Christmas Every Day

This season is a very demanding time for me. It reaches beyond my children, and the usual chaos of Christmas. Many reach out – because although it’s the season to be jolly, the reality is that it is also a painful time for many – sometimes at the drop of a hat.

As a child, I spent a lot of time with my maternal grandparents. Granny and Grampie (my names for them) were wonderful, in more ways than just regular great ‘grandparents’ are. They introduced me to many of life’s treasures : the arts, theatre and musicals, classical music and music in general, singing,Β  Scrabble and crosswords, books and poetry and writing. But the greatest treasures they gave me were their time, and lessons of love and kindness and respect for all.Β 
Growing up, I was a ‘drama queen’ – but not in the sense that I made much ado about nothing. More in the sense that I loved everything to do with Dramatic Arts. I took private drama lessons, and appeared in every school show I could. Grampie used to say I was his ‘little Anne’, because a lot of my reactions as a child came from hours of watching Anne of Green Gables with my grandparents.
When I was eight, my parents took me to see the musical ‘Hello, Dolly’, at the theatre in Cape Town. (We were there to move my brother into his residence for university.)
When it was over, I paused at the top of the flight of stairs on the way out. Surrounded by people, I made my descent slowly and purposefully, imitating Dolly in the show, singing at the top of my lungs, “Hello, Meggie… well, hello, Meggie… it’s so nice to have you back where you belong….”

Being a dramatic young soul, it surprised no one that my favourite story was ‘The Little Match Girl’ by Hans Christian Anderson. I had a large book filled with his stories, but those particular pages were almost grubby, having being visited so many times. Although the story is set on New Years Eve, it was one that was read by me, and to me, all year long – but multiple times during the week leading up to Christmas. As an adult, I have struggled to understand how anyone could read it to me without crying. Because as an adult, each time I read it, the lump in my throat makes it difficult to read out loud – my breath catches in my throat and the tears flow when I am close to the end. Sobs escape, and I pause many times. I have yet to read this story out loud to my children, without frustrating them at the drawn out ending – but they understand, for they struggle too.

When I was 9, Grampie and Granny added to my book collection with another omnibus of stories. The featured story in this book (as it was the title of the collection) quickly became my next firm favourite. It was a story by Oscar Wilde, entitled ‘The Selfish Giant’.
And yes, this story made me cry as well. Although it has nothing to do with Christmas, or New Year – nothing to do with this particular time of year at all – it was another story that I revisited most during Christmas preparation time. And still do, as an adult.

Because both these stories remind me of the things that Grampie, in particular, always tried to teach me. (I was about 10 when my parents split, and Grampie stepped in as a replacement dad as much as he could, when my real dad wasn’t around.)

I am grateful for this Christmas season, because somehow it makes most people more generous. But…

EVERY day is the time for peace, love and joy. EVERY day is the time for compassion and kindness. EVERY day is a time to celebrate, and wish for others the treasures that cannot be bought to be in abundance for them.

EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

But because it’s the season… my wish for you :

The true heart of Christmas (and every day we have πŸ˜› ) is one of wonder and warmth. May any holiday stress you feel fade away and be replaced with this. To those who have lost loved ones during this season, may there somehow be comfort for you. To those who have little, may you be given more. And may we all show kindness and love, and be shown it in abundance too! Merry Christmas to all!

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Who Do You Need?

 

mistakes

Photo credit : sayingimages.com

 

“Nobody’s perfect, but some of us are closer than others.”

The above statement about perfection was written on a wooden board sign hanging in my brothers room while I was growing up. Every time he caught me looking at it – which was usually about the same time he caught me in his bedroom (his room was no man’s land, and definitely not a place that I was allowed to be) he would say to me, “Sorry for you, but you’re notΒ some. Now get out of my room.”

I never fully understood until my other brother, the oldest of the two, explained that he was telling me that I was nowhere near perfect. I can remember that for many years, this hurt me. Looking back now, I laugh about it – and regret the time I wasted in my growing up years allowing it to upset me.

Because here’s the thing : while I sound like I know what I am doing, the only reason I can be this way (and sort of know what I am doing) is because of the mistakes I have made – sometimes the same one a number of times. It used to be ”classic Meg syndrome”. Make a bad choice/mistake – say sorry. Get another chance. But everyone knew I would do it again a few more times.

I never struggled with learning at school, unless I was being lazy πŸ˜› And although I don’t think I have a brilliant IQ, I do think that I am intelligent enough to be able to hold my own. A comment I often heard growing up, and in adult life too, was, “You’re a beautiful girl and you’re not stupid. So WHY? It just baffles my brain.”

Unfortunately, a lot of bad choices were circumstantial. And a lot of those frustrated people who made that comment about me were the greatest ‘influencers’ of the circumstances.
Quotes-About-Judging-Peoples-Choices

Photo credit : therandomvibez.com

They say that life is all about making mistakes – there was a time where I was succeeding beyond my wildest dreams! πŸ˜› πŸ˜‰

Perhaps I was striving for genius status – since we learn from our mistakes? πŸ˜›

Here’s the thing though : while I have always been a responsible and caring person, with a kind and loving heart, I have not always been very wise – and I have had my moments of my own form of rebellion, and have done and said things that I cannot take back.

