Vincent Ehindero Blogger Award

blog-awaard

 

I was nominated for the above award by a young lady named Chloe. I visited Chloe’s blog after Vincent Ehindero gave her a stellar recommendation.
What had impressed me most was her age! She’s only eleven years old.
When I was eleven, I loved writing too – but we didn’t have internet in those days. I somehow doubt, even if we did, that I would have had the courage to start a blog though! She describes herself as being a little….. energetic. That made me smile for sure. 😉
You should definitely stop by her lovely blog, especially if you enjoy poetry 😉

Thank you for the nomination, Chloe 🙂

The Rules:

1. Thank the person that nominated you with a link to their blog

2. Make a post of the award (with photo)

3. Post the rules

4. Ask 5-10 questions of your choice

5. Nominate 10-30 other bloggers (or more) and notify them.

6. Follow Vincent Ehindero @ vincentehindero.wordpress.com (to qualify for free blog promotion and shoutout) and more blogging opportunities

Here is my Q & A from Chloe : 

What’s the best thing you like about blogging? And your advice.

It’s a place to express my thoughts and feelings, and enables me to connect with others all over the world.
I guess my ‘advice’ would be to remember that even in the blogosphere, everyone has a right to their opinion, and that most times, if you don’t have anything nice to say, it may be better to say nothing at all 😉

Who is your favorite author?

I have no answer. Because I have so many, for so many different reasons 😉 As a child, my answer definitely would have been Enid Blyton 😉 (and my adult mind still escapes there sometimes) As I have got older, the world of books has opened up and my list of favourites has definitely grown.

What is that one thing you are very grateful for?

As cheesy as it sounds? My life. All of it. The ups and the downs, the good and the bad circumstances, the successes and the challenges. In the bad moments, I may scream into my pillow, or rant at the bathroom mirror… sometimes I even cry! But I am still VERY grateful for MY life, and the fact that I have it! ❤

Why do you blog?

Well…. why not? 😉

What is your favorite fragrance?

Another question with a multitude of answers. But I shall give you five since I ducked the favourite author question, ha ha ha! 😉
Vanilla
Freshly cut grass
Sandalwood
Pine needles
The ocean

Now unfortunately, as most of you will know from previous blog awards, I don’t nominate other blogs. I feel it’s a personal choice to participate, but also don’t want to put pressure on anyone 😉
IF you find the questions appealing though, then please DO participate… consider yourself nominated 😉 

  1. Is music a big part of your life? How/why? (this question inspired by this fantastic post on Letters to Pogue 😉 that you really should check out)
  2. Do you have a sweet tooth, or are you more of a savoury lover? (inspired by Granny1947’s love for Lindt dark chocolate 😉 Her blogs are amusing and informative – you should visit her too 😉 )
  3. What is your favourite way to boost your mood? (Holly’s question on her latest post – a great blog for tips and advice and general inspiration. Definitely worthy of a look see 😉 )
  4. What is something new that you would like to try out? (I keep thinking about Evan’s post on outdoor rock climbing! He has some other great blog posts as well, focusing on a motivational mindset, goals, and life in general 😉
  5. Do you have a hobby? What is it? Pictures please 😉 (This is just me being curious, ha ha ha!)

 

Here’s hoping everyone is well, and happy! Be safe, blogging friends!

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Loving and Living

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I saw this image on Facebook, and what struck me the most was ‘but with intention’.

According to Wikipedia, ”Intention is a mental state that represents a commitment to carrying out an action or actions in the future. Intention involves mental activities such as planning and forethought.”.

I remember reading once that living our lives with intention means to live life ‘on purpose’. Not just on auto-pilot. To actually take responsibility for ‘us’ in the sense of throwing out what we have been taught (discarding the book of ‘rules’) and making our very own decisions, choices, changes.
A lot of business blogs will tell you that in this day and age with so much advancement, the surest way to get left behind and ‘kill your business potential’ is to use the words,
”We’ve always done it this way.”

This can be true for our personal lives too. We get taught to do things a certain way from young, and they become ‘something we just do’, pretty much forever.
Please don’t misunderstand – there are some traditions that are very worthy of continuance.
But there are many things that become habitual, and lose meaning altogether.

