I love hearing from readers! You can send an email to editor@LNP.net.au anytime. Susannah 🙂


Personally Speaking, October 2016 (The Greater Springfield Times)

After a bit of a ‘no show’ winter, it already feels like summer is setting to make a big impact this year. At the moment though, and in my opinion, the weather is perfect. Still crisp mornings followed by clear blue skies, sunshiny days leading to lovely cool evenings. Yep, perfect!

It’s the sort of weather that makes you want to get out there and do things, isn’t it? It’s not too hot and our energy hasn’t been sapped by the humidity by 9am. The Greater Springfield region boasts some wonderful green spaces that are accessible to everyone. So why not get out there and get active?

I did a quick count of the articles in this edition and there are over 12 groups or clubs you could become involved in, and I know there are more out there in the community. Whether your thing is sport, craft and art, or volunteering, there are plenty of local groups to hook into.

We all know the benefits of volunteering, not only to ourselves but to us as a collective community. In a busy world where time is our greatest currency, it’s important, dare I say, necessary, to give back with our time. Not only does it raise our own sense of well-being, it raises our awareness of issues in the community as well as the struggles that face some individuals living right alongside us. There’s a Seth Godin quote that says “You don’t need more time, you just need to decide.”

That quote has really helped me to prioritise. We make time for what’s important to us. And if what we realise we’re spending all our time on doesn’t line up with our values, we might need to reassess how we are ordering our days. And make changes accordingly.

There is no doubt that being involved with others, in whatever capacity, changes us – and for the better. It’s cliched, but nonetheless true, that we need each other. Just like pebbles in a stream, it’s the bumping into one another that helps smooth our edges as life washes over us. We need others to keep us accountable, to gently remind us of what’s important and, if we allow them, to call us on to become our best and truest self.

And sometimes, we need to move out of our comfort zone and try a new sport, enrol in an art class, join a service club. No one ever grows in their comfort zone. And don’t forget, it’s a two-way street. Don’t be thinking that you’ll be the only one changing. We are all works in progress and it might just be (in fact, I know for sure!), that you joining that group or club makes a huge difference to someone else.

So why not look into joining a group or club today? And why not start with the one of the 12 covered in the following pages!

And just as importantly, if you are part of a not for profit club or group and would like to submit a monthly (or one-off) article to us, please do! The more ‘good stuff’ we can promote, the better. It’s why we are here – to be a positive connection for residents to the community. And we just love it!

Personally Speaking, October 2016 (The Lake News)

It’s a well documented fact that there are links between animal cruelty and harm to humans. And if you’re a dog owner, like me, you probably become wary of people that your dog doesn’t seem to like, I know I certainly do.

Here in Forest Lake, we enjoy beautiful surroundings and an abundance of wildlife, so it’s distressing to hear that they aren’t always treated with the respect and care that all inhabitants of this planet deserve.

One of the bonuses of living in a friendly community like Forest Lake is that kids can enjoy a little more freedom than in other suburbs. While I’m all for kids being kids and encouraging independence, unfortunately, when kids get together, the best choices aren’t always made. It may be timely to chat with your kids, particularly if they walk to and from school or are unsupervised in public spaces, about treating animals and birds with kindness. Often the best thing we can do for wildlife is not disturb them and if that’s unavoidable, to at least minimalise our impact and not aggravate them in any way.

In this month’s edition, on page 24, you’ll see an article written by local vet and regular contributor, Dr Ian Gorrie, specifically on the effects of feeding wildlife. Ian gives some great advice about living side by side with our wildlife and I would encourage everyone to take the time to read it.

I know that the majority of Forest Lake residents are respectful and caring of our animal friends, including the ever growing cygnets that we are lucky enough to have on the lake and that it’s a small minority that seems to spoil it for everyone.

But! If you’ve been reading this column for some time, you’ll know I am ever the optimist! There are really just so many, many good people in Forest Lake that from month to month I have to make very difficult decisions about what articles to publish. Because I hear about so much good in the community, I know that we can band together and help our animal friends live a peaceful life alongside us.

