Judith and the Legacy of Littleness

Judith was facing what seemed to be another dreary day at work. 

Some days, she wondered if what she did made any difference to anything or anyone at all. 

As a child, she had wanted to achieve big things. As a teenager, she had wanted to change the world.

And now, as an adult, she did not really know what she wanted. 

At home too, she wondered sometimes what the point of things was. 

Cleaning and cooking and washing up. As soon as it was done, it was time to do it again. 

Her cynical thoughts were interrupted by her co-worker Laura.

“Judith… You cook and bake right? Would you be able to bake some things for a charity event next week?”

“Erm yes… sure.”

“That’s wonderful, thanks so much. It’ll help raise money and make a difference to people’s lives.”

Judith reflected on this. It was not what she was expecting today but this had come about because she had been at work. 

So perhaps it did matter after all. 

Dear you,

We all want to do “big things” and make a “big impact”. However, this isn’t always possible. 

It is good to realise and appreciate that the little things really do matter. Big things are built up over time and consist of a series of small things.

It requires long term effort and perseverance. Like Judith, when we do little things such as chores at home, it can feel arduous and monotonous. 

But how we actually do little things matter. When we do them sincerely with love, they can be transformed.

It is natural to question our actions and wonder if what we are doing matters. The answer is yes, it does matter.

It may not be significant in the way you want or expect it to be. But your presence can provide encouragement to a colleague. It can provide support for a family member. It can provide comfort to the lonely. 

Sometimes it can be tiring and frustrating but the little things really do matter and your words and actions can help others more than you realise.

Let us strive to do small things with great love as St. Mother Teresa tells us to. 

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

Judith and the Peaceful Personality

Judith had arrived at a café looking for somewhere to sit.

She was asked to share a table with an elderly gentleman named Edward.

‘Hi love, I’m nearly finished. Just finishing my coffee’.

‘That’s okay, no problem.’

Edward started talking about himself and his life animatedly. He told Judith how just a few months ago, he was in despair but how things had turned around completely for him.

‘My faith, my finances, my health, my flat, everything has just worked out well.’

‘That’s really good.’

‘And you know what I’m most happy about?’

‘What’s that?’

‘Peace of mind. I finally have peace of mind. I’ve spent nearly 80 years trying to find it. And I have it now. Nothing else can compare to that.’

Judith looked back at him in awe. She too wished she had the peace of mind that was radiating from this gentleman.

Dear you,

When we talk about goals we want to achieve in life, peace of mind may not be on our list. We are much more likely to think of achievements, accolades, possessions, investments etc.

However, we soon find out that the things we thought we wanted cannot fully satisfy us. They might make us happy fleetingly but once the novelty wears off, we are left wanting some better and bigger.

Life then becomes a relentless chase of trying to acquire more and more.

The irony is that we don’t actually need more and more, we just need to appreciate what we already have.

Peace of mind comes when we are content with who we are and our circumstances.

For me, this peace is rooted in my faith.

It means that we aren’t constantly worrying and stressing about the next thing. That we are able to let things go. That we are able to forgive and move forward.

This is not an easy thing to achieve as the scenario depicts. It may even take us a whole lifetime to find some peace within ourselves. But it surely something worth acquiring and holding on to.

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

Judith and her Faithful Friend

Friendships.

Knowing how to navigate friendships was no easy feat.

Judith had always given a lot of importance to her friends but often, she did not understand it when she lost friends that she thought would always be around.

She knew that circumstances changed and people got busy with life and this tended to have a big impact on friendships.

Also, some friends were just part of one phase of her life such as school, college or a workplace.

She smiled warmly when she thought of the friends that had stuck around. She especially thought of her oldest friend she had had for nearly twenty years.

What was different about that friendship that meant it had lasted?

Effort. Both parties had to put in effort, a one sided friendship simply didn’t last.

Dedication and loyalty. Staying in touch when you have a million other things to do and going through the struggles of life wasn’t easy.

Honesty and forgiveness. Inevitably mistakes were made and the quicker you were to forgive, the better your friendship flourished.

And most of all, love. The firm foundation on which every good relationship is built.

Dear you,

When it comes to friendships, we can all relate to Judith’s scenario in some way.

As you grow older, the number of close friends you have tends to decrease. Not all friendships withstand the test of time.

This can be disappointing especially when friends who were so important in your life have drifted away. This may not even be knowingly. Life circumstances have led to that.

You can learn a lot from your friendships – both the successful friendships and the ones that have gone wrong.

The qualities I mentioned above are paramount. Effort, dedication, loyalty, honesty, forgiveness and love. Without these, it is hard for a friendship to be maintained over a long time.

One thing I have found useful is to ‘be the friend you want to have’. Whatever qualities you want your friend to have, emulate those qualities yourself. And if they respond the same way, you know you’ve found yourself a true friend.

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

Judith and the Purpose of Pain

Judith was trying to console her teenage cousin. 

It was the first time in her life that Ida, her cousin, had faced real, crushing disappointment and failure.

‘You’ll be okay. Something else will work out.’

‘That’s easy for you to say. I don’t want something else, I wanted this’. 

