Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

hope she wrote Archive



March 2015

Hope, She Wrote: 3 Ways to Achieve Your Goals

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C.S.Lewis goals quote

It was C.S. Lewis who said, “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” Dreams and goals are great, but it’s important to remember that you’ve got to back them up with action. Remember back to New Year’s Eve, that magical evening just a couple of short months ago, when people were all pumped full of new energy (and some full of champagne), making biiig plans for 2015? Committing that this was going to be the year of big life changes — getting fit, pursuing new career goals, starting to volunteer, developing healthy eating habits, reading more books — and living your best life? Yeah!!! I remember New Year’s Eve, too.

So… how are your goals going? If you made resolutions, are you still on the right road? If you’ve strayed, or even if you’ve completely fallen off the wagon — whether it be fit/work/volunteer/food, — you’re not alone. Usually it’s about this time in the ‘new’ year when people start to lose track of their goals and their original focus.

If you’re someone who’s lost focus of your goals, here are three ways to help you achieve your goals and get motivated:

  1. Tell someone about it. One of the best ways to achieve your goals: Be accountable to someone. Whether it’s through your social network, a peer group, or on a more private scale with an individual pursuing a similar goal, making yourself accountable is a great way to help you maintain focus and stay on the right track.
  2. Be realistic, and be positive. Being real about your goals may require re-evaluation of your resolutions. The old adage, “Rome wasn’t built in a day” is true, especially when it comes to pursuing your goals. Yes, goals should be challenging; they shouldn’t be impossible. Pursuing goals takes patience, and hard work. If you slip up along the way or make a mistake, don’t beat yourself up. Everyone makes mistakes. Mistakes can be stepping-stones on the road to success, as long as you learn from them and use them to grow. Having a positive attitude will help you to remain focused.
  3. Set a due date. It’s easy at the start of a new year, or when you set a new goal to say, “I want to lose weight”, or, “I want to eat healthy”. But being generic and vague about your goals or resolutions is no way to actively pursue them. You’ve got to put some numbers to it. Make a timeline and pace yourself — where do you aim to be in three months? Six months? One year? How long will it realistically take to achieve your goals? Giving yourself a due date, or having a set of specific target steps in mind with a completion date, will help you successfully achieve your goals.

I love this quote by author and filmmaker Greg S. Reid: “A dream written down with a date becomes a goal. A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan. A plan backed by action makes your dreams come true.” Whatever goals and resolutions you’re pursuing in 2015, remember — achieving your goals is possible with the right attitude and actions!

 Originally published as “3 Ways to Achieve Your Goals”. Minto Express. 28 January 2015: 5. Print.



January 2015

Hope, She Wrote: 5 Characteristics of Generous People

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It was Charles Spurgeon who said, “giving is true loving”. Throughout the year, we as a society are inundated with ads all about buying “stuff”, gift giving, and finding “the perfect present”. Whether a holiday, birthday, or anniversary, giving isn’t just something that should be reserved for special occasions; true generosity is something that we should practice 365 days a year.

Did you know that people who are generous and who give freely are actually happier? According to a 2006 study by the National Institutes of Health, people who give activate the brain regions related to pleasure, reward, and trust.[1] If you’re looking to get in touch with your generous side, here are five characteristics of generous people and thoughtful givers:

  1. Generous people would rather give than receive. To some, this is a foreign concept, but it’s so true! Those of a generous spirit are more comfortable – and actually get more pleasure – giving than they do being on the receiving end of a gift or compliment. It may not come naturally, but the more you get in the practice of giving, the more you’ll understand how good it truly feels.
  2. Generous people plan ahead. Translation: Don’t procrastinate! Planning ahead is a marked characteristic of the thoughtful giver. They don’t leave things until the last minute, running out to the store on Christmas Eve or the night before a birthday. Instead, they’ve got others in mind the whole year through, keeping an eye open for items that will be of interest or suitable for the recipient’s personality or needs.
  3. Generous people care about personal connections. Generous people know the importance of building lasting relationships and finding common ground with others. Look at the friends who’ve been in your life the longest. Chances are, they’re some of the most selfless, caring, generous people in your world. There’s a reason for that.
  4. Generous people count their blessings. All of the generous people I know have at least one character trait in common: An attitude of gratitude. Recognizing all of the blessings in your own life can encourage you to be a blessing to others, as well. When you have a spirit of gratitude, it’s only natural to want to give thanks, and to share that gratitude with others.
  5. Generous people give more than just material gifts. Every person is put on this Earth for a purpose, and generous people recognize and appreciate the value in others. Generous people give more than just material “things”; they encourage, promote, and reassure others.