On page 9 of this edition, you’ll see an article about the Lake Litter Crew. What a wonderful initiative it is! Why wait until Clean Up Australia Day, as great a day as it is, to tidy up our own area? The Lions Club in Forest Lake are also very active in keeping areas clean with their ‘adopt a street’ program.

Cleaning up the litter in our suburb does much more than make it look better; it stops wildlife inadvertently ingesting plastics and other items that can harm and kill them; less food waste lying around discourages rats and mice; and all litter not disposed of correctly eventually ends up in our waterways and ultimately, our oceans.

Awareness is always the beginning of change, so spread the word about how to treat our wildlife and maybe consider picking up litter in your street or local park (it’s a great way to meet your neighbours and get them involved too!).

And I look forward to seeing you at one of the upcoming Lake Litter Crew mornings soon!

Personally Speaking, October 2016 (Centenary News)

It is with a heavy heart that I write this editorial, as it will be the last for the Centenary News. It is 20 years this year since the first edition was distributed in the Centenary suburbs.

Over that 20 years, we have walked with residents through good times and through some trying times. In particular, I remember the 2011 floods and the extraordinary way in which the community pulled together and really united to help their fellow man. And the best thing has been to see that instead of fading as the crises passed, that sentiment has only become stronger over the ensuing five years. I hope we at the Centenary News had a small part to play in connecting people and raising awareness of the issues that faced residents and how others could help.

But, time marches on and changes are inevitable. Unfortunately, the Centenary News has not received the same level of advertising support that our other publications enjoy and it’s time to move our business in a different direction and focus our time and energy on The Lake News and The Greater Springfield Times. Sadly, our fourth publication, The Local News, has also had to be discontinued.

Graham and I would like to publicly acknowledge and thank those businesses that have supported us over the last 20 years, some for a short time and others who were with us consistently for long periods of time. As a small business ourselves, we fully recognise how tough it is to own and run your own business and we hope we have helped those businesses grow and increase through advertising in the Centenary News.

And to the wonderful contributors who have faithfully taken time out of their busy schedules to write interesting and informative articles for us – our sincere and heartfelt thanks go to you. Due to the nature of technology, I can’t go back through our files to the very beginning but if memory serves me correctly, Marlene Worthington of Centenary National Seniors is our longest running columnist, closely followed by Caroline Hamilton of the Centenary Suburbs Historical Society. Ladies, thank you. Your dedication to your clubs is a credit to you and an inspiration to us.

So it is that we end an era here at Local News Publications. While Graham and I are sad to say goodbye to two of our publications, and therefore, the wonderful people involved in each of those distribution areas, we are excited about the future of Local News Publications.

The Lake News and The Greater Springfield Times are strong publications in their own right and we will enjoy getting even more involved with those communities and bringing an even greater source of advertising and local news to the residents and businesses in those
distribution areas.

It has been a pleasure to be part of this community and one which we will always fondly remember. We’ve always been, and still are, all about community. Our contact details won’t change, so don’t be a stranger, we would love to hear from you. And if we can assist with either advertising or editorial in our two remaining publications, please do let us know; send an email to editor@LNP.net.au.


 

Personally Speaking, September 2016

Although it feels like we barely had a winter, the seasons have changed as they do and we find ourselves looking into the bright blue sky of spring.

There’s a reason spring is said by many to be their favourite month; there’s a freshness in the air, days of cloudless sky and dazzling sun, and signs of new life all around us.

Years ago, when our middle child was around five years old, we kept chickens. We had a rooster and so there were many little chicks pottering around, especially in the springtime. Our daughter loved those chooks. She would race down after school, barely changed from her uniform. We would find her sitting in the middle of the pen with one chook in her lap, sometimes with another perched comfortably on her head. She named every single one of them and knew all their little idiosyncrasies.

