Thursday, 19 December 2013

tree-is-UP, now put your feetUP

Ahh, Christ-mas. It seems we’ve waited a long time for it to come along.
For most of us it is a time to gear-down (before gearingUP again in January) after a year of expending energy.  Time to plug-in and recharge.  Time to unwind.  Rest. Recuperate. It is a time of the year that we look forward to…
Finally, we can slow down and have a bit of me-time. Or so we think…
With holidays come increased time with family members.  The lovely ones we see (or bear) once a year.  “And with that”, as a mother recently voiced to me, “I need to have the children around all day long! It’s only been a week or so, and I’ve already circled the school starting date on the calendar.” “Don’t get me wrong, I love the kids dearly, but having them (and their requests) around all the time takes getting used to.”
Yes, this holiday period is billed as a time of rest.  However, it's also comes with intense times of stress for some.
We all deserve a breather during this (often emotional) holiday period.  While you’re doing it, consider the following:
Grow closer: During this extended time with family, loved ones and friends, see this time together as a time of building experiences and sharing good times. Take photos of family laughing, kids opening presents, people swimming or enjoying a cool drink next to the pool.  These are the good times we look forward to – capture them (and only load them onto Facebook in January!)
Unplug: Most communication (estimations are as much as 90%) is non-verbal. Many parents restrict screen-time for the kids during the holidays (while increasing their own gadget-time) forcing them to “play outside like we did when we were children.” Here’s an idea for adults: why not join them? Put the phone (and other electronics) down and join the play! Not every holiday-experience have to be updated as a status.
Pick Your Battles and battle respectfully: Conflict comes when people spend time together.  We get on each other’s’ nerves.  It’s normal. But not every (little) thing has to get us into battle mode. Treat conflict in a respectful manner.  Remember, young people around us will learn from us in every situation. Parents, “holiday” doesn’t mean the ‘moulding of my child’ stops. If things are too much or too heated, get away from the situation for a bit and spend some time doing something you like.
Talk less, listen more:  A recent study found that children felt that parents only listen to them when they have time.  Another study showed that only 20% of adults feel they are listened to.  This is the perfect time to sit on the beach, lie next to the pool, stand by the fire, go for a coffee and listen.  Your ears might be the best investment you’ll make into the building of relationships during this time.

Consider others: Plainly said - be nice.  While many of us revel in the celebratory aspect of Christ-mas holidays, there are those for whom this is a time of sadness and emotional turmoil. Whether you’re at Carols by Candlelight, Christ-mas mass or a shopping centre… some people need a hug, smile or just eye contact that says ‘you matter’. Look out for them. have patience with one another; offer to take a photo of someone it their arms are too short for a decent 'selfie'; let someone else pull out of a parking area or walk through he door first... be nice.
Rest: An internet poll in January 2012 showed that 60% of people feel drained and have a sense of discontent following December holiday period.  If you are taking a break over this time, we challenge you to not be part of the stats.  We suggest that you consciously make an effort to, at some point in the day, take stock of where you are and ask yourself: Am I on holiday?  We hope your answer will be a resounding: *deep breath* Yes! I am.

As the song goes, we also wish that “your days be merry and bright”. We pray those who celebrate a Christ-mas without a loved one who has passed on, or someone spending their first Christ-mas alone, will be filled with good memories and caring people around them.
May the gifts under your tree never take a more valuable place than the gifts in your life. Celebrate those gifts! Selah.

