Are you hoarding it?

One of my happy places is being given the opportunity to read to a child / children.

For my daughter’s fifth birthday (eleven years ago, where has the time gone?!?), I really didn’t have a whole lot of money (not much has changed πŸ˜› ), but wanted her to have a party. And so I decided to put my happy place to good use. I threw her a Cinderella party, and we played ‘pass the slipper’ (a plastic bling-ed up little girls high heel). But only after I had gathered the children around to read them the story of Cinderella.
(Yes, there were boys at the party, but I didn’t hear a single one of them complain πŸ˜‰ There was, after all, cake πŸ˜› )

Because of the age group, the parents stayed for the party. That was the day that I discovered that my happy place was not just a place – but a gifting of mine! That I definitely had a talent. Every single parent at the party approached me at some stage during the party to compliment me on my ‘story delivery’. The most surprising compliment came from a man! He said, ”Meg, I’ve always known you to be expressive – but oh man! You even had me mesmerised by the story. I know it well, because my daughter requests it often. I’ll never be able to read it like you can though!”

I’ve mentioned before, in a blog post from the past, that delightful movie called ”You’ve Got Mail”!
In the movie, Meg Ryan owns a bookstore called ‘The Shop Around the Corner’. And it’s the most exquisite little bookstore! Because she has a time set when the children can come, and she reads to them! She even dresses up to do so! I look nothing like that Meg, but this Meg would love to have that bookstore and do the exact same thing!

My daughter gave me the privilege of allowing me to read to her right up until she was eleven years old. People called me ridiculous, because no one could call me, visit me, or take me out between 6:30 and 7:30pm for many years. That was ‘my’ reading time – precious moments spent, reading to my daughter, sharing my love for books and, well, my love for reading.
It was very much the same thing with my son. And both my ‘children’ (now nearly 16 and 23) still spend hours reading.

Am I sharing this with you in order to brag? To ‘toot my own horn’? Nope. I am actually sharing it because it’s something I consider an ‘epic fail’ on my part… and although the ‘fail’ may not be the same, perhaps you find yourself in a similar predicament today.

I randomly came across these two images this morning, one directly after the other :

A talent is usually defined as a ‘natural aptitude or skill’. Aptitude? Well, that is the natural ability to excel in a certain area.

When I saw those two images, the first thing that sprang to mind was, ”When last did you read to a child, Meg?”
(Yes, apparently I am also talented when it comes to talking to myself πŸ˜› )

And I instantly felt sad because this is the one thing I am fully confident in : I am an extremely expressive person who loves reading and takes great pleasure in sharing all of that with others by reading out loud to them. And I’m not doing it. (Quite possibly because I lack full confidence in other areas that may be hindering this one – to mention one : having someone video me and posting it online.)
I simply have to work on this! It’s important… and not just to me!

Because, for whoever is reading this and nodding their head :

Imagine how boring and awful this world would be if every person who had a talent kept it to themselves? We’d have no musicians, no books to read, no Netflix πŸ˜› (the list goes on and on)

I am sure there are many things you can do well. But what is that one thing that you do the best? Are you sharing it with the world? Or is something holding you back?

I still don’t know how I am going to drown out the noise, conquer my fears, overcome the challenges in order to use this truly beautiful talent I have! (Suggestions are welcome πŸ˜‰ They might not work because of where I live – but who knows where your suggestion might send my mind to thinking πŸ˜‰ )

What I do know is this : We ALL need to find a way to use the talent we have been given.

In a world where we can be anything, the saying goes that we should be ‘kind’. And sometimes being kind to others is as simple as sharing our gift with them! ❀

The Glowing Effect

I had a telephone conversation yesterday with someone who, like me, is facing an onslaught of ‘troubles’ and starting to feel like disappointments and problems are becoming far too familiar, as each hour of the day ticks by. We both laughed as we said at the very same time, ”I just feel like I am so over it all, but quitting isn’t an option.”

We continued to chat, at length, and I thought I’d share a summary of sorts with you all.

I don’t know if you have ever seen the meme about temptation, but it goes like this :

”Lead me not into temptation… I know the way already!” πŸ˜›

And the thing is that no matter where we’re at spiritually, we ALL know about temptation… and how easy it is to sometimes give in. (Deny what I have said, but please remember this the next time you know you are not supposed to have that slice of chocolate cake, but you simply must and so you eat it anyway. πŸ˜› )
Temptation doesn’t always refer to ‘disastrous consequences’.

When we are faced with those times where everything is just ‘oh so hard’ and we really don’t see an end in sight (because perhaps we have no control over the situation to start with) it’s not hard to get tempted to allow our brains to start considering ‘quitting’ – over it all / I give up.

It’s in these moments that we have to choose to do possibly one of the bravest things we have ever done :
We have to not quit.