Now, we were, and still are, a happy meat eating family, so chicken (not one of our ones though) was often on the menu. I held my breath every time I served a chicken dish up to our daughter, having usually just called her from the chook pen to wash her hands and come to tea.

And then one evening it happened. We were halfway through the meal when our five year old put down her fork and exclaimed, “This is chicken!” Before I could reply, our daughter continued, “Ha! How funny! Chicken (pointing out the back door)…and chicken (pointing to her meal)! They’re called the same name!” I glanced at our 12 year old son, silently begging him not to utter a word, before laughing nervously and agreeing that, yes, it was indeed funny that her meal and her pets shared the same name!

In this case, ignorance really was bliss! At some point though, and I can’t remember when it was for our daughter and chicken, we come into the truth of a thing and we have the opportunity to decide what to do with our new-
found information.

Sometimes, we can be ignorant, either positively or negatively, about a person or situation and when the truth is revealed, it can take some time to adjust.

I’ve seen many times when people realise a truth about someone else and they just can’t get past it; other times, the truth is revealed and accepted with open arms. There are times when what is shown to be true is hard to face, especially if it’s someone we love and thought we knew. But just as knowing that there really is only one thing called chicken could have devastated our daughter and made her vow never to eat it again, we can discount all the good a person has done when we learn something about them that we were previously oblivious to. The brave way out of ignorance is an acknowledgement that we are all faulty, that we all have traits and past deeds that we would rather others were ignorant of. Does our past or a truth about our character mean that all the good we’ve ever done doesn’t count? No. Rather, it reveals our human frailty and natural condition.

Don’t be a chicken (see what I did there?), keep loving and standing beside others even when our ignorance is shattered and truth comes shining through.


 

Personally Speaking, August 2016

At the time of writing, the world is reeling from the senseless killings of over three hundred people in Turkey, France and America in the space of a few weeks.

If you’re anything like me, turning on the news at the best of times is an overwhelming experience and one which I often opt out of. But there is no avoiding the more recent tragedies. And in many ways, we shouldn’t avoid them. Ignorance may be bliss more times than not but change only comes about through knowledge. As a society, we simply must face these things in order to begin the seemingly insurmountable task of changing them.

Having said that, it can feel like there is nothing we, that is, you and me – the average person in a three bedroom house in the suburbs, CAN do about what’s going on in the wider world. All it seems to do is make us anxious, fearful and, if we allow it, increase our hesitancy to welcome and embrace people who are different to us, especially those of a different religious persuasion.

So how do we cope with this overload of bad news when it seems we can’t actually change anything? When these things happen, our social media sites are flooded with this bad news, laments and commentary on the state of our societies, declarations of ‘virtual’ support and…cat videos. Lots and lots of cat videos.

I have to confess to moments of self righteous judgement as I scroll through my ‘newsfeed’ on facebook in these times. “Don’t they realise that another policeman has been shot dead in America?” “Haven’t they even heard about the massacre in Nice?” It seems to me that the amount of seemingly superficial ‘fluff’ increases in direct proportion to the amount of bad news. From ‘feel good’ inspirational videos to articles about random acts of kindness, to reports of particular kindness to animals and the obligatory aforementioned cat videos, it’s all there tucked between the hashtags of #blacklivesmatter, scaremongering about Muslims and arguments over American gun laws.

And then I realised why that is. We are all looking for a pressure release valve. We need to feel that there is something worth smiling about. That there is still good in this world. That we are not being overtaken by hate, prejudice and bigotry. That. There. Is. Hope.

If you’ve read Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl, a concentration camp survivor, you’ll know that his conclusion is that the biggest killer of the human spirit is hopelessness.

So rather than being superficial and shallow, those cat videos and inspirational videos are testaments to hope and they feed our souls in the face of times that seem desperately devoid of that valuable commodity.

So, let’s help each other. Let’s remind one another of the hope we have. May our conversations, both face to face and virtual, defy the evil in this world and be filled with encouragement, inspiration and hope. Oh and cats, don’t forget the cute cats!


