Here’s what I am doing…

I’m playing KETCHUP…. πŸ˜›
(interesting to note that Ketchup here in South Africa is called Tomato Sauce, and I had to learn when I was younger that ketchup was referring to that condiment πŸ˜› Speaking American… you know πŸ˜‰ )

I am trying so hard to just catch up… on everything. Isn’t amazing how, if you let one small thing slide per day, it can get quite overwhelming?
And it’s not like I ‘put off for tomorrow what I could do today’…. I just couldn’t get to some things because my health needed me to rest….
And I am so far behind that I do not have my ducks in a row… in fact, I don’t even think I have ducks anymore πŸ˜›
(So please forgive me for falling behind on your blog posts… I promise I will get there πŸ˜‰ )

BUT…. I am still my cheerful self, and refuse to be stressed about what I simply cannot do right now, because I do not have full control, and am unable to control everything. One thing at a time (I did a blog post on this one before πŸ˜‰ ) – one hour at a time, one day at a time πŸ˜‰
Pretty much like being stoic – I had forgotten what that word meant… and have never really thought too much about where I am at regarding it….
There is a lot about stoicism that should be applied to our lives… and I read an interesting guest post on my friend, Evan’s, blog that you may want to check out πŸ˜‰

And the guest post took me to the guest site… and I really liked this particular post too πŸ˜‰ Which has some really great tips on living life deliberately, despite anxiety.

And I am going to end this post with a picture that appeared in my ‘memories’ on Facebook. It was a picture that I shared three years ago on there, and I am SO HAPPY to have had that memory pop up as a reminder :

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May you ALL be breathtaking this week! Much love sent out into the universe for you all. ❀

 

You need to quit

Not quite in keeping with the theme of my last few posts, right?
But please allow me to explain….

I still believe that we should not quit, or give up…. but am only adamant about this when it’s application is ‘for living’.Β 

As bad, or as good; as difficult or as easy; as sad or as happy – you have ONE life to live, and I encourage you to NEVER quit on it… or the people who care for you, love you, and who you (sometimes unknowingly) inspire and have a positive effect on.

But sometimes we need to ‘take stock’, and sometimes we need help from others, to help us discern which things IN our lives may need quitting.Β 

I was in a very abusive relationship – abusive inΒ every way.
By the end of the first year, I am told that the ‘light was gone’ from my eyes, and I know that although I was still in there, I was lost. Young, vulnerable, and lost.
And very much alone. Seemingly no way out. Everyone had turned their backs on me – most of my family had written me off and the general consensus was : ‘that’s who she chose, she made her bed, now she must lie in it’.
IT HURT!
But yes, I HAD chosen him – I just didn’t realise all that was involved when I made that choice.
And life sucked – I was miserable.
Someone showed me that I could make a new choice, and they offered me their help – and it opened the door for me to be able to leave. It took TEN YEARS!

BUT, if I hadn’t ‘quit that marriage’? I may not have had life now. And that’s the reality.
I HAD to give up, and quit, in order to live.

That example is a bit extreme, I know. But the important lesson from it is this :

Sometimes we need to shift our focus, and instead of growing our knowledge in the areas of ‘winning and having a happy and successful life’, we need to perhaps also concentrate on ways to grow in wisdom, and discernment.
To be honest with ourselves and ask the hard questions. To be honest enough to accept the difficult answers, and make the changes that we need to.

Sometimes we need others to help guide us. I am not saying that other people will always know what is best FOR YOU. But having another opinion, someone who has been there, perhaps someone a little wiser? That always helps us as far as perspective goes, and sometimes we need ‘a different opinion’ to get us on the right path – or perhaps their perspective will just confirm for us that the path we are on IS in fact the correct one.

I suppose you could say that another important skill in this life is this :

We need to know WHEN to quit, when to change direction, when to walk away from a toxic friendship or relationship (is it hurting you, are you hurting them, has it become unhealthy? etc), when to give up on something that isn’t working and move on.

When we ‘take stock’, it’s helpful to identify these things and quit/give up…

But just so we’re clear πŸ˜‰ :

NEVER GIVE UP… ON LIFE ITSELF!Β 

It’s tough but…

never give up

When I saw this, I just HAD to share it. I hope you’re singing along with me πŸ˜›

If you’re a regular reader, then you know that this is something I truly believe in – no, not the hokey pokey πŸ˜› I truly believe that we should NEVER give up. No matter what.
But as I have said before, my advantage seems to be that I am a ‘prisoner of hope’. There’s just something in me that refuses to lose hope altogether. And I am, always have been, and always will be, extremely grateful for that! I have been through some terrible times and terrible things, and if it wasn’t for this part of me, I wouldn’t be here to share things with you today.

