Purple People Eater

No. I don’t eat people.
Eating people is still illegal in South Africa.
Not that anything being considered illegal makes anybody less inclined to do it these days. Even if it was legal, I still don’t think I’d eat people…
But I got the nickname anyway…and here is the tale as to how this ‘little lady’ earned her Purple People Eater stripes.

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It’s Raining Animals!

Most little girls dream of a four-poster bed. Let’s face it: even if you’re a tomboy, a four-poster bed is pretty cool. It acts as a really large tent where you can hide out and plot your revenge on older brothers who left you ‘hiding’ in the cupboard for the past three hours, instead of coming to ‘seek you out’ as promised.
I have to admit that I leaned more towards princess than tomboy as a girl, but I guess I’ve had my moments – and being a single mom for almost ten years, I have found myself on a learning curve of ‘being a guy’ and doing the ‘guy stuff’.

As a young Princess, I plotted many revenges against my brothers – and they usually ended with ‘to the dungeon’, and ‘off with their heads’ – but since they are both very much alive and well, I am sure you understand that all of this was just fantasy.

As was the four-poster bed. I’ve never had one. My grandmother did make me one for my doll when I was about eight though, so I was pretty lucky.

But did you know?

The four-poster bed originated to afford protection from things falling on people?

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The School of Life

My son returned home from school the other day (he’s in his final year), walked through the front door, and said,
“Mom, please will you make me something to eat, because the way my day has been going, I’d probably chop my finger off.”
So I obliged – mostly because I would like him to keep all ten digits, but also because I didn’t feel like cleaning up blood in the kitchen. I treated myself to yet another much needed cup of coffee, and then called him to join me at the table. He missed the chair entirely, and wound up on the floor. Of course, my hysterical laughter could be heard from miles (I am sure), but he just frowned at me. Seeing his expression, I managed to regain control, and helped him up off the floor, saying,
“Okay, tell me about your terrible day.”

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‘Wood’ you believe it?

“What are you eating this time?”

Yes, this is a question I regularly ask. And I ask it of my dog. If you have a dog, have ever owned a dog, or have ever been a regular visitor to a house where a dog resides, then you will understand my need to be continuously asking this question.

Unfortunately, for the most part, the answer comes in the form of a screeched,
“Drop that!” It’s usually issued in reference to the item in his mouth : a shoe, an eraser, a pen, underwear, kitchen towel – you get the picture.

Yesterday was interesting.

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Builders and Breakers

Apparently our DNA is the reason for a lot of ‘built-in’ tendencies, one of which is the desire to ‘self-improve’. I am a firm believer that there is always room for improvement in all of us, and that nobody is perfect – even though some are closer than others.

As much as I can be inspiring, and sometimes motivational, and enjoy being of great encouragement to others, I often times find that I am my own worst enemy.

My self-concept is not very positive – and it’s something I have to work on daily. I suppose it can be accredited to the fact that I have had more ‘Breakers’ (people who prefer to hurt and offend and criticize) than ‘Builders’ (people who help others by encouraging and delivering constructive criticism when necessary) in my life. These people are not entirely to blame – and I can still fix ‘damage that has been done to my self-concept’ by making the choice to continuously exert effort into  ‘being positive about myself’.

There is a story about a cup that gets broken. And even though glue can be used to mend the cup, it will never be as beautiful and ‘perfect’ as it once was.

In the same way, although the ‘breakers’ have managed to outnumber the ‘builders’ in my life, and they seem to have successfully destroyed my cup of self-concept, I still have so many ways and resources in order to slowly ‘glue my self-concept’ back together. Perhaps it will never be as positive or great as someone who has been blessed enough to experience the opposite of what I have. But even though I may not get it ‘perfect’, I can still help it reach the stage where it is positive enough, to be enough. I also have to regularly maintain my ‘positive self-concept’.

It’s hard work! But it’s worth it. I have an ‘action plan’ for my positive self-concept, and on days when I feel that I am just not getting anywhere (they seem to be fewer as time is wearing on), I fall back on this action plan. It never makes me 100% sure that I am wonderful – but it sure gets me going. And even if I am falling after each step – each step I take is moving forward. It’s better than standing still, or perish the thought, moving backwards.