 

Personally Speaking, July 2016

During a recent family gathering I threw into the conversation that I needed some topics for this column. I won’t bore you with the list of what was thrown back, suffice to say that the range was from the inspiring to the downright idiotic and everything in between. One suggestion, that I didn’t immediately entertain was sport (you know who you are!).

As the banter continued around me, I began to think about the topic of sport, especially in light of  “State of Origin” (At time of writing, we are yet to play the second game. By the time you are reading this, we’ll be looking forward to the third game one way or another!). As I’m not particularly sporty – give me the theatre over a sporting event any day of the week – I started to wonder about the appeal of sport, particularly as a spectator.

As I said, I’m not very sporty, but for some reason, I do like to watch the Origin, in particular, and will stay up late on too many consecutive weekday nights watching the tennis. And, my family will tell you, I’m not above yelling at the TV and fist pumping the air when watching Queensland do what we do best. But why? Why do we want our team to win? Why do we care?

Many a great brain with far more intellect than mine have pondered this question, so I know I’m not breaking new ground here but I do think it has much to do with ‘belonging’. A sense of belonging and connection are perhaps our greatest needs, rivalling, in my opinion, even basic physical needs.

Feeling we are part of something bigger than ourselves does quite a few things to us. We feel a sense of kinship, of commonality. And in our world that is constantly banging on about how individual we are (and we are!), it’s also strangely comforting to know we are similar to others and not that different after all. We also feel a sense of vicarious achievement. Them becomes us and we, rather than I. Basically, we get a kick out of feeling an affinity with a ‘win’. It can show us that nothing is impossible, especially when the underdog gets up and wins against all odds. It can make us feel proud. We like feeling that people who are ‘one of us’ eg Queenslanders, have succeeded. And in a society that struggles to acknowledge another’s success, it feels good and right to be proud of someone else’s triumph.

History tells us that the concept of competitive games has been around since we first began. Such a long and enduring idea must carry benefits to have stood the test of time through the ages. And I think it’s because we are meant for community. We are born to be part of something outside ourselves.

This is not a plug for all those sporting groups out there, unless, of course, sports is your thing, but rather it’s a plug for joining something – anything! There are many fantastic groups, clubs, churches in our local area with a wide range of interests represented.

We all need to feel connected and by joining a group, you just might help others feel connected and that they belong too.


 

Personally Speaking, June 2016

As I write this, I have my slippers on (gotta love working from home!), a nice hot cuppa at my fingertips, and the promise of a warm comfy bed at the work days end.

The weather is finally cooling. There’s that hint of a chill on the breeze, especially at night and early morning. As I pull out the winter jackets, boots and scarves, I can’t help but be reminded that the right to feel warm in the colder months, is exactly that – a basic human right for everyone and not a privilege for those who can afford it.

“On any given night in Australia, one in 200 people are homeless” (www.homelessnessaustralia.org.au/index.php/about-homelessness/homeless-statistics). One in 200 equates to 105,237 Australians. That should shock us especially when you consider the fact that only 3% of that number are homeless due to mental illness and substance abuse issues. No, not everybody who is homeless is on drugs and “there because of their poor life choices”.

Personally, I don’t give a damn about the numbers. Just one person who is homeless is bad enough. Why do we need big numbers to motivate us into action? If our worth as humans is all inherently the same, why does it matter if it’s one or 101?

You see, I think some of the problem is that we don’t think our value as humans is inherently the same, do we? We tend to pick and choose who is ‘worthy’ of our volunteering time and our hard-earned dollars. We decide who will use what we give them the best, who will turn from their current lifestyle and change, who will appreciate our time and efforts. Essentially, we put qualifiers on our donations, whether it’s time or money. Obviously, we are to be wise with our giving but I think it’s easy to take that too far and instead of making a wise judgement call, we make a self-righteous one.

