Dumb and Dumber

In my early twenties, I found myself ‘between jobs’ due to a retrenchment. A friend of mine begged me to step in and assist her husband for a few months before applying elsewhere. He had just started a small company in the telecommunication industry, and office work and administration was not either of their strong suits. So I agreed to help out.

In the office was my friend’s husband – late forties; a guy in his late twenties who was our ‘technical wizard’; and two young men showed up to try their hands at sales. They were fresh out of high school, and overly enthusiastic with far too much energy, ha ha! I was only four years older than them… but it felt like a lifetime!
Our tech wizard affectionately called them ‘Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dumb-er’!
And whenever the two of them called me, ‘Mommy Meggie’, I’d reply, ”yes, yes, Laurel and Hardy, I care.”
(I’ll name them Jason and Dave for the purposes of this blog post.)

They really did look like Laurel and Hardy!

Photo credit : laurelthemoviewaffler.com

I chose this picture, because even the driving scenario was the same 😛

Once there was successful implementation of procedures, I moved on from the job and took another. But we all stayed in touch, and all still were, until circumstances changed 😦

Jason and Dave were actually part of a trio. They talked incessantly about a guy named Thomas. And even though I’d see the other two regularly (we’d meet for lunch, or go out dancing – and I was always only around for my nurturing… their sober driver, and to take care of them when they’d overdone it 😛 ) I only met number three (Thomas) in 2012. The day I met him, I felt like I already knew him.
Unfortunately, I stopped ‘socialising’ with this trio in 2013. We were just on completely different paths. Jason and I still spoke regularly on the phone though – and he’d often tease that ‘one day when he grew up, he would marry me because I was marriage material’. I’d always laugh and say, ”why on earth would I want to marry you?” and then we would both laugh, because – again – despite the small age gap, I was just plain OLD in comparison!

I don’t know why, but in the year 2015, everything changed as far as staying in touch went. For all of us. Jason and Thomas were housemates, and worked together – but Dave had started moving in a different circle, started his own business – and we were all just ‘busy’.
Before we knew it, the year had almost passed us all by.
And then I got the news. Jason had driven to a ‘famous bridge’ a few hours away, and ended his life. I was shattered.
(Later, I heard the ‘why’/ circumstances – it sounds strange to say, but it helped ‘knowing’.)

On this past Easter weekend, I got another message that almost broke my heart. Dave also took his own life – age 40. I instantly reached out to Thomas – the last one of their trio – because I knew he would not be okay.
A lengthy phone call followed – brokenness, heartache and plenty of tears, from both of us.

Initially, I planned on blogging all this. Then I changed my mind.
But a couple of days ago, I saw an image on Facebook, which I will share at the end of this post, and it was almost as if I was physically nudged to just ‘type the darn post already’!

In that lengthy conversation, something that Thomas kept repeating, every time his voice broke and I could hear he was crying, was this : I’m sorry, Meg. I know I’m supposed to be a man and be strong. But how? I am just so broken!

As I mulled that repeated statement over in my head, I got really cross and upset. I had conversations with my adult son and teenage daughter about it. I also spoke to a couple of other men that I encountered that day about it.
The general reply was this (and this is GENERAL… I am not saying that everyone thinks this way or is this way, so this is in no way a personal attack on ‘every person in society’) :

”Men are expected to be the strong ones, and the definition of that strength seems to be that they are not allowed to feel or have emotion, like women. Crying is a definite no. Being sensitive is also a no. Unless you get permission from ‘your woman’ to be that way. If a man is not hard to the core, he’d better be ready to apologise for failing. And heaven help him if he admits to having mental health issues!”

Well, good grief, ”society”!

I KNOW I am not alone in the saying this…. here’s the image from Facebook….

MEN! YOU ARE LOVED TOO! YOU ARE WORTHY! YOU ARE ALSO STRONG WHEN YOU ARE BRAVE WITH YOUR FEELINGS!

And don’t listen to the naysayers, please!
Find the people who will cry with you, and still appreciate the value within you! ❤

*insert Mel Brooks ”Robin Hood : Men In Tights” 😉 musical clip about manly men 😛 * (To make you smile after a rather heavy post!)

(I probably haven’t done this topic justice… but, simply put, the above is just processing how I feel in an uncomplicated way.)

On that day

I decided to even out the sadness of yesterday’s post by sharing what else happened on that day – yesterday, four years ago!

(But before I do that, just a quick note in response to an email received from someone : I neither completely lack intelligence, nor am I a full blown narcissist! Not able to properly articulate all that I say, perhaps! So let me repeat, hopefully more clearly : I have not ‘become’ Tess, in an effort to be a copy. The qualities have always existed within me – and I have countless Facebook memories with Tess, and others, to back this up. What I was trying to share was how odd I found it that since her passing, those qualities seem to have intensified within me! I suspect that this, in large part, has something to do with someone who has become a good friend as well, and has a very positive influence in my life, encouraging me to be a bit more open to ‘stuff’ in general and is teaching me without criticism or disdain.
I am still me – not a copy of anyone else! Moving on…)

On that day, I arrived at the funeral ‘strong’. I had done so much crying up to that point, that I honestly didn’t think there were any tears left. Boy, had I misinformed myself! If I hadn’t been sitting in the second row, reserved for family (to which I was invited), I would have got up and left, simply because I could not control the flow of tears! I didn’t even join in the tea afterwards, but pretty much ran from the church. All I knew was that I needed to get out of there because I could barely breathe! I drove home in a blur, to try and fix my make up and fetch my daughter.