Interestingly enough, although we should exercise it every day, today has been chosen as ‘Never Give Up Day’.

The honest truth about this is that it’s easier said than done, I know. Because sometimes the circumstances are not within our control, and sometimes we are just too overwhelmed.
But I ask you to try anyway. To just NOT give up.

A friend of mine is really battling depression at the moment. We were talking and she was explaining to me how bad it is for her right now. She commented that she nearly didn’t bother to answer my call – that it took a lot for her to ‘summon up the will to speak to me’. And my words to her were : ‘But you did. And that’s part of the battle won. And I am proud of you for fighting that feeling, for not giving in, and for taking my call.’
There was a slight change in her mood when she realised that she did have a small win under her belt. She hadn’t seen it until it had been pointed out… because sometimes it’s so dark where we are that we struggle to see.
(Which is why it is so important for us to recognise and encourage others with the things WE see in them – even if it’s just something small.)

As I mentioned in my previous post, sometimes we need to just take time – put everything on hold and be still, and rest, and allow ourselves to replenish body, mind and soul. It can help us to gain a new perspective, and find a better way forward, making a wise choice that we possibly hadn’t seen before.

It’s also important to remember that, in the words of Zig Ziglar, ‘motivation doesn’t last… neither does bathing…. that’s why we recommend it daily’.
In order to stay motivated, we need to work on it daily. And we all have different ways and things that motivate us. What is yours? Now carve out at least ten minutes a day, and get to it! πŸ˜‰

It has been said that one of the main reasons that people ‘give up’ is because they haven’t been honest… with themselves! They’ve never questioned the belief systems they have and why they have them, and so they haven’t been able to identify the ones that are actually limiting them. There are also other people’s expectations that drive us to not be honest with ourselves : is that how I really feel? is this what I really want? is this who I really am?
For many years, I struggled with my own limiting (and negatively incorrect) belief systems, and looking back now, I don’t really think I had ‘my own identity’. I completely exhausted myself just trying to do, feel and be what was expected of me – to live up to someone else’s expectations.
It’s been a long road with many uncomfortable curves and bumps along the way, and it’s been a lot of hard work. I STILL have to do the work, daily. There is no ‘quick fix’ on this journey. It takes time…. it’s still taking time…
And yet the small rewards and celebrations along the way make it bearable. And I just know that the bigger picture will be a stunning masterpiece!
And I think it is partly THAT that keeps me going!
Even if you start small, be honest WITH YOU today.Β 

And remember Albert Einstein… a pure genius!
His father said he was a failure. He only started talking at age 4. At 16, he failed his entrance exams to a school in Zurich.
I truly believe that Albert Einstein’s secret recipe for success was that HE NEVER GAVE UP!

May you, dear readers and friends, make the choice today to do the same and NEVER GIVE UP!Β 

 

Flourish

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I saw this picture a couple of days ago, and it made me giggle. My teenage daughter has a tendency to ‘take her time’, and I find myself saying, ‘Oh my gosh! Are we on a go slow here?’ quite a bit!

Her most recent ‘phase’ has me rather amused though. I am not sure how she does it (probably an app or something) because the words are not distorted at all, but she now listens to ‘slowed down’ songs. So she will take one of her hip hop numbers for dancing, and listen to it as a ballad. Her theory is that she has discovered that so many of them are ‘prettier’ when they’re slower.

On Friday, when I went to collect our bottled water for the next few days, the lady who owns the ‘water shop’ gave me a small gift. We have built a friendship of sorts over the past year, and every now and then we give something small for encouragement. So on Friday, she gave me a Kit Kat.
The Kit Kat slogan is ‘have a break, have a Kit Kat’.
(Although these days I feel more like a Bar One – for a 25 hour day πŸ˜› )
Her comment to me, when she handed it over, was ‘Don’t forget to have a break this weekend’.

And my thought process was this : Sometimes, having a break and just slowing down is necessary. It makes us ‘prettier’. I’ve even heard it said that slowing down sometimes can make you that much more successful in the long run.Β 
Because sometimes when we take the time to slow down, we’re also allowing ourselves the opportunity to ‘just be’, and maybe even ‘just think and ponder’. This can benefit us in so many ways – helping us get clarity in certain situations that we might find ourselves in; helping us not only get in touch with our emotions, but perhaps granting us the time to identify the ones that need to be dealt with and let go of; and ultimately helping us to make better decisions. Because if my mind isn’t racing, then I guess I am giving it time to absorb and assess and process.

