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! ❀

What Day Is It?

This seems to be the question on many people’s lips these days, with our lock down here still being somewhat ridiculous and the vast majority still being unable to work. The days just sort of melt into each other, and there are times where, unless I check the calendar, I am unsure where we’re at.
But that’s not the reason for the question today πŸ˜‰

Today is another of my ‘What Day of the Year‘ is it posts….

I got a little bit too excited when I found it that it’s Dracula Day πŸ˜›

Growing up, I was never allowed to watch anything monster like – and so of course, vampires were a criminal offense in our house. And my mother held true to this right into my late teens. It was NOT allowed.
(In fact, nothing was – rolling my eyes. Even a romantic comedy with an age restriction of 13 was vetoed – and I was 16 at the time. Yeah, strict control was the order of the day.)

I smiled broadly this morning when I chose Dracula Day

Because it took me back to my sneaky self. πŸ˜‰

When my parents were still together, our home had a large lounge and dining area, that was separated by large french doors. At age 6, my brothers were already 15 and 17, and so they would sit with my dad in the lounge and watch things like the A-Team, Airwolf and MacGyver. Naturally this wasΒ not allowed for the little girl in the house, under any circumstances. But sometimes my mother was out at a church meeting – or busy in the kitchen.
I’d check to see if the french doors were open, and if they were I would run to my room and fetch my dolls. I’d position myself with my babies in the armchair in the far corner of the lounge (my excuse being that my babies and I were visiting my friend for tea if anyone asked πŸ˜‰ ), giving me full view of the TV screen. And sometimes I’d even make it through an entire episode without getting caught πŸ˜‰

By my early teens, my folks were long divorced, my oldest brother had left the house. But the younger of the two was still around, and he had a TV and video machine in his room πŸ˜‰ The bedrooms in the house were on the opposite side to my mothers study/office, and when my brother was out (which was most of the time) and my mother was busy, I’d sneak in there, close the door, and watch his TV, or one of his videos. Thankfully, my mother very seldom caught me… and my brother had a car that had a distinctive sound when he drove in. Plus, in those days, I was young, and fast. πŸ˜‰ He only ever caught me once πŸ˜›
If it wasn’t for his TV I would have had NO friends in high school, ha ha ha – at least I could keep up with them in conversation about Wings, and The Hogan Family. I’ll admit that I even tried to keep up with Beverley Hills 90210… but sometimes understood why I had no business watching that πŸ˜›
(My mother ONLY watched the Christian television network – she had a special aerial and the main television in our house was not tuned in to any other channel.)

And yes, this all led to complete rebellion… some of it harmful… when it came to what I watched behind my mothers back. (Which is why, even though I censor a lot of what my daughter watches now, I also give her a lot more freedom… she never watches anything now without asking first, not even sneakily. And I am always open to discuss my reasons and hear her out when she asks to watch something. Sometimes I am not entirely happy about giving in… but I’ve heard her out, and we’ve discussed it enough that I know she has heard me out regarding my reasons. And so far, so good.)
Side note : Yes, it is my duty and responsibility to protect her – but there are ways and means, and so long as she is as open and honest with me as she is now, and so long as we have good communication, I think I am doing okay. πŸ˜‰

But back to Dracula, because that’s where the excitement of this day lies πŸ˜‰

My introduction to the vampire world had nothing to do with the Count himself. It was during my sneaky sessions in my brothers room (although sometimes he was home, and I had to miss an episode because he was in a bad mood – every now and then, he’d let me watch with him, but only if I gave him any chocolate/sweet stash that I had as payment πŸ˜› )… I got to watch the series Third Watch. In there was a few episodes about a group that decided they were vampires. I’ll admit, it scared me a little. And removed any desire I felt to watch Dracula – even though my brother actually offered.

At age 19, I think it was, I finally watched Interview with a Vampire – I mean, come on… Brad Pitt AND Tom Cruise in one movie???? A heavenly delight for me at that age πŸ˜› How could I not watch?
And I survived it, without fear. (Maybe they helped πŸ˜› )
Thing is that as I got older, I think I became desensitised to a large degree. I can watch almost anything now – although I am not a fan of the occult type movies at all – no interest in watching 95% of them – they just disturb my spirit too much.