Habits that are constructive are good things – like perhaps introducing small daily habits to your schedule that have purpose, that are things that reflect your values. Maybe starting your day with ten minutes of meditation, or jotting down your goals for the day, or perhaps spending ten minutes stretching those sleepy muscles. 

But when I did some self reflecting regarding ‘living life intentionally’, I had to face some difficult truths. I discovered that there are areas in my life where I am pretty much living on auto-pilot : my daily routines had become predictable (before the pandemic), and although they have changed because of the pandemic, they’re now quite predictable, yet again. I find myself moving through each day, going through motions, and doing things without even really having to think about them.

Now… I DO know myself… and I know that when it comes to some aspects of life, I am like a child in that I really DO need the routines. This is not a bad thing by any means.
Where I have started feeling, and seeing, that it may be ‘bad’ is that it seems to be a pattern that traverses through most of my day.
And while ‘going through the motions and not needing to think’, I am truly missing out on ‘the more‘ that life has to offer. Especially the simple joys.

And you know me and my silly examples 😉 Well, here is one that I think is actually really good 😉
The pandemic has been good to my laundry basket 😛 I now only need to do a load of washing every second day 😉
But putting a load in the washing machine and waiting for it to finish, then lugging the basket outside to the washing line to hang it all out for a few hours, and then heading back out there to take it all off the washing line again…. this is all rather habitual – it is something I do without even thinking about it. In fact, it is so terribly done on auto pilot, that some days I forget that I have even put the washing on to start with! I have no recollection of adding the washing powder and fabric softener, turning and pressing buttons etc.
And many days, I shake my head and question my memory… wondering if I am already losing my mind. But it’s usually followed by a laugh and a shrug, and I just move on…. to the next thing… in auto pilot mode.
This is something rather trivial… but it brought to home the ‘living life on purpose/intentionally’ with regards to living my life better in order to feel more fulfilled, satisfied…. and finding the happiness in the simple things.
Because what happened was this :

I love butterflies. And not just for what they represent/the meaningful stories that surround their existence. I also happen to think that are amazingly beautiful little creatures. Sadly, for whatever reason, I don’t see them very often here where I live. Not real ones, anyway. I have plenty of decal ones, and printed pictures, stuck up in various places in my house though 😉 Even they make me happy when I see them.

I came in one day, after hanging up the washing, to find my son sitting in the lounge staring at the part of our small garden where I had been busy. He made a comment that had me running back outside as fast as my legs would take me. He said, ”You must be happy, Mom, having the butterflies to help you hang up the washing.”
But by the time I got to the washing line, they were gone.
He told me when I returned to the lounge that there had been three of them, two small ones and a larger one, with quite striking colours in their wings. He was genuinely surprised that I had missed them, because they were flying ‘right there’. 
As strange as it sounds to most of you, this really made my heart feel sad… in that moment, just because I had missed seeing a few of my ‘favourite things’. 

The self reflection brought this memory to the forefront of my mind, and I was sad all over again when I fully grasped what it meant.
Sometimes we get so caught up in life as we know it, tasks that need doing, getting through the day (most times on auto pilot), that we can so easily forget to be present. 
We definitely need to work on mindfulness – the greatest aspect of this ‘to simply be present”. 

I can’t help but wonder what else I have missed in all these days. Which is a sad thought, yes. And it would be incredibly devastating if I sat here ruminating about it.
Instead, I am choosing to be more mindful, and more present, in as many ways as I can and as often as I can. 
These days, hanging up the washing takes longer…. because I am slower to start 😉 I first look around me, at each tree and each bit of my garden – because there may be something incredible out there just waiting to brighten my day 😉

I’ll touch very briefly on the image I shared above – I know it doesn’t speak of LIVING intentionally – it instead calls for us to love intentionally.
I don’t know about you, but I sort of feel that we can apply the concepts of living intentionally to the aspect of loving in the same way. Being mindful of those around us, and being present with them.

I’ll end with an interesting heading that I found regarding loving others intentionally….

”Purposefully loving ourselves so that we can intentionally love others.”

Some food for thought in that statement alone 😉

Don’t forget to look for the butterflies 😉 and be well! ❤

Guilt and Wisdom

What’s your guilty pleasure?

I have many 😛 I do think that the advantage to the pandemic and lock down rules and regulations in various countries is that it has actually made us more appreciative of so many of the things that we have unintentionally been taking for granted.