In the past few years I have aged greatly. Apparently I still look young – even though I don’t feel it. My son is very complimentary with regards to this, and was not surprised when a 27 year old asked me on a date. I was horrified – as was my daughter, because I am old πŸ˜› And yet, when I say I am probably best suited for a man in his fifties, she tells me I am too young for that. Kid can’t make up her mind πŸ˜› (My son agrees with me though – but always tells me I look younger than what I am. He’s not just flattering me, which makes me feel good. But not good enough to date a 27 year old πŸ˜› )

But I have aged greatly – and not in years (or looks apparently). In the past few years, I have gained a lot of wisdom and insight, and I have grown a lot.Β 
Much more than many people my age. I’ve always had a bit of an old soul, so that has already sort of set me apart. An elderly lady I encountered a few days ago told me, “You are not like the youth of today. You have a lot of wisdom. You’ve obviously had a challenging past.”

Yes. I have had a challenging past. Yes, I have done things, and said things, that I am not proud of. I have had things happen to me that have caused pain beyond just their occurrence. The things kept coming, and the circumstances wouldn’t change, and I kept making bad decisions. And it made things challenging. And I was too busy playing the blame game and making excuses and wallowing in my misery to face those challenges.Β 

I’ll admit – when it comes to my physical appearance, I still don’t see anything worth writing home about. I still struggle with poor self image when it comes to my outer being – partly, a woman thing; partly for other reasons. I do work on that, and am trying to change it. I will say that I have grown to love my eyes – I do see, when I look in the mirror, that although they are a boring brown, they are far from boring. I know how expressive they are, and acknowledge that physically they are my best feature. People who see me speak – my friend in the US only on video calls – have always told me the above. I have only accepted in the past few years. And that’s as far as I have got with physical image.

I am too busy with matters of the heart – my main focus is on what is going on inside of me. Who I am. Because on my blog pages, and in emails to distant new friends who I may never meet, who I am inside is what shines through.

I have worked hard the past few years, at facing my mistakes and taking responsibility where I needed to. And learning. It’s been difficult, and I have suffered. The pain has been insurmountable at times – particularly when having to forgive and move on with people who will never say they are sorry.

Because of my mistakes, I am able to counsel and advise others in many areas.
Funny enough, a lot of the time, I learn something new while doing so.

But please don’t ever be under the impression that I have always been the way I am depicted here. While my core has always been good, there have been many moments of bad. When I write here, I write from personal experiences and my ‘wisdom and goodness’ come from having made some awful mistakes. This alone should terrify you a little πŸ˜›

And the thing is, I still make mistakes. Thank goodness. Or there would be nothing left for me to learn! Some of those mistakes come from choices I willingly make : being too trusting, and too honest; my willingness to accept, acknowledge and embrace the fact that everyone is different, and that everyone deserves kindness and consideration, and as many chances as it takes for them to heal and ‘get it right’.

Yes, I leave myself exposed and vulnerable. And get hurt. But I’d rather be making these types of choices and mistakes, than be selfish and bitter and wallowing and blaming, like I tended to be in my younger years.

One of the things that had the greatest influence on me (there have been many), and brought about HUGE changes was a picture I saw on Facebook a few years ago – I googled and found it :

be-who-you-needed

 

‘Nuff said!

 

honest intentions are important

Yesterday was somewhat interesting. I got a late start to the day because I was busy with an email that was important to me. And then I had a phone call, which resulted in a couple of hours of relationship counselling for a good friend. It all worked out though, because when I was done, things fell into place for an outing with the kids. So no time lost, as such.

The relationship counselling really got me thinking.Β 

I have another good friend who has always been of the opinion that I will be single for the rest of my life because I am too honest, and there just isn’t enough mystery surrounding me to make me interesting – therefore, I am boring, and too upfront about where I stand regarding my feelings, and thus will never be a good partner for anybody. Since I have been single for a very long time, I am inclined to agree with her πŸ˜› If anyone shows any interest in me, I keep her well informed – especially if the feeling is mutual. And then when my feelings change, for whatever reason, I frustrate her by letting her know that too, which usually leads to me receiving a lecture along the lines of, “But don’t you think you could just say that you ….”

I love her dearly, and I know that at the end of the day, she truly just wants me to not ‘be alone’. That she sees me as a person with a lot of love to give, and wants me to find someone to share my life with. I am never offended by what she says – and I know that a lot of the reasons I am single are because of ME. Cliched, I know – it’s not you, it’s me – but it’s true!

The basics of the counselling yesterday are as follows : they met three years ago, and moved in together after six months. He only acknowledged them as a couple officially after they had been living together for the same amount of time. She’s almost 40, he’s late 40’s. He’s been married twice – she never has. He doesn’t have children, she has a son. They’re both very stressed work wise, and financially. Yesterday she hit him with marriage. She bought herself an engagement ring, and the pressure was on. He didn’t respond as she wanted, and I got a call. She was ready to throw it all away.

There’s a lot that needs fixing. They’ve said they’ll try. I don’t know what the new year will bring. For all their faults, they’re good together – they truly do compliment each other. So I can only hope they manage to fix the broken bits.

What got me thinking a lot was the marriage ball she threw in his court. Because when they moved in together, he told her he was never going to marry her – never going to get married again. And she told him she didn’t want to ever get married. And it’s been that way for three years – when people joke with them about engagement, she always laughs it off and says, ”Oh please, I don’t want to get married.”

So I was as surprised as I think he was. And I brought it up, of course. Her reply to me was, ”I only said it from the beginning to impress him and make him like me more. And I thought he’d change his mind. But it’s been three years, and I am tired. I don’t want to be someones girlfriend forever. I want more.”