You may be thinking right now : but some things/situations need to be ‘quit’, and you know that, so what are you on about….

I’m on about this : No matter what, please don’t quit on YOURSELF! Yes, some things need to be ‘quit’ … but YOU don’t!

There is a BIG world out there, made up of a large amount of people, and each and every one is a unique individual with their very own talents, strengths, weaknesses… and responses.
Someone who can identify with me, understand me, be helped or positively affected by me? That someone may not respond to you in the same way. HOWEVER, there may be someone who just cannot hear what I say, but when they deal with you, you stir a fire in their soul.

Discouragement holds us back. Disappointment keeps us stuck. The chaos in this broken world hurts us and sometimes brings us to a full stop.

But if you are reading this? If you are still here? There’s purpose FOR YOU! There’s a reason you still exist, and it isn’t to quit!

You are here because someone out there NEEDS YOU!

You might even be the only one who they can accept kindness from; you might be the only one who makes them truly feel loved; you might be the only one who helps their heart fully appreciate that they have value.

Too often, we get so caught up in our ‘negative attributes’ that we forget the good things we have to offer this world.

So when everyone else keeps shouting about everything that is wrong with you, PLEASE shout to yourself about what is RIGHT about you.

I’m off to try and be a glimmer of light in someone else’s world today – because it always adds some light to mine.
To quote the first part of a famous quote by Martin Luther King Jr. :
”Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that…..”

And so when everything feels like it’s out of control, and darkness seems to be looming….
Let us not quit! Let us instead become glimmers of light!
It doesn’t just affect others, it begins to have a ‘glowing’ effect on us too πŸ˜‰

Rocking out, and Eating Elephants

Do you know the song, Party Rock Anthem?

(I am very familiar with a variety of party/dance music – and not just because I have a teenage daughter. The familiarity dates back to when she was a little girl. She’s a dancer, and thankfully their dancing teacher always finds ‘clean’ versions of songs for them to dance to, even now. Strangely enough, my whole life, this type of music has always been a genre that has ‘got me going’. If my house needs a good clean? Dance music will be blaring. Even though I am in my early forties πŸ˜› )

Back to the song I mentioned above…
There’s a repetitive line in it that says : ”Everyday I’m shuffling”.
Well, for me, I’m on the hunt for clown shoes, because I feel like ‘Everyday I’m JUGGLING’.
On any given day there are so many balls in my air space, all at once, that it takes a very large amount of effort for me to keep them there. I’d love to say that I am always 100% successful…. but like with any good circus clown, at least one needs to drop at some time, or else it wouldn’t be funny, right? πŸ˜›

I am relieved that most times, when I drop a ball, it isn’t too much of an issue. It’s minor things I may have let slip, or forgotten – no harm, no foul. Yesterday I dropped a ball though that could have been really serious. Thankfully, somehow, there was a Plan B (I still don’t know how there was a Plan B, because I had completely missed Plan A!!!) and so what could have been a serious problem, was just a minor bump in the road.

Last night, as my son was ‘passing through my space’, and heading to the shower, he made a comment about what had happened – which is odd because I had not said that I was open to discussion about the issue πŸ˜›
(In actual fact, when I briefly relayed a summary of events to the kids, I pretty much warned them that I was feeling super sensitive about it all, and so anything they were planning to talk about, even if unrelated, that they knew would add to my stressed out mind should probably be put on hold till today…. unless it was an emergency.)

And yet my son’s comment didn’t stress me out. It was one of those things that makes you stop and think, ”Who are you, and what have you done with my kid?” πŸ˜›
And it took my thoughts a little further too πŸ˜‰

I am definitely ‘pro having an attitude of gratitude’, and even though some days are truly landslide days, I still find something to be grateful for.
I am also a ‘little things’ person – I notice and appreciate the small things, and I believe they do count.
It’s definitely a ‘lifestyle’ for me – a mindset that I have that I do without even knowing that I do it half the time.

And yet, surprisingly, there are still things that I ‘forget’. Little things that I see, without seeing.
(Kind of like when I bump into someone who says to me, ”I’ve driven past you about four times this week, and I’ve waved every time. You looked right at me, but didn’t wave back.”
And I have to tell them, ”I probably wasn’t actually looking at you – I was probably watching all the cars where you were, trying to anticipate their next move for my safety sake. I’m so sorry…. if I had seen you, I promise I would have waved.” And there is always a nod of understanding and a sympathetic comment, and off we go. Because where I live, driving on our roads is treacherous, and we all know it.)

So… sometimes it is only after a time of TRUE and QUIET reflection on events that happen, that I am able to fully SEE what I already saw in the moment. You’d think I’d do better at seeing these things, because a lot of times they’re actually kind of repetitive… but each time, there is a new ‘take away’, in some way, and so I can’t help but wonder if perhaps it’s not so much about the repetition / learning the lesson of seeing them every time ‘properly’, but more about the additional small things that get added along the way.