True generosity has nothing to do with how much money you have, how much you volunteer, or how much you give – true generosity has everything to do with what’s in your heart. Mother Teresa said it well: “It is not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving.”


[1] Moll, Jorge, et all. (Sept 7, 2006). Human fronto-mesolimbic networks guide decisions about charitable donation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol. 103 (no. 42). Retrieved from http://www.pnas.org/content/103/42/15623.full


Originally published as “5 Characteristics of Generous People”. Minto Express 17 December 2014: 5. Print.



January 2015

Hope, She Wrote: Three Factors of Friendship

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We’re less than one week into the new year, and already I’m counting several reasons to be thankful for my closest friends. If you’re someone who has ever struggled to fit in, then you’ll appreciate these three characteristics of true friends. Friends, thank you.

True friendship

Always one to look on the bright side, I sat down the other night and added some items to my gratitude list (taking a queue from Bing Crosby’s “Count Your Blessings”), and because many of my gratitude items are directly related to people, I really got thinking about all the incredible humans that I’m so blessed to call friends.

The word “friend” is defined as “a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection”. [FYI, the word “friend” is also listed as a verb, to “add (someone) to a list of contacts associated with a social networking website,” but we won’t even go into the disingenuous disposition of social networking at this time.]

When I was in middle school, I really struggled to fit in. (Shocking, right?) In high school, I made a couple of lifelong friends, and in college, my path crossed with another great group of people, who today remain some of my nearest and dearest (even though we’re all living in various countries throughout the world – literally). And since moving to small-town Clifford, I’ve been blessed to find what I’d call a few really solid, true-blue, best friends.

The thing about friendship is that in order to have friends, you’ve got to be a friend. It took me a while to learn this. It’s like the old adage, “Don’t wait for people to be friendly. Show them how.” Well, I’m no expert, but I’d venture to say that one of the key components of true friendship is that the street goes both ways. Friendship is one of those things for which we have to decide to make time. Family, work schedules, travel – all of these things take time. And friendship is no different.

A few columns ago, I wrote about nurturing the hearts of others, and part of that means savouring sweet moments with friends, and letting them know that you care. Here are three factors of friendship that I’m thankful for:

  1. Friendship that is based on genuine mutual interests and a listening ear. There’s something so powerful about a set of friends who truly care about each other not just on a personal level, but spiritually as well. These are friends who typically have best interests at heart. This is something I’m thankful for, as well friendships where listening is just as important as talking.
  2. Friendship that can span miles, and years, without changing. Ever had a friend, with whom you lost touch, only to reconnect with them a few years later, – or maybe even after a decade – and it’s as though nothing at all has changed (except maybe your laugh lines are deeper)? Yeah, I’m thankful for those friendships.
  3. Friendship without conditions. There will always be those people who want to connect and “be friends” for their own selfish benefit. But, as we all know, friendship requires a certain amount of selflessness (seems obvious, but srsly, some people…). You can’t be in it for your own benefit or based on your own conditions (otherwise it’s not true friendship). I’m thankful for friends who are my friends regardless of circumstances or what I can do for them (and vice versa). Charles Spurgeon once said, “you may judge of a man’s character by the persons whose affection he seeks. If you find a man seeking only the affection of those who are great, depend upon it he is ambitious and self-seeking; but when you observe that a man seeks the affection of those who can do nothing for him, but for whom he must do everything, you know that he is not seeking himself, but that pure benevolence sways his heart.”

What are the friendships that you’re thankful for? Don’t just keep your gratitude to yourself – share it with your friends!


Originally published as “Three Factors of Friendship”. Minto Express 22 October 2014: 5. Print.



December 2014

Hope, She Wrote: 20 Life Lessons I Learned in 2014

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Psalm 90:12

Well, friends, another year has come and gone! The end of a year is always a great time to reflect on everything we’ve learned the past 365 days, and what we can apply to our lives for the next year ahead. 2014 provided some great growth opportunities for me, and I wanted to highlight some of my favourite life hacks from over the past year, that will really help make the most of 2015. Cheers!

