A Letter to My Children (and to all of yours)

As most of you know, I created my blog, Stuff Mother Taught Us, as an honour to the wisdom that my Mummy has imparted to us growing up. I’ve always encouraged Mummy to write a book of some kind so that others may benefit from her teachings and well, this Mother's Day, us kids actually got a gift in the form of a letter that I have been allowed to place on my blog. She was very touched that I asked her to place this letter here to share with all of you.  I pray you find value within her words as we all have.

My darling children,

I feel greatly blessed to see you all grow up to be such successful people, in both the spiritual and worldly sense.  Perhaps you don’t need this advice, but I guess it can never do harm to be reminded once in a while of the things that are most important in life - and besides you can read it to your kids, use it to advise your dear friends and to share it with those who you hope would value its meaning. 

I know that you all see me as the ever-patient mummy that can face any situation and is always ready with a wise word and a warm embrace. This makes me supremely happy to hear as it’s the type of mother I always wanted to be, but you must know that it would never have been possible without my faith in almighty God. I would hope when you become parents yourself that spirituality, patience, discipline and affection are the foundations upon which you build your family. If these four principles underpin every thought you have and every decision you make, there is not much that can go wrong. No matter what decision you ever make, think first how these four principles apply to it before you go forward and you should be safe in the knowledge that you will be making the right one. Walls can fall down around your ears and still you will have everything it takes to stand up, with a smile and carry on with a strong heart. This is the example your children will follow, even if there are others in their life that might be determined to drag them down, or direct their character in the wrong way. 

Regardless of your love for God and your opinions, you must teach your children never to judge another person by their faith or any difference in their background. Everyone should be free to love their God, country and their beliefs, the same as you are free to love yours. You will notice that those who appear to be religious from their garb on the outside may disappoint you with their words and actions, which are far from containing spiritual content. You will hear them back-bite and gossip and judge others in a spiteful manner. You will see them indulge in behaviour that seems unsuitable for one who never tires of preaching to others. And then there are those who deem themselves better than you, maybe they have good careers, or are more wealthy than you, or possess a superior education, but what you will be saddened by is how arrogant and competitive they are and you may be shocked by their strange bondage to material things. All their success or education will seem wasted to you when you realise that after all they have learned, they still do not see that there is not one person that is better than another and that the good graces that have touched their lives could be taken away in a second. No matter how wealthy someone may seem, the true gold is in their character. But remember this: no matter how many people you meet that make you doubt humanity, remember that people are inherently good and people are wonderful. Respect everyone you meet and make it a habit never ever to judge anyone. You never know what people have been through or are going through in their lives. Be forgiving and considerate and offer compassion to those who may behave intolerably; these people are usually the ones living through some form of pain that is invisible to you. By no means though allow people to take advantage of your kindness.  There will be some that are intent on speaking or behaving disrespectfully towards you, but they should be ignored and you must never allow them to hold even an ounce of power over your emotional wellbeing. Do not let people pull you down with their thoughts or actions, rather, you be the leader of great moral character and pull people up toward you and the light of how to behave in this world.

Life is to be cherished and enjoyed in each and every single moment, so never forget that as you go out to work or return home to your families. There is so much beauty to be experienced and shared and there is simply no excuse for anything less than joyful days. The world really is your oyster and you are in complete control of the treasures you seek from her. Don’t compare yourself to anyone. Identify your skills, master them and the passion that will naturally follow will allow you to build your life’s work. You must always work hard and this way you will be happy to do so and it will be easier to enjoy your life. Do not let your ego be wounded by what others possess or have achieved. You must not make light of their efforts, instead respect and appreciate their work and continue on your journey to achieving that which you desire.  Do not allow yourself to criticise people, nor complain about situations you don’t have any intention of changing and whatever you do, never blame others for your failures. It is inevitable that there will be people who break your trust, but always forgive them and never think about taking revenge. However, try never to keep their company again, unless it is unavoidable – and then deal with them in kindness and respect.  

Before I close this letter, I have some final words about your families. Your partner should be your best friend, who should be dedicated to your happiness, as you must be to theirs. Love and care for one another and give each other great honour and respect. Don’t become lazy in being kind to one another or forgetful in keeping your manners.  You and your partner must be on the same page with everything in your lives. You must be absolutely determined to get your family on a path of usefulness, purpose and unity. If together you don’t have the same goals for your family, there will always be struggle and it will affect every member of the family. Don’t force your views on anyone, but instead have family discussions where everyone is allowed to have their voice heard and respected and make your decisions based on these meetings. Remember that your children will learn from your actions, not from what you say, so always be the prime example of a beautiful human being with one another. Be the best you can be in front of them, always behaving with exemplary moral character and conduct. You are their role models and this you must never forget and therefore must relinquish bad habits that could become theirs. Your health is your greatest wealth and as such you must always respect your body by having an active and healthy lifestyle and by eating healthily and consciously and keeping yourself strong. Eating together, praying together and respectful, combined decision-making will create incredible bonds within your family. People measure their riches in different ways, but remember that where one cannot smile, there is no life. Make your home one of love and laughter and true success will surely follow. 