Uh oh!

My children overheard a lot of the conversation – and yesterdays outing involved a lot of relationship discussion among us. It was interesting to anyone who may have overheard – the opinions of a 14 year old, 21 year old and 41 year old, on relationships and marriage. It was also interesting to me, as their mother, to hear what my children had to say. Especially about me πŸ˜› πŸ˜‰

”Mommy might get married again one day, but I doubt it. I know she’s not looking for it, but I don’t think she’s totally against it.
Mom would make a good partner to someone, but they’d have to sleep on the floor because Toffee (dog) would be upset.
When we move out one day, Mom will love being on her own – I can picture her going out, and travelling, whenever she gets the money to.
(But my son says he’s never moving out πŸ˜› )
I can’t picture Mommy being affectionate with a man – I know she’s that type of person… but seeing her kiss someone ‘like that’ would just be weird.
Mom’s not into the way people date these days. She’s deep, and emotional. (me, deep….um okay?)”

There was a lot more. But last night, at suppertime, the conversation shifted to honesty and intentions, in general. And expectations. My son is still friends with a group of guys who’ve known each other since junior school. They’re all home from ‘varsity at the moment, and so his social life has picked up again. πŸ˜› He was filling us in on things that were happening within their group. With maturity has come change – and the dynamics of the friendships within the group have changed. He shared someone’s response to something that had happened, and I told him why it was a bad response – the intention was good, and the view was correct – but the way it was delivered was wrong.

So the point of ‘over’ sharing all of the above is this:

In an effort to impress others, we sometimes find ourselves caught up in saying things that are dishonest. As difficult as it is, your honesty will actually make the greatest impression of all.
Your intentions and expectations with regards to anything in life – your job, your relationships, your finances – need to always be clear… and in some instances (relationships in particular) it’s important that they are not just clear to you, but to others too.
Honesty – and truth – can sometimes hurt. The delivery of it matters. Hugely!

There is no one on this earth exactly like you – take a moment and realise and appreciate how amazing that actually is. You ARE valuable, to someone, even when you don’tΒ feel like it.

Live life on purpose / intentionally.Β 

Be honest about your expectations.

And in your honesty, always be kind.

being practical

 

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Photo credit : Facebook

Yes…this sometimes happens. In a world where entertainment is the focus a lot of the time, my ‘kids’ still get bored with it sometimes. Reading a book is usually the next option for them, but every now and then they get cabin fever. The bored is usually in referral to the fact that they need toΒ go somewhere, andΒ do something.

Yesterday, I was standing washing the dishes, when the two little boys across from my house came out to play. On one of their dads business trips, he had purchased each of them handmade wire push cars – in South Africa, you will often see the handmade wire items for sale on the side of the road. They are truly exquisite, and the time and effort that goes into them must be priceless! The push car looks something like this :

Photo credits : 123RF.com and unsungart.co.za

The younger of the two (6) has a car, and the older one (7) has a small truck.

I live in a townhouse complex, in a corner of four houses. The roads are not very wide, and our little corner is quite safe traffic wise, especially if we’re all at home. The neighbour next to me, and this family who are across from me to the left, have become my friends, after 7 years of us all living here.
The boys are adopted, and I was there for each one ‘coming home’. They have the same biological mother, but different fathers. Both were discarded at the hospital – she just ran away. Both times, I was called on because ‘new mom’, my friend and neighbour, was a little unsure. And to them I am an expert with babies πŸ˜› I’ve cared for quite a few that have not been my own.

But I digress…

So the boys were playing and I was watching and smiling, with my arms buried in a sink full of hot water and dish soap. The older one disappeared inside, and came out with two Father Christmas teddies being transported in his truck. The younger one was not happy – he also wanted to drive someone around. But the soft toy his brother shared with him just wouldn’t stay put. He was becoming upset and frustrated. The older one disappeared back inside, and a few minutes later he was helping his little brother tie the teddy to the roof of the car.

By this stage, my dishes had been forgotten, and I was giggling – off they went, racing to see who would deliver their precious cargo first. My heart was instantly warmed and happy.

And I was reminded of a story from so many years ago that I can’t even tell you if I read it or heard it, or how old I was when I did. I found the story this morning, and wanted to share it with all of you, in case you hadn’t heard it before. It’s called ”The Broken Doll” and this is my re-telling of itΒ :

~~A little girl was late coming home from school one day. Her mother was, of course, upset and worried. When she at last walked through the door, her mother demanded an explanation as to why she was late.

The little girl explained, ”I was walking home with Julie, and she dropped her doll. It broke into a million pieces.”

Her mothers heart softened and she asked quietly, ”Oh honey, you helped Julie pick up the pieces of her doll and put it back together?”

In her young and innocent voice, the little girl replied, “No, Mommy. I didn’t know how to fix the doll. I just stayed to help Julie cry.”~~

We all know someone who has a problem. It’s magnitude terrifies us, and we cannot even begin to wrap our heads around what it feels like to them. We have no idea how to help, or change things. For most of us, it’s in our nature to want to fix it. We think up solutions, and offer advice. We try to assist in practical ways – we reach out and offer knowledge and research.

But do we just stay and help them cry?

There are hardly ever ‘quick fixes’. Practical help is truly great, because it changes the situation, and can often make things seem less overwhelming – offer hope of something better to come.