(And here’s a bit of irony : One of the movies on my friend’s list of favourites was Four Weddings and a Funeral. Partly my fault. For some reason I watched it about one hundred times when I was pregnant with my son, and she was with me for half of them, ha ha! Her ultimate favourite movie though was Love Actually and so her revenge was to make me sit and watch it just as many times with her, ha ha ha!)

Exactly two hours after the funeral, my make up not fixed very well and my eyes looking rather disastrous, my daughter and I were seated in a different church, waiting for the bride to make her appearance.
Only the bride, groom, and their families knew what my morning had entailed. Other people gave me strange glances – I am sure they thought I was ‘crying over the preciously gorgeous bride’ already! Ha ha!

In all honesty, if it had been any other wedding, I would have stayed at home. BUT!

I have mentioned this particular young lady in my blog before. I became her neighbour when she was four years old, turning five. Her mom and I became friends – and I was a part of their family in no time! So many adventures to share, and stories to tell, ha ha!
But back to this young lady, K, on this day. I met, and was privy to, every boyfriend and every detail from her very first official boyfriend at age 13. All the excitement, all the drama. Every heartbreak! She found ‘the one’ at 24 years of age.

And when I stood, and turned to look at her entering the church on that day? Fresh tears fell. But they were ones of beauty and happiness – and a smidgeon of pride.
I am the type who immediately then looks at the Groom. I want to see his face when he sees his bride. I was not disappointed!

The very best part? Four years later, he still looks at her that way!!!! ❤ ❤ ❤

Here is my takeaway from that day : even now, when I remember it (and it’s one I remember often) it serves as a reminder to me of something I find myself saying often :

There are mountains and valleys in life. I can’t just have the one, because then the other wouldn’t exist.
But there are definitely both – even though in trying times it seems like there are just multitudes of valleys! That day proved it to me. Overwhelming sadness consumed me… but then so did overwhelming joy!

In a way, it is the ‘story of life’. And so I will keep turning the pages of that book, with a heart full of hope, knowing that ‘the mountains’ are in there ❤

How I miss her!

Below is an extract of a blog post I wrote a little over two years ago. I will explain a little later why it’s fitting for me to share it today.

”Today, exactly two years ago, I got the news that you had succumbed to the cancer that ravaged your body and you were gone. You were in your early forties. And a part of me broke in a way that nothing has ever broken before.

I type this, and I can’t stop the tears. I have to stop typing every now and then, because my vision is blurred and my nose needs blowing. How is it, that after two years, I can be reduced to this much pain and heartache for a friend?

I found the small tribute I wrote to you that day :

RIP, beautiful Tessie bear. You taught me SO much about grace, peace and unconditional love…not just during this difficult journey, but every day in the 25 years I knew you. You loved me so much, despite me being me when it was tough for others to ‘see’. You believed in me in a way no one ever did, and ever has since you’ve been gone. That’s a gift more precious than any other. So many wonderful memories, so much love and laughter. I’ll see you again one day, when we’re walking all the dogs in heaven. Till then, precious soul. Love you always, your Meggie.

I didn’t see you every day. We didn’t talk every day. We didn’t need to.

The amount of ‘little things’ moments of happiness we shared could fill more than 500 pages. Because we were strange like that.
And the tragedies and difficulties, another 500, I’m sure.

I remember the time we were mistaken for a couple. We laughed about that for years afterwards. Nothing could be further from the truth with regards to our romantic interests and sexuality.
But if I could have chosen a ‘partner’, without sex and romance, to live the rest of my life out with, I would have chosen you.

You were the first person I ever saw who brewed actual tea and used a strainer to pour us each a cup. (My mother used a teapot all the years, but with teabags.)
I still can’t get my veggie and feta stir fry to taste like yours did. I have followed your recipe exactly… maybe it truly was you that made the difference.
I am still not persuaded that pink is my colour, just because it was yours 😛 But I wear those ridiculous pink pyjamas you forced me to buy with pride and a smile as often as I can. (You’ll be please to know that I bought a pale pink top last year in the weakness of missing you, and made a pink beaded necklace to match it. My wardrobe is no longer all black. I hope you’re happy 😉 )
I still don’t like spending hours on the beach like you did, but every year you made me spend the morning there for your birthday celebration – breakfast on the beach – and I’d go, in my jeans, ha ha ha! I went last year on your birthday – yes, in my jeans. This year, the beaches are closed 😥 so I couldn’t go. But because I was outside in my own backyard with my breakfast, celebrating you, you finally got me in a pair of shorts! 😉
The weather outside today is windy and overcast – you’d think it’s miserable, and I can picture your horrified expression when I tell you once again how much I love it. You always loved the sunshine and heat. Today, it seems even the sun has disappeared in it’s longing for you.
I remember fondly the lengthy visits where no words were exchanged, other than the occasional offer of something to drink, as we sat in the same room, engrossed in the books we were reading.

