hmmm…It’ll get better.’

‘How do you know that?’

‘Well, because that’s how life is. Difficulties come but then they pass.’

‘But then they come back again later.’

‘Yes. Well, what do you think life would be like if there were no problems?’

‘I’d like that.’

‘But you wouldn’t learn how to overcome troubles and you wouldn’t grow as a person. It’s because you’re going through this hard time now that you’re able to appreciate it later when things aren’t so hard. The bad times make us appreciate the good times.’

‘I guess I never thought of it that way before.’

Dear you,

Life can get very difficult. And none of us like dealing with difficulties.

But think of the many difficult things you’ve endured in your life up until this point. Sure, they were frustrating and maybe even heart-breaking but they’ve made you into the person you are today.

Just as difficulties come, they also go. And we become stronger when we overcome the obstacles in our lives.

When we’re going through particularly difficult phases in our lives, it’s important to remind ourselves that this will pass.

Nothing is permanent.

So appreciate the good times. Learn from the bad times.

Nothing is wasted. Everything that has happened in your life has happened for a reason and you’re here today reading this because of that.

Thank you for reading. And don’t forget, spread your smile 😊

Judith and the Continual Complaining

‘Oh, it’s far too hot’, Judith moaned. 

‘But you’ve been waiting for the sun for months now’, her friend pointed out.

‘Well yeah. But not this much sun. This is too much.’ 

Her friend laughed mirthlessly. 

‘Typical humans eh. They complain about not having something but when they finally get it, they complain about not having something else.’ 

Judith reflected on these words and realised they were true. 

Dear you,

We all have a tendency to complain. It can be much easier to focus on the negatives sometimes because they affect us and incite strong emotions. 

Complaining and being unhappy about things has actually helped humanity to get to where we are today. It has meant that people have made inventions and found ways to overcome their complaints. 

Think of all the advances that have been made because people strived for more.

However, the drawback of this is that humans are never satisfied and always want something else or something more to what they have. 

This requires us to change our perspective. Consider the pandemic and what millions of people have lost – health, security, life of loved ones. Compared to things like that, the things we complain about are so fickle. 

As complaining comes easily to us, we need to combat this by training ourselves to be more grateful instead. 

The more we focus on something, the more it grows. If we cultivate the habit of gratitude, soon we will be complaining less and being more thankful. And surely, that’s a good way to live.

Thank you for reading. And don’t forget, spread your smile 😊

Judith and the Varying Voices

‘You’ve changed Judith’, said Ingrid her childhood friend.

‘So have you. We all have’, she replied wearily.

‘No, no. What I mean is.. You never really used to care much about what other people thought. And now, it seems you’re running around trying to please everyone.’

‘I don’t know what you mean’.

‘Everyone is going to want something from you. The world is going to try and change you. There’s so many voices telling you that you’re meant to be something different. Don’t listen to those voices’.

‘So what do I do?’

‘Listen to your own voice. You have to stay true to yourself.’

Dear you,

We are constantly bombarded with messages and images and videos. There’s so much competing for our attention that we sometimes barely get time to think to ourselves.

But it is indeed vital that we take time for ourselves. We need to take time to evaluate what our opinions and beliefs are. We need to build a foundation based on this and live life accordingly.

If we don’t, we will be easily influenced by all that is around us. Things around us are not always negative or wrong but too many voices can be confusing and disorienting. We lose sight of the things that once mattered to us.

So I hope today and every day, you’re able to stay true to who you really are.

Thank you for reading. And don’t forget, spread your smile 😊

Judith and the Immense Incident

Judith felt dazed.

‘Can you hear me?’

‘Yes’, she replied groggily.

‘You’ve just been involved in an accident but you’re absolutely fine.’

The face of a kindly paramedic came into focus.

Judith felt a rush of panic and looked around for the rest of her family.

‘You’re all safe. It’s okay’, the paramedic reassured her.

She nodded weakly. It would take a while to process everything that had happened.

But she would look back on this day and realise that it had changed her life forever.

Dear you,

Most of us lead lives where we feel safe and secure most of the time. So when something like an accident occurs, we are shaken to the core.

When we have dangerous encounters or even near death experiences, everything changes. Up until that moment, we might have been just going along without too much thought about life itself. But then we realise how precious life really is.

We like to think we are in control of our lives. The truth is, life can be unpredictable and fragile.

This doesn’t mean we should live in fear. Instead, we should live in freedom. We should live with an appreciation of valuable life really is.

We really shouldn’t wait till something ‘big’ to realise how precious life is.

Every day is precious.

Thank you for reading. And don’t forget, spread your smile 😊

Judith and Not Being Nice

It was nice to be nice.

Judith had heard that saying before and had always thought that being nice was the best option.

But lately, she wasn’t so sure.

She was noticing times where wasn’t happy with what was happening but just felt obliged to put up with it.

Most recently, she had become aware of a situation at work where one of her colleagues Rona was continuously being treated unfairly by their boss.

Their boss Sally was well liked and respected. And Judith was thought to be ‘nice’ so she didn’t feel comfortable getting involved in any conflict. She tried to ignore or justify Sally’s behaviour.

The previous evening, she spotted Rona in her car after work. She was sobbing.

Judith felt stirred by pity. She had to do something. It was time to stop being nice.

Dear you,

Being nice can be about being polite rather than about doing the right thing.

We can sometimes just say things we think other people would like to hear or what would be expected of us in a social situation.

We don’t want to offend anyone. But standing up for what is right can mean offending people. It’s not going to be a popular or easy thing to do.

We might also be nice to someone with selfish motives or because we want to seem a certain way. It can be very superficial.

Being nice is different to being kind. When you are kind, you genuinely do what is best for the other person, even if it means it is difficult or uncomfortable.

Thank you for reading. And don’t forget, spread your smile 😊