‘Well, I’m sorry to break it to you but life is full of disappointments.’

‘Oh great, thanks’. 

‘BUT I can honestly say that you learn more from your failures than from your successes. So I wouldn’t change any of the things I’ve failed at.’ 

‘What?’

‘Yeah, it’s only when you fail at something that you learn from it, change what you do and push ahead. It makes you more determined.’

‘Hmm..’

‘Whereas if everything is going smoothly, I’m not learning or changing or growing. Someday you’ll look back on this failure and realise how much you learnt from it and that you became stronger as a result.’ 

Ida didn’t look convinced but Judith knew she would someday realise what she meant. 

Dear you,

None of us want to fail at things. 

Whether it be a new skill we’re learning, exams or interviews or even just playing a board game, no one wants to lose. 

But as Ida realises in this scenario, we all know that failure is inevitable.

We can try and avoid it but there will always be disappointments and failures in many areas of our lives.

This may be in our careers, our relationships and many more. 

How we respond to failure is what matters more than the failure. It is these responses that shape who we become.

We must not let small or big failures define us. We can be upset understandably but we need to look past that into what we have learnt. 

And one day, you’ll look back and realise that your failures made you the strong person who you are today. 

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

Judith and a Horde of Hobbies

Judith was clearing away some things from the attic.

She quickly realised that there were things in there from many years ago that she had completely forgotten about.

Trying to not cough from all the dust, she slowly started perusing the items.

She found things from her childhood, her school years and her adult life. There seemed to be such a random mix of things.

However, she noticed a similar theme running through many of them.

An unfinished painting from when she’d started to paint. Ice skating boots from when she’d started to skate and stopped soon after. Sequins and fabric from when she’d started sewing but given up.

In front of her lay many half-finished projects and ideas of hers. It made her realise that she often lacked perseverance. She had been keen to start all these things but as soon as it became quite difficult, she abandoned it and turned to something else.

She reflected that if she had only persisted and persevered, she may have been a good painter or an ice skater or a seamstress by now.

Dear you,

We all have different skills and abilities. There are so many activities and hobbies out there that we can explore.

Whatever new thing we start, there’s always a risk that it might not work out or be what we were expecting.

However, what often happens as shown by the case of Judith is that we lack perseverance.

In today’s fast – paced world, everyone is keen to move onto the next big thing.

Perseverance is not flashy. It means trying again and again, failing and then trying again. It’s definitely not easy.

But it is only by perseverance that we get better at things and are able to maintain our hobbies and skills.

So next time you start on something, try and remember to keep going. That can make all the difference.

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

Judith and Managing Money

Judith was talking to her brother Jude and the topic of money came up.

‘I just never seem to have enough’, he whined.

‘Well, what about your savings?’

‘What savings?’

‘Wait, you’re 35 years old but you don’t have any savings. At all?’

‘Well I did. But then… I spent it.’

‘Right. What’s the plan now then?’

‘There is no plan. I just don’t understand where the money goes. It’s not like I’m overspending on anything. I’m just getting things.’

‘Yeah but it all adds up doesn’t it. What about the budgeting app I suggested? That’ll help you keep track of how much you’re spending’

‘Hmm yeah maybe..’

‘Well, if you don’t change something, nothing is going to change.’

‘Judith, I hate to say it.. But you’re probably right.’

Dear you,

We all acquire many skills as we grow up.

Learning how to manage money is a very important skill that we all need. Sadly, there’s not that much to prepare us for this throughout our school years.

Ideally, we would learn about the value of money from our families. However, some may be acutely aware of their lack of money and this can have a negative impact growing up which persists into adulthood.

Whatever our economic background when we grow up, as adults, we have more control over our money and therefore more responsibility.  

You will have most certainly heard about the cost of living crisis that is occurring currently. A situation like this can be very worrying but it is important to remember that how we spend our money is still under our control to an extent.

Just like with many things, too much or too little money is not good. It’s worth noting however that what we class as too little money in this country would be a big amount for others in developing countries.

Let us try our best to use our money wisely and not get too consumed by financial worries. Remember, the best things in life such as friends and family are priceless.

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

Judith and the Sad Stigma

Judith smiled and waved at her work colleague Sarah who had been off work for a few days unwell.

‘Are you feeling better?’

She nodded but didn’t look convinced.

‘The boss said you had a migraine?’

Sarah looked around to make sure no one else could hear them.

‘I just said it was a migraine. It was actually because of my mental health. Only saying it to you Judith cos I know you won’t go around talking about it.’

‘Oh.. Sorry to hear that. Why didn’t you just tell the truth though?’

Sarah looked horrified.

‘Oh no. As soon as you mention that phrase, everyone treats you differently. I hate it. You won’t tell anyone, will you?’

‘I won’t. But I think you should speak out about it. Because if you don’t, how will things get any better?’

‘Hmm..’

‘If you can say you have a migraine, you should also be able to say you’re struggling with your mental health. Both of them mean your body is not working as it’s supposed to. So why should you have to hide one?’

Dear you,

The theme of 2022’s World Mental Health Day, is ‘Make mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority‘.

The word that stuck out to me was ‘priority’.