  1. Practice an attitude of gratitude. When you catch yourself complaining or in less-than-pretty circumstances, remember to be grateful. Counting your blessings is one way of practicing an attitude of gratitude. Fact: There will always be waves in each of our worlds that we’d rather not ride – stay positive and don’t “get worked” (excuse my surfer slang).
  2. Make friends with patience and longsuffering. Though they’re two of the most annoying virtues and fruits of the spirit, patience and longsuffering are two keys to successfully navigating life. Practicing patience doesn’t mean you stop working hard – quite the contrary. Remember, it takes 6 months to build a Rolls-Royce, and only 13 hours to build a Toyota. Patience can mean the difference between good and great for your life. Don’t settle.
  3. Choose joy. This was my slogan for 2014 (I’ve even got the statement secured on my office door!) and I’m carrying my joy straight through in 2015. True joy comes from within, and when we consistently practice #1 on this list, choosing joy gets easier.
  4. Start living TODAY. While memories are marvelous and planning ahead is smart, it’s also important to embrace the here and now. The ever-quotable Earl Nightingale once said, “Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” True story. How we live, work, and act today has a direct effect on our tomorrow. Live wisely.
  5. Encourage others. The most effective leaders are those who motivate and encourage others around them. To encourage means to inspire with courage, spirit, or hope. We’ve each got the ability inside us!
  6. Slow down. When will we understand that using the word “busy” and having more items on our schedules than hours in a day is not cool?! I’m quite confident that no one will ever look back at the end of his life and say, “I wish I’d spent more time at work.” Slow down, decompress, get more sleep. Make time to just be. (**This is a major “note to self” for me, as practicing slowness is a daily personal challenge.**)
  7. Develop discipline. Get into a healthy daily routine, challenge yourself to face your fears, and keep going. Remember, discipline is choosing between what you want now, and what you want most (see also #2 on this list).
  8. Do one thing each day that takes you out of your comfort zone. Step outside the box, grow some courage, and go for it – it’s like my favourite surfer Laird Hamilton says: “You have to be willing to subject yourself to failure, to be bad, to fall on your head and do it again, and try stuff that you’ve never done in order to be the best you can be.”
  9. Change is inevitable, so make the most of it. Wherever you’re at in life, and whatever changes you’re dealing with – birth, death, love, heartache, career change, retirement – chart your change. Keep a journal (even if it’s of few words), to focus on the positive aspects of change. If we let it, change can help each of us build character.
  10. Watch your mouth. Proverbs 17:28 (KJV) says “Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.”
  11. Don’t compare yourself to others. Theodore Roosevelt correctly said, “Comparison is the thief of joy”. You are the only you there will ever be. Learn to be content, gravitate to what inspires you, and be your best self. The only way to fulfill your life’s purpose is to be you.
  12. Influence is everywhere, so be careful with what and with whom you surround yourself. As long as we’re here on Earth, there will always be peer pressure (and jerks). Don’t lower your expectations or standards just because people don’t share the same values as you. And, be careful of your own actions, as you never know whom you could be influencing.
  13. Handwritten notes are powerful pieces of paper (and they’re also totally awesome). Texting might be easier, but there’s a saying about things that are easy…
  14. Take time to communicate. Make eye contact and speak thoughtfully! Like time, personal communication is a hot commodity. And unfortunately, with today’s technology, it seems as though few people know how to communicate effectively (see also #13 on this list). Remember, people have hearts; nurture them!
  15. Worry less. Worrying and fretting never serve to make a situation better; in fact, they can actually make things worse. That being said, as anyone with anxiety can attest to, the old adage “don’t worry” is easy to say and hard to practice. One way to help alleviate your worries is to serve others – look out rather than in.
  16. Get inspired! Break free of the daily grind and learn something new! Get outside for a walk; read a book; return to the hobbies you love. Make the time to get inspired.
  17. Authenticity is greater than approval. Better to be true to yourself than to betray your beliefs. Try as you might, you will never please every person. There will always be someone out there who thinks you’re a complete dork. Once you learn to not care what others think, personal authenticity becomes a whole lot easier.
  18. To have friends, you must be a friend. Even though it’s easy to get caught up in our own day-to-day lives, it is well worth making the effort to maintain friendships. I’m so thankful for friends who feel the same way.
  19. Being generous is a good habit to practice, especially when we learn to do it with love. “It is not how much we give,” as Mother Teresa said, “but how much love we put into giving.” When it comes to being generous, learn to plan ahead, to prefer giving rather than receiving, and to count your blessings so that you may be a blessing to someone else.
  20. Volunteering is a vital part of life. My life has been touched tremendously since I started volunteering. Maltbie Babcock once said, “the workshop of character is everyday life.” No matter your age, your career path, or your location, there are opportunities everywhere to give back.