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Photo credit : lifestylemaven.co.uk

It is ALWAYS a good idea for us to work on developing healthier eating habits and lifestyles. At the end of the day, we actually all have a reason to want to extend our lifespans, even if sometimes we feel blurry about it.

As with everything else in life, your food habits are choices that you make, and for the large part is something you can control. Financially, I can’t afford to eat the way I feel I should be…. but here’s the thing : it’s actually really that I can’t afford to eat the options I would prefer – I am not a big fan of vegetables, unless I can add in the extras to make them taste better 😛 But I digress….

You probably all know by now, especially if you have read my gravatar profile, that one of my guilty pleasures is cheesecake. 😉 I have been very conscious of my eating habits in the past six months, and find that (much to my amazement) I am making the better choices more easily. (I even ate spinach without cheese sauce yesterday 😛 )
Shortly before lock down, my food diary caused me distress each and every time I strayed. I was so disappointed in myself for eating that small bag of chips, or eating that bar of chocolate.

The pandemic has changed my way of thinking when it comes to that. It reminded me that life IS short, and I need to eat the cake. Not excessively, of course. But that I need to be a little kinder to myself in that regard. I am not a huge food failure just because I ate a cupcake on my daughters birthday. I’ve realised that those small treats every now and then need not make me feel so darn guilty. Although the term for them is still ‘guilty pleasures’, I need to start seeing them more as the pleasures that they are – yet another small sweet reward in the journey of life.

It’s a silly example, the one above…

But isn’t it strange the things we allow ourselves to carry excessive guilt for? 

My post today was actually sparked by this : I found myself feeling guilty about something this morning, and as I sat here dissecting it in my brain, sipping on my second cup of coffee, I realised that it is also a ‘silly’ guilt to carry.

Yesterday, I sent a lengthy email to a friend of mine, in response to some questions they had asked. (I always seem to reply at length, and often wonder if my friend ever regrets asking me anything 😛 Being brief with people I care about has never been a strong suit of mine 😛 They have to have the full outpouring of me! Ha ha ha!)
And yes, while I always feel guilty about the length of my emailed responses, it wasn’t the source of this mornings guilt.

This morning I was thinking about some ideas I had shared with my friend, and the strengths I felt I had in relation to those ideas. I spoke of being confident in certain areas that would make me ‘someone of substance’ to fulfill the ideas I had. I spoke of ‘knowing’ that there are many who I come into contact with who are positively affected by me, and actually seek me out.
And I found myself feeling guilty about that :O
I actually went back to my sent items, and reread that part of what I wrote.
Probably because my old self, and my old belief system – all the taught things that needed changing – were screaming at me that any form of saying anything positive about myself to someone else is being boastful and proud.
Exposure to the many people who had influence in my life for so long, who were filled with self-importance, had the effect on me that I became too afraid to even voice anything good about me out loud.

There was even a time where I would not dare to acknowledge that I even had strengths! 

Guilt can be a good thing. When it is in response to something ‘valid’. We typically experience it after doing something wrong, intentionally or accidentally, and in most cases your guilt is measured in relation to your own personal moral code. Guilt can help us to grow and mature. It’s actually rather productive in some cases, because if we see it for what it is, and are prepared to work towards righting the wrong, or seeing the wrong in us, then we are able to make the decisions to learn from the errors and apologise, or make the changes necessary to elicit a different response in future situations that are similar.

I found 5 really great tips to help with dealing with ‘guilt’. And I am going to share number 5 with you here, because I truly feel it is the most important one of all – to me, anyway.

5. Recognize that no one is perfect.

Not even our friends or family members who appear to lead perfect, guilt-free lives. Striving for perfection in any part of our lives is a recipe for failure, since it can never be attained.

We all make mistakes and many of us go down a path in our lives that can make us feel guilty later on, when we finally realize our mistake. The key, however, is to realize the mistake and accept that you’re only human. Don’t engage in days, weeks or months of self-blame — battering your self-esteem because you should’ve known, should’ve acted differently, or should’ve been an ideal person. You’re not, and neither am I. That’s just life.

