Words, once they are printed, have a life of their own.
Carol’s quote came to mind recently, when I received some strongly-worded criticism in response to a post I’d made, on a social media group. Whether my words were truth or lies, seemed less relevant than the individual opinions of the responders making the comments.
It seemed some people relished an opportunity to vent their spleen, albeit in an anonymous way.
Normally, I’d be a little rattled by heavy-handed criticism, but I’m no longer surprised by being hammered with a critical counter-argument, at least on social media.
And yet, in distancing myself from reacting to the negative commentary, I began to feel like some kind of stone-hearted internet troll.
Aristotle was unsurprisingly philosophical about criticism:
“There is only one way to avoid criticism: Do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.”
I wondered should we ignore all negative feedback and scroll on, or respond to critical comments? If so, how?
Criticism of others’ opinions via the internet, and indeed, cyber-bullying, itself, has seemingly reached pandemic proportions. Thankfully the blogging world is mostly immune to negativity, but it did make me wonder how others dealt constructively, with heavy-handed criticism.
An American Politician, Sam Rayburn once said,
Any jackass can kick a barn down, but it takes a carpenter to build it.
Mirrors can reveal something different or be a reverse reflection of the chosen subject.
Friendly Friday Challenge Prompt
The challenge this week is to post photo/s of, “Smoke and Mirrors.”
It might be a magic illusion, a symmetrical reflection, an accidental or deliberate set-up shot, or an image within an image.
It is really up to you how to interpret the prompt.
How to Join the Friendly Friday Challenge
To join in add a linkback, (aka a ping-back), and a Friendly Friday tag to a new post or link, addressing the prompt, then return to this post and leave a comment with your published link, as pingbacks are notoriously unreliable.
The use of essential oils for therapeutic and cosmetic use has become popular, in recent times. Many different Aromatherapy products are readily available to the consumer, some that are detrimental to the environment.
So do any aromatherapy products stand out from the ‘crowd‘?
How are Essential Oils Created?
Essential oils are extracted from plant material using steam or water distillation. Selected plant materials are heated with steam, water or both until the essential oil vaporises. The oil then condenses as it cools.
Being a concentrated plant oil, they should be used sparingly and always diluted in some other medium, such as plain massage oil (cold-pressed vegetable oil) or unscented base cream (but not a mineral oil cream, such as most brands of sorbolene or baby oil)…Aromatic plant oils, including essential oils, should never be ingested (taken in by mouth), as they can be toxic.
The farming communities in Bali, Indonesia, produce the raw materials for Utama Spice’s natural skincare products and in so doing, support local farmers in organic farming, bee farming and seaweed farming. The company believe: “if you wouldn’t cook with it, you shouldn’t put it on your body.”
Being a graduate of the Environmental Sciences, I like to discover businesses, such as Utama Spice Natural Aromatherapy Products, that can maintain sustainability and a low environmental impact, all whilst working harmoniously and respectfully with humanity and nature, to produce a quality product.
Thus, I was delighted to trial a gift basket of just a few of the many Aromatherapy products, from Utama Spice, based in Bali, Indonesia and found their products to be a beneficial and therapeutic asset in, and around, the home.
N.B. The products contain:
No Synthetic Oils
No Synthetic Fragrances
No Artificial Colours
No Synthetic Preservatives
Liquid Soaps and Lip Balm
Being someone with sensitive skin, it was refreshing to find the Utama Spice Aromatherapy lip balms and liquid soaps were highly moisturizing, with no hint of dryness or irritation. Based on natural products like coconut oil and beeswax and infused with essential oils to lock in moisture, the aptly named WellKiss Lip Balm was a standout favourite.
The Tangerine and Peppermint Lip Balms were very much appreciated by my daughter, in the windy Spring weather that we frequently experience, living here, by the coast. I can imagine we will be thankful for that level of protectiveness for the lip areas, come wintertime.
The Man of the House found Lemongrass Liquid Soap was excellent for showering and bathing and that the fresh scent lingered pleasantly in our bathroom, after use.
Or, if you are looking for something a little stronger to use on tougher cleaning jobs, Utama Spice also has an Antiseptic liquid soap, with the benefit of Neem Oil, as an active ingredient to knock down germs.
