What Day Is It?

This seems to be the question on many people’s lips these days, with our lock down here still being somewhat ridiculous and the vast majority still being unable to work. The days just sort of melt into each other, and there are times where, unless I check the calendar, I am unsure where we’re at.
But that’s not the reason for the question today 😉

Today is another of my ‘What Day of the Year‘ is it posts….

I got a little bit too excited when I found it that it’s Dracula Day 😛

Growing up, I was never allowed to watch anything monster like – and so of course, vampires were a criminal offense in our house. And my mother held true to this right into my late teens. It was NOT allowed.
(In fact, nothing was – rolling my eyes. Even a romantic comedy with an age restriction of 13 was vetoed – and I was 16 at the time. Yeah, strict control was the order of the day.)

I smiled broadly this morning when I chose Dracula Day

Because it took me back to my sneaky self. 😉

When my parents were still together, our home had a large lounge and dining area, that was separated by large french doors. At age 6, my brothers were already 15 and 17, and so they would sit with my dad in the lounge and watch things like the A-Team, Airwolf and MacGyver. Naturally this was not allowed for the little girl in the house, under any circumstances. But sometimes my mother was out at a church meeting – or busy in the kitchen.
I’d check to see if the french doors were open, and if they were I would run to my room and fetch my dolls. I’d position myself with my babies in the armchair in the far corner of the lounge (my excuse being that my babies and I were visiting my friend for tea if anyone asked 😉 ), giving me full view of the TV screen. And sometimes I’d even make it through an entire episode without getting caught 😉

By my early teens, my folks were long divorced, my oldest brother had left the house. But the younger of the two was still around, and he had a TV and video machine in his room 😉 The bedrooms in the house were on the opposite side to my mothers study/office, and when my brother was out (which was most of the time) and my mother was busy, I’d sneak in there, close the door, and watch his TV, or one of his videos. Thankfully, my mother very seldom caught me… and my brother had a car that had a distinctive sound when he drove in. Plus, in those days, I was young, and fast. 😉 He only ever caught me once 😛
If it wasn’t for his TV I would have had NO friends in high school, ha ha ha – at least I could keep up with them in conversation about Wings, and The Hogan Family. I’ll admit that I even tried to keep up with Beverley Hills 90210… but sometimes understood why I had no business watching that 😛
(My mother ONLY watched the Christian television network – she had a special aerial and the main television in our house was not tuned in to any other channel.)

And yes, this all led to complete rebellion… some of it harmful… when it came to what I watched behind my mothers back. (Which is why, even though I censor a lot of what my daughter watches now, I also give her a lot more freedom… she never watches anything now without asking first, not even sneakily. And I am always open to discuss my reasons and hear her out when she asks to watch something. Sometimes I am not entirely happy about giving in… but I’ve heard her out, and we’ve discussed it enough that I know she has heard me out regarding my reasons. And so far, so good.)
Side note : Yes, it is my duty and responsibility to protect her – but there are ways and means, and so long as she is as open and honest with me as she is now, and so long as we have good communication, I think I am doing okay. 😉

But back to Dracula, because that’s where the excitement of this day lies 😉

My introduction to the vampire world had nothing to do with the Count himself. It was during my sneaky sessions in my brothers room (although sometimes he was home, and I had to miss an episode because he was in a bad mood – every now and then, he’d let me watch with him, but only if I gave him any chocolate/sweet stash that I had as payment 😛 )… I got to watch the series Third Watch. In there was a few episodes about a group that decided they were vampires. I’ll admit, it scared me a little. And removed any desire I felt to watch Dracula – even though my brother actually offered.

At age 19, I think it was, I finally watched Interview with a Vampire – I mean, come on… Brad Pitt AND Tom Cruise in one movie???? A heavenly delight for me at that age 😛 How could I not watch?
And I survived it, without fear. (Maybe they helped 😛 )
Thing is that as I got older, I think I became desensitised to a large degree. I can watch almost anything now – although I am not a fan of the occult type movies at all – no interest in watching 95% of them – they just disturb my spirit too much.