Psalm 90:12 (KJV) says “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” Each day is a new opportunity for us to learn, to live, and to grow; and I hope these truths help you and encourage you, wherever you’re at in your walk today.


Originally published as “20 Life Lessons I Learned in 2014 – Parts 1 & 2” in The Minto Express. 
Robertson, Hope. “20 Life Lessons I Learned in 2014.” Minto Express 31 December 2014, 2 parts. Print.



November 2014

Hope, She Wrote: How to Create Traditions and Make Memories

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Christmas season comes and goes so quickly each year that it can be hard to embrace the spirit of the season. In my November 19th column for The Minto Express, I share five ways to prepare your heart for the holidays.

Every year about this time, I find myself getting sentimental and feeling somewhat melancholic for days of yore. Maybe it’s all the Christmas decorations going up, or the first snowflakes falling, or the traditions that surface so faithfully year after year. Whatever the reason, these are times when I find myself reminiscing and wanting to make memories.

It seems these days that we’re so caught up in the commercialization of the Christmas season that we’ve lost sight of the true meaning of Christmas. In fact, it’s no longer politically correct to even say “Merry Christmas”. What is that?! Big box stores haul out the holiday goods right after Hallowe’en and somewhere between November 1st and December 25th society seems to miss the whole point of the season. Anyone else miss the days when we valued tradition, remembered our foundations, and celebrated our roots? Thought so.

While Christmas day may still be more than one month away, now is a great time to start preparing our hearts for this memorable time of year. Christmas is a time where we celebrate the greatest gift ever, and with that in mind, here are some suggestions for getting in the giving spirit (and maybe creating some new traditions along the way!):

  1. Support a local community cause. This doesn’t have to mean giving money; it could mean serving in a community kitchen to those less fortunate, donating non-perishable food items to your local food bank, or taking an hour or two to spend some time with a house-bound friend or aging relative.
  2. Start a gratitude list. In 2013, a friend of mine took time each day to write down one positive thing that happened in her life every day for most of the year. Then, near the end of year, she sat down and reviewed all of the awesomeness in her positivity jar. Whether you keep track with notes in a jar or a journal, take inventory of the positive things in your life.
  3. Be a thoughtful giver. It’s not about how much money you spend or who gives the coolest gift. Get creative in your gift giving; share your talents, and think outside the box.
  4. Share traditions with loved ones. My brother and sister-in-law do this every year, inviting family to help them trim the tree. Decorating for the holidays becomes less of a “to-do task” and more of an opportunity to create memories. Whether you’re setting up a tree or singing carols, or even baking cookies, spend some time with those you love.
  5. Remember the real reason for the season. Whatever your ‘religious’ beliefs or practice (or maybe lack thereof) throughout the year, the fact is, Christmas is a time to celebrate the greatest gift ever. True story.

“Today’s innovation is tomorrow’s tradition.” [Lidia Bastianich] Try something today to help create meaningful memories and traditions for yourself, your family, and your friends!

Robertson, Hope. “Tradition.” Minto Express 19 November 2014: 9. Print.



September 2014

Hope, She Wrote – Being Authentic: Aligning Your Walk With Your Talk

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My name is Hope, so it should come as no surprise that by nature I’m a relatively positive person. My cup is almost always overflowing, however there are definitely days when I would definitely rather hide out and hibernate than exude encouragement and expectation like my namesake.

Case in point? It’s funny, because one of my recent columns was about finding inspiration, and there were a few days in the past week or two where I was lacking in that department. One of my coworkers and I were discussing this very thing, and she made the comment, “go back and read your column!” That (coupled with some other experiences from the past couple of weeks) really got me thinking about the difference between talking the talk and walking the talk.

I always find it so frustrating when people say one thing, but they do another, or when someone professes certain beliefs, but their lifestyle completely contradicts their claims. Ironically, though, (talk about the mote and the beam) I’m just as guilty of this in my own life. It’s pretty easy for me to write down encouraging words, but sometimes taking my own advice can be a different story all together.

