Fabulous Fun

Things have just been way too serious since this pandemic started! The stress of it all is affecting everyone, even those who will tell you that it’s not.
It IS possible to be ‘okay’ – have an inner peace and joy – but still feel the stress. No one is entirely immune.

But as with everything else in life, our attitudes play a big role in how okay we stay despite the circumstances.

I don’t know if you have ever experienced it, but I’ll share this anyway….
I had four days in a row (my son has just reminded me that they weren’t quite in a row, but spanned 7 days instead… it probably just felt like in a row ๐Ÿ˜› ) where something went wrong on each day : my car needs repairs again, my microwave decided it was retiring, my vacuum cleaner finally gave up, and my daughter’s school bag decided to be like my bank account – broke ๐Ÿ˜›
Each day, I did a great job of dealing with these things. I took them in my stride, didn’t get too upset, had a great attitude towards them.

Last night they hit me all at once. It was like this sudden hard downpour that came out of nowhere, and I just felt so darn sorry for myself! Ha ha! It was short lived, and probably mostly from frustration and exhaustion because yesterday was a busy day, but it happened.

And I went with it. I had my ‘good cry’, and then blew my nose and washed my face. I grabbed myself a ‘comfort snack’ from the kitchen and climbed into bed. I forced myself to dwell on all I have to be grateful for – to not allow my brain to ‘go there’/ think about the minor ‘disasters’.

When my teenage daughter came through to put her phone on charge because it was time for her to go to bed, and sighed out loud, ”I’m so glad it’s Friday tomorrow”, I smiled.
In my head, I told myself this : ”You are going to make it not only a fabulous Friday, but a fun one too. No matter what, you have to laugh, silly girl!”

I’ve been up and about for three hours, and so far so good ๐Ÿ˜› (And I’ve even left the house! ๐Ÿ˜› )

So I thought I’d share two bits of Friday fun with you ๐Ÿ˜‰

This was my Facebook post – not intended to offend anyone, but I think it’s pretty darn funny… (no idea who to credit for the image, as it was in my memories as a re-share from five years ago)

And then I saw another image on Facebook (again, no idea who to credit) that I will be sharing with my kids (and you) because….
Sometimes my children will ask me to do something for them – something they are quite capable of doing for themselves – and I’ll be busy with something else and usually tell them, ”I’m not your maid or your servant. I’m busy.” It’s never said in a malicious way though – my tone is always a little bit like ‘feigning shock’. The response is usually said in a teasing tone, ”Awww, but you’re my mom. It’s your job. The best job in the world, right?”
Most times, they end up doing it themselves because they know their request was ridiculous (Mommy, please bring me glass of water; Mommy, please pass me my phone, I’m too lazy to get up; Moooooom…. please come here….. now that you’re here can you please pass me xyz).
Sometimes I humour them, because it really isn’t inconvenient, and they do little things for me as well, that I am perfectly capable of doing for myself too! ๐Ÿ˜‰
So I saw this image this morning, and it is SO applicable to one of the things that go with ‘my job’:

I’m off to see what other fabulous and fun things I can find to do on this Friday! And who else I can share it with! Because being kind to others and brightening their day has a very positive effect on us too!

Let’s get out there and be the light ๐Ÿ˜‰ Happy Friday, and weekend, everyone! โค

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 ๐Ÿ˜›
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! ๐Ÿ˜›
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! ๐Ÿ˜› 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! ๐Ÿ˜›
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. ๐Ÿ˜› )
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 ๐Ÿ˜› )

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 positiveย 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 ๐Ÿ˜› , 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 ๐Ÿ˜› – 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. ๐Ÿ˜›

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 ๐Ÿ˜› (Stop worrying about whether there are vegetables in it, and just eat it! ๐Ÿ˜› )
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 ๐Ÿ˜›
Off to think a little more about how to balance this particular scale ๐Ÿ˜‰

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 ๐Ÿ˜›

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 ๐Ÿ˜› ) 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 ๐Ÿ˜›
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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

Belated Easter

They say that Easter is the only time it is safe to put all your eggs in one basket. Nope. Not true.
If I did that, in MY house, by the time I got to the basket there probably wouldn’t even be one left for me. ๐Ÿ˜›

This is not because my children are selfish. Or because they don’t care about their mom. (In fact, my daughter will tell me it is because she cares, and is trying to help me lose weight ๐Ÿ˜› )
It is simply because, well, they love chocolate.
And they know their mom – if it’s left lying around, it’s for us – if mom wanted it for herself, she would have hidden it ๐Ÿ˜›