Guilt is one of those emotions that we feel is telling us something important. Be aware that not every emotion, and certainly not every guilty feeling, is a rational one that has a purpose. Focus on the guilt that causes loved ones or friends harm. And remember to be skeptical the next time you feel guilty – is it trying to teach you something rational and helpful about your behavior, or is it just an emotional, irrational response to a situation? The answer to that question will be your first step to helping you better cope with guilt in the future.

To read the full article, please go here.

And in closing, I want to share the conclusion I came to regarding the guilt I was feeling and processing on coffee number two 😉

While I need to never lose the awareness, and continue working, at not being boastful or proud….
While I need to have the courage to acknowledge my weaknesses and work on them in order to experience growth in those areas too….
I also need to stop feeling so guilty and ashamed when I voice the strengths within me.
A healthy balance is always good : with food…. and with the things that we carry guilt for.

It’s a difficult one… one we probably all struggle with.

So above all, for me personally? My key word in all of this?
Wisdom.
In all things.

But for today? Mostly in this! 😉

 

Soul Food

I read a saying the other day that gave me cause to pause. It said, ”Feeding the body is how we survive, feeding the soul is how we thrive.”
Who doesn’t want to thrive? To develop well, prosper, flourish? We all desire it one way or another, and what better way to achieve it than by making sure that the diet we have our souls on is one of nourishment?
I saw something else that indicated that if we do things to feed our souls and not our ego’s, only then will we be truly happy.
Then I found the following concept to be rather interesting, and true, when reflecting on situations in my own life : ”What you feed your soul is what you harvest with your actions.”

And all these little things were inspired by Soul Food, in a way… so I needed to re-blog this post – I hope you enjoy reading it as much as what I did.
I think I’ll go outside and stare at the trees for a bit now 😉

Letters To Pogue

Dear Pogue,

I was thinking how much I had just enjoyed riding my motorbike in the sunshine. I rode through miles of countryside and even saw a kite hoovering above the road. As I reflected I said to myself: “This is Soul Food”, which may have been an expression that I had just invented, but hey, it so described what had just happened. If it didn’t exist before, move over Wikipedia.

Your soul is the essence of who you truly are, it is timeless, ageless and eternal.

Muses From A Mystic

But what is Soul Food and does one’s soul even need feeding? After all, you and I are agreed we are souls having a human experience, are we not? Yet the world is full of people who go seeking spiritual experiences. And it’s not just a bunch of people who attend a so called “place of worship” on a…

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Can you change it?

I have never viewed myself as a control freak. In actual fact, my history with narcissism has meant that I have always been the one who has been controlled. And sadly that took me into adulthood, and created a form of ‘inability to make decisions on my own’. Which in itself was terribly destructive – some people will help you make choices that are beneficial to only them, and not you.

There were so many issues that were borne of my childhood, and resulting adulthood, that I certainly kept my therapist busy. 😛  But eventually, because I was willing, small steps became giant leaps and I grew into a ‘newer, better’ version of ME. I also worked really hard on accepting the responsibility of being in control OF ME, and ended up even having to take a course in decision making – something that comes so naturally in others, and yet something that I simply couldn’t grasp on my own. And I haven’t stopped growing, because life keeps teaching me and I am very willing to learn, even though it sometimes hurts.

I do know that there are many things that I cannot control – and I think that the past 80+ days have caused far more frustration than what they should have. As mentioned in a previous post, have continuously reminded myself that I can only control MY reactions and emotions to what is going on around me. But for some reason, I remain frustrated.

I was called on recently to ‘assist’ a couple who had decided to part ways. Except that I am friendly with them both, and so while I am always honest and will offer my opinions when asked, I don’t like to get involved at times like these. But they both asked. Under our current restrictions, I am still not able to ‘work’, or help others, as I would like to – I prefer personal interaction, one on one. But (once again, thanks to the beauty of world wide web inventions) I was able to do the next best thing. I did a video call with each of them, individually. The end result, sadly, is that they will not be getting back together. Because, they both agree, that the love is gone. Add to that a multitude of other things (including that they both want completely different things for their lives) and we all realised that it was never going to work.

But I was reminded of something of great importance to me personally.

THIS MAY NOT BE APPLICABLE TO YOU – this is all my personal experiences and journey, and perhaps food for thought for you.

I hopped on here, to write this blog post, and decided to pop in and check on a blogging friend. I was surprised to find the same sort of theme. And it made me want to share this even more.