Desmond Tutu said something once, regarding ‘big’ problems :
”How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”
The meaning behind it is that pretty much most things in life that seem daunting or overwhelming can usually be accomplished or ‘solved’ by going slowly and taking on things a little bit at a time. But of course, this is not always perfect, because hey, as we all know, some things just aren’t in our control – no matter how much time we spend chewing πŸ˜‰
But I still agree with him for the most part, if there are no control issues.

That said…

When you are presented with more than one elephant, as in a few of them? Let’s face it, that means more than one bite at a time…. and you just aren’t going to have the space in your stomach for those first bites, no matter how much you love to eat πŸ˜›
And you ARE going to feel overwhelmed and out of sorts.
Probably even more so when you gain a new elephant the next day!
(Isn’t life just the funniest thing, the way everything seems to ‘go wrong’ at once?)

But last night, I was reminded yet again :

I might feel like a clown (minus the shoes because I can’t find them) in a room full of elephants, juggling far too many balls to probably be considered ‘healthy’, and I might have the odd moment where I actually end up dropping a ball (which I do not find funny at all, sigh – until much later on πŸ˜› )

BUT there’s a bigger picture, and my hope and my faith (which may be different to yours, and that is okay) sometimes works behind the scenes, and I get blindsided by goodness, especially when I had NO plan to start with.

I’ll leave you with this little note :

It is always good to have a plan – to be prepared, to have a goal with a strategic step-by-step to get you there – and to have a Plan B… C… D – because you never know what’s going to work, right?
But somedays? Somedays you just need to breathe, trust, let go, and see what happens (quote by Mandy Hale)…. especially on the days where you forgot to make a Plan A!!!
And on those days? When things turn out okay even though you dropped the ball?


Don’t forget to breathe out a huge sigh of gratitude! It will give you a reason to smile at least πŸ˜‰


Follow up post – matters!

I started writing this post yesterday. And then, due to a chain of events beyond my control, I had to stop. By the time 7pm rolled around, I was just too exhausted to ‘be present’, and so here I am…. editing as I go…. finishing what I started πŸ˜‰

On Wednesday morning, I wrote and published this post.
By lunchtime, in my mind, there was so much that could be added to it, so much more that needed explaining properly, the realisation that I had probably not expressed myself correctly.
And as I lay in bed in the dark, trying to still my mind and drift off to the place where all my dreams come true, ( gee, I wonder why πŸ˜› ) I concluded that the post should probably be deleted, for a multitude of reasons.

It wasn’t written properly – my posts are very seldom what could be called well-researched though : most of the time, I just speak from my heart.
It would probably be misunderstood because it may have come across as a contradiction to the other things I say.
It probably wasn’t ‘clear enough’ in general – no one would relate in any way, and the lack of clarity (and seeming contradictions) would probably unleash quiet judgements and disappointments in me/my character.

I woke in the morning, determined to log on and delete the post – hoping that those who had already read it would still visit my blog again sometime.
But first, I needed coffee. And I needed to attend to the ‘Mom’ side of life – so I got my daughter going, got myself ready, took the girls to school (my daughter and her friend), put a load of washing on and gave the dogs their breakfast.

I logged on to WordPress, and found a comment on my post that had me reeling, in a good way. From a regular reader whose blog can be found here.
Read. Love. Livethe above is why your words meant so very much to me.
AND…
Your words reminded me of something that has become so very special to me in the last few months – words from another dear friend and blogger :
If you helped one person from their brokenness and despair to the place where they realise their potential your life would be a life well lived.”
(I actually have this printed out and stuck on my bedside cabinet so that it is the last thing I see at night, and the first thing I see in the morning.)
Those words have come to mean so much more to me though than just ‘brokenness and despair”.

They are a constant reminder to me that I cannot change ‘the world’ for everyone, but I might be able to help make it a little easier for at least one person!
That I may not be able to make a difference to a multitude, but I can make a difference to someone, and that matters!

And so my post remained, because Read. Love. Live commented – and the real shocker for me was that they found it the most relatable post thus far!
I probably could have deleted it… because I had my ONE person. But I decided to let it stay, just in case there was someone else… and there was. And then I thought, ”Well, who knows… maybe in a few months someone else will stumble upon it and need it, so I’ll just leave it right where it is.”

Some feedback on all the ”perhaps” parts of the original post :

I reached out to two of my ‘close circle’ – who both live about twenty minutes away from me, but I don’t get to see them very often because our schedules seldom coincide. Ha ha ha! (And of course, there’s currently a pandemic!)

But I reached out to them realistically.
I knew neither one could actually practically help me. I also knew that they probably couldn’t help offer solutions simply because the things I have going on have not been a part of their own personal life experiences.
So there was no expectation that if they responded, things would magically disappear or change.
And I also didn’t expect ‘proper’ responses – because I understand ‘life happens’, being busy with commitments happens and has no reflection on whether or not they are ‘making time for me and love me’.