Did you know that stress alone can diminish the capacity to make good decisions? Living on the streets with no fixed address, not knowing where your next meal will come from or whether your children will be warm tonight constitutes stress, don’t you think? So let’s not be so quick to judge some of the decisions of those we are trying to help.

It would be fair to say that all of us, whether as children or as adults or right now, have endured tough times; times when it was hard to see how the rent or mortgage would be paid, times when taking the family to the movies would mean forgoing food, times when we had to pull our children out of extra-curricular activities for lack of funds. And if we haven’t experienced these things directly, we all know someone who has.

It’s only going to get colder. Is there time or money in your hands that could help others this winter? There are so many ways we can help and so many groups around making it easy for us to do so. I just typed ‘how to help the homeless in Brisbane’ into my search engine and there are countless organisations to hook into. And I also know that on our wonderful community facebook page (4074 Community and Beyond), there are plenty of posts of groups who are helping others. Don’t think about it too long. Just pick one and do something.


 

Personally Speaking, May 2016

Hands up if you’re an organised person. Our youngest daughter, at 12 years old, is highly organised and it’s not really through any intention on our part! It seems to just be in her nature to love order. For example, some of the things she really wanted to do over the recent school holidays was sort out and organise the cutlery and utensils drawers, the tupperware drawer and her wardrobe. And I didn’t stop her!

She’s not just organised with things but with her homework, her assignments and her craft paraphernalia (NB organised does not always mean tidy!). Her school bag is packed and ready before she goes to sleep and she prefers her uniform to be ironed the night before – I’m not as obsessed, um, I mean, organised, as she is, so this rarely happens. And to combat the incessant nagging from her to do it, I simply taught her how to iron it herself!

Now, these are all good habits and while I agree it’s great to be organised, it becomes a problem when it overflows to the rest of her life. It can mean that she wants everyone else and everything else to be as ordered as she is. We are frequently trying to teach her the art of ‘going with the flow’ and suggesting strategies for dealing with the fact that friends and classmates (don’t even talk to me about ‘group work’!), and even some teachers, don’t have the same level of organisation as she does.

You see, it’s that old saying – too much of a good thing. Her desire to be organised could easily become something on which she is dependent. And this in turn can become a disadvantage in life because, as we all know, all sorts of personalities make up our world and we need to do our level best to get along with all of them.

Once again, we find that balance is the key to so many things in life. So many of our desires in life are not a problem in and of themselves, it’s the excess of that desire that becomes an issue. It is right for us to eat but when the desire for food goes beyond what our body needs, we have a problem. It is right for us to want money; how else can we pay bills and responsibly care for ourselves and our family? But when we centre our whole lives around trying to get more and more money, we lose sight of why we need money in the first place. It’s good and important to have down time, to relax and stop and smell the roses but, do that too often and for too long and we can easily slip into laziness and apathy. Not being an organised person is fine yet when we allow our lives or homes to become so messy and disorganised that we are constantly forgetting things and running late all the time, we become stressed and anxious.

What areas of your life do you need to find some balance in? Maybe you need to have a big sort out and organise some cupboards or maybe you need to let the kids make a mess and not rush to have it orderly again. Whatever it might be, creating balance only ever brings us more peace and harmony. And who doesn’t want that?


 

Personally Speaking, April 2016

This year, I began working with a friend who has started her own business called CCA Creative, Caring for Carers. Basically we facilitate training on the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) as well as providing weekends away for parents and carers of a loved one
with a disability.

On the weekend retreats, we have a number of ‘ice-breaker’ games to get conversation flowing and give people the opportunity to share with others, in similar circumstances, experiences they have dealt with over
the years.

One particular ‘starter’ was “Name a defining moment in your life and how it changed you”. There was one answer that was given that kept going around my head for the rest of the weekend. One lady spoke of how her husband’s sudden death had brought clarity to her life and that as a result, she doesn’t stress or worry about one single thing anymore. The whole of life had been brought into perspective and given her a new way of looking at the world.