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The words in this picture used to be me.

Up until about five years ago, I complained, a lot! Kid whining, instead of adult wining 😛 😉 

There were times where my complaints were valid though – like the time my entire town was without water for five whole days. By the third day, I was having to buy expensive bottled water, and use it to flush the toilet – and our municipalities and water workers were giving us no indication of how much longer things would be that way. Yes, my household adjusted – we took bucket showers, and used the basin spillage for the loos, wherever possible. I put buckets outside, just in case it rained. I didn’t let it devastate us completely – but I complained about the expense, and the lack of response from those who were in control. Something in me says though that I really shouldn’t have complained at all because it was out of my control and so complaining was futile.
But there ARE times where just being able to voice our complaint about certain circumstances bring a form of release.
And, sorry guys, I AM human, after all 😛

The problem came in where I complained about a lot of things that I ACTUALLY could have changed. Things I did have a semblance of control over. Now let me tell you, THAT is futile! 

I spent an entire year, at one stage, complaining about someone I had viewed as a close friend, and yet had not bothered to reach out to me – I complained about her neglect, and her lack of caring about how I was. I pretty much complained every time someone mentioned her name, or I saw something that reminded me of her. I was hurt and angry. And I made sure to voice it. But I never voiced it to her. I never told her how I felt. I DIDN’T REACH OUT! I just complained, and gleaned sympathy from others, which sort of became a driving force for more complaining.
Two years later, I actually sent her a message and organised a coffee date, and spent the first twenty minutes of that coffee date, apologising.

Because in my learning, and in my growing, it hit me that I hadn’t bothered to try and change things. I hadn’t bothered to reach out to her either. Complaints may have carried a small amount of weight and validity IF I had reached out more than once, and she had just blatantly ignored me. But I was so caught up in me, myself and I, that I had not once considered sending the first message.

I am no longer that way. I learned from the experience. I worked on ME and effected CHANGES IN ME, and so now I am different. 

It’s very easy to place blame on other peoples shoulders. It’s very easy to knit pick their actions. It’s very easy to see the weaknesses in others. It’s VERY DIFFICULT to do the same with ourselves. But oh so necessary if we want to grow into the next, and better, version of ourselves.

There will always be hope, so long as you are willing to try. And willing to see that perhaps there is something within you that needs work.

I was asked the other day, ”What’s with this being ‘the next best version of yourself?’ Aren’t you happy with who you are?”

I smiled.

I am happy with me. Sometimes, I may still do or say things that cause me to be a little bit disappointed in me, but I have the tools to effect change, and I work through those moments, and do better.
What I have discovered for me PERSONALLY, on MY journey that I am on?
Every little bit of growth and new realisation in an area of personal development? It unlocks something new in me. Each one seems to unlock a new gift/reward. It not only benefits me as a person, but takes me to a new level, and opens up a new window for me. I used to just stare at the closed door – I personally wasted far too much time doing that. The open windows are bringing freshness and newness and light.
So yes, I am happy with me.
But there is so much more potential to unlock. And who doesn’t like a gift/reward? 

Survive… an emotional rant of sorts

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Photo credit : strictlymotivationalquotes.wordpress.com

The last two weeks seem to have flown by. There has not been a lot of productivity within them for me. The message in the picture above is one of great value, for we all know that time is the one thing that we cannot retrieve once it has gone.

For some, passing time in the best possible way is simply curling up in a chair with a good book – for others it involves physical busyness.
Both are correct. It’s about what matters to you the most.

For me the past two weeks? It has been consumed with ‘survival’. I’ve struggled through the most horrific physical pain due to a tooth abscess unlike any other I have ever experienced before. And that pain came after the visit to the dentist, and an attempt to treat it, and the filling of a prescription for strong antibiotics and painkillers. Thankfully, the dentist managed to solve all the issues on Friday. But it took a full three days thereafter for me to recover physically – from an exhaustion point of view.

Survival has been a theme the past two weeks though. And Covid19 itself has not been an issue. Things in my country are unhealthy – and the virus is but the tip of an iceberg that will destroy many ships before this is over. I will not be sharing details or news articles or facts – or any of the destruction I am seeing happen.

My personal social media has been void of all of it.