  1. I make a list of five good things about me – that list is usually made up of the good things that my few ‘Builders’ have said about me, and I try to vary them, because my ‘builders’ have quite a few good things to say.
  1. I give myself three compliments – even if all I can manage that day is things like, “You made a good cup of coffee this morning; you didn’t almost drown in the shower; you remembered to lovingly lavish your skin with cream today.”
  1. The toughest one is this one. But I say it out loud and do this point anyway….
    I accept my body, despite its size, shape or color. I not only accept it, but I am grateful for it. And on days when I feel that my body has failed me and I have pain, or am sick, or feel overweight, or …. whatever the reason may be : on those days, I just accept and am grateful that I still have my eyesight, my hearing, my fingers and my toes.
  1. I acknowledge that there are many things about me that I cannot change, particularly about my physical appearance, but I dig deep and find at least one thing that I can – and then I commit to try and change just that one thing – even it takes me a day, month or year to do it!
  1. I try to not say anything negative about myself for at least a day. I think this is probably on a par in the level of difficulty as number 3. It has been my experience that when the Breakers give you so many negative things to focus on about yourself, that it’s tough to not repeat those things – especially when defending yourself against the possibility of someone else saying the same thing to you. eg. “I’ll just say I’m fat, so that when I order a slice of cake she won’t be able to tell me I’m too fat to be eating cake.”

I suppose we need to try and stop being our own worst enemies. We need to embrace the lives we have, no matter how much we think they don’t fit into the ‘ideal’, and we need to try and be positive enough for it to BE enough!

Crawling forward is better than running back!

Don’t….just don’t.

Bubbles have been floating around in my head for the past few months.
They started popping about a month ago. But instead of ‘just air’ dissipating into nothingness, they have popped out a vast amount of ideas. Each one of these individual ideas has attached itself to another, as they slowly began to melt into each other and they have come together to build one solid thing : a dream – a wish my heart has made for many years, but has been hesitant to pursue.

The dreams of our futures are the things that we so greatly desire to achieve, and so we pursue them; indulge in them; allow ourselves to become absorbed in the fantasies of ‘what if I achieve it’.
The sad reality is that so many of us don’t fulfill those dreams. We don’t go for them unashamedly. We hold back – and while we secretly dare to dream, we don’t believe enough that the dream may someday come true.

I am from a long line of professionals – dating back to my grandfathers. In ‘my world’, you diligently completed school and then went on and studied for a degree. Once you had achieved said degree, you then pursued a professional career in that field – and only then were you considered to be successful. There is no place in ‘this world’ for the arts, unless you are using the copious amounts of money you have earned professionally to hire an interior decorator for your upmarket accommodation.
There are looks of shock and disappointment when you indicate that your dream is actually to ‘sing on stage’, ‘act in a Broadway show’, ‘pursue a career in dance’,’write a book’. You are considered to be someone who is throwing their life away, because your life is not about talent – unless you’re superior enough to be placed on a pedestal with the greats – your life only has merit if you push your brain to its limits and pursue a professional career, so that you can be introduced as, ‘My sister/cousin/aunt, the Lawyer/Accountant/Doctor’.
Of course, allowances are made, only IF you have followed the first few steps – so if you’ve studied and qualified as an Accountant, then approval may be given for you to stand up on stage at the local theater and sing, and be considered quite talented.

I have failed miserably, on all accounts. I got the school part right, but that’s where my success ended. In the eyes of my family (my father excluded), I have been nothing but a disappointment and a failure, because I have not measured up to their standards. I do understand that I have seemingly wasted the brain I have been given. But my circumstances were different to all of theirs, and because of that they will never actually (despite their degrees and successes) be able to comprehend the place I find myself to be in. Failing on this particular account (their account), doesn’t worry me too much.

What upsets me is that I have failed on the account that is the most important to me. I am well aware that I have a scholarly brain, and that studying and qualifying is something I could do quite well. A part of me wishes that I had the opportunity now to do it.
But that’s only a part of me. And it’s a very small part when I can look at myself as a whole.

As a whole, the one thing that is the most important to me is to achieve success in an area that I am passionate about. It won’t make me rich, and it certainly won’t require a designer, because I won’t ever have an upmarket anything. But it will satisfy my soul, and it will be the evidence of my daring to dream, and will hopefully become a way to give back to others by using the talents that I have.

The dream has been there for many years, but it’s been a bubbling concoction of witches brew that didn’t quite ever change color. Now it has color; each of the ideas has formulated into a plan. Yet I am still hesitant. I have held back for so long, content in only dreaming because reality is harsh : after all, my family has no confidence in my abilities, I have no formal further education, only the worst of me is pointed out, and has for many years overpowered the best of me. But for the past month, I have seen my dream as more than that – I have seen it as my reality. I have been slowly but surely working towards it, excited enough to set myself a ‘date of completion’ just this morning, a date where I will be able to reveal it, even if I am the only who is proud of the achievement. And yet I was still intent on keeping all this to myself.