But sometimes, all that is needed, is someone to cry with you, to comfort you, to reach out and just ‘be’ with you.

Be practical, yes. Offer solutions, yes. If you’re in a position to assist, then do it, yes.
But don’t forget to be emotionally practical.

Because sometimes, having someone who cares enough to just cry with you, can make the biggest difference of all.

 

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Photo credit : goodreads.com

vulnerable bridges

It’s been an interesting 24 hours. I’ve felt quite overwhelmed, with good things, and bad things. And loadshedding (read the post here) continues…although not quite as bad as it was – we’re down to only being without power for four hours a day – I can handle that!
The funny thing is that even though we’re conscientious with the scheduled times and switch off plugs etc to prevent damage from power surges, the surprise cuts seem to have affected things somewhat. My modem appears to be confused – it seems to think its function is now that of a strobe light πŸ˜› It’s rather fun watching the internet light go on and off every minute or so. Green…red….green….red…. it’s a special kind of Christmas tree πŸ˜› adding holiday spirit to my home πŸ˜‰

With regards to yesterdays post :

Thank you to those of you who have offered support, prayers and encouragement. It is very much appreciated at all times, please know that.

Up until a few months ago, I wasn’t aware that I could be reached at my private email address through WordPress. This isn’t a problem for me at all – as you all know, I love to communicate and make new friends – and of course I am always there for support and encouragement. I’d like to thank one lovely lady in particular for emailing me – I won’t mention her name but she knows who she is – your continued encouragement and outpouring of love and prayers touches my heart deeply.Β 

I did receive another email though, from someone that I wasn’t even aware was reading my blog. The irony of this email is that it’s from an ex-South African, now living overseas, who only returns to SA every few years for a week or two on holiday. I haven’t responded… I guess I’ll do so a little later… or maybe I’ll just leave this here :

I am well aware that yesterdays post was rather negative, and reveals that I have ‘that side’ to me. Unfortunately, living with, working with, seeing and being emotionally involved with the atrocities that are occurring here daily, itΒ sometimes does affect me in a negative way. My heart is not made of steel. While I have the ability to practice ‘tough love’ in situations where it is called for, this does not mean that I do not shed tears when I am alone, and that it doesn’t affect me in any way.

So in a round about kind of way, this post is actually about vulnerability.

I am an extremely vulnerable person. And no matter how you try to convince me otherwise, I will never see this as a weakness.Β 
I AM an open book. You can pretty much ask me anything, and I will answer you. But I won’t just give you facts. I will share in a way that exposes my emotions and will ultimately open me up to the possibility of getting hurt. How else will I connect with you?

And you see, that’s the thing…. I truly believe that I am designed for the purpose of connecting – not just with God, but with other people. In order to achieve that purpose, unfortunately, I need to make myself vulnerable.Β 

And yes, it means I get ’emotionally hurt’ sometimes. (Other times it is the most rewarding thing for me!) But throughΒ all those experiences, the rewarding ones and the hurtful ones, I learn life’s greatest lessons, and the crucial skills that I need to continue with living this life.

Raw truth is necessary to connect. But it has another function too. If I am not prepared to be vulnerable and share the truth of my experiences and failings, then how will anyone ever be able to walk away from me knowing hope, kindness, goodness, grace and joy?Β 

I am about to make a statement that many are going to possibly attack me for :
I understand and a part of me has to agree with Ghandi : ”I’d be a Christian if it wasn’t for Christians.”

Except I AM a Christian. And now you’re as confused as a chameleon in a bag of skittles.

So I’ll explain it like this : I grew up in the church. And there were some who didn’t preach God, but showed me who He was. But from a little girl, through various stages in my life, I was emotionally, physically and sexually abused by people in the church who were in positions of leadership. I left in my late teens. I have returned many times, to different places, and found much of the same, sadly – except now it has added judgment for some of the bends in the road of my life.
It has been preached to me on numerous occasions that I am a dying ember – because to be a burning light, I need to be with the coals in the fire – a church. While I understand what they are saying, and agree that it is an amazing thing to worship with a group, I remain a dying ember. I guess? Well, in the churches opinion (and the opinion of most of my family members too). That’s where it all gets confusing, even for me…and we’re talking about me… so confusion reigns! πŸ˜›

It has taken me a very long time to fully appreciate the statement that ‘God is God, and I am not.’ In the same way, all those people seated in church, as well as all their leaders, are alsoΒ notΒ God. Which means thatΒ like me, they also suffer from sin – hidden or exposed, their choice. They choose to wear masks, instead of being vulnerable enough to admit to their failings. And this means that they never learn anything, and can never be helped. It discredits any good that those who know their secret sins could ever glean from their words or their seemingly perfect lives. By not making themselves vulnerable, they have prevented growth, not just in themselves but in their ‘victims’, because many of those ‘victims’ have turned their backs on God as a result.

I am no longer angry about the abuse I suffered personally. It’s been a long and very difficult road to get to that place. The circumstances surrounding those different types of abuse affected the options that were open to me – and while I could have made different choices, at those times the circumstances affected me negatively and I made a long list of bad choices.

In the past few years, I have grown. And here’s what I know :

I will never come into contact with someone who isn’t loved – I need to be kind always.

I have learned NOT to judge – because I don’t know what choices you actually had. And here’s an additional thing to add to that – take time to find the person they are at that very moment, and not who they were yesterday or last week – based on fact or rumors. Change takes time, but the choice to change takes a minute. By judging and making it known, you may just undo that choice.