These two friends are a mother and daughter. They have been in my life for 24 years now. And yes, we have that friendship where we can go a month without talking, and you’d never say it when we do get together, or get to chat – other than the amount of time we spend together because hey, a lot happens in a month! πŸ˜›

The ‘mother’ friend is in her early sixties. She’s been like a mother to me, but most of all, like a friend. She’s young for her age πŸ˜‰ In fact, I often ‘forget’ how old she really is, until things happen with her health, or in the case of the pandemic, and someone has to remind me that it’s ‘because she is older now, you know’. On the odd occasion when we get to catch up, she’ll leave her house at 10am, telling her husband she is coming to me… and he’ll ask, ”What is there for supper, because I KNOW you won’t be home in time!” HA HA HA! And he’s right…. she usually leaves at about 8pm that night!
I sent her a message asking if she was free for a call, and she ended up calling me instead of replying. We spoke for just under two hours. We were apparently both on downhills, and we were both cross with each other for not letting the other one know πŸ˜› Neither of us could help each other with the issues at hand in any way, other than this : genuine sadness about each other’s situations, and then a brief trip down memory lane with a good few giggles.
And the agreement at the end of our chat was that we both felt like we had just had a great big hug.

The ‘daughter’ friend is in her late twenties now – I met her when she was just five years old! Now she’s married, and has a little three year old boy of her own, who my teenage daughter adores. The ‘daughter’ friend is like the sister I never had – and like me, has two much older brothers and so she feels the same way about me. She’s my baby sister, and I am her big sister – I don’t think I ever fully appreciated my role in that until a month ago when she phoned me for advice, and I gave her my honest opinion based on personal experience, and she replied with, ”Well then that just confirms for me what I already knew – thank you. You are someone whose opinion I really value, and I know I can trust what you are saying. It’s so nice having a big sister to talk to!”
I had NOT reached out to her, because she was at work. Her mom got to her first, and that evening I got a surprise voice note from her! It made me laugh out loud :
”If Blake wasn’t sick at the moment, I’d have stopped at your house on my way home and slapped you upside the head! WHY haven’t you told me everything that has been going on? Mom filled me in, and I know I can’t help with the issues, but what CAN I do?”
A few voice notes later, reminding me of things from the past that had ‘worked out’, and made me a better person, and how hope truly never leaves this silly old heart of mine which is something she admires, and well? It helped me get off my butt on that downhill so that at least I was standing! ❀

And those conversations were exactly what I needed for yesterday’s chain of events when I got knocked down – because I just got straight back up again πŸ˜‰
(In my mind there is a medley right now…. ”I get knocked down; I’m still standing; I will survive) πŸ˜› πŸ˜‰

Interestingly enough, the song I Will Survive was originally released a couple of months after I was born πŸ˜‰ And I just copied the link and the last three letters in it are my short version for MY name! meg! (I’m still processing that little titbit! πŸ˜› )

I’ll end with these words that I have read a few times in the last few days, by a lady named Rachel Martin :

”Your day doesn’t have to be perfect to have meaning!
Showing up matters
Giving matters
Trying matters
Loving matters
Being there matters
Perfection doesn’t matter
YOU MATTER.”

Something I need to learn

I’ve been a bit out of sorts the last few days. Maybe you know the place I am talking about… where everything, and nothing, is actually wrong. Well, not exactly ‘nothing’, but they’re things you can’t control and so sitting and being worried or stressed because of them is a futile exercise.
But then something happens that you did have control of, and now there is stress because maybe you made a mistake, or maybe it’s left you questioning something about yourself…
And suddenly ‘everything and nothing’ affect you.

I can’t pinpoint the particular thing, or moment… but the last few days have been a slow descent, on my buttocks, over the rocky terrain of a hill – going down.

But if anyone saw me, or spoke to me, I’d appear calm, cool and collected – as if nothing was actually wrong….
Kind of like this image I saw on Pinterest πŸ˜›

My son picked up on it only yesterday. And commented, ”Mom, what’s wrong? You’re not yourself.”
And I listed a few things – he’s nearly 23, and it always amazes me that my ‘kid’ is so darn grown up!
When I ran out of breath, and just ended up sighing out loud, ”and….”, and not saying anymore, he responded with,
”Why didn’t you say anything?”
My reply? ”You didn’t ask.”

In saying the above, it sounds like I am a person who bottles up my feelings, right? Like I am someone who missed the value of the lesson, ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’.
Neither one is true…. and if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that I am actually quite an ‘open’ person – sometimes even to the point of overshare πŸ˜›

The thing is, I am one of those people that observe the question ‘how are you’ as someone merely being polite. Because isn’t it just a standard greeting?
”Hi! How are you?”
I’ll admit that there are times where I use it as such.
And most of us have accustomed ourselves to the standard reply – the polite response – the one that says something along the lines of : ” good, thanks, and you?”; ”fine, thanks. You?”
You know what I mean.