But this morning. Ah yes, this morning. My cup of coffee in hand, and mindless scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, I got a kick in my derriere.
(Hence my setting a date for completion!)
The video that I happened upon can be found here but please take a moment to read what my comments were as I shared it on my page. I said,

“Don’t lose confidence in your abilities. Don’t wait to pursue the dreams you have if you have been blessed with a talent that will allow you to open up the world that dream exists in. There will be people who will see the worst in you, and choose to ignore the small talent you possess. Don’t give up, and don’t let them discourage you. Don’t ‘let a stutter make you wait till you’re in your seventies’ when you could be doing it now!

And that’s all I have to say about that!

Ten Days Left! Don’t Miss Out

For those of you who have not yet entered….

Andrew & Sarabeth

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This is the shortest post you will likely see on this blog.

Ready?

There are only ten days left to submit your short story for a chance to win $150.

Now I’m going to do that thing your bosses put on event memos because they think it’s hilarious and clever. (Me? I just think it’s a way to get wordy people like me to the point.)

When: The deadline is February 25th.

What: 500-words. Must be fiction.

Who*: Anyone over thirteen can enter.

Why: To win $150, three finalists will be posted here for readers to vote on, winner will get a chance to publish a short story with Endever Publishing Studios, my new startup publishing company.

Where: Here is where you submit –> CLICK HERE.

Questions?: Contact us at endeverpublishing@gmail.com

*This can also be answered in the form of who will be judging your stories. See below.

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Love is in the air

Now that the retail industry has completely exploited our desire to celebrate what we view as special occasions, Valentine’s Day is finally here.

Cupid has not shot his arrow through my heart – there’s no ‘love mate’ for this day.

(Who on earth thought that a chubby baby shooting arrows that can cause grievous bodily harm was a great way to depict the love of Valentine’s Day anyway?)

I have not woken to roses and gifts, and there are no beautifully heart-shaped chocolates awaiting my taste buds. A card telling me how special I am is nowhere to be found.

Am I upset about this? Do I feel unloved? Does it make a difference to me?

Not. At. All.

I get told I am loved, daily. My best friend/sister never lets a day go by without telling me that she loves me; my son never lets sleep capture his weary body without telling me he loves me; my daughter can’t help herself and tells me at least three times a day. Even the dog is in on the action, and rewards my return home after short outings with hugs; cuddles me in the evening; and hops up when my alarm goes off every morning to jump on me and plant a wet, sloppy kiss on my cheek.

My son sends me the odd message – usually a picture he has found – to show me that he is grateful and thankful for all that I do, and to tell me he loves me. My daughter makes me an envelope containing a letter or a handmade card, at least once a month, declaring her love for her mom.

We often share chocolates and treats with each other.
Why do we need ONE day in which to do it?

“Yes, but….you’re single.”

Indeed, I am. But even when I had a significant other, we didn’t participate in the Valentines hype. If you cannot show me little expressions of love throughout the year, then please don’t jump on the bandwagon for just ONE day. It makes a mockery of the love you’re supposed to be displaying every other day of that same year.

I have another single friend…and she is distraught that she has ‘no-one’ for this special day, yet again. Her son and her mother spoil her rotten every year, and I have no doubt that she has woken to roses, chocolates and cards. But I know what she will tell me.

“It’s not the same.”

And I guess it isn’t.  But I suppose it’s all about perspective. At least there is someone that can love us – my heart aches for the unwanted and lonely people out there, with absolutely no one left in this world to show them love, any day of the year!

But all that said, I don’t begrudge you your Valentine’s day.

So Happy Valentine’s Day to the blogging world!

And if you have no significant other, please don’t let it get you down. It does not mean you’re unlovable, it just means that the right one to love you may still be wandering around the desert, because they’ve lost their directions (and let’s face it, they’re probably hiding from the mean chubby baby with the arrows!).

As hopeless as it may seem, one day you may just find yourself as the top trending topic on the Twitter feed of someone’s heart!

What’s your handle?

My son actually seemed rather delighted by the fact that his mother has a blog – a little fact he discovered a week ago. How he has been oblivious to this little fact is beyond me. Then again, it shouldn’t be. He’s seventeen. Unobservant for the most part, and ever-so-slightly self absorbed. His discovery came upon the heels of mentioning another blog to me, and my comment of ‘perhaps posting something to that effect on my blog’.

“You have a blog, Mom? That is so cool!”

To say I was surprised by his reaction is probably an understatement. His request to actually see my blog left me more than a little stunned. I was flabbergasted when he actually sat down and read a few of my posts. And if you’d breathed too hard on me, I probably would have fallen over when he said, “Gee Mom, you’re quite good.”