Coleske; most books (although mostly crime thriller), Midsomer Murders, Chinese food – as much as possible on our budgets); freshly brewed tea on the veranda in the sunshine; Pharaoh and Age of Empires computer games – oh my gosh, and the time you got my son addicted to Mall Tycoon!; Camembert, Brie and Cranberry Cheese with crackers as a treat; all the scarves I knitted that we shared; love and devotion to dogs; movie nights with ice cream and popcorn and biltong and cheese, whatever we could afford as much as we could afford – these are, but a few, of OUR favourite things. (How many times did we watch The Sound of Music together, anyway??!!)

I celebrate you and everything you are to me, and the person you were. There are a lot of smiles and laughter in my memories and I promise I still smile and laugh when I think of you. I know you’d be upset to find me crying, but I can’t help feeling this sad. You’d understand though. And you’d love me anyway.

To say that I miss you is not adequate.
Thank you for the memories.
I love you always and forever, my Tessie Bear.
Your Meggie

Why do I think this share is fitting for today?
On this day, four years ago, I said my final goodbye to the amazing lady I wrote about above.
I have lost far too many people in the last few years, but none impacted me like Therese did (I called her my Tessie bear, or Tess).
When I think of those I have lost, I feel sad.
Every time, to this day, when I think of the loss of Tess, I don’t just feel sad. It makes me cry all over again.

Here’s what is incredibly weird for me…

My friend was gentle, kind, compassionate. She was non-judgemental in every way. She accepted everyone as they were, without expecting them to be how she wanted them to be. Even in the most dire circumstances she held onto a hope that seemed completely and utterly ridiculous at the time. She was always excessively grateful, even for the smallest of things. She had a warmth about her that drew people to her. She truly connected – even on the internet.
The incredibly weird part for me is that all of the above seems to have intensified within me in the last three years! 😮 😮 😮
(Again, I am probably a psychologists worst nightmare 😛 )

I suspect it has something to do with the fact that I find myself, every. single. day, pausing and thinking, ”I wonder what Tess would have done/said/thought”. And most times, as I go about my day, I can hear what I heard for so many years when she was alive, ”I’m so proud of you, Meggie.”
It’s not about mimicking her, or actually wanting to be her. It’s about appreciating the abundance of value she brought to life, and striving to continue to shine her light, in my own unique way.

When I first met her, at the age of 14 (ah, youth!), I was so in awe of her, ha ha ha! I remember saying to her, ”You are so cool! I hope I’m like you when I grow up!” (She was already 18/19 at the time – I don’t remember! Age is just a number 😉 )

And I can still only hope that I will continue to adopt her amazingly positive attributes, and live a life that would have made her proud. The funniest part? She was always proud of me, just for being me!

If she could read this right now, she’d probably phone me and say, ”Hello, my Meggie. Great blog post! But you still haven’t written that damn book I said you must write!” 😛

Today I will make myself veggie stirfry, with just a sprinkling of feta, while Coleske plays in the background. And tonight I will watch Midsomer Murders in my ridiculous pink pyjamas – but with no snacks, because I have to watch my cholesterol!

Cherish the special friends in your life who impact you in the best ways, my blogging friends. Time is far too short.
Thank you for reading, and for being here ❤

Quizzy Facebook

Years back, Facebook introduced a question in the place where you type your ‘status’, quite possibly to help inspire people as to what to post. Everyone jumped on that bandwagon for quite a while. I seldom see those answers anymore.

The question? ”What’s on your mind?

The multitude of answers were along the lines of ‘you don’t want to know’, and ‘wouldn’t you love to know’. And I laughed at each one, in relation to the person who had responded. It was just so applicable!

Facebook also has ‘Quizzes’. This is not a techy post… I do not know what basis is used for their results.
And many of the results are really just ‘generic’.
Occasionally, there are some that are just so true about me – well, things that I can ‘see’ as being ‘me’.
Sometimes a Facebook friend will post their result, and I find myself curious enough to go off and play as well, just to see what Facebook comes up with for me!

And so this is a fun blog post. Just because.

(Mostly because I had a memory pop up on Facebook from 3 years ago, and it made me smile. So here goes some sharing 😛 )

Apparently my classic rock song is : Don’t stop believin’ ~ Journey
And the added Facebook caption is : ”Giving up isn’t in your vocabulary. You will stop at nothing to achieve your goals.” Wellllll…. actually…. I’ve been known to say, ”I give up” 😛 and there are definitely circumstances that would cause me to stop and not achieve my goals – like if it meant hurting someone else etc. I highly doubt that the Facebook caption is intended to be so ‘overthought’ though, ha ha!

Then there was this one…

The job that suits me is apparently that of a teacher, according to another Facebook quiz. Not too surprising, I suppose, because an aptitude test once told me that I am best suited in a role of teaching and counselling.

And apparently the summary of my life is as follows :

Nope. I am not ‘all that’. Clearly most of the images that I post to Facebook are in the general theme of the analyses above 😛 I am very far from perfect. And just to confirm :

Apparently I am not at all good with pick up lines. My particular pick up line, that I would apparently use, is :
”Let’s flip a coin. Heads, you’re mine! Tails, I’m yours!”
(Shaking my head and laughing here!)