Sometimes though, there is a different response. And not just from friends and family. There have been times where I have done the polite thing with an employee at a local store, or an old school acquaintance that I may have bumped into. And what should have been a polite two minute exchange turns into a thirty minute conversation.
This doesn’t irritate me in the least bit, even if it makes me late for whatever else I am supposed to be doing.

Because that is MY nature. It’s a piece of who I am, and I believe it is a part of my purpose.
If YOU are a person who gets annoyed by it, it doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you! So PLEASE don’t take this as a personal dig, or beat yourself up over it, or feel guilty. NOT AT ALL.

WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT! Remember? And the way that you are different? There’s very likely something in that difference that gives YOU value where I am lacking – that brings value to those around you. I am NOT better than you. I am NOT right, and you are wrong. We’re just different.

There are many people who do the polite thing, and ask how I am… and there are many times that I give the generic, required, polite response. Not because there is anything wrong with the person asking… but most times it’s because I can see they are in a hurry, or experiencing their own stress, and I just don’t want to burden them. But perhaps in this, I am also wrong. Maybe they have been sent my way so that I can ‘burden’ them – because perhaps they have a solution, or a word of encouragement. Perhaps saying the words out loud to them will help me in processing what is actually happening in my situation, and I’ll provide myself with my own solution?

There are so many questions in life that are very difficult to answer ‘correctly’. It’s not easy making the ‘right decisions’. Choices are sometimes limited, and none of the options are ideal. We stumble, we fall, we have moments (or days) where we feel out of sorts.

MY lesson in this blog post? Something that I have realised that I need to ‘learn’?

I don’t have many people in my life that I can go to. My circle is very small. BUT!!! I HAVE a circle! I have got a handful of people who truly love me – even though I am different to them, and don’t always do things the way they want me to. I expect them to let me know when something is wrong – I want them to call on me when they need something, even if it’s just a pep talk!
I don’t want them to wait until I ask how they are – I want them to reach out and tell me how they are, how I can help, what they need!

AND I NEED TO LEARN TO APPLY THAT IN MY LIFE... and maybe I can save my butt from that rough terrain of the downhill πŸ˜›
Maybe I feel so overwhelmed because I am so stuck in the problem, that I forget the lifelines of people who do love me that I have been given. They may not have a solution. They may not be able to help. But they might just remind me of the beauty of the stars in a very dark night sky.

No, I won’t be telling the public people who treat me with politeness. No, I won’t be posting my problems on social media. Because it is not who I am.
And again, there’s nothing wrong with taking that approach! I have seen many people helped because they had the courage to do so! (And it isn’t easy baring your soul to the world! It’s definitely a brave thing to do!)

But perhaps I need to start giving the people I love so very much the opportunity to love me back in all the ways that I love them?

Sometimes give them a Voluntary WHY

I have made so many mistakes along the way as a mother that there are days I really stop and wonder how it is that I actually have really good kids. Of course, on those days, it’s usually because I am comparing them to someone else’s kids – the ones who are NOT as ‘good’ as mine πŸ˜›
And yet, at the same time, I also know that there is NO comparison – my children are individuals in their own right. And in the same way that I lack perfection as a woman, and a mother, they also have areas that need improving. Such is life!

There are also the days where I find myself shaking my head, and wondering, where did I go wrong?
And no one else’s children feature on those days! It’s all about mine! πŸ˜›
Yesterday was one of those days.

For those of you who don’t know, I need to clarify : they are my children because I gave birth to them and love them unconditionally – but they are no longer ‘children’. My son will be 23 in two months time (he still lives with us, having completed his university degree at the end of last year). My daughter will be 16 next month! (Oh gosh! My baby girl!!!!)
My son is in that stage of life where he seems to have forgotten how ‘argumentative and silly’ he was as a teen – often asking me, ‘Was I like that?’ and then apologising profusely when I confirm that he was indeed! It always makes me smile. These are usually occasions where my daughter is NOT smiling though, because he has just told her how silly she is being, and that she’s ‘not always right’ etc.
Being an adult has also changed my son’s views somewhat, and I have found that in some areas he has suddenly matured – it still shocks me! πŸ˜› Which means that there is also the need for damage control when he assumes the ‘male adult/father figure’ role in the house – it’s usually done in way of protection of me though… things like : ”Don’t be cheeky to Mommy”, ”Your room is a mess, and those dishes need to come to the sink”, ‘Mommy just cleaned the kitchen, come and wipe your mess off the counter”, ”I don’t think you should be watching that, you’d better check with Mom”, ”You may not watch ‘insert You Tuber’s name here’ latest video – it’s really not for you”!
Teenage girls do not take kindly to authoritative big brothers – I know… because it’s how I grew up! Which unfortunately puts me in a rather difficult position – I appreciate and value my son’s input, but completely identify and feel sympathy for my daughter! I so remember what it was like!