Something was missing for me this Easter. By the time Sunday lunch rolled around, I felt a bit restless, trying to determine what it could be. (We celebrate Easter on Easter Sunday – the chocolate overload dished out in the morning, and a delicious roast dinner at lunchtime.)
I put the ‘missing part’ down to the fact that by the time Sunday rolled around I was utterly exhausted, after the events of the last few weeks, both emotional and physical. Pain didn’t help – I’d helped move my mothers care home and lifting boxes, carrying things etc. isn’t quite a great thing to be doing when you suffer from old back injuries.
Plus there was the fact that I had kicked my baby toe so hard, I broke it – but that just makes me laugh. I am a strange one, indeed!

It was only when my daughter came to me in the late afternoon, and made a comment, that I realised what had been missing!

Every Easter Sunday, for the past 20 years, I have woken up early in the morning, to write out clues and hide them with Easter eggs…. sending my children to hunt for their next dose of chocolate. As they have got older, I was able to have even more fun with it, because I could make the clues a bit more difficult. On Saturday afternoon, knowing how truly tired their mom was, both kids had approached me at different times, saying that they were really too old for it, and it wasn’t necessary. And so I didn’t give it another thought.

And then my daughter commented on Sunday afternoon, ”I actually missed the clues this morning – it wasn’t the same.”
And in that moment, I knew that my heart had missed doing it…. that that was the ‘missing part’ for me. Something so small, and seemingly insignificant. That actually had a great impact on all of us – because when I asked my son later if he had missed it too, he smiled and said that even though he knows he is an adult and too old for ‘his mom to be doing stuff like that’, it was weird to get all his share of the Easter eggs at once.

Things change with every year that rolls by. The pandemic brought VAST changes in just a year, that none of us saw coming. If you’re a believer, then you know that God never changes.

But I also realised something else that doesn’t change : the little things really DO make a difference! We need to keep doing them!

Here’s hoping you all had a really great Easter! โค

Men living in my house

In my house, Mr Nobody resides. Because apparently, nobody forgot to take their plate to the kitchen, and nobody missed the dustbin when they threw a paper away and it landed on the floor, and nobody spilled water on my bathroom floor…. to mention just a few ๐Ÿ˜›

But there is also a Mr Not Mine. He appears when I walk through and ask, ”Please can you bring that glass to the sink while I am doing dishes?”

”But Mom, it’s not mine!”

Sigh. The joys of parenthood… sometimes… ๐Ÿ˜‰

It always reminds me of this story though :

”There once was a king who decided to do a little experiment. He had a giant boulder put right in the middle of the street. He then hid near the boulder to see who, if anyone, would try to move it out of the way.

First, some wealthy merchants walked by. They walked around the boulder, complaining that the king hasnโ€™t been maintaining the roads very well.

Next, a peasant walked by, heading home with his arms full of food for his family. When he noticed the boulder, he put his groceries down and attempted to move it out of everyoneโ€™s way. It took him a while to move it,ย but he eventually succeeded.

After the peasant gathered up his groceries to carry on home, he noticed a bag lying in the middle of the road, just where the boulder once was. He opened the bag to find that it was stuffedย full of gold coins, along with a letter from the king saying that the bagโ€™s gold was a reward for the peasant to keep because he had taken the time and energy to move the boulder out of the road for the convenience of others who would be travelling the road in the future.”

There are actually two morals in this story – the first being the ‘obvious’….

Every obstacle we face offers us an opportunity to improve, thus providing us with a form of reward. If we are able to just push through, we will probably end up better off than what we were.

But the other moral is the one that my children remind me of ๐Ÿ˜›

Personal responsibility. Sometimes, we need to do the job/task, even if it’s not ours to do. If we see something, and we can do something about it? Then why not just do it, in order to help the next person (or in my case, help Mom ๐Ÿ˜› )
(And yes, this is not always applicable to every situation or circumstance in life… but it’s good to bear it in mind for the times that we could be applying it ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

And yes, I had a good giggle about these Mr’s that are living in my house, because I am supposed to be single ๐Ÿ˜› ๐Ÿ˜‰

Here’s hoping your challenges are few, but your rewards are great! โค

Can you name yourself?

self love

I shared the above picture on my Facebook wall yesterday. And my heart broke.