Don’t preach it – be it. At the end of the day, my words are meaningless if I can’t show you.

Unconditional love. The hardest of all. So important though because it sums up all of the above, and so much more. I struggle with this particular one a lot. It is hard to love others, especially those who have hurt us. It’s a journey all on its own.Β 
I love my children dearly – but they know when they disappoint or upset or anger me – a statement often used in my house is this : I love you, but I don’t like you right now because…..
And my children have free reign to use it on me. And they have. I have learnt from those moments – sometimes I am unreasonable, and sometimes I have worded things in a hurtful way. If they did not have the opportunity to tell me, “Mom, I love you but I don’t like you right now because…”, we would all live in a war zone in our own home right now. Being able to say this, and then walk away, leaves time for what has been said to sink in. When the initial anger and hurt has passed, there hasΒ always been apologies, calm discussions and resolution. And the freedom to continue loving and liking one another.

So yes, I am vulnerable, even with my kids. How else do I teach them that not everyone is right all the time, and that even parents/adults fail?

Vulnerability HURTS sometimes! It opens me up to judgment and criticism, and nastiness and negativity. But it also grows, helps and heals.
There may be ten people judging me, attacking me, and hurting me when I am vulnerable enough with admissions of guilt and failings. But there may be ONE person who is listening…. and hurting…. who connects with me and experiences hope in their seemingly hopeless situation; who somehow finds healing in a broken piece of their heart; or feels a kindness that no one else has ever shown them and sparks a ‘kindness seed’ that they in turn sow themselves.Β 

Vulnerability is also sometimes VERY REWARDING! I would not make the beautiful connections and friends that I do along the way if I wasn’t. And many of them patch up broken pieces of my heart in their own way.

And that, for every person who is reading this, is MY purpose in life.

Words and actions WILL hurt me. I WILL spend time crying and experiencing a form of brokenness. I WILL wish that I had a steel heart. And I will have my moments where I fight being ‘good’. I have tried being bitter and angry – I even think nasty thoughts. I have the potential to be all those things – and I’d probably be very good at it. In my head, I do great…for about twenty minutes.

But I WON’T change. And I have come to accept that. I am, and always will be, vulnerable.Β 

(there’s green light on the modem, so I’m hitting publish! πŸ˜› πŸ˜‰ )

Hearts Cry

A lengthy post.. but worth a read. Not all sunshine and happiness – sorry! I’ll do better next post!

 

7accabc5b3cc60fb680cf012f5dce6ccPhoto credit : coffeelovesme.com

I sure am trying… but yesterday, my morning wake up didn’t even allow for time to smell the coffee. Because there wasn’t any. For four hours. No electricity, and no water.

Further to Monday’s post, let me add this :

There is a schedule for loadshedding. Provided to us in an attempt to help us plan ahead. The electricity cuts fall into different stages. So for example, if Stage 2 has been implemented, you can check the schedule for your area and plan around the hours that you will be without electricity. It’s great – if and when it works.

Yesterday – Tuesday, (in case I don’t get this posted today) they jumped between stages without advising anyone, untilΒ after they had switched the electricity off. There was no time to prepare for it. So yesterday, in a space of 14 hours, we were without electricity for 8 of them!

For the first time ever (loadshedding has been happening on and off for many years now), there has been a stage 6 implemented. Things just got serious. Stage 6 means that 8 hours of the day without electricity needs to be expected.

What needs to be understood is this : the tension and total failure in this country is already at dangerous levels – loadshedding is adding to an already highly sensitive situation, and things are looking more than grim.

I always giggle when ‘foreigners’ are not aware of the state of things here. I don’t expect any of you to be. Speaking with family in the UK, and my ‘sister’ in the US, I am well aware that a lot of the time there is a media blackout of sorts with regards to most issues. And who wants to sit and troll through the awful crime and failures of government in other countries when their own areas are enough to deal with.

The other reason I am so ‘well educated’ with regards to other countries (other than the having family and a best friend living overseas) is that I do a lot of homework and research because if I ever get out of this country, I need to be well aware of where we are going, for my children’s sake.

I made a comment on someone else’s blog post, that I think is fitting to share here, and now. Please understand that I am under NO illusion that ‘the grass is greener on the other side’. EVERY country has its issues and nowhere is paradise – unless humans have never found it. But I will say that the severity of our issues is a lot less than what my family and friends overseas face. And this is factual – not just based on hearsay. The countries and places I have investigated are numerous – of course I always start with crime statistics and the types of crime committed. But I also do lengthy research in the form of reading their local online newspapers. It’s not all stored in my head…but I know where we wouldn’t go πŸ˜›

Getting back to that grass….

I saw a sign the other day, and I had to laugh. (Although it’s sad when you think of it…but there’s definitely a funny side to it.)
The sign said, “The grass is only greener where you water it.”
I didn’t laugh at the sign as such… I laughed because at the time I didn’t have any water in my taps. How am I supposed to water the grass? Another thought popped into my head… our water is contaminated a lot of the time and municipal advisories are to not drink the tap water in my area – so if thereΒ is water and I water the grass? Pfft.