And according to a Facebook quiz, if you hurt me, I turn into a wild lion that is hard to tame! 😮

I’ll close with another job related one. This one honestly shocked me, and had me laugh so loudly that both my dogs went to bark at my front door, thinking someone was outside!
The job that suits my face? A PRIEST!

Oh my goodness! Thank you, Facebook, for the laughs. At least I can find some fun in you sometimes 😛 😉

Have a great weekend, everyone! ❤

Is it conditional?

Photo credit : Pinterest

I am well aware of the detriments of having a soft heart, and being willing to practice kindness on a level where your immediate response is to give/help. There have been plenty of naysayers in my life, who make enough noise about it, for me to not know.
I suppose this is where my stubbornness (and rebelliousness, ha ha!) comes in…
I still choose, and want, to have a soft heart, and give to others, and be kind.
I still choose to sometimes sacrifice self and ‘nice things’ in order to that.
I am not looking for a pat on the back here, and I do not expect anyone to ‘follow in my footsteps’ in any way.
We are all different, and the world needs each and every one of us and whatever contribution we make to it. We are not all the same, and this is not always a bad thing.
I am, however, setting the stage for ‘something’ that is close to my heart, and it’s something that I wish more people would at least consider… because there was a time that I didn’t.

Growing up, everything for me was conditional. Including love and acceptance. But that is a story for a book, and not a blog post.
I am going to focus on one particular thing though, and I’ll explain at the end of this blog post my ‘why’ for today.

The something? The one thing?
Well…. I was always taught that you never give money to beggars/street people.
”They will just waste it on alcohol or drugs. You are causing them to sin.”
(Nope… we are not even going to discuss religion here… suffice to say I am fed up with religiosity in general. Another book topic, ha ha!)
And I carried that with me my whole life… that attitude… that refusal to give any of my hard earned money to the beggars and people on the street so that they could purchase drugs and alcohol.

Until about six or seven years ago… I can’t recall the timing of it exactly, but I remember what happened.

An acquaintance of mine was on holiday, in a very cold place, and posted a picture on Facebook of her sipping a very full glass of sherry, captioning it, ”This seems to be the only way I can get warm tonight!”
We were also experiencing a bit of a cold spell then, and I smiled as my mind went to all the people I knew who were probably doing the same.
It was only the following evening that I had an epiphany and ‘my world changed’.

It was really cold, and had started raining, and I realised that I had forgotten to buy bread. I grumbled and moaned at myself as I drove up the road to the 24 hour convenience shop, to pay extra for a loaf of bread – my complaints were chastisement at the small amount of extra I’d be spending, ”how could you forget bread?”; and having to be out, again, in the cold and rain. I left the shop, climbing into my car and still grumbling because now I was wet as well…

And then I saw him. And something inside me broke.

The old African gentleman who was one of our homeless people, snuggling as close as he could get to the wall in order to try and take advantage of the small roof overhang to shield him from the rain.
I was suddenly so ashamed of myself! It definitely stopped me in my tracks.
I watched him pull a bottle of a well known brand of cheap alcohol around here from inside his coat, and take a long sip. And nowhere in me could I find that response, ”Typical. Probably starving, but bought alcohol instead.”

It was more like my mind screamed at me : ”If you lived on the street? If you had to stay exposed to this cold and rain all night? What would YOU do, Meg? Would you not have also opted for something to ‘dull’ the experience and hopefully somehow keep you warm, if possible?
I left the warmth of my car to give him the last of my cash that night – we were in for a cold spell with more rain for the next few days.
And I went home and tearfully told the story to my children, and since then all three of us have different attitudes regarding this particular thing.

(I am well aware that we all make choices, and suffer the consequences thereof. But something I am very sensitive to as well is that sometimes there may seem to be NO other choice : the drug addicted street lady who sells her body, for drugs and not food? What if she ended up there because someone repeatedly robbed her of her innocence from a young age for years, until she ran away? What if the drugs help her forget that nightmare, because no one else has even tried? What if… what if… what if…
Do I know their whole story? Who am I to judge?
Sorry! *covering my eyes with my hands* These are things I am incredibly aware of, sensitive to, and passionate about!)

I can’t explain fully, because it needs another book… but the situation around here is dire, to say the least.
My town no longer has a ‘government’ children’s home – the privately funded non-profits are full to capacity, and some overflowing. We also don’t have a homeless shelter. (Our current unemployment rate is more than 50%.)
On any given day, in the short distance of just 2km (about 1.2 miles) I drive past at least NINE ‘street dwellers’ begging for food or money. And those are just the ones I notice when my eyes are not fixed on the road. I travel roughly 90km per day…. I see a LOT of people in need.

Yes… my soft heart wants to help every. single. one.
But I know my reality, and I know it is not possible for me.

But I have got ‘my people’ – specific individuals that I help – who live in my area. One older lady, I only encounter once a week.. so when I don’t see her one week, I get concerned and am always relieved to see her the following week. There’s a kid of about 13 that I see a couple of times a week. etc. etc. etc.