We might have the very best of intentions, but people looking at our lives don’t see our intentions – they see our actions. That’s why authenticity is so important. Sure, authenticity starts with intention, but the follow-through is what makes it real – when you put your genuine self into action – and this can be a scary thing, because let’s be honest, authenticity makes us vulnerable.

So how can we become more authentic? Well, as someone who’s trying, let me share – it’s a major understatement to say that being authentic can be challenging. Here are a few ways I’m learning to live a more authentic life:

  1. Know your values and align your actions. My beliefs might be very different from yours, however we all believe in something, and I base my value system off my beliefs. Sure, that means sometimes I make decisions that are “dorky” or perhaps even “uncool”, but I’d way rather be authentic than try to fit in by betraying my beliefs and being untrue to who I am. Why do you believe what you believe, and on what foundation are your ideals truly based?
  2. Surround yourself with the right people. This can be a difficult one, but it’s key! It’s way easier for others to drag you down than it is for you to lift them up. And while we can all be used to have an impact in the lives of those around us, ultimately it’s important to surround yourself with people who want the best for you, and who will help you and encourage you to live a fulfilled life.
  3. Recognize when you’re being inauthentic – also known as insincere, fake, unreal. What situations cause your walk to stray from your talk? Recognize when you find yourself being insincere, and think about why you’re acting and not being authentic. Unfortunately, peer pressure has power, people. [Sidebar: When you’re facing peer-pressure, just remember, if your friends are truly your friends, they won’t condemn you or judge you for making choices that might be different from theirs – they’ll respect you for standing up for what you believe in. And if they don’t, well… maybe reevaluate those relationships.]

Aligning your walk with your talk and being authentic has some pretty uplifting benefits – like a weight being lifted from your shoulders, there’s something so powerful being purposed in your choices, and living with an expectation based on your hope.

Robertson, Hope. “Being Authentic: Aligning Your Walk With Your Talk.” Minto Express 24 Sept 2014: 5. Print.



September 2014

Hope, She Wrote: Get Inspired

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If you can read this, I want you to know that you are a precious human life, you are alive today for a purpose, and you – yes, YOU! – can make a difference wherever you are, even if you think you’re insignificant.

Completely preaching to the choir here: Too often I find myself getting all caught up in the day-to-day responsibilities of life. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge advocate for responsibility; what I mean is, sometimes I am so caught up doing all these “things” that I completely lose sight of what’s most important in life – living!

Ever find yourself in a rut, where you’ve got all this stuff happening at work or at home that you get discouraged and feeling run down? Someone’s words have hit you like salt in a wound, somebody’s got a major attitude problem and they’re taking it out on you (hurting people hurt people), or you smile or wave at someone to be nice and they just stare at you (like, who does that?!)

Yeah. I’ve been there, too. As recently as last week, in fact. And IDK about you, but when I get in one of those ruts where things just are not happening how I think they should, it’s hard to climb out of that hole and feel inspired again.

For me, I really had to take some time this past weekend to regroup and refocus, and get inspired. After a trying experience or even just the hum-drum-dull-daily-grind, here are a few helpful ways to get inspired:

  1. Learn something new. My friend Nicole and I decided that in 2014 we wanted to do something big – turns out, trips around the world are kind of expensive, so we thought we’d expand our horizons and … learn another language. Some might think it silly, but learning is FUN! Growing is a great way to really live, and to keep your mind moving.
  2. Get outside. A walk around the block, taking your dog out on some trails, or even just sitting around a campfire – getting outside helps me realize that there is so much more in this world than just me. Getting outside is a great way to experience the miracle of creation that is right in front of us!
  3. Do something you love. Personally, I’m a bookworm. Like C.S. Lewis once said, there is no cuppa tea large enough or book long enough. I love reading. You might be really into art, collecting, sports, volunteering, or even gardening! Take some time for you to do something you love – making time for yourself is a critical component to getting inspired.
  4. Do something for somebody else. Spend some time with a lonely soul, tell someone close to you how much you appreciate them, send someone flowers. Not only will it inspire them, you’ll find yourself feeling lifted.
  5. Step outside your comfort zone. Ahhh, there are days when I dread this! Trying to do one thing every day that scares you can be a HUGE challenge, especially for those days you’d rather crawl back in bed. But try it – guarantee at the end of the day, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and inspiration.

