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 😛

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… 😉

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 hasn’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 everyone’s way. It took him a while to move it, 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 stuffed full of gold coins, along with a letter from the king saying that the bag’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 😛

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 😛 )
(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 😉 )

And yes, I had a good giggle about these Mr’s that are living in my house, because I am supposed to be single 😛 😉

Here’s hoping your challenges are few, but your rewards are great! ❤

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 😛 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 always 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 way 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. 

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

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. 

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 😛 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 😛 😉

”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 😛 )
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. 😛 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’t feel like it.

Live life on purpose / intentionally. 

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 😛 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 😛 adding holiday spirit to my home 😉

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. 

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, it 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. 
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. 

And yes, it means I get ’emotionally hurt’ sometimes. (Other times it is the most rewarding thing for me!) But through 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? 

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! 😛

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 also not God. Which means that 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. 
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 has 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. 

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. 

(there’s green light on the modem, so I’m hitting publish! 😛 😉 )

teaching learning moments

Yes, the pictures above ARE ME! (I usually avoid sneaky captures, so this is a rare moment 😉 ) 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 😉 ).

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 I 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 😉 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. 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. She’s often frustrated with me, and queries, “Why does everything 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 it 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 more 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 word purpose 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 😉 Yes! Goal-based achievements are important. They are long term, future focused and give us a direction in which to head, often with a  tangible result.

But what about the other types of goals? While those achievements are great, if they never happen in 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 😛 )

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 😉

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 😉
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 😛

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. 😛 )

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 as I need to go; bounce; take off. 
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’t that long ago 😛 )

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! 😛 😉

Spring Cleaning

I’ve been missing in action. For me, it’s been a difficult time – but as usual, there is always some amusement to be had from difficult periods in our lives. My last blog post was very significant to my absence thereafter – which is rather funny (both funny ha ha, and funny weird) because I didn’t plan it that way at all.
Another thing that I found rather amusing is the fact that I have been ‘M.I.A’ for the entire season of Winter here where I live.
So perhaps this was made for me…….
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The only problem is that I haven’t been asleep the entire time…..although then again, maybe I have. Sleep is more than just eyes closed and snoring….it sometimes applies to a dormant soul and a closed heart – just some food for thought.

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Parenting 101 – not.

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Yesterday I felt cornered. Sort of. I had coffee with a new acquaintance (she can achieve friendship status almost instantly because, well, coffee), and she asked to ‘hear my story’. I tried to keep it as brief as possible as I relayed situations and occurrences in my life that had not been pretty, and then revealed the beauty that resulted from the ugliness.

At the end of our rather lengthy conversation, which was initially a ‘quick cup of coffee’, she told me I was a really good mom.
My children have been known to tell me the same – and since I am also ‘dad’ all the time, I also have Father’s Day cards claiming that I couldn’t be a better father, even if I were a man.
I am deeply honored by all of this – that an acquaintance, and my children, could see me as such a successful parent.

But I am not. I don’t say that lightly, and I certainly don’t say it falsely – I do not secretly have this huge ego that says that I definitely am a good mom, and parent.

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The School of Life

My son returned home from school the other day (he’s in his final year), walked through the front door, and said,
“Mom, please will you make me something to eat, because the way my day has been going, I’d probably chop my finger off.”
So I obliged – mostly because I would like him to keep all ten digits, but also because I didn’t feel like cleaning up blood in the kitchen. I treated myself to yet another much needed cup of coffee, and then called him to join me at the table. He missed the chair entirely, and wound up on the floor. Of course, my hysterical laughter could be heard from miles (I am sure), but he just frowned at me. Seeing his expression, I managed to regain control, and helped him up off the floor, saying,
“Okay, tell me about your terrible day.”

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