I mentioned earlier I would explain my ‘why’ for this post…. so here it is :

There is a guy who begs at the traffic light up the road from my house – I drive through there possibly six times most days. He’s a little bit wild looking, ha ha! His dreadlocks are mid neck level, and stick out all over the place most of the time. He has a lot of personality, and sometimes even does a cartoon-like jig for people waiting at the red light, to entertain them. Most ignore him, but every now and then I see someone hand him a coin or two for his effort. He has the biggest smile on his face most of the time too!
He’s been hanging out there, every day, for the last 2 years.
And I’ll admit it, initially I was a little afraid of him, because he really does look crazy. Nowadays, my kids and I affectionately refer to him as ‘our crazy friend’. And even though he sees me six times in a day, he knows he only gets something from me once in a day.
He always says thank you… even if it’s a ‘drive by drop off out the window’…. he shouts it to me while I am driving away in traffic.
He interests me, I wanted to know his story… and so I asked ‘my friends’ who work at the petrol station right there about him, about a year ago.
All they could tell me was that he is actually a ‘clever man’… he finished high school and so he has some education. But his house burned down. And he lost his family. And had ‘bad friends’ and started using drugs. It made me sad.
A couple of times, I have actually stopped and sat and chatted with him. Unfortunately, his way of living means that he doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense anymore. And we battle a huge language barrier – my Xhosa (the African language spoken in this area) is extremely limited! So our chats were always very animated – lots of pointing and gesturing, ha ha!

This morning I popped onto Facebook for a quick scroll. And I burst into tears.

I drove past my crazy friend at 5:15pm last night. He waved at me, and gave me the biggest smile.
At about 6:30pm last night, some horrible person doing a STUPID speed, drove into my crazy friend. And drove away!!!!!!! Yes, it was a hit and run. And they still don’t know who that person is.
The report is that my crazy friend is in very bad shape, and his chances of survival are slim – he was unconscious with severe head injuries at the scene.
I know that if doesn’t survive, in a way it’s merciful, because his life on the street was extremely hard… especially here.
But I am still sad. And angry with that careless individual who could just drive away!

And I know I am making myself vulnerable to all the thoughts of ”how ridiculously silly that this could affect her”, ”good grief, she’s way too soft”.

Perhaps it does make me weak... perhaps I deserve judgement for it…
It doesn’t matter to me, either way.
And I am not complaining about the sadness things like this bring to my life because yes… this IS the way I want to be, and what I choose. My consequences for my choices, I guess. Ha!

The take-away from all this? The thing I am ‘really trying to say’?

Perhaps the key to trying to ‘change the world by changing ourselves’ is to reflect on our giving?
Are we giving, sharing, and being kind to only those who ‘deserve it and have earned it’, or are we willing to step forward and break out of the ‘box of conditional’ and give, share and be kind to those who ‘don’t seem to deserve it’?
Can we change things if we stop expecting something in return, and stop demanding that people meet certain requirements in order to be loved?

(I don’t know what the right or wrong answer is in any of this!
I just know I need to keep being me.)

Hoping that whatever the outcome for my crazy friend, that somehow he knew that he mattered to someone… he mattered to me!

Meg ❤

Are you optimistic?

Photo credit : me.me

According to Google/Oxford languages :
An OPTIMIST is a person who tends to be hopeful and confident about the future or the success of something.
“only an eternal optimist could expect success”

Merriam-Webster says that a REALIST is a person who recognizes what is real or possible in a particular situation : one who accepts and deals with things as they really are.

One would think that the two could not possibly go together – especially when considering harsh realities – how could there still be hope?

Apparently they do!

A couple of years ago a friend came to me for advice. She chose to ask me because she wanted ‘the dream’. She was seeking a purely optimistic perspective – ‘of course it will work! Go for it! You’ll be a great success!’
She relied on the fact that I am always an encouragement, and always hopeful. She relied on my positive energy.
She probably should not have led with, ”I want to ask you about something, because I know I can trust you to be honest!”

This is not to say that I am dishonest in my encouragement or hopefulness.
Repeating the words of a very good friend, again, ”We interpret things from where we are. One person, using their window to the world will see it/you as this, and another will view it/you completely differently.’’

My ‘window of being an encouragement’ is predominantly based on, ”be who you needed when you were younger”. And… I’ll add… who I need in my life now as well.

I find that for me personally, my need for encouragement from others usually appears at the point where I have already heard enough reality. It comes at a time where I’ve already received input into something, sometimes from people who weren’t even asked to provide input 😛 , and it’s all just been so negative… to the point that it actually limits my potential in unrelated areas because it starts to affect my mindset in general – for example : While I see realistically that ‘those people’ are right, and it won’t work, their voices have been so loud and ‘so much’ that I start feeling that nothing will work.

And I find myself seeking encouragement in other areas, just to remind me that ‘one failure’ is not ‘total failure’. That I’ve still got this 😉 – just without ‘that’.

More often than not, the people who turn to me for encouragement seem to have reached that exact same point. They’ve been slammed with so much negativity that they just desperately want to hear something positive! And, to be honest, if I can find nothing positive about whatever it is that they are asking, or struggling with…. I’ll admit it : I deflect. I try to distract from their reality, to remind them of the goodness that still exists.