For those needing a more intensive moisturizer for ultra-dry skin, you will find an application of the Tropical Flower Body Butter, after showering is excellent on cracked heels, as well as those rough spots on the knees and elbows.
Moisturizing Soaps and Lotions
As we have been recently planting lots of lavender at the Home by the Sea, I suppose it is no surprise that the family’s overall favourite Utama Spice Aromatherapy product, was the Lavender Liquid soap and Coconut Moisturizing Lotion with Pure Lavender Oil.
Lavender Liquid soap and Coconut Moisturizing Lotion with Pure Lavender Oil.
Yoga Mat Energizing and Sanitizing Spray
Yoga mats can become notoriously grotty if you’re using them outdoors, so the compact size of the Yoga Mat Energizing Spray, was brilliant, meaning I could keep it in my handbag, for regular use after Yoga and exercise sessions.
The added bonus of knowing the essential Oil of Lemon, Bergamot, and Mint were helpful in sanitizing the mat was most reassuring, especially given the current Covid pandemic.
All the products at Utama Spice are based on traditional Balinese herbal knowledge and comprise 100% natural ingredients.
I was really pleased to read that the company maintain strict procedures to ensure the products and the raw materials are checked at every stage, guaranteeing the highest standard of quality control.
The company maintains a friendly relationship with its customers and conducts prompt shipping, with tracking options for orders, at no extra charge. With a flat rate of $10 shipping, (free for orders over $100-AUD), the location is no barrier to customers worldwide.
Please note that I received no monetary incentive for this review.
So you have time to read blogs? Why? Don’t you know what you want in life?
Said a philosopher who had no concept of having to battle with a financial position.
Benefits of Writing a Blog
Most of us aren’t completely aimless in life, we have some kind of plan and guess what, we do like to read blogs, because we like to write blogs. It is as simple and as complicated as that.
Why do we write a blog?
To Spread Awareness
To Inform or Educate
To Meet others
To hear Independent Perspectives
To Promote something or someone (not discussed in this blog post)
There are more similarities between people from diverse cultures than there are differences. We can learn so much from each other if we keep an open mind.
Choosing Topics for Blog Posts
Develop your own personal voice and blogging style by writing quality content that might be useful to others.
Perhaps the best way to stand out from the crowd and make an impression upon people is to produce content that impacts them in some way. Write something that matters, that helps people, that solves a problem, that enriches people’s lives, and you increase the chances of them coming back again and again.
Write Interesting Blog Content
Blog posts are interesting to readers if you:
Write about topics that you know well or in which you have some expertise
Write about something that is dear to your heart
Post about subjects you are passionate about
Ask questions of your readers to engage the audience and build your own blogging community.
Keep posts short and succinct as much as you can! Long posts tend to bore the reader. Everyone is time poor.
Tips on Increasing Blog Traffic via the WordPress Reader
Research your topic to see what others have written previously and how this blog topic performed. Google can also give you an idea of the most popular questions the public has about any given subject. This can help you structure a post to answer those questions.
If you reset the publication date on a post multiple times, WordPress will drop your posts from the WordPress reader for a while.
Too many re-blogs of other sites will also result in your blog not appearing in the reader which means less new people coming across your blog.
WordPress does not want to have lots of duplicate content in their reader. New bloggers often make this mistake in an attempt to gain new readers. Unfortunately, it has the opposite effect.
Visit other bloggers who are writing about a similar subject.
Share your post via a Hyperlink in Pinterest and social media
Commenting and Blog Etiquette
Be kind to those who take the time to comment on your blog and visit their blog.
Reading and commenting on other blogs can only help to build your community and increase your readership.
Find a blogging challenge that interests you and join in. There are many types and it is a good way to build a blogger community of like-minded folk.
Long comments are interesting. Bloggers love long comments. It is hard to begin a conversation if you receive a comment that merely says, “Great Post.” It could even be a spammer as it is not specific enough. Think about what you liked about the post? I usually try to keep the conversation going by asking something further about the topic which leads to a deeper, more fulfilling conversation.