People I truly care about and love responded with a sad ‘like’ emoji. Four of them actually commented… and basically? Their reply was, ‘never’.

For those who responded, I did what I do best, and popped off messages of encouragement to remind them that they have worth.

But guys and girls, isn’t this such a tragic epidemic? Because so many of us can identify with it. If you had asked me six months ago, I am pretty sure my response would have been ‘never’ too.

You know something? I love my kids. I really do. It helps that I have kinda great ones ๐Ÿ˜› Thing is, that sometimes they don’t act or treat me in a way that they should – they ‘act out’ or make silly choices – and I get a little mad at them. But in every disciplinary action that I take, every word that I speak, I am alwaysย really clear :

”I love you no matter what. But what you just did/said, is not very like-able. So although I love you despite it, I really don’t like it.”

Why do we struggle so much to apply that to our lives?

I didn’t get that kind of unconditional love from my own mother. No! Please don’t feel sorry for me. And please understand that I don’t mean it as a disrespectful thing for her – because when I started accepting that she loved me the wayย she knew how, based on her belief systems and from her place of pain and bitterness, it made me see things a little differently. And it’s partly because of my experiences with her that I have been able to grow, and be a different kind of mother for my children. Moving on from that though, I want to say this :

(There’s a much better, and probably well-researched, way to get this message across. And there are more blog posts to grow from it. But sadly, I am pressed for time. So you’re just gonna have to get what’s in my heart for now.)

It doesn’t matter what mistakes you have made in your life. It doesn’t matter where you come from. It doesn’t matter if you made bad choices.ย 

It doesn’t matter who DIDN’T love you. It doesn’t matter what people have said about you.ย 

And I know it’s hard to break cycles of abuse, and switch off those repetitive voices that tell you that you’re a failure, worthless, unattractive.

The toughest is when you ‘make another mistake’, or just made your third bad choice this week and it’s only Tuesday! But guess what? That actually doesn’t matter either.

Here’s the thing : when our friends come to us, broken by the things listed above, we usually say something like, ‘My friend, don’t be so hard on yourself, cut yourself some slack, all is not lost, tomorrow is a new day’….

But we keep forgetting to apply it to ourselves.

So to everyone who is taking the time to read this :

PLEASE cut yourself some slack. Yes, maybe you need to make positive changes. Yes, maybe you’re making the same mistakes. Yes, maybe your choices need some guidance.

BUT…. those are just things that we need to ‘not like’, and work on.

They do not define you. YOU CAN STILL LOVE YOU!

Because you ARE worth it!

 

 

honest intentions are important

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

The relationship counselling really got me thinking.ย 

I have another good friend who has always been of the opinion that I will be single for the rest of my life because I am too honest, and there just isn’t enough mystery surrounding me to make me interesting – therefore, I am boring, and too upfront about where I stand regarding my feelings, and thus will never be a good partner for anybody. Since I have been single for a very long time, I am inclined to agree with her ๐Ÿ˜› If anyone shows any interest in me, I keep her well informed – especially if the feeling is mutual. And then when my feelings change, for whatever reason, I frustrate her by letting her know that too, which usually leads to me receiving a lecture along the lines of, “But don’t you think you could just say that you ….”

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

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

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

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

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

Uh oh!

My children overheard a lot of the conversation – and yesterdays outing involved a lot of relationship discussion among us. It was interesting to anyone who may have overheard – the opinions of a 14 year old, 21 year old and 41 year old, on relationships and marriage. It was also interesting to me, as their mother, to hear what my children had to say. Especially about me ๐Ÿ˜› ๐Ÿ˜‰

”Mommy might get married again one day, but I doubt it. I know she’s not looking for it, but I don’t think she’s totally against it.
Mom would make a good partner to someone, but they’d have to sleep on the floor because Toffee (dog) would be upset.
When we move out one day, Mom will love being on her own – I can picture her going out, and travelling, whenever she gets the money to.
(But my son says he’s never moving out ๐Ÿ˜› )
I can’t picture Mommy being affectionate with a man – I know she’s that type of person… but seeing her kiss someone ‘like that’ would just be weird.
Mom’s not into the way people date these days. She’s deep, and emotional. (me, deep….um okay?)”

There was a lot more. But last night, at suppertime, the conversation shifted to honesty and intentions, in general. And expectations. My son is still friends with a group of guys who’ve known each other since junior school. They’re all home from ‘varsity at the moment, and so his social life has picked up again. ๐Ÿ˜› He was filling us in on things that were happening within their group. With maturity has come change – and the dynamics of the friendships within the group have changed. He shared someone’s response to something that had happened, and I told him why it was a bad response – the intention was good, and the view was correct – but the way it was delivered was wrong.