Somehow, we make it through every conflict without too much damage. And I am grateful for that. And most days, I am in awe as to how we all still live together like we do!
What completely boggles my mind is their love for each other – although no one had better ever ask them to use ‘the L word’ when it comes to their sibling! πŸ˜›
My jaw ‘drops to the floor’… every day! Because every day there will be some minor infraction from one or the other that causes raised voices and conflict between them. The result is always the same – my daughter will stomp off to her room, muttering under her breath, and I will hear my son exclaiming out loud in the lounge area, ”So freaking dumb”!
And here’s the jaw drop part : within a couple of hours, one of them will approach the other one. Not to apologise though. The approach will be because they have a YouTuber that they both are fond of, and something will have happened, and there is suddenly this need to share.
(Sharing with me is usually a lengthy process, because they first have to remind me why I know the person – what they have told me or shown me in the past etc. πŸ˜› )
And the sharing is often mutual agreement, and some laughter, and it’s like there was no conflict in our house at all prior to ‘this moment’ that they are having. This also always makes me smile.
And every couple of months, there will be a Friday or Saturday night where I find them both in the lounge area, watching movies that they have both seen far too many times from years ago. And my daughter will always say, ”We’re having a sibling bonding night. Don’t get too excited – we still don’t like each other.” To which my son will always have a comedic response, and my daughter will throw a piece of popcorn at him…. and my smile becomes a chuckle as I retreat and allow them to have time ‘alone’. Because I really do feel that, when all jokes are put aside, these occasional evenings matter and are important for the two of them. (Some days there will actually be the threat of murder – I need them to have these moments to hopefully help prevent follow through πŸ˜› )

And now that you have some history about my ‘imperfect children’…. here’s why yesterday had me asking ‘WHERE DID I GO WRONG?’

We all know what ‘positive affirmations’ are, right? They’re pretty much positiveΒ statements that can help you to challenge and overcome self-sabotaging and negative thoughts. They’re to help you create a positive mental attitude to empower you.
About three years ago, I decided I wanted to help my kids a little more than I already was just by being their mom πŸ˜› , and so I started regularly seeking out, and printing out, selected positive quotes and affirmative statements for them. They each have about ten printed pages – my son’s is a collage on his bedroom cupboard, which he sees when he wakes up in the morning; my daughter chose for hers to be behind her bedroom door so that every time she opens and closes it, she sees them.

Yesterday, I was in the kitchen, and my son was in the lounge (it’s open plan), and my daughter came through and announced, ”We all need to start doing positive affirmations every day.”
I don’t know who had the more ‘horrified and shocked’ expression on their face – me, or my son.
He was the first to reply though.
”What do you think Mommy has been doing by sticking up new pages for us every now and then?”
My daughter shrugged her shoulders and replied, ”I thought it was just stuff she wanted us to have.”

And my first reaction (in my head) was, ”How on earth can she think that? Where did I go wrong? How did I fail at this?” And it hit me! I DID GO WRONG! This WAS on me!

The intentions behind what I had done were pretty fantastic, I think πŸ˜› – I had created a ‘visual board’ of positivity for them in an effort to empower and inspire them. When I invaded their space with the first page, I had told them to be sure to read it every day. But I had forgotten to fully explain. To give them a WHY.
A lengthy conversation followed and it was beneficial to us all, in many ways. What surprised me was a statement my daughter made when my son commented that she should have asked why I wanted them to read it every day, because clearly she didn’t understand. She replied, quite confidently, ”I didn’t ask because Mommy usually tells us, in great detail, what we need to know.” And she rolled her eyes. πŸ˜›

We all know the infamous ‘Because I said so’. I use it sometimes with my kids, when the situation calls for it and they dare to ask why πŸ˜› (Stop worrying about whether there are vegetables in it, and just eat it! πŸ˜› )
But I remember what that answer was like too.
Eventually, I stopped asking why – and I actually missed out. Because I think I could have learned even more, and saved myself some troubles, if I had just asked the right people ‘why’ growing up.
But I also think that as adults, and as parents, there are times where we should not wait for the why to be asked – perhaps if we would just voluntarily speak out small doses of the wisdom we have, perhaps then our children won’t experience feeling ‘as lost’ as they sometimes do.

I think that like with most things in life, it’s about balance.
We all want our kids to have enquiring minds and look for the answers to the ‘why’s’ and not be afraid to ask – but at the same time, we want them to be informed and equipped enough that in some areas they do not need to ask because the why has already been voluntarily explained ahead of time.