No one has time to read every post of every blogger that you might follow. Liking posts is no ongoing substitute for a real comment.
Tips on Formatting a Blog
Themes and WordPress bugs
Some WordPress themes do not present all that clearly on every device. I was using a Twenty Twenty theme that did not show allow a comment option and did not format well on some devices. Check how your post and blog presents on various devices.
Customize the chosen theme with a colour or featured post to stand out from the crowd
Add a featured image to each post where possible. This creates interest in the WP Reader.
Tips on Formatting Blog Posts
Use Headings and Subheadings
This is good for SEO. It also aids in making your post organized and flow.
Useful Widgets for a Blog
Include a translation option for speakers of a language other than English
Add a Follow option for Email and WordPress Readers – this is ESSENTIAL
Link other Social media Accounts
Free blog plans have a limit to how much media storage you have. Resize your photos for faster loading of your site and efficient utilization of storage limits or purchase a paid blog plan.
I use Imgur or Flickr to add images by linking a URL (saves downloads and uploads). Copy the image location in google, (Right-click), if you don’t have a photo of your own to illustrate the point you wish to make by adding media.
If your google photos don’t show to other readers, it could be due to your privacy settings in Google photos.
Adding Tags to your Blog Post
Adding Tags and Categories are useful for helping other readers discover your blog.
It can also help if you want to check back on a previous post, on your own blog.
Use up to 15 categories and tags in total.
Using more than 15, or adding irrelevant or inappropriate tags, will result in your post being bumped from the WordPress reader. The more tags you use, the less likely your post will be featured in the Reader. And that means less new readers and followers.
Delete old tags that have a count of zero (posts>tags>count)
Do you have some blogging tips for New Bloggers?
Recently I posted about maintaining a blog, which led to some really productive comments and conversations.
Who would have thought muscle memory had anything to do with photography? Scott Bourne explains that, just like musical ability, practising with one’s camera is vital in aiming for that perfect shot, or lots more perfect shots! Scott explains:
During the pandemic, I am practising my modal scales on the guitar every day and I am handling my camera every day. I see the benefits right in front of me. Both my musical ability and my photographic ability have improved. If you do not use them, you will lose them.
So give this a try. Grab your camera and your camera manual. Open any random page in the manual and then whatever it describes, do that with the camera. Not only will your muscle memory improve, your knowledge of your specific camera will improve and then all that stuff will simply go away and drift into the background while you use all your brain’s conscious processing power to SEE and compose the next great image.
For me, I practise my art techniques – that is: painting and drawing and blogging, of course.
I can never produce anything of substance, if I do it once every three months or so. If I do it daily, or as often as I can, – I notice a HUGE improvement in my skills. I paint in a particular form of traditional Norwegian and Dutch art, called Rosemaling and Hindeloopen style. I have been practising this for many years, on and off.
Farming and rural communities are doing it tough in these times. Most of us recognize that.
You will be be delighted and surprised at the hidden gems found in many country towns and rural areas that were formerly overlooked by the overseas obsessed traveling public. Amandine Lavender is one such gem near the central Queensland coastal town of Bargara.
Those seeking a safer alternative to traveling overseas can not only support farming communities by making a day trip but also include rural towns, as holiday destinations.
Amandine Lavender Farm, Seaview Road, Bargara.
Around four hours drive north of Brisbane, Australia, or five minutes from the famous Turtle Rookery at Mon Repos, you will find Amandine Lavender farm, along Seaview Road at Bargara. See how the lavender is grown and utilized into a vast array of therapeutic and beauty products on sale at Amandine’s gift shop. Online ordering is coming soon.
Formerly a family sugarcane farm dating back 3 generations, the falling price of sugar encouraged the owners to diversify into growing lavender and developing a new business venture. The owners have transformed a pretty potting shed and garden into a flowering lavender paradise.
Amandine Lavender Products
The lavender product range includes soaps or oils, sprays and creams as well as soothing lavender sleep and relaxation balm, excellent for tension headaches, which I carry in my handbag at all times. Old favorites like sachets of dried lavender for pillows, wheat packs, or to hang in the wardrobe to keep pesky moths away from one’s clothes, are also on offer.