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

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

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

Live life on purpose / intentionally.ย 

Be honest about your expectations.

And in your honesty, always be kind.

vulnerable bridges

It’s been an interesting 24 hours. I’ve felt quite overwhelmed, with good things, and bad things. And loadshedding (read the post here) continues…although not quite as bad as it was – we’re down to only being without power for four hours a day – I can handle that!
The funny thing is that even though we’re conscientious with the scheduled times and switch off plugs etc to prevent damage from power surges, the surprise cuts seem to have affected things somewhat. My modem appears to be confused – it seems to think its function is now that of a strobe light ๐Ÿ˜› It’s rather fun watching the internet light go on and off every minute or so. Green…red….green….red…. it’s a special kind of Christmas tree ๐Ÿ˜› adding holiday spirit to my home ๐Ÿ˜‰

With regards to yesterdays post :

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So I’ll explain it like this : I grew up in the church. And there were some who didn’t preach God, but showed me who He was. But from a little girl, through various stages in my life, I was emotionally, physically and sexually abused by people in the church who were in positions of leadership. I left in my late teens. I have returned many times, to different places, and found much of the same, sadly – except now it has added judgment for some of the bends in the road of my life.
It has been preached to me on numerous occasions that I am a dying ember – because to be a burning light, I need to be with the coals in the fire – a church. While I understand what they are saying, and agree that it is an amazing thing to worship with a group, I remain a dying ember. I guess? Well, in the churches opinion (and the opinion of most of my family members too). That’s where it all gets confusing, even for me…and we’re talking about me… so confusion reigns! ๐Ÿ˜›

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(there’s green light on the modem, so I’m hitting publish! ๐Ÿ˜› ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

teaching learning moments

Yes, the pictures above ARE ME! (I usually avoid sneaky captures, so this is a rare moment ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) What I am doing here, however, is not rare.

On this particular day about a month ago, I had collected three girls (one being my daughter) from school, and taken them to the dance studio they are all a part of. I’d been rushing around for two hours prior, and was desperate to relieve my bladder, so I accompanied them inside (okay, so me going inside with them IS rare – keep reading ๐Ÿ˜‰ ).

The conversation in the car had been centered around a particular teacher, who had left them feeling rather uninspired and completely demotivated for the upcoming exam period. They needed to vent and have their own discussion, and so I didn’t interrupt. But I listened – partly because other than driving, there wasn’t much else Iย could do!

While I was in the bathroom and thinking about what had transpired in the car (because a bathroom is a place that inspires great thought), I remembered a story about a similar type of teacher that we had had when I was in high school. There was also a lesson in there, so I decided to share. Upon entering the room, the audience had grown and now there were two other younger beings, as well as the assistant dance teacher present. (The assistant dance teacher is the ”capture culprit”.)

To my daughters horror (oh the shame, my mother speaks, uttered by most teenage girls her age) I opened my mouth and began to recount what I remembered. I know it doesn’t look like it from the pictures, but they did all laugh with me at the end, including my kid ๐Ÿ˜‰ I don’t know who it was who commented how lucky my daughter is to have a mom that is not only good at story telling, but is such an inspiration. Her reply was, “Yeah, well try living with it.ย Every moment is a teaching moment.” This was followed with a roll of her eyes – and then everyone was rushing about getting ready because their class was about to start.

I’ll admit it. I was a little disappointed with her reaction, and her comment. But it wasn’t new to me. I also know that she really didn’t mean any disrespect , nor was there the intention of emotional harm. I know this, because I know her.ย She’s often frustrated with me, and queries, “Why does everythingย have to be a teaching moment with you?” We had a long conversation about it a couple of weeks ago. I understand her frustration – she’s 14, and I am ‘the mother’. At 14, any instruction offered by those in authority (even when intended to help, inspire or uplift) is always taken as if it truly is a bitter pill. And since my daughter simply doesn’t swallow pills (we’ve tried in jam, cheese, chocolate, yoghurt – that small thing simply isn’t going down her throat) it’s a little more difficult with her.

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Photo credit : Facebook

(Ah yes, teenagers! Don’t get me wrong – she’s a great kid. But she’s still growing, and tends to be a little more defiant when it comes to seeking out lessons to learn. But then again, look how long it’s taken me!)