I also can’t do anything I need to or want to, if I’m dead. (Now I know that I cannot control when that day will come – but I also need to be careful about contributing to bringing it about by NOT taking care of me.) Slowing down for a period of time every day gives my mind, soul AND body time to rejuvenate. I am here for a purpose, and I have many things that I still want to and need to do. But if I run myself ragged and forget to ‘slow down and rest’, then eventually it will start affecting my health. And what good will I be then?

There was a time where my attitude was, ‘there isn’t time for ‘me’. Slowing down is not an option’. I’ve had to learn that taking time for me is NOT a luxury, but a necessity.Β 

After all… I can’t pour from an empty cup.

So yesterday, when the wind dropped for a few hours and the sun was warm, I headed for my small garden. I do not have a green thumb, or a brown one… in fact, I am questioning whether or not I have a thumb at all when it comes to my garden. And yet I find it very therapeutic to be out there, in the dirt, pottering around. And I remembered something else while I was out there – I don’t remember who said it though – but here’s a reminder for the start of the new week for all of you :

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Photo credit : juliestuckey.com

Plea and please

The picture below is a photograph of my son and I, taken four years ago, on the evening of his final school dance. Many people have commented that he ‘looks a lot like me’. (I softly curled my hair for the occasion πŸ˜‰ )

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Although there is a resemblance in our appearance, it stops when it comes to height and body shape. He’s slouching a little in the picture, for Mom’s benefit πŸ˜› He’s just over six foot tall, and slender. I am a shorty, and rounder πŸ˜›

The similarities with us are not just physical – he seems to be very similar to me in a lot of other ways too. He has a kind and tender heart, a gentle spirit, and like his momma he can be quite sensitive. He and I are the ones who will sit and cry in a movie, or an episode of a series – not always out of sadness though. In fact, most times, if it’s heartwarming, it gets our tears πŸ˜‰ When we try to retell stories of acts of kindness, our voices wobble a little – and if it’s one of those ‘overwhelming type stories’, we’ll have to stop to try and ‘get a grip’ and prevent ourselves from crying.

We’re just too soft πŸ˜›

But I am proud of my young man, and who he has become. He may fail in some ways, and may be a bit of a slow starter in others – and yes, he still has his moments where he frustrates and irritates me, ha ha ha! BUT his good qualities FAR outweigh any bad, and I am very grateful for that!

One of the ways that he is VERY different to me though is when it comes to the social side of his personality. He’s great with the friends he has known since he was 13 – there is no struggle for him there. But he is, for the most part, shy and introverted. It takes him a while to come out of his shell around other people. (He partially struggles with self esteem.) And yet, like his mother πŸ˜‰ , heΒ doesn’t struggle to connect with his online friends. He met them through the world of online gaming, and soon they were social media friends, which means chatting and voice noting and connecting. And through all that, he has made good friends – friends he has never met in person. And I even ‘know’ a few of them – sometimes it feels like they are part of our ‘real world’ and have been to visit πŸ˜‰

SO…. why am I telling you all this?

Last night, my very precious ‘boy’ came to me, still in shock and unsure of how he felt. He had just received a message from one of his other friends to say that their ‘mutual friend’ had committed suicide on Saturday. She was only 18 – we had all ‘celebrated online’ on her 18th birthday this year.
We knew she was struggling with depression. We knew that she had started new medication earlier this year. We knew that a couple of weeks ago, things were bad for her and she was withdrawn.
But it still came as a shock.Β 
Because we also knew that we had all offered help, that she had reassured us that ‘it was okay’, that she had her meds. She never once told anyone that she wished for death.

I didn’t hug my son. He’s not one for physical affection, and I respect that.
But we talked. Briefly. And I made it clear that I am always available if he needs to chat – he can even wake me if I am sleeping.
Then I watched my young man as he left my room, shoulders stooped, heart hurting.
And I cried a little bit.

Preteens, Teens, Young Adults, Grown Ups – please hear the cry from my heart today :

Depression sometimes has a way of ‘creeping up on us’. In society today, it’s ‘common’ – and yet in some cases, there still seems to be a stigma attached to it.
If you think you may be suffering from it, or know that you are, please DO NOT BE ASHAMEDno matter who has tried to shame you for it.Β 
Please reach out and try to ask for help.
I know that sometimes we get to a place where we just can’t ask.
Please force yourself. And if you need to, then please force yourself to accept help.
Your life IS worth something.
YOU ARE WORTH SOMETHING!

Mean Girl Moment

Yesterday, I had to put my inner mean girl on time out.

I have a teenage daughter, and so a couple of years ago we watched the movie ‘Mean Girls’ together – no judgement, please πŸ˜›
There was much discussion before, during, and after the movie – and now sometimes we’ll refer to a particular behaviour or situation by saying, ‘Nope, don’t be a mean girl’!