As much as I research other places to live, I avoid our own news. I no longer watch it, and I refuse to buy a newspaper. Our local paper was giving away free copies a month back, and my son got one – and dumped it in the trash after the first three pages. His comment? “Not one good thing. And now I’m more scared.”
I have Facebook – and our local community page is enough to upset and anger me. But I can’t stick my head completely in the sand – I need to know what is happening around me for our safety. Especially considering that most of the things never make actual news.Β  Every now and then, the radio news catches me. I listen with one ear, but sometimes have to mute it. I know my daughter did the same the other day when they were reporting on yet another baby that had been raped and she said, “Sorry, but I just can’t listen to this stuff anymore.” (My cousin runs a safehouse/children’s home, and we have held and poured love out onto a nine month old baby who required extensive reconstructive surgery due to this very thing, and will have a colostomy bag for the rest of her life…so it hits very close to home for us every time we hear reports of this happening.) πŸ˜₯

Yesterday, I heard an economist speaking about loadshedding and its impact on us, and this morning I had a look at what he said in a broader light – ie. I went to look at some financial reporting.
Basically our economy is facing its second recession in two years. Mines have had to shut down. Everyone is already financially drained – businesses that are not corporate cannot afford generators and so no electricity means a halt in productivity, which means an inability to generate income, which means difficulty paying staff – forget about business running costs. A local man, someone I am acquainted with, committed suicide last week due to the financial pressures. He’s not the first this year, and I think that the way things are going, even though the year is nearly up, he won’t be the last 😦

Please forgive me for feeling despondent and frustrated and sad. And angry. All of which are emotions that are ridiculous when you take into consideration that they are all because of things that are completely not within my control. But I’m feeling them anyway. And I’m struggling a bit.

It hasn’t robbed me of my joy completely. And I am very grateful that for now the children and I have what we need and we woke up this morning, safe. So I know the negative emotions are a contradiction… but I can’t help feeling them. 😦
And yes, I have been a victim of crime – but the angels were working overtime and my protection was in place. I’ve been stabbed and robbed on a beach walk – saved from worse by fishermen nearby who heard my screams. My home has been broken into – and I live in the centre of a secure complex (a gated community with electric fencing all around). I am grateful we were not harmed – the stuff they can have. I don’t have much anyway.

I’ve never been a material person. In fact, it’s always been a standing joke : Show Meg a brochure without prices and she’ll still somehow love the cheapest things in it. That even applies to jewelry. It’s hilarious. I guess I don’t have expensive taste πŸ˜› But what I really want most in all the world is the most expensive thing – strange huh? I want out of my country.

Whatever you believe, here’s my hearts cry almost every day…..

Dear God,

I know it’s all about timing, but I am asking anyway… and I know that nowhere is ideal… but please can we move overseas? Please make a way where it is completely impossible and unattainable for us. Please.

I want my children’s education to MEAN something – I want them to have a future.

We want jobs that will provide for us.

I want our lives to mean something.

We don’t want to live in fear anymore.

We don’t want to be where human life has so little value – where petty theft is no longer just that.
Where people are killed for the few coins they have on them.
Where rape and murder are everyday occurrences.
Where even the ‘good and previously safe areas’ are areas of violent crime.
Where the sexual violence rate is one of the highest in the world.
Where babies are raped due to a ‘virgin cleansing myth’ that this will cure men of AIDS.
Where a house break in when people are home almost always involves rape, torture and murder.

That’s what we want. The timing may not be right. I get that.
Thank you for your complete protection this far. If this is where we have to be, please continue to provide and protect. Please.

And please help my heart to stay filled with joy. Please help me to continue to be kind to those around me.

Amen

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Photo credit : quotefancy.com

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Photo credit : quickmeme.com

Lights out

I have been struggling to keep up the past few days. A large part of the blame for this rests on a lack of electricity. Things are a total mess right now here where I live in general – so many human rights continually being ignored.
However, there is no right to electricity. That said, and even though I can understand why it would not be considered a right, our electricity provider for this country has recently upped our rates astronomically. I’m pretty sure if you google Eskom, or loadshedding, you can find all the forums and discussions and anger and frustration of consumers. If I added everything in here this would be a very negative post – and yet there is still a part of me that wishes the truth would find its way out there… in regards to everything that is wrong with where I live. Electricity is a very minor part of it.

Unfortunately, I am part of the majority who has to pay these ridiculously high rates, and cannot afford to purchase and run a generator in my home. This means that currently, due to loadshedding of electricity that has been implemented, I am without electricity for four hours during the day – and these are active hours, and not hours where we can just sleep through, and continue life as normal during our waking hours.
The complex I live in has another problem when there is loadshedding – the water reservoir that supplies us with water is on an electric pump – so when we have no electricity, we also have no access to water. (In a country of roughly 57 million people, about 15 million people do not have access to a safe water supply at all.)
And my water supply isn’t safe for drinking either. In fact, in my town, we were advised two months ago toΒ not drink tap water, due to sewerage spillage in the main supply dam. There was an outbreak of cholera at the time, and lives were actually lost. 😦

But back to loadshedding – if you delve into it you will discover that one of the many reasons that our electrical supplier has provided for the current loadshedding schedule implementation is that ‘due to heavy rains the coal got wet’. We have been given this excuse for over four years now. And every one of us who have any sense can be heard saying, “You have reached an entirely new level of stupidity if you expect us to accept that. How many times do you have to experience heavy rains and severe damage that affects an entire country before you build a flipping roof over the coal???!!!!!”