There are so many ways to get inspired, it’s impossible to list them all. I’ll leave you with a favourite quote by Eleanor Roosevelt: “The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”

Robertson, Hope. “Getting Inspired.” Minto Express 10 September 2014: 6. Print.



September 2014

Hope, She Wrote: Alleviating Anxiety

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Competing priorities between work and family. Too much to do and not enough time to do it. A bunch of bills to pay, and they never seem to stop. Broken hearts, disagreements, and other relationship issues. Wars waging and people suffering the whole world over – seems like there’s always something out there to worry about.

As long as we’re human, each one of us will worry in some way or another. It’s unavoidable. And while my worries may not be the same as the next person’s, that doesn’t make them any less legit. The problem is when you let worry consume you. Especially in today’s fast-paced world, more people seem to be carrying the weight of worry and anxiety than ever before. If you’re suffering in silence, talk to someone. Don’t let worries fester or hide them inside because you’re afraid you might be judged. I guarantee that there is someone out there who can relate, and sometimes an outside perspective can help you refocus.

According to Strong’s Concordance, the word ‘worry’ comes from the Greek merimnáö, which translated means, “a part, as opposed to the whole”. Authour Max Lucado defines worry like this: “Worry cleaves the mind, splitting thoughts between today and tomorrow. Today stands no chance against it. Fretting over tomorrow’s problems today siphons the strength you need now, leaving you anemic and weak.” When we worry, we’re not doing ourselves any favours (just the opposite, really). Worrying about your circumstances or situations never makes things better; in fact, it can actually make things worse.

So how can we worry less and have more peace? While there’s no shortage of how-to guides out there, here are a few practical ways I find helpful in my daily quest to “fret not”:

  • Pray about it. I get that not everybody believes in prayer, but for me, it is a very real thing. Also, the simple act of keeping a gratitude list can work wonders. “Count your blessings, name them one by one” – that old Bing Crosby song isn’t just for Christmas, it’s something we can put into practice everyday! You’d be surprised how much worry can be watered down when you recall how blessed you are.
  • Don’t dwell too much on the past. Or the future. I had a ten-year plan, which has become a seven-year plan – those of you who know me, know I talk about “the plan” in jest; but the truth is, I really am a planner! While it’s responsible to plan and make accommodations for the future, there’s a big difference between being responsible and fretting about the future. Letting your mind move back to the past or forward too far in the future means you aren’t able to put your all into today (see the aforementioned Greek meaning of the word ‘worry’).
  • Talk about it, and look out rather than in. Communication and conversation are two important keys to alleviating anxiety. Bottling anything up inside isn’t healthy, and if you have a confidant you can trust, sometimes sharing your worries can lessen them. Also, don’t spend too much time wallowing in self-analysis or self-pity. Get out and help someone. Put your energy into encouraging another individual rather than dwelling on yourself.

“Don’t worry about it” is a famous last phrase, but putting those words into action can be incredibly challenging. Worrying doesn’t give you any more control over your current circumstances; it only strips you of your joy in the present moment. Each day is a new opportunity to challenge ourselves to overcome our anxieties; we just have to make the choice!

Robertson, Hope. “Alleviating Anxiety.” Minto Express 27 August 2014: 5. Print.



August 2014

Hope, She Wrote: Who Are Your Influences?

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My latest column for The Minto Express focuses on the subject of influence. Over the past few weeks, I’ve had some really insightful conversations with friends and family about the impact and importance of positive influences — I’m so thankful to know some pretty stellar souls who consistently inspire and exhort others around them.

The late Jim Rohn once shared this theory that we are all the average of the five people we spend the most time with. The first time I heard that statement, I questioned it’s validity, since the majority of my time is spent in an office (with some pretty cool people, but still). The friends we choose and the company we keep can have a major impact on us.

The people we choose to surround ourselves with, – like it or not, – have an influence in our lives, whether that’s good or bad. That’s a scary thought. Surround yourself with negative thinkers and pessimistic people, and chances are their attitudes will wear on you. Comparatively, surround yourself with motivated, positive, and genuine people, and eventually this could have a positive impact on you.