A good level of mental health is often not seen as a priority. It may be ignored for as long as possible. It may be put off because you’re reluctant to talk about it or worried about how other people will react.

But when that happens, our mental health worsens. It would have been easier to deal with if we had tackled the problem at the start and tried to take action.

Also, as illustrated by Judith’s scenario, mental health and physical health are not viewed equally. Despite many improvements, there is still stigma associated with struggling with mental health.

“World Mental Health Day is also a chance to talk about mental health in general, how we need to look after it, and how important it is to talk about things and get help if you are struggling.” (https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/our-work/public-engagement/world-mental-health-day)

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

Judith smiled and waved at her work colleague Sarah who had been off work for a few days unwell.

‘Are you feeling better?’

She nodded but didn’t look convinced.

‘The boss said you had a migraine?’

Sarah looked around to make sure no one else could hear them.

‘I just said it was a migraine. It was actually because of my mental health. Only saying it to you Judith cos I know you won’t go around talking about it.’

‘Oh.. Sorry to hear that. Why didn’t you just tell the truth though?’

Sarah looked horrified.

‘Oh no. As soon as you mention that phrase, everyone treats you differently. I hate it. You won’t tell anyone, will you?’

‘I won’t. But I think you should speak out about it. Because if you don’t, how will things get any better?’

‘Hmm..’

‘If you can say you have a migraine, you should also be able to say you’re struggling with your mental health. Both of them mean your body is not working as it’s supposed to. So why should you have to hide one?’

Dear you,

The theme of 2022’s World Mental Health Day, is ‘Make mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority‘.

The word that stuck out to me was ‘priority’.

A good level of mental health is often not seen as a priority. It may be ignored for as long as possible. It may be put off because you’re reluctant to talk about it or worried about how other people will react.

But when that happens, our mental health worsens. It would have been easier to deal with if we had tackled the problem at the start and tried to take action.

Also, as illustrated by Judith’s scenario, mental health and physical health are not viewed equally. Despite many improvements, there is still stigma associated with struggling with mental health.

“World Mental Health Day is also a chance to talk about mental health in general, how we need to look after it, and how important it is to talk about things and get help if you are struggling.” (https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/our-work/public-engagement/world-mental-health-day)

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

Judith and the Juvenile Jealousy

Lately, things at work had been difficult. There seemed to be a general atmosphere of tension and mistrust.

‘I can’t believe she did that…’

‘I’m better than that person, why didn’t I get promoted?’

These were some of the things that were being said repeatedly.

From what Judith could gather, the underlying issue seemed to be jealousy.

This surprised her. They were all meant to be adults but people were acting in a very petty manner.

However, she thought of situations when people had shared their accomplishments with her. And if she was totally honest, there were times when she had felt jealous too.

But reflecting on it, she realised that jealousy was absolutely pointless. It was also destructive as shown by the situation at her office.

Dear you,

In a perfect world, everyone would rejoice together when something good happened and everyone would mourn together when something bad happened.

However, we know that this isn’t the way it usually works.

No matter how much goodwill you have, sometimes those words sneak into your mind, ‘Why them? Why not me?’

This is a difficult question to answer. Often in life, things are not fair.

You may have worked harder for something than someone else yet they reap the rewards. You may always try your best yet not progress any further.

There is no perfect justice in this world. Just as all humans are imperfect, any justice we can hope to uphold will be the same too.

Jealousy may seep in but it is important to realise that it is not helpful. If anything, it can be harmful to the way we view others and really impact our relationships in a negative way.

So let us try to be truly happy for others when things are going well for them. Let us try not to compare ourselves with others, recognising that we are all on our different journeys.

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

Judith and the Sense of Self

Judith was talking to her young cousin about her results.

‘You did really well. Well done!’, she beamed.

Her cousin shrugged.

‘Why don’t you look happy? You should be proud of yourself’, Judith wondered.

‘I’m not proud of myself. I worked really hard so I got the grades I was supposed to get.’

‘But last year when you didn’t get the grades you wanted, you were so hard on yourself.’

‘Yeah…’

‘So when you didn’t do well, you blamed yourself completely. But when you have done well, you’re not happy with yourself..?’

Judith realised that this was a trap she fell into as well. When something went wrong, even something miniscule, she was quick to blame herself.

But when things went well, she did not appreciate her efforts.

Why was this? Why this tendency to be quick to blame but slow to appreciate?

Dear you,

We all deal with life events differently.

However, just like Judith and her cousin, we can be quick to pick out faults. These may be faults in ourselves, in others, our circumstances etc.

Humans seem to have a propensity to complain about things.

This can seep into how we view our very own self. We can find it easy to criticise ourselves and believe lies about ourselves.

And of course, the more we think of these lies, the more our brain forms patterns and we are more likely to keep on thinking it.

Life is a journey of self – discovery and we do learn more about ourselves each day. A very important lesson we need to learn is to not be too hard on ourselves and have realistic expectations.

When you do things wrong, try and learn from it and change it. But when things go well, find time to appreciate that and appreciate yourself.

Let’s work towards having a well balanced view of who we really are as human beings.

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