I decided to tackle Dracula differently to everyone else that I knew though – I read the book first after eventually getting my hands on it. Because I am a reader for the most part, and so that’s what I do. 😛 😉
Then I watched the movie… so I got the full Count experience 😉

And… I’ll admit it… I’ve read the entire Twilight collection (twice – shaking my head here, ha ha ha!), after which I have watched the movie collection more than ten times. 😛 My daughter tried it out – reading first as per her mother 😛 – when she was 13… and every now and then we still have a Twilight movie marathon together 😉

So that’s my contribution to Dracula Day. If you want to read more about the actual day, as opposed to my nonsense 😛 you can go here.

Stay safe everyone. And don’t forget to smile 😉

Routinely Singing

I was chatting on the phone to a friend of mine the other day and she was laughing with me about certain behaviours I have! It was regarding our current strict lock down, and she sort of stopped me midway through our chat, laughing at me and saying, ”I can’t believe you still have those routines in place.” I laughed too, because some of it is just so silly and unnecessary based on the current circumstances. And yet I can’t help it.

One of the things that was taught to me when I was a teen, working as a volunteer with children, was that children need routine. That it helps them to understand what is expected of them, teaches them to respect boundaries and can actually make them feel safe and secure.

I am a fully grown adult, and yet there are so many childlike qualities that I still believe are important to have – things that are actually still quite important to me. I often get teased that I am not spontaneous enough – please don’t get me wrong, I can be spontaneous. But I seem to lean more towards ‘how things fit into the life I lead. How will it affect my children? How does it affect my time? What will the effect of it be on my responsibilities?’

Super boring, right there, right? Same as boring, but I have a special cape for it 😛

But… you see… some of my routines tend to reduce my stress, either immediately, or they’re in place to try and reduce stressful situations that may come at a later stage. I’ll explain it like this : Before lock down, the routine in my house because of school was to get up at 5am on weekdays. Weekends, I would ‘sleep in’ till about 6:30am – because I usually used to have my daughter at dancing by 9am.
Our world has come to a standstill with lock down.
Most mornings now, I allow myself to sleep in till 6am.
And this was the very thing that my friend was laughing about.
”Why don’t you stay in bed and let yourself go back to sleep, silly Meg. There’s nothing else happening 😛 ”

Why don’t I? Because if I break that routine, and sleep later, or go back to sleep after waking, then if and when things return back to normal hours, it will add to my stress : it will be difficult to fall back into the pattern of such very early mornings. I may even oversleep one day.
I know myself, so I need to keep working on reducing my stress, and that’s just one small way.

So many other things regarding my routines, stress management and productivity have fallen to the wayside – but due to factors I cannot control. And so I have accepted those ‘breaks in routine’ and have had to let go of them in the sense of not allowing them to make me feel bad, or unproductive, or stressed out. An example of this is that we only have one fully functional, working computer in the house – I need it, my son needs it for university, and my daughter now needs it for school. We can control the compromise regarding who gets to use it when, but if it means I have an afternoon where I have been unable to work on the computer, I don’t allow myself to feel that I have been unproductive.

Initially, this was not my attitude and it had started getting to me in many ways – all the little things that were affecting my routine.

And then I remembered one of the most powerful lessons that I have learned over the last few years, 

”Can you control this? Is there anything you can do to change this? If your answer is no, then let.it.go.”

It wasn’t easy. I am not a control freak by any means – and when it comes to my house, I definitely don’t have any form of OCD 😛 It’s chaos… mostly organised chaos… but still chaos.

But I have always been a fixer, and I like ‘to know’. I also went through the stages of taking responsibility for things that had nothing to do with me, and allowing sadness and guilt to weigh me down.

Now? I’m just frozen. 😛 (as in singing the Frozen song… ‘let it go, let it go’.… 😉

I still have my weak moments… but I’m hellbent on continuing to sing… and I will keep giving myself stern lectures because I am still me, I am still productive and calm, and a fairly good person 😉

This is tough on everyone – – – – –  but please give yourself a hug. Because you cannot control it. Just keep doing the best you can ❤

embrace

brene-brown-quotes
With the current state of the world, and various countries experiencing different levels and restrictions and difficulties with regards to lock down, I really thought that our focus would have shifted a little.