When I was at the stage in life that you are all pretty much entering now, I felt that maybe you had to accept the situations you were in. I didn’t realise the power within each of us to stand up against what was wrong in our lives; we all just put up with horrible situations and people that were determined to keep us down. I wish I had someone to tell me all this then, but that is why it is so important I write this letter for you.  Whatever you decide to do in life, always keep God beside you and I assure you that through everything, you will always be strong, successful and happy. God is your best friend, share all your secrets with Him, talk with Him and take your love, strength and guidance from Him. 

I love you my darlings, Mummy

Thank you to all who have tried to leave a comment below, we are aware there have been some problems. Please accept our apologies for the inconvenience, we are working to fix this as soon as possible. 

Peace, Stuff Mother Taught Us

Six Easy To Install Productivity Habits

Each time I come back from holiday, whether long or short, I find the task of throwing myself back into work a seemingly insurmountable challenge. Is it laziness? Is it my penchant for procrastination? Or is it the trepidation of knowing what will undoubtedly spring from the simple act of opening my laptop? Whatever it is I decided not to beat myself up about it. While on the surface it may seem wrong that a freshly holidayed human would have any problem jumping straight back into stuff, it certainly is the case with me, so I’m sure it’s the same for others. And I know I’m not the only person that gets Sunday Dread a few hours before bedtime on a Sunday, when the realisations hits that tomorrow is a work day - well, don’t worry these feelings are actually responsibility hiding. Yes indeedy and I’ve got a few ingenious habits to help you manage it.

1.        Make a list at the END of your day 


There is nothing more frustrating to the mighty brain than not knowing what you are actually supposed to be doing with your day and lists are great for that. Making your tomorrow’s list at the end of today’s day is the smartest way to ensure you’re working efficiently from the get-go each morning. At the end of each day you will know exactly which tasks you have already worked on and the ones you need to prioritise in order to be able to work seamlessly from this point onward the following day. 

This list is your new morning cereal and should be consumed at your desk as soon as you get in (don’t really eat your list, it’s a figure of speech - how can you refer to your list throughout the day if you’ve eaten it already?).

2.       Only check emails twice a day


Yep this might sound really scary or even impossible because we seem to spend much of our time on email, but you see that is the problem. You are not being paid to communicate with colleagues all day; you are being paid to complete a job whilst being able to communicate effectively all day. 

I would say 11am and 3pm are good times to check emails, but choose two times that work for you. This means you must refuse to check mail outside of those time slots and concentrate instead on doing the job at hand. As things pop up during the day add them to your list in priority order as much as possible and reorganise at the end of the day for tomorrow’s new list.

3.       Difficult tasks go first


Did you know that most convicts are granted parole from hearings that are held in the mornings? Experts have put this down to natural physiological needs of the judges to need food and rest as the day wears in. Can you imagine something as sensitive and life affecting as prisoners and judges being swayed by a little bread and butter? Insane right, but ‘tis true and the same goes for us civilians too; we have the most energy first thing in the morning until around midday and then a surge again after eating lunch, but that starts to dwindle around 4pm - so spend your mornings doing the tough stuff. 

4.       Play in your work day


We become smarter workers when we dedicate specific time slots and time frames for our daily activities and this should include fun things to keep you happy during your work day.  If you are a serious worker, your boss isn’t gonna care that you check into Facebook for 10 minutes or watch a You Tube video or share a couple of jokes around the office, but it should be done only in your (particularly small) allocated time slot.  And remember point 3 about the convicts and judges - so playtime should be after 4pm when your brain is at its mushiest anyway. 

5.       Find freedom in a Procrastination Pad


Ooh boy this is my favourite work toy and you have no idea of the pure freedom you’ll give your mind until you start using this. It is the simplest tool that has a massive impact on the work day. All you need is a small and unserious notepad onto which you will jot down every tiny thing you think of that could potentially distract you from the task at hand. When you have a spare moment, and ONLY when you have a spare moment, allow yourself to review the list on your notepad and do the things you have time for.  Whether it is reading that article, checking phone messages, or visiting that site - whatever it is, put that naughty little distraction safely to bed on the Procrastination Pad. 