Because people are on the edge already. I choose not to be part of the overwhelming problem. And I find it frustrating that I cannot be part of the solution either, simply because everything that is happening is completely out of my control.

I have tried to comfort myself, and remind myself daily, that the only thing I can control is my actions, my responses, my emotions, my part that I play where I am right now. 
do know myself well enough to know that the exhaustion and physical ill health makes ‘everything seem worse’ to my heart and mind.
But as I sit here, pretty much pain free (other than a twinge of a sinus headache forming) and fairly well rested? I feel just as frustrated and overwhelmed and sad and burdened as what I did a week ago. As what I have over the past few weeks, watching the devastation around me – happening to people that I am connected to, even if just as acquaintances.

In a country where desperation has marred us for far too many years, circumstances have become even more desperate. In a country where crime and corruption has surpassed most others in the world, it has reached an even more alarming level. I can’t even find the words in my heart or my head to describe it all. And when I do talk about it to the few that I am close with, the advice is always the same : ”It’s not your burden to carry.”

I hear. I know. I even understand that. It is still extremely difficult to just only feel heavy concern for my children and I. I know a line needs to be drawn… but how.

I have had the training, I have done the research and I personally know a partial solution that may make these circumstances ever so slightly easier. (And right now, even that ever so slightly could make a huge difference.)
But I can’t do that either. And this is something I WILL share and reveal…. 
Not to create panic and a sense of hopelessness, but to help put our current situation into perspective in a small way.

When I was in my twenties, I used to joke that by age 40 (I am older than that now!) I would be living overseas in a cabin in the woods, preferably near a forest and a waterfall. Fairly isolated. But I knew, even then, that ‘no man is an island’ and that for the majority of us, human contact/physical presence is essential in some form. So part of the joke/dream was always this : there would be a small town nearby, and I would visit it once a week for the day, to get supplies, enjoy a coffee and a chat at the local, and just be around people.

Our country is currently in the longest recorded lock down IN THE WORLD. It has been declared invalid and unconstitutional – but nothing is being done.
The part I need to share is this : in the beginning, phone calls, online chats and video calls were enough. (And as much as it’s a horror when it fails, I will forever be grateful for technology!) So please don’t get me wrong and think that I am only seeing the problems and am ungrateful for the gifts.

But we are now on day 76 – SEVENTY SIX DAYS – of not being allowed to visit our friends or family. Even lingering too long in one spot in your car (like perhaps trying to sit and watch the ocean) is not allowed. Our beaches are still closed.
Coupled with all the other crazy rules and regulations, people are becoming depressed on levels unlike anything I have ever seen before. And I hope that when this is over, that I never have to see it again.

I am longer afraid of the virus.

Many, in sheer desperation, have rebelled. Thankfully, they have not been caught. And the difference after just an hour with their nearest and dearest is evident in their mindsets. I have continued to follow the rules because of my children. I love my children dearly, and although being cooped up together has been challenging, we’ve only experienced the usual minor bickering – and the sibling rivalry levels have remained the same. I am very thankful for that too. The three of us still have a great glue 😉

If you get caught breaking lock down regulations (being in a house that is not your own)….
You not only receive a ludicrous financial fine – you also get a criminal record.

I just want to sit in the same room as one of my nearest and dearest and have a cup of coffee and good conversation in their physical presence. 76 days, and no end in sight.

But I want to leave you with this …

Yes, I am overwhelmed and frustrated. I am sad and angry. I am stressed and worried. I am probably every negative emotion I can even think of right now. There are moments in the day where I feel I am teetering on an edge that is about to break off and just take me.

And yet….

At the same time, there is a flame that flickers within me. The winds of circumstance have blown heavy and hard, and it just refuses to die. There’s darkness that keeps telling me to just give up, but it continues to flicker. They say fear shouts, but terror whispers. My eardrums hurt from both.
That flicker remains. It is that strong.

My greatest lesson in all of this? It IS possible to feel all the negative, but still know that it’s not hopeless. 

As a young lady, when needing to come up with a handle for a website, I chose ‘Prisoner of Hope’. Perhaps I spoke that into being, who knows?

But dear friends, while I ask that you think of each and every person living here in South Africa (and spare a thought for me too, of course 😉 ) I also ask that you take a moment and remind yourself that there IS always hope. 

May your flickering flames burn a little brighter 😉