Not to say that we each don’t have the ability to choose our attitudes; it’s just that sometimes, (oftentimes without even being aware) we can be influenced by attitudes that directly affect our behavior. And we all know the truth: “It’s easier for others to bring you down than it is for you to lift them up.” Look at the lifestyles of your closest friends – what are their habits and traits? Are those habits and traits also present in your own life, and if so, is that a good thing? See also, “A man is known by the company he keeps”.

So how do we make sure the right things (and people) are influencing us?

Positive relationships support positive behaviours. Surround yourself with people who encourage you and inspire you to become your best self, and not the reverse. Also remember the importance of honesty. There’s this thing that Pastor Rick Warren talks about, called “sharing the truth in love” (sometimes known in professional circles as “constructive criticism”). True friends don’t sugar-coat or avoid life’s serious subject matter. They’re real about the heavy things in life, and they try to help you through.

Remember your influence. True friends are hard to find, so when you find them, nurture those relationships. Relationships are not a one-way street; they require “relating”, people! So sure, you want to surround yourself with people who positively influence you, however it’s just as important to remember that to someone, you may be their major influence. Guard your actions, and like the golden rule says, remember to cultivate that as you’d want someone to do for you.

Be true to you. One of the scary things about influence is that it often goes unnoticed until it’s pretty deeply engrained. Always remain true to who you are. Don’t lower your expectations or standards just because the people around you may not share the same values. Also, don’t get sucked in by the notion of peer pressure. Be the creation you were made to be – each one of us has a unique purpose here on this Earth.

Robertson, Hope. “Who Are Your Influences?” Minto Express 13 August 2014: 5. Print.




July 2014

Hope, She Wrote: About Personal Communication

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work, Uncategorized


I’m fairly dedicated to my mobile devices (yes, deviceS), but recently I’ve come to appreciate the value of real personal communication. Like the handwritten note, — for which a resurgence is long over-due, — we need a revival of real, personal communication.

Several of you shared feedback after my last column (on the art of the handwritten note), which made for some interesting discussion about personal communication (also the removal of cursive writing from schools, but we’ll save that for a later date).

I’m a “millennial”, which means I’m part of the generation who were born during a period of time when cool technological things were just starting to happen: Apple was starting to make waves, IBM introduced the AS/400, Philips introduced the CD, Sony created the Walkman, VCRs came into living rooms everywhere – and even with the introduction of such inventions, parents were still teaching their kids manners (well, some parents, anyway). Millennials (on a whole) were still taught to say “please” and “thank you”, to respect our elders, and to make eye contact whilst engaging in conversation. As the years go by, with even more new technologies being introduced, our skills at personal communication seem to be regressing. The task of parenting has become much more of a challenge (treading lightly here, as my only child is an adorable miniature schnauzer).

When I was young, concerns from my Mum and Dad related to me talking too long on the telephone or wanting to watch “just one more show” on TV after school. Today, parents have a myriad of things to be concerned about, much of which is due (at least in part) to new technologies that, quite frankly, allow children to be out of control. Today’s youth are susceptible to countless challenges that – above and beyond those related to personal communication – include bullying and health problems.

Media theorist Neil Postman once said that “technology always has unforeseen consequences, and it is not always clear, at the beginning, who or what will win, or who or what will lose.” With every advance in technology, there is a price to pay, and in today’s society, it seems that effective personal communication is the biggest loser. People struggle to formulate full sentences, we can’t make proper eye contact because our line of sight is trained on our mobile devices, and we opt for short-form BBMs or text messages rather than long-form letters sent in the post.

With these things in mind, I’d like to suggest that we should all become a bit more conscious of our own communication skills.

  • Make eye contact – Eye contact is a powerful thing (and I don’t mean stink eye). When someone speaks to you, look him or her in the eye. Interestingly enough, eye contact has long been associated with openness and honesty.
  • Practice common courtesy and speak thoughtfully – Say “please”, say “thank you”, and, don’t feel like you need to apologize (why is it so many of us use “sorry” as a filler word?)
  • Remember, people > technology – I’ll quote Neil Postman again: “You can’t just turn off a person. On the internet, you can.” Put people before technology. Set aside time to eat meals with those you care about, make a “no phones at the dinner table” rule, spend time walking and talking rather than sitting and texting.

Remember, people have hearts; nurture them.

Robertson, Hope. “About Personal Communication.” Minto Express 30 July 2014: 5. Print.