Start each new day with fresh page on the notebook, erm I mean the super Procrastination Pad. 

6.       Work for an hour at a time


We can’t help but become lethargic and lose concentration after sitting for hours at a desk, this is to do with a reduction in glucose levels, staying in the same place for too long and usually not doing much else than staring at a screen while you do your daily tasks. For super productivity, creativity and extended energy levels it is advised to take tiny breaks often throughout the day. Have a timer (preferably silent, but flashing) on your phone that you set for 60 minutes - when it goes off you must stand up and leave your desk for 3-4 minutes. When you return to your desk set the timer for 60 minutes again. During those break periods try NOT thinking about the task you were working on.

Aim to drink a small glass of water during each break and find fresh air if possible, but even a gentle walk around the building or a chat with a colleague or finding a quiet place to stretch is perfect time spent too.

A Different Kind of Heart Disease



Our heart is the object of mystery for us all, but even in the brilliant world of science, renowned geniuses find it near impossible to explain love in relation to the heart. They admit though that there is certainly something mystical about the heart and the way that it responds to emotional signals, which is a powerful confession from devotees of logic. But for those of you out there that don’t believe in rainbows and fairies and hippy happiness, let's give you some hard facts. Recently, one of the largest health studies ever conducted by the CDC (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention) proved how the diseases we suffer from in our later years can be directly linked and traced back to trauma from our childhood. Let yourself understand the gravity of that statement for a moment. The things that happened to you up ‘til you were around 18 have the potential to make you sick as an adult - and I’m talking serious liver, pulmonary and mental disease type of sick, not catching a cold. 
When you hear that being stressed causes high blood pressure or grey hair or nervous breakdowns these are clear examples that prove how our bodies respond negatively and harmfully to stressful situations. Imagine then the potential havoc that years of stress in the form of built-up aggression, unresolved issues or harbouring pain, shame or neglect could do to our bodies. Now the cherry on top of all that is the hideous amount of different negative stimuli that we additionally take in from our environment during each day, of each week of our lives. 

Negative thoughts, words, images and actions from our environment


It is fair to say that most people who watch movies or play video games find it relatively harmless to watch graphic images of violence and other scenes that have the potential to make the heart race. The problem however, is it’s far from harmless. Adrenal chemicals in our body are designed to help us respond in certain ways when faced with stress situations in ‘real life’. But if they are stimulated too often and in the wrong way it can cause severe health issues. Cortisol - the body’s chief stress chemical – is present in everyone and in different amounts and it is intended to help us respond to threats in our environment. It’s most helpful in cases of attacks on your cave and hunting woolly mammoths, so the potential for its uses are very powerful. The thing is however, we don’t really have many of those types of situations do we, so the problem comes when we use such a powerful hormone in the most useless of circumstances. Red lights, traffic queues, people not agreeing with your opinion – they aren’t the most challenging situations are they, but many people allow those petty situations to enrage them, which in turn creates the unnecessary production of Cortisol in the blood - which is touted as one of the main causes of major health conditions including high blood pressure, impaired cognitive performance, lowered immunity, overeating and a decrease in muscle tissue. 

When we are in an argument with someone, or we are doing something we know to be wrong, different things happen to our body – our heart beats faster, we tend to feel tightness in our chest, and our body temperature rises (there’s truth behind the term blood boiling). These are our body’s habitual physiological reactions from the release of Cortisol and Adrenaline into our blood. To prevent stress related illness it is advised by experts that after encountering stress situations we should aim to lower the levels of Cortisol and Adrenaline in our blood by deliberately adopting calming techniques, such as meditation and breathing and the like. The bad joke here though is that people hardly ever do that. And not only do we never calm ourselves down, we regularly go out of our way to make our brains believe we are in stress situations by watching graphic or frightening images and listening to violent and angry words in movies, video games and music. These make the heart race with negative brain impulses that stimulate the production of the stress hormones, which is nothing short of inflicting disease upon ourselves.  

Parenting Attitude


Whether you were a child once (that’s all of us by the way), or you are a parent now, there is some vital knowledge that you need to be privy to. The way you speak to your child or any young person could be critical to their future health. We are not talking about whether they grow up to be in perfect careers, or whether they’ll listen to you more, or do well in school. No, we are talking about one thing and that’s the ability to make children become sick people in their adult years. 

Think about how easy it is to make a child cry in fear. Well, that child has just experienced trauma. Can you imagine as an adult what it would take to make you cry from fear or anger? Exactly, it would take a heck of a lot. And when adults experience trauma we don’t cry, we have breakdowns. So visualise how much more potent those feelings are in a child and how that then converts into hormones, which in turn may well convert into disease.