Now, I’d like to say that I do not have a mean bone in my body – that I am ALWAYS kind and never cruel. I’d like to say it… but it wouldn’t be true.

But I really am not an unkind and cruel person.

Except to myself, sometimes.

And I know I am not alone. And that it’s not just a girl thing.
Each and every one of us are hard on ourselves at some stage or another, for a variety of reasons. It may be due to the past and limiting beliefs or words spoken over you; it may be due to your present situation and someone who perhaps said something; it may be due to ‘thoughts of the future’ that have overwhelmed you and suddenly make you feel ‘useless’. (I have also had to learn to correctly identify the moments where I should be hard on myself – because there are times when that is applicable too!)

But whatever the reason, we’ll turn that ‘mean girl’ behaviour on ourselves.

As we grow in grace (being merciful and charitable and kind), and focus on learning a ‘better way’ to deal with certain things, and start to be able to apply all these things more often, the ‘mean girl/boy’ moments become less frequent.

Because we need to learn how to show ourselves a little grace,Β even in a world where we are told that we are not good enough for whatever reasonΒ – the same way we would towards someone we love dearly and don’t want to see them tormenting themselves.
And it isn’t easy.

Yesterday, I overwhelmed myself – by myself. I was digging a hole with my thoughts, pondering all the wrong things – and instead of using the sand I was digging to create a new pile to get me out of the hole, I was sidestepping and spreading that sand everywhere…. and so my hole just kept getting deeper.

My response to it all was natural – I got even more frustrated, angry, and despondent. With myself. Sigh!Β 

The good news is this : there is always hope. Even when me is being mean to me πŸ˜›

Some days, reigning in our thought processes and changing them requires us to take action – and not just in our minds.
I looked in the mirror, and said out loud, ‘Mean girl, you need to go find something else to do.’
And then I sat down at my desk and grabbed a pen and paper.

I started to make a list of the little things – the GOOD things, the small achievements, the small victories. And then I started to dig a little deeper, and I looked back at my past – but only to see how far I have come. Here I was able to list ‘bigger things’. And you know where I ended up? Stuck in gratitude. And making a new list of those little, and big things (to me, the way I perceive them) of all that there is to be saying thank you for.

It sounds like such a silly thing – but you know what? It made me feel heaps better! And I climbed out of my hole πŸ˜‰

These ‘silly things’ make great (and healthy) coping mechanisms in life.

So if your mean girl/boy is telling you something today, and it’s making you feel downright rotten, then please take a moment and start making a little list of your own! Every little bit counts ❀

Sand bags

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Photo credit : portfoliocollection.com

 

I read a short story this morning, which was being applied to a particular aspect of life. But the more I thought about it, the more I realised how applicable it is to so many other pieces that make up our lives. It has a lot to do with ‘unpacking’ – determining false limitations and letting them go; tackling and dealing with negative words spoken over us; revisiting and pretty much performing a ‘redo’ regarding the past and the negative emotions it may have developed within us; stopping long enough to find release from all of that – including finding a way to move forward (and sometimes letting go of others who are destructive for us) within ourselves.

The story I read spoke of a particular journey – but as I mentioned above, it can apply to many aspects.

It likened the road we ‘need to travel’ to a hot air balloon – or more particularly, taking a ride in one. This is not something I have ever even considered attempting, and I can hear you shouting, ‘Oh my goodness, Meg, come on! You can’t be serious?! Where is your sense of adventure?’
Well, apparently my sense of adventure is also aging πŸ˜› There are some situations where I have discovered that I am developing a ‘fear of heights’. I can still manage an aeroplane really well though πŸ˜‰ My guess is that it has something to do with ‘how secure I feel’. I did NOT do very well walking a narrow path down a very steep cliff, a couple of years ago. And so skydiving and hot air balloons are not on my bucket list, I’m sort of sorry to say πŸ˜‰

But let’s get back to that hot air balloon ride….

If you know anything about them, you’ll know that before they get to take off and celebrate the sky, they are first weighted down with sand bags. The hot air is released into the balloon, and then one by one the sandbags are removed – thrown aside – in order for the balloon to ascend.

And so the story goes (and I think it was a story by Jean Keys, but I stand to be corrected) that each sand bag is representative of an obstacle we are facing. And as we start to identify, work through/deal with, and ultimately are able to throw that obstacle aside, we are one step closer to being able to soar in that particular area of our lives.

I loved that analogy, and so I thought I would share it. Here’s to ‘hot air balloon travel’ where we only need to soar in our hearts and minds πŸ˜‰ (because I don’t think I could do it with my body πŸ˜› )!

I’m hoping your week brings you opportunities to throw off some of those limitations πŸ˜‰