Sunday, 30 October 2011


Have you ever - watched a honey bee at work? Flying from flower to flower, it doesn't quit. Working away, always busy. Indeed, a honey bee could visit 2 million flowers to make one pound of honey - the sweetest reward to be found from a long, long hard struggle.

There are many quotes which can be recalled upon to give inspiration to a tired and flagging spirit. One of my most favourite comes from the Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson who said: "never underate the duty of being happy." A man suffering from many health problems throughout his life - he was one who made a very conscious decision as to how he wanted to approach his life - he chose to look for and seek out the positive, something I think that everyone should try to do (for their own personal benefit).

Today, in Scotland, (and other European countries) the clocks went back. I was reminded by a friend in Spain who sent me the cheery wee image here (thanks Tony!).

An extra hour, 60 minutes to enjoy a longer, lazy snooze in bed or the potential of an hour to do something else - something more memorable. As I thought about how to use my 'extra hour' - I recalled a series of events from a few years back...

Some time ago, I set up an online group called ":-D SMILE and pass it on!" Within 3 weeks it exceeded 1,000 members. People posted to the group wall their photos and sayings which made them smile. But, to me personally, a number of questions were directed - why was I doing this? What was my motive? And even criticisms that, at the time, I really didn't need... I'd just lost my mum to cancer and behind my cheery public smile I was very much working hard to be outwardly positive. Then, one night, words in an email did 'cut in' bitterly and very quietly I slowly began to remove the online group. People's comments - good and bad can influence all of us and it is sad that they pushed me into removing a group which was certainly doing nothing negative. Yet, as time has passed, I have bounced back again. Stronger in mind, happier in myself and with a quiet 'determination' - this is my life and I aim to live it! Getting out and enjoying the world around me, like the endless beauty of the changing seasons in Scotland, always nourishment for my heart and soul and something to share with others. 

27.10.11 Let there be light, Shona McMillan © 

And of course - I benefit too from a great group of friends. People who I know have certainly helped me in what they've said but also in the things that they have done and continue to do. One friend being the catalyst to me beginning an album of funny photos on my Celtic Reflections page. For sure, there's nothing Celtic about these photos, except that their journey to me was latterly from Ireland. My friend there has the motto "A day without laughter is wasted" - and my goodness, he has shared a lot of laughter with me since we met. Back then at that time, I was recovering from the shock of losing my mum to cancer and then, this year, I also lost my dad. And throughout these tough times, my friend was ALWAYS there to send me an endless supply of daft, funny photos, pictures and positive sayings. In the same way that my friend from Spain (before his English became so good) he would send to me masses of musical links to tunes and clips that he thought I'd enjoy... Yes, these are all quite small gestures if each is evaluated on its own but, over time, these many small gestures do add up to make a BIG difference! (they certainly have brightened my days and made a big difference to me!). And then, last night, when I was beginning to feel pretty aggravated at being unable to find something "I'd put away in a safe place" (an absolute recipe for it to be lost!) - my aggravation turned in to a big smile as I remembered one of the funny pictres I had been sent some time ago - a photo now very relevant. 

I found the photo again online - posted first to my page on 25.09.10. Sharing it again on Facebook in 2011, new people commented about it and we all shared another laugh. So this morning - when I wondered what to do with my extra hour from the clocks going back, it seemed to me that it was the perfect opportunity to begin a new chapter in my own 'philosophy in practise' - my ":-D SMILE and pass it on" an album for me to share with others - rippling out through the internet things to make people smile and promote positive thinking and action. Therefore, on my Facebook page SHONA MCMILLAN CELTIC REFLECTIONS more photos will be added together with sayings that I enjoy and I hope others benefit from too. [And if you would like to contribute a funny photo or inspirational saying - please do get in touch]. We live in the real world - it is not always beautiful, life is not easy and people can be mean... BUT the real world can be good as well as bad. In my photos I try to show the beauty of what I see around me, I'd also like to add: positive thinking and humour. I realise that I am just one person posting things on the internet but just as I have benefitted, from a friend's photo (sent to me over a year ago) so too then do others have the potential to benefit. And yes I know, I'd like to take a wee bit of time in my life - to try and help shine out a light and share a smile with others.