And the parenthood lesson I was forced to learn? I need to stop telling my kids so much in detail, so that they are forced to ask WHY more often πŸ˜›
Off to think a little more about how to balance this particular scale πŸ˜‰

My Tuesday Tummy

I read an article this morning that made me feel like I had just consumed a slice of the very best cheesecake in the world…
In fact I muttered out loud to my sleeping dogs, ”Ohhhh! That is just delicious!”
(The only reply I got was a gentle snore from the smaller of the two!)

The article itself is a familiar theme of living life intentionally and the small, productive moments that add up, and matter!
And that is something that nourishes me in every way!

The article ended with this, and I felt I needed to repeat it here :

We want to change the world. Maybe even save it. Focus on your moments. Small actions, consistently executed over time, can create remarkable change. You can begin creating your extraordinary life one remarkable, intentional, productive moment at a time.Β 

If you are interested in the full article, you can read it here!

And now, if you’ll please excuse me, I am going to find joy and pleasure in hanging my washing on the line πŸ˜‰

Mother’s Day

Today is Mother’s Day. The UK celebrates it on a different day, and I often miss that one – and so, today, I will wish my stepmother, even though it’s ‘not applicable’ in their country for today. She became ‘Mum’ the year I turned eighteen. And unlike some horror stories with stepparents, she truly has been an absolute treasure in my life. I am very grateful for Mum, and her unconditional love. It hasn’t always been easy, but it definitely has been worth it.

I often feel that I fall short as a ‘Mum’. And to be entirely honest, I probably do in some ways. But isn’t that just life? We never get it 100% perfect.
When it comes to being human, and being me, I am always striving to be a ‘better me than I was yesterday’. To do things differently, to be more aware of how I react, to be kinder, to be gentler etc. And all these things apply to my parenting skills too. I just keep trying. Trial and error. What works, and what doesn’t – especially with a teenage girl in the house πŸ˜›

My children and I are not a ‘normal family’. Our relationship is a different dynamic in many ways – for example, we pretty much almost never eat a meal together. This is usually due to different timetables that can’t be changed, but it is what it is.

At the end of the day, even though my children are not really children anymore, my commitment to them remains the same in a lot of ways. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they will always be open and honest with me (even when my teen daughter knows it might get her into trouble, which it sometimes does πŸ˜› ) and that neither one of them will ever have cause to pause and wonder if I love them. And for me, those are the most important things and worthy of celebration!
We certainly are not a perfect family though, and we fail each other – like would you believe that my kids have never made me a cup of coffee or tea? Shocking, I know πŸ˜›
We bicker about little things, and in all honesty, there have been times where those little things have escalated quickly and we’ve almost gone to war. But we always get through it. And although there may be slight injuries, we heal… and we continue to forge forward, together.

And I love that about us.

So here’s to Mother’s Day, and single parenthood, and our ‘not normal/traditional’ little family.

I hope you all have an exceptional day celebrating!

To end off, if you’d like a laugh, please visit this old blog post… the video is for those who suffer from overprotective dad syndrome, which is rather applicable to me since I am both parents πŸ˜‰

What do you say to yourself?

My car has gone in this morning to my local mechanic for some rather major repairs that simply had to be done. I am told that when I get it back, it will be like driving a new car. I sure hope so! I also really hope I will get it back today as I am on Mom’s Taxi duty this evening, having made arrangements for all the taxi duties for the day.
The lady who runs his office for him is in her early fifties, and is one of those really attractive ladies who always looks ‘well put together’. I find it quite daunting being in her presence πŸ˜› But she’s a really great gal, and whenever I find myself there we always end up having lengthy conversations.

Last week I learned that she got divorced two years ago. So of course our lengthy conversation this time was pretty much based on ‘being single in our town’, and how important it is to have girl friends to hang out with, especially ones you can trust to ‘have your back’ if you do decide to venture out. She told me that she has a great lady to do stuff with, and that they’re always looking to add to their ‘girl’s group’. That they usually get together one night on the weekend just to alleviate any loneliness they may be experiencing, and have some good fun. She promised to let me know the next time they did anything, so that I could join them. And she messaged me the next day with an invite to a local craft brewery pub called Table 58, where they would be dining the following evening. Unfortunately, I had to decline as I had already committed to plans with my daughter.

This morning Leigh (the lady who works for the mechanic) was quite insistent that I need to join them tomorrow evening. They are having a braai at her friend’s house, with two other couples. She claimed that it would be rude of me to let her down two invites in a row πŸ˜›

Now if you don’t know what a braai is… it’s very similar to an American barbeque. It’s the same sort of concept where we grill/cook meat over an open fire. Most of these fires are wood-burning, and so if you visit here and someone asks you to come over and β€˜burn wood’ it may have two meanings: it could mean to either just sit and watch the flames and drink beer or brandy; but most times it means they’re inviting you to a braai, and you need to bring the meat you want to eat to be cooked on the fire for you. In 2016 I wrote a post mentioning some amusing and ‘odd’ things in my country, with the above braai explanation, and if you’re interested then you can read it here.