We don’t have any control of the negative experiences that could happen to our family members outside of our household, such as being beaten up in the street, horrible teachers, getting robbed, being made redundant, bad bosses, sexual assault and of course naturally occurring illness. The point is that you might not have control over what happens to your kids or family members outside of your doors, but inside you do and you need to strive to ensure your thoughts, words and actions are never the cause of negative emotions like fear, anger, anxiety or stress. It is possible that there are people out there who may not realise the different types of abuse that exist, so your duty is to familiarise yourself with them here in this link and commit to ensuring they have no place in your home.

The Alternative Reality; the solution


There’s good and bad to everything right? God and the Devil, liberators and oppressors, being alive and being dead (sometimes dead is good, like the Tyrannosaurus Rex, but you know what I mean). Well, in the same way that we encourage the release of negative hormones, we can also give an abundant supply of good hormones, such as Serotonin and Dopamine and surprise surprise, there are no side effects of ever being too happy. In fact, we can go one step further and say that happiness is the cure and the solution to almost everything we have been talking about. 

Our brains respond like kids to candy when it comes to habit, it behaves more efficiently and even starts to change shape when it is able to work automatically on tasks. As explained by Harvard Professor, Shawn Achor in his talk on the Tetris effect, when we practice anything such as learning a language or an instrument, our brain start to develop a habit that begins to efficiently process the repeating information - which is why we get better at the task. Further to this, our brain then begins to scan for things in the environment around us that support the habit, subconsciously, which is why when we are learning a new thing we seem to see references to that thing everywhere around us. Similarly, no practice means that we are capable of forgetting a skill - even one that we know so well - and while this may seem bad, in fact this is the beauty in forgetting trauma. Just like a skill we stop practicing, by not allowing our mind to think of these negative things, our brain forgets to process signals relating to it and subsequently does not look to our environment to remind us of the trauma. Knowing this means that if we purposefully do things that make us happy as a habit, our brain will begin to look for things in our environment that make us happy, perpetuating the cycle of positivity and removing the memory and links to negative thought or trauma. And add to that the incredible effect on our bodies from a physiological perspective regarding the constant stimulation of Serotonin and Dopamine. There are doctors and medical professionals worldwide who claim that happiness can cure anything from depression to cancer, (and gives you awesome skin and hair as a side effect) - take that movie with Robin Williams, called Patch Adams, which was based on a real life doctor who put aside traditional practice in his hospital to treat his patients with happiness cures. 

For those out there who are victims of bad childhoods, you need to reverse the habit and cycle of negativity and remove the pain within. You need to make the choice to be determined to live healthily in happiness from this moment on. Everyone out there needs to seek out the things you know that makes you smile from your heart, make a list of those things and be sure to do them, daily if possible – as a habit. Play games, smell flowers, go for a walk, watch some comedy, meditate on happy thoughts, practice thinking of things you are grateful for, volunteer in the community, call good friends (lose bad ones), tell someone you love them, listen to music that has meaningful words and is not aggressive, make time to read a story book. And if you have to, force yourself to smile - yes seriously, studies that asked patients to hold a pencil between their teeth to mimic the action of smiling tricked the brain to secrete the happy the hormones in to the blood. What I’m trying to say is rather than creating or simply accepting the negative stimuli in your environment, do anything and everything in your power to switch your brain to its preferred positive state.

Think of times that you may have been around nature, or perhaps listened to music, or may have had an experience that resonated so perfectly with your senses that you could not help but close your eyes and allow yourself to be overwhelmed by a feeling of pure understanding.  When you tap into those memories, try and remember how your heart felt at the time – even if just a fleeting moment, how large it felt, as though it would burst in contentment at the truth and peace it had found. So rare are those moments that some people may find difficulty recalling such intoxicatingly beautiful feelings, or even sadder still, may never have experienced the bliss of such emotions. With a world literally overflowing with astonishing beauty and goodness it is truly a wonder that we are unable to exist in a perpetual state of fulfilment and serenity. But it doesn’t have to be that way - we should be living our life, by overdosing on beautiful feelings, until we are exuding happiness the same way we are content to display negativity. 

We are not only what we eat, but also what we see and what we hear and what we do. If we let ourselves recognise that we could be responsible for giving ourselves, our children or our families sick hearts from toxic input, we can commit to transforming the rest of our lives in the hope that it will prevent, slow down or reverse the potential damage of actual disease.


Stuff Mother Taught Us

 Image coutesy of freedigitalphotos.net. "Heart Of Beans" by Jeroen van Oostrom