Wow. That really hit me. When you have faced a top of the list fear like losing a loved one, it makes the things we tend to worry about insignificant.

When I was thinking about the huge life lesson this woman had learnt, it struck me that we don’t have to wait for these experiences to happen to us, for us to learn from them. Certainly, we learn through our own experiences but we can also learn from others. What a wonderful way to honour the passing of someone else’s loved one by learning to appreciate and value the important things in life.

Far too often, we seem to only learn from things that happen to us – and sometimes not even then! Imagine if we actually really listened to advice given to us by a person who has lived through circumstances we haven’t had. Imagine if we then put that advice into practice. And then imagine what our lives might look like.

It seems to be that some of us do this quite well, while others of us must experience firsthand everything before learning from it. Personally, I hope I’m more often in the first category and that I learn from other’s lessons instead of having to go through everything myself. I think if we can do that, then when some of those hard lessons, such as losing a loved one, do happen, we are more prepared and equipped to deal with them. If we have learnt from another that nothing is more important than the ones we love and we cherish and appreciate them while they are with us, if the worst happens then we know we have truly loved them fully and won’t have as many regrets. And if the worst doesn’t happen, we get to live a life full of rich relationships and real connection with those we love.

Thanks to this special lady for sharing her story on our Carer weekend away. The lesson she offered us was the first of what I suspect, will be many lessons I can learn from the amazing men and women I’ll come into contact with through CCA Creative. And I’m not going to waste them.


 

Personally Speaking, March 2016

As I prepare to study for the first time in a gazillion years, the idea is both exhilarating and daunting. On one hand, I love to learn. I will read just about anything and I’m always keen to hear about things I know little about. I love discussing things with people who have different interests and thoroughly enjoy being shown or told about something new that I’ve not come across previously.

But (and it’s a big but!) I also hate learning. I want to just know things without having to go through the process of learning them. In any creative pursuits I become easily frustrated when what’s in my head is vastly different than what is being produced by my hands. I want to perfect an art on the first go and no amount of ‘practice makes perfect’ and other trite sayings help.

I have a friend who absolutely loves the process of learning. She loves watching her own progression in a given area, whether it’s her career or her many artistic talents. She doesn’t expect herself to automatically know how to do something, like I do. She is happy to give herself over to gradual development and not look for instant success.

In life, and particularly in relationships with others, we rarely ‘get things right’ on the first go. As we learn more about a person, we know better how to give them what they need from us. As we understand our spouse, often through trial and error, we become more skilled at preempting their needs, and in turn, being able to fill them.

We need to learn the difference in each of our children in order to give them what they need to feel loved, accepted and fulfilled. How often have we all seen parents who parent each child exactly the same in an attempt at fairness? In reality, what often ends up happening is that only one child’s needs are sufficiently filled, and we run the risk of the other children not growing up with a feeling of acceptance and being understood. When we really know our children, we can make decisions based on that knowledge and tailor our parenting of each
child accordingly.

I think one of the greatest mistakes we can make in our relationship with our spouse or partner is not taking enough time to really learn what we need to about one another. We can be like me – happy to learn in some instances, but wanting instant knowledge in others. Unfortunately, we often take the lazy route and fail to learn about our partner, which over time can lead to disengagement and unhappiness for both parties.

So I’m going to try and take a leaf out of my friend’s book and really make the most of the learning process instead of bucking against it, not just with my studies but with my relationships and other aspects of my life too. It’s all about paying attention, giving it another go when we get it wrong and keep learning!


 

Personally Speaking, February 2016

If you read my blog, you’ll know that I’m doing a Grateful 365 (except this year it’s 366) journal. Basically, it’s where you take a photo capturing something you’re grateful for that day, for a year. And for me, when I have time, I put it on my blog as well.