It’s always during these implemented schedule times that suddenly ‘maintenance’ is also carried out – which never makes any difference and it’s naturally just assumed to be a decoy of something bigger. Yesterday, we had ‘maintenance’ in my area – from 6am till 6pm. No electricity or water for 12 hours. I have also been told that there will be ‘water maintenance’ on Thursday and Friday – 24 hours with no water.

My reason for sharing all this is this : No electricity means no computer time. My laptop battery lasts only 90 minutes – it’s an old laptop. And only has an internet connection via wifi anyway…which is off when there is no electricity. My cellphone is also really old, and so despite having a new battery, the drain of the old model means that the battery only lasts two hours.
And I can hear you saying – buy a new laptop, buy a new phone, get a dongle or other form of internet data. I am a one income household who has to pay for education, with two children – one at university and one at high school – where there is no job availability for my oldest – earning a very minimum level salary, only just managing to feed and educate my children, and keep up with costs and maintenance on a house and vehicle. SO… no new purchases will be made any time soon. (My brother assists me, for which I am very grateful, but it also makes me feel like so much of a failure, not being able to provide fully for my children and I. I’ve tried everything to change that… but with circumstances in my country being what they are, it just doesn’t seem like it will ever be possible. I refuse to give up though, and keep trying anyway!)

And NO! Please do NOT send me money!Β 

It always amazes me how when someone posts something like this, people naturally assume that that is what they’re after – that it’s a form of begging or trying to solicit cash. I can assure you that this is not the case AT ALL.Β 

I tell you all of this so that those who really care are not concerned when I ‘disappear’ for a few days at a time. (And there is that concern when you take into account the current crime rate where I live and the risks every time I leave my house.)
Most of my work is computer based – and so when the electricity returns, there is usually a lot of work, and work emails, that need to be attended to. If I don’t do that, then I don’t earn any money. So unfortunately, at this stage, that is the priority in the my life.

The following pictures are all from sapeople.comΒ  – the first ‘bedtime story’ is exactly how I live – it’s a no wonder so many of us here are living with high awareness and anxiety – and are exhausted 80% of the time. (Except I don’t have a gun – and my last big dog that I had six years ago and let sleep outside was poisoned and I lost her – which is why my two now sleep on my bed, with me) But it’s a funny way of seeing things, this story, I guess. The other pics are also part of the jokes that are making the rounds.

And did you know that South Africa is currently the most romantic country in the world? We eat our dinner out (of cold cans) by candlelight almost every night πŸ˜› πŸ˜› πŸ˜›

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(While there are still some great things in my country – winning the rugby world cup, our Miss South Africa being crowned Miss Universe – the bad still outweighs the good, sadly.)

Versatile Blogger Award

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I know it sounds really cheesy, but I absolutely love all these awards. When I get tagged in one though, my mouth goes dry and my first thought is, ”Oh gosh, am I going to be able to do this one any justice?”

I overthink them. Because at the end of the day, it’s an honour that someone thought of me, and all they’re really asking is for me to be honest and share small pieces of me. So I really shouldn’t feel threatened, because we all know that I happily overshare πŸ˜›

This particular award stands for the following :

β€œWhen you consider nominating a fellow blogger for the Versatile Blogger Award, consider the quality of the writing, the uniqueness of the subjects covered, the level of love displayed in the words on the virtual page. Or, of course, the quality of the photographs and the level of love displayed in the taking of them.”

And we all know how completely random I can be πŸ˜› πŸ˜‰

The Rules:

Thank the person who nominated you.
Link to the blog of the person who nominated you.
Share 7 facts about yourself.
Nominate 15 more bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award.

A big thank you to jesusluvsall for the nomination – while the essence of his blog truly is about his faith and helping others, you can find a wide variety of everyday life there, from music to his struggles with chronic illness. Definitely worth taking a look πŸ˜‰

7 facts about me is actually quite difficult, because I overshare, so you know a lot anyway πŸ˜› I’m trying to come up with things you don’t know… and it’s tougher than I thought. So I popped off some messages to my friends (two of which are my neighbours) and asked them to tell me one thing about me that I could share. So here are their replies :

  1. I often send random messages to friends asking their opinion on something to do with me – in an effort to understand and grow. Like I have, out of the blue, asked before : please send me three good qualities you think I have, please send me three bad qualities you think I have, what would you say is my best physical feature, etc etc etc.
  2. I love to spend a cool afternoon, seated in the dirt, weeding my garden (but I don’t have a green thumb!!!).
  3. I greet pets before I greet their owners (first time I have actually realised that I DO do this….apparently it isn’t a problem…but I still feel a little bit guilty – I should probably be more conscious of that!)
  4. I have bitten my nails down to the quick since I was a child. I’ve only ever grown my own four times in my whole life…I don’t bite them as badly now, but when I do start to then I have to stick on falsies to get me out of the habit for a while.
  5. I’ve never seen snow in real life, and talk incessantly about wanting to experience a White Christmas, and I don’t just mention that at Christmas time, apparently.
  6. I am so obsessed with butterflies, and anything purple, that my friends think of me constantly when they see either thing. It makes me very easy to buy gifts for too πŸ˜‰ (My friend has a 7 year old son who calls me, ”Aunty Butterfly” πŸ™‚ )
  7. I don’t have tattoo’s, and the fact that I don’t desire to have any is apparently strange. (it’s not a biblical thing, I just don’t want them?) I got 4 messages back stating this fact, so clearly it makes me a little weird πŸ˜›

 

I am supposed to nominate 15 bloggers. I’m going to break the rules here. I’m nominating every person who takes the time to read my blog…. and you really need to check out the people who like and comment on my writing – they have very reading worthy material on their blogs. And although a lot of them try to stick to a theme, if you read their posts, you will see little bits of versatility in there πŸ˜‰

(Although not everyone overshares like I do πŸ˜› *covering my face with my hands*)

And then just for fun, I’m going to post a pic that I saw this morning and had a good giggle at :

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striving for seed-ship

I was introduced to someone new the other day.
“This is Meg, my friend that I was telling you about.”
Pretty standard introduction, although it usually somehow elicits the panicked thought, ”Uh oh! What exactly has been said?”