I am probably wrong.

But in my personal experience, I have found that the result is usually this : the problem/reality still exists, and is still devastating, but they find an extra ounce of strength… and as small as it is, there is a definite increase in their ability to cope.

MY personal experiences and findings are probably a psychologists nightmare! 😛

Back to my friend….
She had specifically triggered the honesty in me… not the deflection. I owed it to her to be realistic. My response was hesitant – I carefully considered each word before I spoke it!
And afterwards we were in tears – with laughter!!!
She taught me something important that day! I learned that it is possible to be an Optimistic Realist!
That the two really can be combined!
I choose to put the word ‘optimistic’ first though, because I definitely lean more towards it…
Despite some of my realities, and despite knowing that the arguments some make that ‘it is impossible’ are true,
”Hope Springs Eternal” in my heart! For better, or for worse.

And I was reminded the other day that this has always been a part of ‘who I am’. The Facebook Memory that reminded me made me smile, and cry.
I smiled because I needed that reminder so desperately, at a time when my reality was overwhelming me.
And I cried because I miss this particular friend so very much – I lost her to cancer.
The memory?

I am not saying that being the way I am is an entirely good thing 😛
And over the years, many have tried to change this part of me – and I am well aware of ‘what a bad quality it can be’, because they have told me so! On numerous occasions! Ha!

But personally? From my window? It keeps me strong – in the face of harsh realities, it is what pulls me out of bed in the morning. So it really can’t be all that bad for me 😉

So… if you need a little bit of ‘deflected encouragement’… hit me up… I’m your girl 😉
I’ll even do it honestly and not deflect, if you so wish… but I’ll have to talk slowly 😛 😉

Thank you for reading,
Meg x

anger apologies and love

Somebody recently read, and commented, on this blog post I wrote in 2019… saying how relevant it was for them today still!
I vaguely recalled this particular post, because it was one I so enjoyed writing! I returned to it, not only to respond to the comment, but because there was a desire in me to read it again!
Talk about accountability! How strange that it would all happen now, when parts of me need a refresh 😉

nopassingfancy

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to be a contributor to Paul’s blog. It was quite an honour that someone wanted my voice to be heard on their page! 🙂 Paul writes a lot about relationships – and about his lovely Kath. And so I thought it was fitting to write him a post about the languages of love. You can read the post here.

As I mentioned at the end of that blog post, there are now other quizzes available for growth 😉 There’s an apology language quiz, and a personal anger assessment. I did both, but with all that has been going on I got sidetracked! (To check out the quizzes you can visit here and click on quizzes.)

Last night I revisited the results of both tests.. (Because that’s what this single mom does on a Friday night, in case you were wondering…

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A bicycle and a boat

Picture it: a little girl with freckles on her face, her hair in pigtails sporting pink bows (ugh! 😛 ), pedalling as fast as her little legs will allow along a long straight, on her red BMX bicycle.
Now picture the same little girl, only five years later. Her hair loose in the wind as she ‘tears up the tar’, racing against the two boys who are along for her afternoon bicycle outing.

As I am sure you have guessed, the little girl was me. When I was a child, it was still safe for us to ride our bicycles in the street. And we took advantage of every opportunity to do so! Ha ha!
In the area I grew up, we were a crew of six, when we could all be together. Four boys, two girls. I still remember every side road, every shortcut, and every little bump in the road.

I also remember the tree at the bottom of a small hill when I was nine years old. 😛

It was a warm Saturday afternoon, but a gentle, cool breeze prevented it from being too uncomfortable. I had waited out the required 45 minutes after lunch, set by my mother, and had just surfaced from an underwater length of the pool, when another freckled face appeared before me, giving me such a fright. Brown eyes laughed at me as I clutched my little chest, and my friend, Brian, asked, ”Wanna go for a ride?”

We cycled to two other ‘crew members’ houses, but neither one was home. We went past the old couple sitting on their verandah having their tea, but we didn’t stop to chat that day, just waved at them and cruised by 😉 We rode to the park (in those days they still existed and were fully functional, and they were safe too) and see-sawed, had a swinging competition, and ended with trying to see how fast we could make the roundabout go! A few sips of water, and a few biscuits from Brian’s backpack, and we were on the road again, this time home to my place for a quick swim before Brian cycled home to his own house.

We got to the junction of the road with the small hill, and Brian stopped. I stopped next to him, and grinned. I waited as he rode a little further, then turned. Perched on his bicycle, he rubbed his hands together, and then gripped his handlebars tightly. Then his legs pedalled furiously and I whooped as he made it around the bend at the bottom of the hill, skidding to a stop. I clapped my hands in delight, and he beckoned to me that it was my turn.

There’s very little fear in youth, ha ha! I repeated his process. And I have no idea how… but I got a speed wobble (technical term : a quick oscillation of primarily just the steerable wheel of a vehicle). I ended up skidding and falling in a most ungraceful manner, landing against the big tree at the bottom – no bend for me. Brian dropped his bicycle and came running, concern on his face. I looked down at my bloody knee, and the scrapes and blood on my forearm, and had no reaction. Brian lifted me off the ground, and I tested my legs and the mobility in my arms. Then I dusted myself off, and asked him, ”Oh man! Did you see that?” We both burst out laughing. And then we pushed our bicycles back up the hill, and up the road to my house. We didn’t get to swim – my mother was furious, ha ha!