And yet, there are so many who still seem to hold a picture in their mind of how other people should be. What saddens me the most as I scroll through social media of those who live in my country, is that when people voice their frustration or even admit to an inkling of depression that seems to be falling upon them, the general response is ‘you need to practice an attitude of gratitude’, ‘you need to be more positive’, ‘you need to change / stop complaining’.

Please don’t get me wrong. I DO agree with those sentiments, because we all know that having the right ‘heart’s attitude’ about anything in life makes ALL the difference.

But at the same time, people are struggling. They’re frustrated, they’ve lost their income, they are alone and lonely, they are worried, they are stressed, they are sad and afraid. And this is where kindness and compassion need to play the biggest role – especially in the times we are facing currently, and with regards to what lies ahead and seems to be looming in my country.

Perhaps we need to pause and consider our responses, a little more than usual.

I have one friend who is a truly great chick 😉 She’s always positive and uplifting, a real fitness freak, and oh man, she’s not too proud to laugh in an unladylike manner. But our current restrictions have hit her hard the last few days, and so for the past 24 hours her Facebook posts have been what I suppose could be construed as negative and depressing.

My first thought as I scrolled through her timeline this morning was, ‘You’re so brave to be sharing publicly the negative emotions you are actually feeling because you are finding yourself overwhelmed by it all – I salute your vulnerability, my friend.’
But the responses from others just broke my heart. I didn’t publicly share any of my sentiments, but instead popped off a private message to her. And I was astounded at something in her reply : Meg, you’re the only one who has actually asked if there is anything you can do to help me. Words can’t describe my gratitude.

I don’t share this as a brag – or to boast and boost my ego. I share this to create an awareness that you know is there in your spirit. I am sure people have come to mind, I am sure you have come across negativity. Allow that to be a prompt to just ask if there is anything you can do. The likelihood that there IS may be minimal, but what I am realising the most is this : in these troubling times, the mere fact that someone is even WANTING to offer some form of support is more appreciated than whether or not they actually CAN help you. 

I’m even struggling at the moment. Things are getting a little bit ‘stupid’ here – we’re even being dictated to with regards to what we are allowed to wear, and the purchase of t-shirts and slip slops/sandals has been taken off the table for us. And there was a moment yesterday where I found myself being a little bit too hard on myself. Criticising me, because ‘everyone is struggling, and negative emotions are not good, you’re supposed to be be positive and inspirational and a kind heart is supposed to reflect beauty, not frustration and sadness, there is more expected of you than this’.

This morning I realised that I AM still being the kind of woman I want to be, that I CAN still hold my head high, that the negative emotions ARE allowed to be feltit’s how I handle the after effects of them that matters.  

None of what I am feeling is unusual in these circumstances. I need to let go of the suppositions and expectations of others and embrace all of me…

Because ‘me’ is enough, so long as I keep doing my best in circumstances that I have no control over.

And so, for everyone reading… please be kind to yourself, and please be kind to others… no matter how near or far they are.

 

Eat What You Want

As you may have noticed, there are blog posts where I refer to the Days of the Year site, and choose to celebrate along with them. There are a few ‘days’ being celebrated today, but of course the one that I’ve chosen absolutely appeals to me 😛 😛 😛

Apparently, today is Eat What You Want Day. Do you understand now why I couldn’t resist? 😉

I see that this holiday was created by Thomas and Ruth Roy. So of course I wanted to see who these wonderful people were 😉 and I popped off to Google. My goodness, then the fun really started.

Their business is called Wellcat – and according to their site :
Wellcat Herbs features fine herbal products and informative commentary on the medicinal, culinary & mystical uses of herbs & spices.

But they also appear to have the copyright, and have published, somewhere in the region of about 80 different ‘holidays’. And I laughed my through the list because there are some really fun ones in there.

Now please don’t misunderstand.
EVERY day is a gift, no matter what. Every day is a day worthy of celebration. I definitely do know that, and I am grateful that I can wake up each morning to a new day, filled with possibilities and potential.

But here’s something I also know, and I’ve been made even more aware of it the past 8 weeks : sometimes circumstances (even those beyond our control) distract us. We still keep our chins up and try to remain positive and hopeful, but sometimes we forget to ‘celebrate’ life. 