There was a downside to all of this though. It came a few minutes later, when he was about to vacate my seat at the computer, and he suddenly saw it.

“Oh no! Mom! Seriously?”

This didn’t surprise me in any way, and I didn’t even need to ask what he was referring to. I knew. We’d had this conversation about my Skype account. I rolled my eyes for dramatic effect, and explained my reasoning behind what he was commenting on. He laughed – too hard, for my liking – and then shrugged, leaving me alone in the dining area. He did call out a few seconds later from his bedroom,
“Actually Mom, I guess it’s kind of clever, and at least it’s better than your Skype.”

I stuck out my tongue, like a two-year-old, even though there was no one in the room to see me, and yelled back, ‘Thanks’. I still don’t know what tone I was meaning to use, but it came out sounding slightly sarcastic, and brought him back into the sitting room area, where we established that it actually was genuinely quite clever in his eyes, and that this was a situation of no harm, no foul.

Of course, he was talking about my ‘name’.

No Passing Fancy was borne from things in my life that have been ‘passing fancies’. Things that serve their purpose for a very short space of time, and then I move on. I wanted this blog to be something I could be dedicated to, somewhere that I could commit to writing things down – be them for humor, encouragement – or as a source of information on some topics. This blog was not for the intention of being another ‘passing fancy’ in my life. I also wanted to try and build a ‘network of followers’ – people who would take a few minutes to come along and read my posts. I wanted them to keep coming back – I didn’t want to be a ‘passing fancy’ on their list either.
And the name ‘No Passing Fancy’ came to be.

My Skype name is a little more ‘interesting’.

I have to warn you right now – I am very seldom on Skype, and if you send me any requests there, it may take a good few weeks for me to actually see them and accept. If I do happen to be on there, then there is a really good chance that I am actually on a Skype call with my ‘best friend and sister’ in Kansas. Here goes the story of my Skype name:

My son recently added Skype to his mobile, in order to participate in a chat with two other classmates for a discussion on a project. He wanted to test it out first before giving them his Skype name, because he wasn’t really sure how Skype worked, so better to fail with mom than anyone else. He came through to my bedroom, where I was hanging out with my dog and trying to read my new thriller without being disturbed. Looking rather sheepish, he asked me for my Skype name so that he could add me. I told him what it was, and he looked up from his phone and said just one word, in a bit of a ‘drawn out, whiny’ kind of way.

“Why?” Even after my explanation, he shook his head in that ‘my mom is so embarrassing’ kind of way, and walked slowly back to his own room. Later, however, I did get a Skype message from him saying, ‘Okay. I get it. I guess it’s not that bad.’

prisonerofhope1. Yes, that’s my Skype name. And I can’t see that it can be that bad, considering I had to add the ‘1’ because someone is already using it.

When I got divorced many years ago, it was actually my dad who asked me to create a Skype account. Back then, I didn’t have webcam capabilities on the ‘ancient’ laptop I was using, but at least it meant that he could call me internationally and talk to us, for a whole lot less than on the telephone. At that time, there was a magnet on my fridge that had a Bible verse on it which had been given to me by a close friend as part of an ‘encouragement parcel’ she had put together for me just after my divorce. (I don’t know what ever happened to that magnet!)

It spoke of prisoners of hope returning to their fortress, and having twice as much restored to them.

Those words, ‘prisoners of hope’, seemed to increase the blood flowing into my heart and mind, and etched themselves into my soul. Because during my divorce, everything was so overwhelming and there were so many obstacles suddenly before me that I had never even considered a ‘possibility’ in my life, ever. During that time emotions ran high, and I seemed to move between anger and sadness with each minute that passed – which led to moments of great confusion when I didn’t know what I was actually feeling, if anything at all.

But I just couldn’t give up hope. Something in me wouldn’t allow it. I would speak the words, “Oh, it’s hopeless”, and yet in my heart I knew that I still ‘hoped’. I hoped my emotions would eventually be a little more under control; I hoped that I would be able to survive financially even with two children to support; I hoped that one day I would be blessed with a romantic relationship again – not soon, but one day; I hoped that there would not be too many things to impact my children’s lives negatively. I hoped.

And every time I opened my fridge I would laugh out loud and tell myself, “Yip. You’re a prisoner of hope all right, my girl!”
So when I was asked to set up a Skype account and needed to think of my Skype name, not a single other thing came to mind other than what I eternally seem to be : a prisoner of hope!

What’s your ‘handle’, and why? (….if you feel like sharing, I’d love to read about it….)