Speed wobbles happen. And so do ’emotional wobbles’.

Life happens, and sometimes there’s that overwhelming moment when it has all happened at once, and it’s all been rather negative, and it causes a bit of a wobbly in our emotions. Not a full on crash… but more of a ‘stop and breathe, think, retreat for a bit’…. and I like to add, ”and if you can find a steady supply of chocolate, it helps!”
Some emotional wobble’s can even leave us feeling like we’re bleeding. Those are the worst kind. Those moments are the ones where it’s important to have someone to step in and lift you off the ground – wait while you dust yourself off, and then remind you what it is to laugh!
Reality is though that sometimes there isn’t anyone to help you get up. And then these next two things are very important to remember :

It is not only okay to have that wobble… it is also okay if you take some time to recover, in whatever way you need to. For some, it is escape into a book or a few movies that distract them from their reality; for others, it might be a long lunch with a group of uplifting friends, where you all ‘don’t talk about it‘, but find laughter in something entirely different.
This is not about ‘ignoring it and maybe it will go away’. It’s just about building strength emotionally so that you can try and deal with it when you’re not feeling so wobbly. (Well, that’s what it is like for me, anyway.)
The other thing to remember is that nothing is permanent… not even the seemingly never-ending issues you might be facing. ”The only thing constant is change”.
Yes, the light at the end of the tunnel may well be another train coming BUT who knows what will come after? 😉

You guessed it! I had a rather serious wobbly the other day, ha ha! I retreated, to try and balance my emotions (by reading a book about black ops specialists and assassins, ha ha ha!). Interestingly enough, it reminded me that life really does seem to be full of plot twists – but experience has shown me that they are not always bad. There cannot be magnificent views from stunning mountain tops, without there also being valleys – some for just plodding along; some with rough terrain and very little sunshine. But if we stop in our tracks in the valley, how will we see the view from the mountain? And how will we get to the next mountain top, which may have an even better view than the one that preceded it?

I’ll close with this image I saw on Facebook :

As I look at the world as a whole, I can see that we’re in one huge storm – but the repercussions differ from country to country.
As do our boats. I found myself so very grateful for my canoe! Yes, sometimes my soul may feel like it’s drowning… but I have a canoe! I get to feel the storms differently to those who have neither a canoe nor a yacht!
Some days it feels like I am stuck at the train station, waiting for my ship to come in 😛
BUT AT LEAST I HAVE A CANOE!
It is important for me (and maybe you) to remember that some people don’t even have that! And maybe there isn’t space in my canoe… but I sure can reach out a hand of kindness and clutch theirs, and try and help them stay afloat!

I hope you all have a great week ahead! Thank you for reading!
Meg ❤

Worthy contributions

I recently found myself alongside an armed response reaction officer. (All is well, I am fine, in case you are wondering 😉 )

In the moment, I was pretty darn angry, because I felt he was failing in something that to me was ‘just logical’. I controlled my anger well in that moment. And I am glad that I did!
(Practising self control when feeling infuriated by something is definitely not easy, and not something I am always very good at. But I have definitely improved over the years 😉 )

The reason I am glad that I didn’t ‘lose it’ with this young man is this : when the moment was over, and I was able to sort through the compartment in my head that contained the details of ‘what had just happened’, the anger slowly dissipated. Because what I know kicked in. (Well, what I have been learning about and trying to train my brain to consider before responding!)

The more I carefully considered the situation, and the way the individuals involved (myself included) responded to each minute of that hour and a bit, the more the words of my friend came to me (I mentioned them in my last blog post) : ‘’We interpret things from where we are….’’

In this case, perhaps the young man alongside me had very little to draw from. His training had prepared him for certain situations, but this was not one of them. I know that if I were in his position on any given day in his job, my response to things would probably disappoint him – he’d probably shake his head at me!
The view from my window of the world provided me with the knowledge and instincts necessary for me to be able to assist in a way that he could not, and possibly had not even thought about. But the view from his window of the world, should I have been alongside him in a different situation, would probably have saved my life!

It all brought me back to something I say often :

We are all different, even though some of us are the same, and there is nothing wrong with that!
This weekend, not only will I be pondering the above (different views from different windows), but I will also be focusing my thoughts (making it a habit for my brain to respond in this way) on the following :

’It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences!’’ ~ Audre Lorde

The world needs me! But it also needs that young man! And it needs someone like you!
We all have something beautiful and worthy to contribute – we just do it in different ways!
So here’s to unity, instead of division 😉

Have a great weekend, everyone!
Meg ❤

battling choices

”You really need to speak to her about her dishes. And punish her. Or she will just keep doing it.”
”I know. I’ll talk to her on Friday.”
”But that’s four days away!!!”
”I know. But I need to not only choose my battles with her, I need to also carefully choose my timing as well.”
”Hmmm. Okay.”