Now, we’re not too far into the year and I must admit, even this early on, some days it’s a challenge to find something to photograph. It not always because I’m not grateful but sometimes, it’s tricky to find something that can be photographed. And some days, it is just the fact that I’m not feeling very grateful for anything – which is exactly the reason I’m doing it!

The decision to make it ‘public’ by putting it on my blog, as opposed to just in my journal, was one I wasn’t a hundred percent sure about. I mean, really, was anyone going to want to read that everyday?

And then I received a message from someone. This person is going through a tough time and she said that reading my blog and daily gratefulness was giving her hope and reminding her that there are plenty of things to be grateful for if only we look for them. I don’t know this lady very well, so I had no idea about what was going on in her life. I certainly didn’t expect that I could ever make a difference in her life.

So now, I feel like it’s worth putting it on the blog, that is – it’s worth sharing what I often think would be boring or meaningless to others in a public space. Helping or making a difference to one person is enough reason for me.

You see, so often we think our little voice can’t be heard amongst the white noise and consistent chatter of the world and society. In reality, we underestimate ourselves and our impact on others. A kind or encouraging word can make all the difference to someone, just as my words did to my friend and hers did for me.

It’s too easy to be silent, to be caught up in the false humility that tells us what we have to say isn’t worth anything. If we think back on what has influenced us, things people have said, small gestures of kindness and care, we might begin to realise that ‘small’ counts, and in turn, give that back to those around us.

We all have something to offer others, no matter how soft our voice seems to us, no matter how limited we think our reach is, no matter how insignificant we think what we have to say is. We all matter. We each have a unique perspective that just might help someone else in a way no-one else can.

This year, before it gets too busy, perhaps we need to think about whether we are hoarding our special take on the world to ourselves and consider sharing more with others. You might be surprised, like I was, that your words matter. So don’t keep yourself to yourself, reach out, speak up and make a difference!


 

Personally Speaking, January 2016

If you’ve watched more than your fair share of Play School, like I have, you’ll be familiar with the little song “Changes, changes, everywhere…” and you may find, like me, that it pops into your head on a more frequent basis than is desirable.

The beginning of a new year has the potential to bring changes into our lives. As I reflect on 2015, I am struck by how many unexpected things occurred.

We knew pretty early on last year that our daughter intended to volunteer in Nepal for two months; what we didn’t know was that the country would suffer a significant earthquake, which in turn added to our stress levels as parents as she decided to still proceed with the trip.

We knew in April that my father would be taking a trip to England but it wasn’t until a fair bit later that we knew I would be going too! (I had an amazing time, by the way!)

I won’t bore you with the other things 2015 held for us, but suffice to say, there were quite literally “changes, changes, everywhere…”!

There is no escaping change. Even if we dig our heels in and stubbornly refuse to change, it happens regardless. We all know people who have difficulty with change, maybe you are one of those people yourself. In reality, as humans, we are creatures of habit and will most likely avoid change than embrace it.

Change can be scary. It’s unpredictable, which is, of course, what we have a problem with. It’s the uncertainty of something new that we buck against. Most of us don’t like not knowing the outcome of an action or event. It’s far easier to maintain the status quo than risk trying something new and things not working out.

Yet, there is so much to be gained from change. Just think of the many things that have required significant change to improve our way of life and provide opportunities for the betterment of us all as humans. Without change, there is no progression. Without change, we would stagnate.

So our decision, as we face this new year, is whether we are going to embrace change and greet it with open arms, or whether we are going to resist and stubbornly refuse to move.

And the decision is really about our thinking. Refusing to change ourselves is what will determine how we handle the changes happening around us. Our thinking and our own person are really the only areas we have true control over. We can’t make everyone and everything around us not change. Yet, if we are willing to change our thought patterns, our choices, our habits, we will find that the changes happening externally are much easier to cope with.

This coming year will most likely include changes; some we plan for and some we have no idea about yet. Why not get a jump start on change and begin by assessing your own thinking? We can better ready ourselves for the inevitable changes coming our way if we open our minds now to start accepting new ways, new people and new ideas.