At Amandine farm, you are encouraged to pick as much lavender as you can carry in your hands, to take home with you. Enjoy the relaxing scent of freshly cut lavender in your own home for days after your visit.
Then when the flowers started to droop, cut them and hang them upside down to dry out. They can them be used as dried flowers or sprinkled in sachets for the wardrobe or undies drawer. Lavender foliage can be trimmed and used for propagating new lavender plants.
How to Grow Your Own Lavender
Amandine has self-guided propagation activities in their garden potting shed but you can always grab an information leaflet and try cultivating lavender, at home.
When to Pick and Trim Lavender
Spring flowering lavender should be cut in Spring whilst the winter flowering forms should be picked in autumn in order to take advantage of the best time to grow lavender from existing plants.
Cultivation of Lavender
Cut a leaf tip of lavender, about two inches, or 5 -8 cms long, dip the end in a rooting powder (available from nurseries or larger supermarkets), and place in a good quality potting mix. Water it in, then cover and seal with a plastic bag, setting it aside for a few months.
After several months, you will be delighted to find you have created new lavender plants of your own, at no cost.
Lavender plants do prefer a dry soil; they don’t like to moist ground for too long. That is why they prefer coastal climates and have not problem tolerating windy conditions.
Conveniently, these are the conditions we have at the home by the sea. I will be potting out some more of these hardy and highly perfumed beauties soon.
“Patience is a Virtue and I need more of it – NOW!”
Have you heard anyone say that recently?
Did you ever feel frustrated when someone pushed ahead of you in a queue?
How do you feel when someone takes longer than expected to do a simple task at work, or doesn’t complete it in a timely manner despite repeated requests?
What if your kids or partner refuse the food you have laboriously prepared and cooked all afternoon, only to raid the cookie jar later that evening?
Has someone walked all over your newly mopped floor in muddy boots?
Has your final attempt at resolving a bureaucratic problem been quashed by uncaring authorities?
Frustration is an intense emotion we feel:
when our needs aren’t being met at the timewe expect them to be.
when we feel trapped.
when we are not listened to.
when our efforts are not respected or appreciated.
The Instant Gratification Society
How do you react when you waiting for an answer to an urgent email?
Are you someone who responds by sending a follow-up SMS text asking for an update? If they still don’t answer immediately, do you call them directly?
We have come to expect a fast resolution to our needs and experience frustration if that or some other achievable goal is thwarted.
Do you want to know a fact you have forgotten? Google will end our frustrations quickly and efficiently. There’s no need to rack our brains anymore. What does that teach us? That we can quickly solve our own problems?
Society has groomed our vulnerabilities and we now expect a rapid response to our wants and needs.
If we invest more time and effort than we think justified in reaching a goal, the resulting emotion is often frustration and impatience.
Patience is a coping skill we need to navigate a world where gratification is instantly demanded.
How Does Developing Patience Help?
Developing more patience in frustrating situations can improve health and free us from feelings of stress and anger.
However, patience doesn’t mean you will become a people-pleaser or dishonour your personal boundaries, which I posted about last week, but rather it gives you the power of waiting, watching and knowing when and how to act, in order to build compassion between individuals.
Patience helps you to be kind and compassionate.
Patience improves your health and wellbeing
Patience lowers your stress
Patience frees you from feeling angry emotions
Patience enhances self-respect by staying centred no matter what
Patience develops an eye for details
Showing patience offers us extra moments of time in which we can choose how and when to respond to a given event. This may avoid that detrimental knee-jerk emotional reaction. Challenging situations can be dealt with more flexibly.
Practising Patience in Everyday Life
Start out small and practise patience regularly. The following ideas may help:
Practise letting someone go ahead of you in a queue.
Deliberately choose a long supermarket queue. Use that time to practise long slow breaths in your busy day.
Drive the long way home and listen to a podcast or relaxing music.
Actively listen to exactly what is being said/requested by others. Rephrase their request back to them to double-check for understanding. This helps to put your frustrations aside in order to focus on solutions to the problem you are trying to solve.
Let a provocative or controversial comment slide.
Know your weaknesses and avoid letting them become your hot buttons or triggers.