My teenage daughter’s bedroom is a war zone on its own, quite regularly. Apparently her cupboards and drawers are just for show 😛 and half my kitchen is regularly invited to live in there!
I refuse to play pickup though, and so it’s a regular battle in my house.
I know it’s not a battle that I fight alone – it happens in other houses too. I do find some comfort in that 😉

In the last few years, I have managed to apply the ‘choose my battles’ statement a little better in general.

For some reason, I have found myself regularly stopping and thinking : how important is this really in the ‘grand scheme of things’?
I’ve come to appreciate that my time on this earth is indeed limited : tomorrow is not promised, today – this moment – is all I have.
Is this (whatever it is) worth the time that arguing about it will take; is it worth the energy I will expend?

This past year, I have thrown more questions into the mix.
Will this person even be receptive if I bring it up? Or is this going to be a win/lose battle – exactly how important is this? and..

Is this really the right time?

Now please don’t get me wrong – all of the above cannot be applied to every battle we face. And sometimes we get dragged into battles that we hadn’t even considered; never even knew were brewing!

We can’t control everything – and we definitely can’t control other people’s behaviours, actions, words – but we CAN control ourselves!

Referring back to my introduction – a conversation that regularly happens with my son. Ha ha!
Any time I mention the ‘teenage bedroom disaster’, I get plenty of opinions from the people I am talking to. We all have the right to an opinion. We do not have the right to force it on another, and treat them like they are less if they don’t agree with us.
There should also be some respect for the fact that what works for me, might not work for you, and vice versa.

We should also always at least TRY to understand the bigger picture, even when it’s unclear.

In the case of the bedroom (enter Miss Sherlock, sans the hat and pipe 😛 ), here’s what I know : when she has a free weekend, or school holidays, her room is tidy. She even wipes down her shelves, repacks her cupboards and vacuums her carpet! Kitchenware is returned to the kitchen shortly after it has been used.
I am slightly unclear about her bigger picture, because if she just ‘maintained’ every day, her room wouldn’t get so bad that it would require a full day’s work.
BUT….

Her ‘regular’ schedule is ‘busy’. She leaves for school at 6:30am. Comes home just before 3pm. Leaves home again at about 5pm, to go to the dance studio. Returns from there at about 8pm. Climbs into bed exhausted at 9:30pm.
In her awake time, Monday to Thursday, she has only three and a half hours at home, as ‘free time’.
But is it free time? She has homework, assignments, tests to study for. Which often spills into her weekends. She needs to eat, and shower.
Do I really need to fight with her about her bedroom now? Where is she at time-wise? How much school work does she have this week? What does next week look like? Will she need to work over the weekend?
Is her messy bedroom more important than the other areas of her life that she is committed to and diligent in? Is this really worth arguing about now, destroying our peace, distracting her from the things she really needs to do?

And in this case, my conclusion is always : it can wait.
You might disagree – you might even be right! Ha ha!

For me, this has actually become a very easy battle – and neither of us end up too wounded! 😉 I suspect it will continue to be a regular one, but she’ll move out… one day 😉 (And I will probably miss arguing with her about her bedroom!)

When I explained my ‘it can wait’ attitude to my son, as I have outlined above, his response was, ”I didn’t really think about it like that. It makes sense. But she doesn’t make sense because it really doesn’t need to get like this. I do sort of understand better now though. I suppose if that was my schedule, I’d end up being the same way.”

Choosing our battles goes so much deeper than just ‘avoiding conflict and protecting our peace’.

I have found that taking all things into consideration can also be quite taxing on my energy, and time : is this really the right time; am I able to just offer thoughts and opinions, or am I going to be forceful – am I open to discussion; how important is this; am I even trying to understand the bigger picture; and (depending on the situation) can I see a win-win result… if not, am I prepared to lose/concede to save the relationship – or is it that important to me that I am willing to lose the person, instead of the battle?

Whew! Just typing those questions was tiring!
In my personal experience though, if I manage to pause long enough to take it all into consideration, most times there is very little bloodshed 😉

(Once again, depending on the battle, and the other party – I can only be responsible for me.)

I’ve said a lot in this blog post, ha ha!

One more thing before I go though….

A very special friend has been teaching me this past year (possibly without even knowing it) the value of this :
‘’We interpret things from where we are. One person, using their window to the world will see it/you as this, and another will view it/you completely differently.’’

And I find myself wondering if that is actually the key to unlocking every door in my mind and my heart!

Because this post has been about ME – my personal experiences and MY window to MY world.
MY world tells me that true power lies in sitting back, thoughtfully considering, and then trying to apply logic as well, and practising restraint!

Somebody else’s window will see me as ‘avoiding conflict’, and in the example I have given about my daughter, ‘bad parenting’.

I am going to repeat my friend’s statement…
’’We interpret things from where we are. One person, using their window to the world will see it/you as this, and another will view it/you completely differently.’’
… because another door it has unlocked has brought me a little bit more inner peace.
Being accused of being a bad parent, even for silly things that I know are not true reflections of my parenting skills, used to really upset me. Because it would bring back unpleasant things from the past.
By making the choice to ‘learn’ the statement above, I am finding it a lot easier to accept that that is their view, and quite possibly has nothing to do with me!

And so this is a very helpful tool when I go to battle too 😉

Have a great week, everyone! Here’s to making good choices 😉
Meg ❤