And for me personally? Having that little push and reminder of ‘something in particular’ to celebrate can actually make a huge difference to my day. 

(Just as a side note : I had a good giggle when I saw that my birthday is actually one of those copyrighted days, and it’s so applicable to me. Of course, the days are different here because my seasons are the complete opposite, but it was so funny to see my birthday listed as ‘Stay Out Of The Sun’ day. I’m not a Summer person, I am a Winter gal through and through. I also don’t spend hours in the sunshine, ever! The sun makes me lazy and then I am completely unproductive, ha ha! I’ve always preferred night time and the mystery in the darkness/moonlight. So it’s rather appropriate that THAT day is listed for my birthday, don’t you think 😉 I feel quite honoured 😉 )

But back to today and eating what you want 😉

Here’s the thing : there are limitations for me because there are some things that I really am not allowed to eat – not because of allergies, but because of a mild case of IBS coupled with some stomach ulcers due to a bacterial infection from three years ago that reappeared in January this year.  So I do still need to be really careful about what I eat. Especially since I absolutely refuse to give up my coffee 😛

I’ve decided though, that for today, I am going to eat an 80g slab of wholenut chocolate for lunch 😉 I simply have to celebrate this day somehow 😉 And just the thought of lunchtime is making me smile, making my heart feel lighter – although I know it won’t make my body feel lighter 😛
But right now, my heart is more important 😉

 

Wabi-Sabi

Absolutely loved this post, and the food for thought and concepts contained within it.
Hope certainly can be the result of seeing people who have embraced their flaws, grown through them, and managed to achieve despite them.
May you all be inspired today, and feel beautiful inside and out.

Letters To Pogue

Dear Pogue,

You remember that letter I recently sent you on heroes and antiheroes? I trust you read it? Well here’s a thing, our letter once again found its way to other people and one of those people was sufficiently absorbed by the contents to actually write back. Surprised? I was. The correspondent was a Mr Ohh and the gentleman (we’ll give him the benefit of any doubt) wanted to suggest that antiheroes bring us hope in so much as they overcome their flaws to achieve the deeds they do.

Good point, hey?

This caused me to recall a concept that exists in Japanese culture termed wabi-sabi (where’s he going with this I can hear you thinking). Wabi-sabi is the belief that beauty is found in the imperfect. Indeed it believes that nothing is perfect, everything is part of the circle of life, either becoming or decaying, all comes…

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Mattress Mail

You’ve Got Mail. Definitely a movie that is near the top of my list of favourites.

It’s an old movie from 1998, and it’s a romantic comedy. Which is an unusual genre for me to find a movie in that I could be so crazy about. But I am. The brief synopsis is this : ”Two business rivals who despise each other in real life unwittingly fall in love over the Internet.”

What it fails to tell you about is the sheer delight contained in the quaint little bookstore that Meg Ryan’s character owns in the movie. I still carry the desire in my heart to one day have a little shop like hers. 😉

I’m a huge Meg Ryan fan…. and Tom Hanks is a firm favourite too. I had watched them co-star in Sleepless in Seattle and kind of just ‘fell for them’. So when ‘You’ve Got Mail’ premiered, it was top of my watch list. And I fell in love with them all over again 😉

All of the above is somewhat strange, because I am generally not a fan of romance – which is even stranger because I am a romantic at heart. Yes, I know, there’s just no sense to any of it 😛 😉

There is a place in the movie where Meg’s character needs advice. And without knowing anything about her business, Tom’s character gives her some…
”Go to the mattresses.”
This particular scene is where I completely fell in love with Tom’s character – in fisherman’s terms : he had me hook, line and sinker 😉 My heart still skips a beat when I watch this scene 😉 See, I have a crazy side too 😉
(You can click here for the YouTube cut of it 😉 )

The phrase, if you don’t already know, means the following :

To enter into or prepare for a lengthy war, battle, or conflict; to adopt a combative or 
warlike position. While the true origin is uncertain, the phrase was popularized in 
English by The Godfather novel and films, where it referred to warring mafia families 
housing their soldiers in small, secure apartments to await orders.