The reply was not standard.
”Ah, Meg… the seed.”

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Photo credit : quotes.yourdictionary.com

In that moment, I certainly felt that I had achieved genius status! I have a very expressive face and so I knew my confusion was evident, but I followed up with,
“Um….hi. Seed?”

Yeah, I know, really eloquent!

There was a slight shrug, and a knowing smile exchanged between my friend and the ‘new person’. Her reply knocked me off guard completely,

“I’ve been told that you’re a great encouragement and inspiration. That you’ve been through so much, and yet you continue to smile and spread love and kindness. Your friend here says that you’re the one she turns to when she needs joy.
My husband and I call those sorts of people ‘seeds’. Because they inspire and encourage growth.”

This morning, I saw a picture on Facebook and had to smile :

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Now I have to be honest here, I am sometimes a bad seed. Although I don’t quite fit this description!Β 
a person who is dishonest, evil, or unprincipled by natureΒ :Β an innately bad person

I’d be extremely dishonest though if I said that I have never had a moment of being any of the above. Worry and negativity creeps in every now and then, which messes with my character and sends my whole being into chaos. I then become frustrated/angry/disheartened/disillusioned and ‘act out’ because I am not in alignment with my core values.

And this is why I KNOW how very important it is to continuously be aware of, practice and educate ourselves to handle correctly whatever bad thing comes our way.Β 

The words that were spoken about me above definitely boosted my ego a bit – but they also spoke to my core being in a way that I very much needed at the time.
(And I have to stress that while they were lovely, and very true of my relationship with this friend because we’ve been in each others lives for 20+ years and that has always been my place in her life, I don’t think that everyone views me that way. In fact, IΒ knowΒ that they don’t.)

So this is not a boasting moment.

Instead, it was actually a type of ‘wake up’ moment for me.

Do I want to inspire and encourage growth inΒ everyone I come into contact with? YES!
Am I doing that? Sadly, no…. not always and not everyone.
Can I change that? YES!

But it’s going to require courage and commitment. It’s going to mean hard work. It’s going to mean some pain. But this is an area I NEED to grow in. And so I have to accept all those things.

And I am not saying that I need to be perfect. It’s in my imperfections that I can actually inspire others – but I need to handle those imperfections correctly in order for them to achieve the purpose of helping others to grow – in their lives, in kindness and in love.

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Photo credit : bigcommerce.com

 

I want to be THAT beautiful!

really random

I’ve been quite absent the past few days, for numerous reasons.

One to celebrate was a dancing prize giving I attended for my daughter, where we also received her exam results from recent Hip Hop and Modern examinations. She scored highly in all 3 (having done two grades of Hip Hop in one year), achieving above 90%, and honours with distinction in all. She also received two trophies. I’m very pleased with her results, but can’t take any credit, other than the fact that I am the one who ensures she attends her classes πŸ˜›

My car has gone in for a service, and to fix brakes that were beginning to grind as if they too were taking part in a dance exam, with a partner πŸ˜› Hopefully it will be returned to me today. Don’t get me wrong, I love to walk, but personal safety trumps that love these days.

I’m exhausted this morning, and my pain levels are quite high, so attempting a meaningful blog post requires a lot more of me than I can give right now.
As I was leisurely going through the multitude of emails in my inbox that require my attention, I saw one that made me smile. And decided that that’s about all I can manage to post about today πŸ˜›

Did you know that today is World Fritter Day?

Here in South Africa, the most popular type is Pumpkin Fritters. You can find our recipe here, which is also where I got the picture from πŸ˜‰

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Different countries have different varieties, and of course what they call a fritter we usually have a different name for.

I was scrolling through the different types in various countries, and once again, the US has won my heart πŸ˜› πŸ˜‰
These apple fritters look like just what my stomach thinks it needs πŸ˜‰

(Emphasis on the thinks, because IΒ know that it doesn’t…. but thoughts are always good.)

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Photo credit : foodwishes.blogspot.com

And I learnt something else this morning, besides all the delicious types of fritter that made me stomach rumble and reminded me that I still haven’t had breakfast πŸ˜‰

I’m not too widely travelled, and admittedly my knowledge of the world map is relatively limited. While I have heard of Borneo, I have never heard of Brunei – and their fritters were featured. In Brunei, they call fritters ”cucur”, and they’re usually made with banana, shrimp, yam, sweet potatoes and vegetables. Apparently it is very popular street food. They look delicious – probably more like what we’d call dumplings here though….

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While reading up on Brunei, I think the thing that made me happiest was when I discovered that it was the first country in Asia to ban shark finning. Good for them. I love sharks πŸ˜‰

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And that’s total randomness for you all πŸ˜‰

Happy Monday πŸ™‚