Friday, 6 December 2013

In light of the passing of “The President of the World” as we’ve heard reporting on the various news networks, a few thoughts…
Over the next few weeks, and many years to come, people will reflect and reminisce about the colossus and icon called Nelson Mandela.
Our ‘Tata Madiba’ as he was affectionately known over the latter years of his life left an indelible mark in many a life. Since the news broke in the early hours of the morning (SA time) there have been many emotions expressed in words and other loss-related emotions. The silence that fell over the Adelaide crowd during the minute of silence during the Ashes Test was a sign of the impact of Mandela. 
In our ‘work’ with people experiencing emotional events, it is not uncommon to hear the words spoken on so many of the news networks and radio stations, who dedicate playlists and hours to the great leader… “we are shocked at the news…” and “I don’t know what to say…I feel numb.”
We’d like to remind readers of the following:
It is OK to feel. We all show it in different ways. In particular, Gentleman, if you ‘well-up’ whilst listening to other recount stories of Madiba, or find yourself feeling “that funny feeling in my throat” (as someone expressed it today) when you talk about what he meant to you, remember, it is normal to feel something. Even numbness – the feeling of not feeling anything or much – is a feeling. Sometimes we feel numb purely because the news we hear with our ears still need to be processed by the heart.  And so, not really feeling anything is OK.
The process of grief (stages of grief) takes us all along a road of not feeling much/anything, past the point of anger, frustration and unhappiness with the reality of what happened. Some of us take a turn-off past a deep sadness, with utter regret and even depression, whilst some whizz past with resilience, hope and optimism about the future that lies ahead, despite the painful experience.  There is now prescriptive roadmap.  We’ll all go along this journey in our own way.
Let us take courage from Madiba’s words when his close friend Chris Hani was killed during a potentially explosive political time in South Africa.  He said: “Let us use this pain to help us grown stronger, determined to use the experience to make us better.”
As we all process the death of a “leader that shaped leaders” (Barack Obama), let us use this ‘scar’ in our lives to remind us all to grow towards becoming better people, striving towards incorporating some of the attributes for which Nelson Rholihlahla Mandela was known:
Live a life of forgiveness.  Be generous with praise. Make people feel they’re of value. Grow through tough situations. Encourage and inspire others on their life-journey.  Live for more than yourself.
Our prayers remain with his wife, children, grandchildren, extended family, friends, colleagues and all of us “further away” from the impact zone.
As he breathed out his last breath today, let us breathe in our first breaths of life where Madiba is now a memory.  Let us live with resolve to live life to the full as we celebrate his legacy.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013


Be bold. Be strong. Never give UP.’
Psalm 31:24
* NPC: 2011/004081/08
* 18A Tax Exempt Status
(PBO) file no. 930/036/181
“When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.”
- Billy Graham
It is far too easy to be an arm-chair critic.  From the comfort of your favourite chair, the ease with which we criticise with a “I-know-better” attitude, is often scary. Modern-day social media platforms makes the process of “critically evaluating” something or forming an opinion about specific events is not inherently wrong.  It is often the attitude, coupled with the type of energy that radiates from us whilst ‘evaluating’ that determines the effect on our mind-set and those around us, when we’re sharing our opinion. 
Having an opinion is fine. Necessary even.  It makes for a world of differing views, and people championing various causes.  “Variety is the spice of life” they say.  And, in South Africa, the world’s ‘Rainbow Nation’ we need different people to get involved in supporting the more than 100 000 non-profits trying to fill the gaps where the governments’ arms don’t reach.  Sure, we can play the blame-game, spitting the lava of negativity, but who does that serve?  Thomas Carlyle said: “Our grand business is…to do what lies clearly at hand.”  From the facingUP (fUSS) perspective, where we work in schools in diverse communities throughout Southern Africa, and what is ‘at hand’ it is clear:  negativity will not serve our (young) people.  Instead, building the character and confidence of young people (and those that educate them) will lead to hope - a wavering candle burning all too dim.
It is time for adults to standUP and help young people grow in belief of their future.  
Recent stats in SA indicate that more than 1 million young people have lost both their parents and a further 9 million of grow up without a father.  Who will teach them the ‘basics’ of manners, good behaviour, encourage them, hold them when they’re sad or despondent…teach them the value of love?  We all need to standUP and help where we can. 
“Character gives rise to discipline and responsibility. It’s the inward character that enables a person to stand firm. Character is not inherited, nor can it be purchased. It cannot be built instantly, but instead requires years of construction.”-John Maxwell. As adults, our input, feedback, encouragement and ways of disciplining young people can build or break their confidence.  Our example of living a life free of double standards, being true to your word and living a life of integrity will influence young people. Young people need to learn from adults that, character shows itself in my consistency, and gives me the resolve to do what’s important, even when it’s not convenient.  “You can’t get much done in life if you only work on the days when you feel good.”-Jerry West

If we as parents and adults are consistent in the application of our ‘rules and regulations’ (without any ‘T’s&C’s apply’ sections) respect will be a natural growth point in our relationships. When you don’t have character within, you won’t have respect without. J.R. Miller once wrote: “The only thing that walks back from the tomb with the mourners and refuses to be buried, is the character of a man…What a man is, survives him. It can never be buried.”
Remember: “When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.”
Invest in the lives of those who will carry the future.
fUSS: Encourage - Support - Celebrate
facingUP Support Services: * NPC: 2011/004081/08 * 18A Tax Exempt Status (PBO) file no. 930/036/181
PO BOX 14, HOWARD PLACE, 7450 Fax:  +27 (0)86 762 5024
Directors: Dr. SH Walsh, Mr. IS Smith, Mr. E Lombard  /