And no, I am not inciting any form of global war with this blog post, so please don’t misunderstand. This IS personal – unlike the situation in the movie.

I have been reminded, yet again, that there is always a conflict within ourselves – the wolves that we feed. That there is always a war in our minds – and preparation for battle is the only way we can get victory.
When we allow ourselves to become complacent and stop feeding our minds with the things we need to in order to equip ourselves to become stronger and better versions of ‘us’, we make ourselves vulnerable to the voices from the past that want to take us to places we no longer deserve to be.

The struggle is real.

I am being kind to myself in that I am constantly reminding the big brown eyes that stare back at me in the mirror that their light is still shining. That I’m not a failure, and that I am allowed to be feeling the way I do. No matter what anyone else says or thinks. 

But the greatest kindness of all is to remind myself that I didn’t get this far by neglecting to prepare. I have been so diligent in the past about devoting time to ‘equipment for my mind’.
With all that has happened and is happening with our lock down, I got distracted. And perhaps some of you have too?

So I’m sharing the above in case it helps : when it comes to my mind, I need to remember to keep ‘going to the mattresses’.
And I’m loving the benefits of doing so the last couple of days 😉

Starting over

I’ve sat staring at this page for about two hours now. I have started a blog post, only to then delete everything I have typed and revert to the blank page. I’ve allowed myself to be distracted by other incoming messages – perhaps it’s something that will provide a good topic to write on? Then I respond to the message, return here… and it begins again.

I love how it is so easy to take the blank page and fill it with words… decide against sharing those particular words or topics at the moment…. and just delete it all.
Like wiping the slate clean, which we all know is not applicable to life.

There are no do-overs. But we can always start over. Even in the troubling times we are now facing, world wide. Things have just got a little more complicated… more challenging.

And for me? I’ve grown too used to my comfort zones. My personal development, and growth – the self exploration and changes that needed to be made? All those things have been, and are still, painful and difficult.
What I didn’t realise though was how much my ‘security blanket’ and the general routines and stability around me, were actually helping me – in a way, protecting me.

And being thrown into the chaos of our strange, nonsensical, very strict lock down has not just caused me to stop and move a few steps back. It’s like a tornado arrived sent from the Wizard of Oz himself, lifted and tossed me around for a while, and then dumped me back in my own bed – but not to partake in life as I know it, for everything has changed so very much.

I’ve had to be stern with myself quite a lot lately – I’m a terrible disciplinarian… I’ve reduced myself to tears quite a few times 😛

Here’s what I am working on right now though : I need to stop. I need to start over.

No matter what this virus does, or what my government does, or what the people do in response to both – I NEED TO STOP.

I need to remember that my life still has purpose. That while my windows of opportunity seem to have been nailed shut, they’re not. I am just going to have to push against them a little harder. I mustn’t let the current circumstances limit my potential. 
I am still me.

Filled with purpose and potential.

A self-confessed prisoner of hope.

The circumstances have changed, but I cannot let them change me – not in the way they have been. I’ve worked too hard to be better!

I need to start seeing things differently. It starts with me!

Tessie Tribute

Last night, I tossed and turned in my bed. And it wasn’t because the dogs had taken over and there was a very small space for me to try and settle in. The memories that flooded me, of a beautiful soul lost to this world, my dear friend, Therese, were overwhelming. I smiled for the most part, while my throat burned and tears fell at the same time.

Lock down has had me in a confused state regarding days and dates. Each morning, I have to check on my cell phone to make sure I’m in the right space of time, so to speak. I didn’t check properly yesterday, but I knew it was Saturday.

I woke this morning, after eventually falling asleep sometime in the early hours, to a beautiful sunrise that I enjoyed with my coffee. The memories still flooded me as I sipped and relished in the beauty in the sky, and the ache in my heart was so real that it felt new, like I was living in that exact moment that they told me you were gone all over again.

It turns out that our sub-conscious mind is sometimes a lot stronger than we think or know – but then again, that’s sort of the point of ‘sub-conscious’, isn’t it? I came inside to make my second cup of coffee, and checked my phone for messages and emails. And I noticed the date. 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