And she’s sort of right. Because I suppose there comes a time when itย can get really annoying. She has also pointed out to me that I am ‘worse’ these past few years when it comes to teaching moments.

I think that this may be because in the past few years I have opened myself up to experiencing moreย learning moments. As I have mentioned in many previous posts, something has shifted. And although this process is painful, it’s bringing with it a lot of very positive outcomes. It’s changing my character, for the better.

While the wordย purposeย is inclined to draw our focus to goal-based achievements – the type where we set a target that is usually ‘verb’ orientated (get a promotion at work, gain new customers, publish a book) – I have allowed myself to broaden my thinking ๐Ÿ˜‰ Yes! Goal-based achievements are important. They are long term, future focused and give us a direction in which to head, often with aย  tangible result.

But what about the other types of goals? While those achievements are great, if they never happen inย your life it doesn’t mean that you lived a life without purpose, or that you somehow failed to achieve in your journey.

I have many ‘verb based goals’ and, truth be told, I happen to be falling behind. Tomorrow is not promised and I may never reach them. This thought is a little bit frustrating for me. BUT…

I am already aligned with the greatest purpose of all that I can hope to achieve when I choose to act in kindness, compassion and love. This ‘personal purpose’, while it is based on verbs, may not always have a visible outcome. I may not see the end results. I won’t always know if I was able to help guide someone, or influence them in a positive way. I won’t always know if I helped others change the course of their lives to a better direction, or whether my smile that day was the one thing that changed their mind about taking their own life. I won’t always know.

But it won’t stop me from being kind, sharing a smile, showing compassion.

And in the same way, as frustrating as my teaching moments are, I won’t stop dishing them out.
(Although I may need to be a little more sensitive regarding their frequency ๐Ÿ˜› )

Most importantly of all, as painful as the learning moments are, I won’t stop being more aware of me and my surroundings in an effort to find them and determine what it is I need to know about them. Because it’s an ongoing process, and I am very aware of how it affects my emotional, intellectual, spiritual and physical health.

So, for me? I am quite happy being a goal setter, go getter, in matters pertaining to the heart. And who knows, the rest of it may just follow ๐Ÿ˜‰

Jail Bail?

Every now and then, I take a break from my usual blog posts and post something lighter and less inspiring, more unusual. This normally contains word definitions or idiom explanations – things of that nature. Today isn’t all that interesting, but I did find it kind of funny ๐Ÿ˜‰
Today was inspired by none other than my 14 year old daughter.

We all know what teens are like. They have their very own language – in fact each generation seems to ๐Ÿ˜›

Each country too, as a matter of fact. It’s no surprise then that words and expressions used in different countries are, well, different. So I can’t claim what I am about to share next as a guide to ‘teen speak’.
(Interestingly enough, my son’s teen speak was similar to what I grew up with, carrying the same definitions. My, how times have changed in the last seven years!!! Enter my daughter. ๐Ÿ˜› )

We got out the car at a local store, and she exclaimed, ”Oh my word, Mom! I need to bail!”

Entering the store, I asked, “Who you hiding from?”

I turned around and was greeted with a blank stare.

A little further into the store, I asked, “Why did you need to bail from the car so fast?”

The total look of confusion on her face told me we weren’t talking about the same thing!

In ‘my days’, bail was pretty much defined asย I need to go; bounce; take off.ย 
My usual go to place when it comes to trying to find the more trendy meanings of words is the Urban Dictionary (although I find the language inappropriate a lot of the time). After checking it now, I see it wouldn’t have helped me this time though anyway since it seems to be in line with my definition. Therefore not cool. Not trendy. “Way back when you were a teen, Mom….”
(It really wasn’tย that long ago ๐Ÿ˜› )

Seeing her confusion, I naturally asked, “Okay. What does bail mean to you kids then?”

She shushed me, blushed (the cute guy nearby had turned to look our way) and pulled me to a quieter corner of the store. There she stammered out,
“Well…uh… it means to…um….you know? When your undies get…um…..and you need to…um….”

From that completely unhelpful explanation, I somehow got the drift of what she was saying. So I whispered back, “You mean when you get a wedgie and you need to pull your panties back where they belong?” She nodded, shrugged her shoulders, and replied with,

“Yeah, you know, bail.”

I think I am going to have a tough time understanding this new teen speak of our local kids! ๐Ÿ˜› ๐Ÿ˜‰