Build your self-discipline by creating new habits and leading a less complicated life. Studies show that people with self-discipline are generally happier people.
Challenge your perception about willpower. Recognize that it is normal to feel frustrated, but believe in your ability to choose to direct your energy in a different way.
Turn your attention inward until your needs are met. This is a good way of practising a form of meditation until you receive the gratification you are searching for.
“Like everything else that brings progress, the greatest struggle is always within ourselves.”
Go through your life practising patience with grace, and avoid pent up anger or frustrations.
“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.”
Do you like to Help Others?
We are encouraged to help others according to the religious and social conventions of our world. Doing so, promotes joy in others, a sense of, ‘loving kindness,’ in our interactions with others and community.
where are the boundaries between helping others and neglecting our own needs in order to please others?
People-pleasers typically have low self–esteem. They overdo it on kindness and helpfulness because they feel a need to prove their worth. They’re uncomfortable with conflict and negative emotions, so they work hard to always keep their partners happy, with no concern for their own feelings.
This statement goes a little far in finger-pointing, and it could incite feelings of guilt in the person who aims to please. But I take their point on the fundamental issue.
So how do we achieve that balance between helping others and not hindering ourselves?
I think that it’s a learning process for some of us.
People pleasers hope that saying yes to everything asked of them will help them feel accepted and liked. However, no matter how nice they are, some people won’t like you for no good reason.
Do you like every person you meet?
Kindness or Pleasing Others?
Many people-pleasers confuse the act of pleasing people with kindness. When discussing their reluctance to turn down someone’s request for a favour, they say things like,
“I don’t want to be selfish,” or “I just want to be a good person.”
Consequently, they allow others to take advantage of them.
It is impossible to be all things to all people. Trying to be that person will just stress you out.
“Some people-pleasers have a history of maltreatment and somewhere along the way, they decided that their best hope for better treatment was to try to please the people who mistreated them.“
Some People-pleasers seem to spend a lot of time walking on eggshells and neglecting their own boundaries to keep a significant other happy*. For these folks, people-pleasing becomes a habit and a way of interacting with family, friends and other people.
*NB. If this tips over into an abusive relationship, professional help should be considered, at the earliest opportunity.
What You Can Do to Break a People-Pleasing Habit
Start by saying no to a small request or take a stand for something you truly believe in.
Express your real thoughts and opinions to something small or less significant.
Validate the other person’s right to a different opinion before calmly stating your own.
Check to see if this works for you.
A positive or neutral response to this, from the receiver, may help to build confidence in one’s own ability to be more aligned with the true self.
Any adjustments in this communication might mean re-phrasing your words without acquiescing your own beliefs. Validating other people’s right to their own opinion, whilst calmly stating your own, may also be helpful.
“I get why you would think that and it would be nice if I could see it your way/agree with you, but right now, I see it/think differently.”
“The Number 1 reason people fail in life is because they listen to their friends, family, and neighbours.”
Since I moved to a Home by the sea, I have had a beautiful friendship with a young wild bird who lived in the area. Recently, you may have read how I had to end the friendship with this wild bird. You may also be wondering what happened since then.
The fact that a wild bird could be so trusting as to voluntarily come into my house and sit on my dining room table, without fear, should have been a real compliment and I began to think I shouldn’t be angry at him. He was just doing what he could to survive in a suburban environment.
If truth be told, I was as fearful for his safety as I was for mine when he began fluttering around inside the house. And no, he didn’t drop any messages anywhere nor knock a single item over in his flurry. What dexterity!
Old Mate, as I dubbed him did come back the day following his tour of my abode and he sat outside on the fence singing for me to bring him his regular treats. I ignored his pleas. I did feel mean.
The next week went by and Old Mate didn’t visit me at all. I heard him but never saw him.
Yesterday, I heard him in the neighbourhood.
I placed a piece of ham (his favourite), on the fence for him. It was still there the next day. Was this a sign he was gone for good?
I had to admit I still wanted a relationship with him but wanted him to respect that he could not enter my house. I would meet him in the yard.
Today, he arrived again and so I extended an invitation to him and his lady partner and offered him ham from my hand. He took it willingly.