I shared a story yesterday with a friend - one of the last stories my mum shared with me. Mum told me that she was going to work early and this day, in poor weather, was an old lady at her garden gate and sweeping her path. Mum smiled and said to her "fancy being up and out at this time on such a morning" - but something in the woman's expression made mum stop this morning so she could listen and talk. Sure enough, the lady smiled back "Och I know my dear but in truth, ever since you smiled at me weeks back - I get up to start my day with your smile. My family are all gone now and sometimes it's just nice to say hello to you and see you smile back at me. Your smile it brightens my day". I recall my mum saying she had smiled and promised "I'll never pass you by without a hello and a smile". Mum went on to say to me "Never underestimate the power and the value of a smile, it costs nothing to give but it can mean oh so very much to receive" - wise words and my reflecting on these was my starting place for :-D SMILE and pass it on! It is a beautiful world but there's room for improvement and everyone has the potential to do something to make it a better place.

People can be negative and say - what hope do you have of making a difference and I'd say - no hope if we never begin to try. The world is full of what I'd call "emotional polluters' and me, I don't have the inclination to reserve a place in my life for their negativity. Each day is a new beginning, each day is the start of the rest of our lives, each day containing 24 hours of potential to :-D SMILE and pass it on!


Wednesday, 12 October 2011


Autumn has come around again, the strange spells of warmth in this September - now replaced by a biting chill in the air. Leaves turning from green to golden shades of yellow, orange and some even tinged with red like this beautiful rowan tree standing in front of the iconic Edinburgh Castle. Autumn, a latter stage in the cycle of life, yet no less beautiful - all stages of life containing their own beauty and contributing to Nature's bigger picture of a world where things that are born will eventually pass away as a new generation follows on.

Walking through any woodland in Autumn - what fun it is to kick up the newly fallen leaves. As a child with my friends - the fun to "scrunch" through the leaves. What an adventure life can be when young but that excitement for life can be retained by people of any age - I trully believing that age is more of a state of mind than from a number on a birth certificate. In life their is always the potential to benefit from new learning and continuing development for education and learning opens up a person's world to give them a view beyond the horizon of the position in which they stand.

From dawn to dusk - our world (wherever it is we live) is a place that can be full of potential and with a wee bit of effort there is so much around us to be seen, to be appreciated and enjoyed.

When I was a child I remember my mum reading to me a favourite poem "IF" by Rudyard Kipling and that poem came in to my mind today when I received an email from a friend who said to me once - I never want to look back on my life and wonder "What IF". Lessons in the poem and in my friend's comment (which certainly touched me) are there for anyone to consider and to benefit from.

IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
' Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

Autumn - a time when leaves fall, Greylag geese migrate and the ever moving cycle of life, death and regeneration moves on.

Success and happiness in life could be to look back on life and never feel regret at "What if". How glad I am and how much I appreciate the family and friends who have stepped forward (at times) to give me advice and to guide me on my own journey through life.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011


Some months ago a wee character called "Ava" became part of the family. Ava is a gorgeous Ridgeback and mischief on four legs. "Adopted" by one of my best friends I've enjoyed watching Ava grow up. But of course, any life is not without incident and Ava's had to learn to tell the difference between what to eat and what not to. You could say there are times when she is still learning these lessons but like any mum, my friend is always there for Ava.

This Sunday, having my customary "bacon roll" breakfast at my pal's house - we were talking about "mum's". No matter what age you get, it seems that when we don't feel well these are the times we will always feel "I want my mum!" Watching Ava, suffering a bit of a sore tummy - I watched her interacting with my friend, effectively "Ava's mum". Ava rolled her big brown puppy dog eyes, whined longingly and in a moment my pal was up to snuggle her in a blanket, give her a cuddle and then prepare a small piece of chicken for the patient...

I did not want to use the flash on my camera and risk disturbing Ava, so some of the photos are quite dark but I think they tell a wee photo story. And the last photo shows Ava in full health. Indeed, after some chicken and a wee 20 minute snooze - the speed of Ava's full recovery was quite remarkable! It never fails to amaze me what the word WALKIES can do to a previously sleeping dog!



As so often in life
- a mum's efforts really do 
help to make things so much better!

"Hmm, so -
what mischief could I
get up to next?..."