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Lessons to Remember These Holidays from Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol"

  A Christmas Carol  by Charles Dickens is one of the most well-known and well-loved Christmas stories of all time. If you haven't read it, the story is based around a miserly employer called Ebenezer Scrooge, who is visited by the ghostly apparition of his deceased business partner, Jacob Marley and the spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Future. During these visits, Scrooge's attitudes towards others and Christmas change significantly. So, what lessons from A Christmas Carol - a book written in 1843 - should we keep in mind as we approach the holidays in 2021? Treat Others With Kindness Oh, that poor Bob Cratchit! Scrooge is so hateful and mean to his employee, Cratchit, that by berating him verbally and keeping him in the cold and the dark (literally), it is such a stark contrast to his nephew Fred's behaviour.  Fred is a lovely character, one who reminds us to reach out to those in our lives at Christmas who we may not be on the best terms with. He treats Scrooge wit
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Inspired by the Classics: The role of older women in our lives

I consider myself lucky to have a number of older women in my life who are my mentors, my confidantes and my friends. These include my mother, my stepmother, my mother-in-law and two close friends I have made through teaching. All have been in my life for a number of years and seen me through good times and bad. I have only recently come to appreciate the role that they have played in my life: accepting me as I am, offering advice and guidance when asked, sharing values, ideals and interests (especially in literature and history), amongst other things. Not all of them fulfil each of these roles, but as a whole, they keep me on a good path. It got me thinking about the role of older women in literature, well in recent literature anyway. I thought the role of older women in ancient literature would probably be another post all of its own! I know that many Christian women look to the Scripture Titus 2 for guidance on how to graciously mentor younger women, but there are some women in clas

Artist Spotlight: Victor Gilbert and Living Well

When we look at fine art, we are given a number of opportunities. We can simply appreciate the work, its lines and colours, the way it makes us feel. When I write an Artist Spotlight post, however I like to look for artists that inspire me and my values. How can I look at art and recreate the images, or the feelings, the actions, in my own life? What is it about a piece that inspires me, or that speaks to my soul?  Last week, I was looking through some of my favourite artists, wondering which one to use for this week's spotlight, but I decided to use French impressionist artist, Victor Gilbert - someone I don't actually know anything about. HIs paintings, though, were so appealing to me that I wanted to learn more. That's what I love about what I do here, I get to learn right along with you! The images have come from a variety of sources (listed at the end of this post).  Victor Gabriel Gilbert was a French painter belonging to the Impressionist movement. Many of his painti

How to Live Well Inspired by the Classics

  I believe that we, as a family, live well. Over the years we have made a number of choices that best suit our family - some of them intentional some of them just lucky. I cook most of our meals from scratch, which I enjoy. I also bake our bread each week. I worry about the state of the planet and if I can save on buying store bought bread, with its plastic wrapping, then I feel like I am making small steps to do my bit. There are other ways that we try and help the planet. We use reusable cloths and wipes, pads and towels as much as possible. In terms of toilet paper, this year we started ordering from Who Gives A Crap, an online toilet paper company that wraps their rolls in paper and sends them out in cardboard - again no plastic. I take the time to shop for second hand clothes for myself and the kids (online or in the op shops when they are open), or at least, clothes made from natural products that are on sale. I watched a documentary on Four Corners about clothing waste and this

Bitesize Inspiration: John Heywood

Do you want to live well but don't know where to start? Do you feel overwhelmed by the number of sites out there guiding you with mega motivation, twelve-step programs, or throw-everything-away-and-start-anew mantras? I have a little secret for you. If you really want to live well, consider this classic proverb by John Heywood. It truly is the perfect place to start.   Heywood first recorded this proverb all the way back in 1546; you may recognise it as its more common, modern interpretation: Make hay while the sun shines. I bet you've heard it before! But have you stopped to consider what it really means to us in our modern day lives? It's simple. It means, get ahead and get organised while you can. Our dream life will not suddenly fall into our laps. We have to plan for it and take advantage of moments when we can get that one step closer to our goals. Got an extra $50 left at the end of your pay period? Add it to your emergency saving fund. Spent a little under on your w

Inspired by the Classics: Travel with Agatha Christie

Life has certainly taken a turn for travellers these last twenty months or so. Borders were slammed shut, flights were cancelled and hotels were closed. Many people lost a lot of money or are patiently holding onto "credit" ready to be used when the world starts travelling again. I have noticed that many European countries opened up over the summer, but here down under, we are still on our own island. There is talk though, of a travel bubble to New Zealand in the coming weeks. If you like the thought of travel but (like me) are a bit hesitant to set off on a world-wide trip, then perhaps finding books that can take you away from your home town or city is a better alternative. One of the many reasons that we love books is their ability to transport us to other times, places and even worlds. In today's Inspired by the Classics post, I thought I would focus solely on Agatha Christie's novels. Christie, as evidenced by the above quote, was a lover of travel and this love