My response to her invite was, ”Maybe. I’ll see.” Which opened me up to some prodding from her side, and me inevitably blurting out, ”But I don’t know anyone else, and I will just be so awkward”. And she stared at me in amazement. The rest of the conversation pretty much centered around the following :

I am not a person who has an issue with doing things alone – going to the movies, going out to eat, going for coffee etc. I can stand up on stage and perform in front of an audience; I can address a large group of people without anxiety. Many of my friends say to me, ”I wish I could be as confident as you are.”
But when it comes to more intimate settings? That dreaded self doubt looms its ugly head and I struggle – as in, just thinking about it, makes my palms sweaty and anxiety creeps in.

And I laugh at myself. Every time.

We truly are our own worst enemies, and I know I am not alone when it comes to being critical of myself. I have learned over the last year (because I became curious about my silly reactions to the ‘more personal’ settings) that it has to do with self-compassion. Yes, that really is a thing. And the more I have learned about it, the more I realise that it certainly is a ‘failure’ of mine.
I have a more than generous portion of compassion, acceptance and patience…. with other people! Too often, I forget to apply these things TO MYSELF!
And I know I am not alone.

The strangest of all (or perhaps it’s a part of the application process) is that I still feel like a worthy soul, and I do not doubt that I am loved. Even with the self doubt saying things like, ”You won’t fit in; you don’t dress as well as they do; your make-up is shoddily applied in comparison; their figures are even better than yours and they’re older than you!”
At the same time as all those horribly negative thoughts were bouncing around my head, it didn’t make me feel like I had no value. So perhaps it’s not such a failure, right?

My neighbour came to fetch me, and we spoke about the invitation on the way home, and in the driveway when we got here. He listened, with a smile on his face, and in his 63-year-old wisdom said this to me, ”If you go to the braai, dressed like them and made up like them, would you be comfortable?”
Nope. I would not.
He then said this : ”You would feel just as awkward, and like you didn’t fit, because that isn’t you. Who you are, and the way you are, is what makes you beautiful. And you are a stunning woman! So you’re not ‘supermodel material’? If I was younger, I would still date you. Because you are not like them!”

He reminded me, yet again, that I am uniquely me – and I may not be to everyone’s taste in many ways, AND THAT IS OKAY!
People! Women and men! Be originally and unapologetically yourself! The only person you need to be better than is the person YOU were yesterday! An original is worth far more than a copy!
And each and every one of you has worth!

I will go to this braai tomorrow, in my jeans and sneakers. I will wear my smile (because it looks great on me πŸ˜‰ ) and my ‘slapped on make-up’ and just be myself. Because no one is better at being me than me. And I AM a beautiful me πŸ˜‰

Today’s Day

It would be remiss of me to not write a blog post about what day it is today. For it happens to be…

STAR WARS DAY

I was reminded of this by the above picture in a Facebook post that a friend of mine shared.

Star Wars was not a part of my childhood, Star Trek was – when I was able to sneakily watch episodes with my dad. (And oddly enough, as a little girl, I wanted to marry Captain Pickard and not Riker. πŸ˜› )

My father remarried the year I turned eighteen. I gained a British Mum, and four step siblings. I also gained Star Wars.

My stepbrother was in his teens – the only boy of the four – and I somehow doubt he was very amused by yet another female in the house when I went to visit. His amusement turned to horror when he discovered that his stepsister had never watched Star Wars.
”How did you get to be eighteen and you don’t know anything about it?”

He remedied that. Over and over. And over again.

In the month that I was with them, he and I had five (if I remember correctly) Star Wars movie marathons, because of course he had the VHS box set. And I loved every minute. This time, I chose Yoda (the little dude pictured above) as my husband πŸ˜›

Star Wars, for me, is not just about the movies. It’s about cherished moments spent with a ‘new sibling’ which gave us a common ground. (Our mutual love for Mr. Bean helped too!)

Now, if you haven’t watched Star Wars (and you’re HOW old?? πŸ˜› ) then you may not be familiar with one of the famous lines : May the Force be with you – now you see why ‘May the Fourth’ works so well πŸ˜‰

Interestingly enough though, β€œMay the Fourth be with you” was first used by Margaret Thatcher’s political party to congratulate her on her election on May 4th, 1979.

This morning, I think this was me….

I sure hope my coffee kicks in soon! πŸ˜›

If you want to read some great Star Wars quotes, you can take a gander here.
I’ll end with this quote : β€œMaster Yoda says I should be mindful of the future… but not at the expense of the moment.”
Qui Gon Jinn

May you all see the good in the moments of TODAY… and may the fourth be with you πŸ˜‰