I decided to tackle Dracula differently to everyone else that I knew though – I read the book first after eventually getting my hands on it. Because I am a reader for the most part, and so that’s what I do. πŸ˜› πŸ˜‰
Then I watched the movie… so I got the full Count experience πŸ˜‰

And… I’ll admit it… I’ve read the entire Twilight collection (twice – shaking my head here, ha ha ha!), after which I have watched the movie collection more than ten times. πŸ˜› My daughter tried it out – reading first as per her mother πŸ˜› – when she was 13… and every now and then we still have a Twilight movie marathon together πŸ˜‰

So that’s my contribution to Dracula Day. If you want to read more about the actual day, as opposed to my nonsense πŸ˜› you can go here.

Stay safe everyone. And don’t forget to smile πŸ˜‰

Reading IS doing!

Someone very dear to me reminded me yesterday that ‘nature abhors a vacuum, and something will fill it and it’s not always the best stuff’.

And I know this.

Isn’t it funny how sometimes weΒ know something and yet still become its prey?Β 

The vacuum was there, created by frustration, I’m guessing. And then along came the proverbial cherry to top it all off. When I have these cherry experiences, they usually reduce me to tears…

But then the healing begins.

And I come back stronger – because I choose to force myself to empty out the bad stuff and fill the vacuum with the good. It really can go either way though – but it’s about choice.
When you have come through the things I have, there is no way that you want to choose the latter. I have learned through some very difficult and painful experiences that I truly WANT the good…always. That growth is not always easy… but it’s necessary to become the best version of me that I can be. And perhaps all of this is part of that journey?

So… moving on…

The UK truly is one of my favourite places in the world. Of course, the fact that my daddy lives there probably plays a big part in that πŸ˜‰
But I also had the opportunity to visit the UK for a few months, and Dad did it proud as far as being my tour guide was concerned. We didn’t see many shopping centres… instead, I sat on steps in his little town and fed the swans – I seldom see swans here. I took in the most amazing scenery, and had long walks in forests. I finally got to see real castles… and walk in their ruins πŸ™‚Β  And we visited almost every charity shop we could find… for books!

Today (or rather later today) is World Book Night.

Apparently it started in the UK (told you it’s a great place πŸ˜› ) and Ireland in 2011 – World Book Day existed for children, and so World Book Night was created as a ‘day’ for adults to read more books.
In 2012 and 2013, the holiday was celebrated in the United States. Over 50,000 people gave books to others on this day.

They talk about celebrating it by giving books away to others, or reading a book late into the night to relax. That we should share our favourite books with one another, in an effort to encourage reading.

As an adult, I completely understand when someone tells me that they just don’t seem to find the time to read. Life gets busy, and there is always something else that needs doing.
My problem is that no matter how much still needs to be done, I will still squeeze in an hour to read. But, you see, I am something of a book worm πŸ˜‰

I was ‘quite offended’ (not really offended as such, just a little bit amazed at the thought) when someone asked me the other day what I was doing. So I replied with, ‘Reading πŸ™‚ ‘
And the response was, ‘So you’re not actually doing anything.’ This person felt the same way about me with my writing.
But this person is not a person who reads or writes – for them, ‘doing’ is physically doing/working with their hands. In their eyes, reading and writing makes me a very lazy person.
We’re still friends πŸ˜‰
Because this world is made up of a variety of people with so many different strengths and talents and abilities… and that’s what makes the world work. This person repairs motorcycles locally, and without him, our local bikers would be in a fix and paying way too much for ‘out of town’ services. He has value. So do I.
But the things people value about us are different πŸ˜‰

So if you enjoy reading, and struggle to find the time, then today is a good day to put everything else aside and curl up with your book. You have an excuse πŸ˜‰

And if you’ve read anything really good lately, feel free to share it in the comments. It may not be my preferred genre, but someone else may decide it’s for them πŸ˜‰
And knowing me, I will probably give it a read anyway πŸ˜‰

This week I read Have You Seen Her, by Karen Rose.

have
Photo credit : bookdepository.com

”Special Agent Steven Thatcher has sworn to find the serial killer preying on this small town.Β  As the investigation pulls him one way, his family pulls him in another.Β A widower haunted by loss, he now worries about his son Brad slipping away.Β 

I was actually very surprised by this book! It was ‘full’ of everything. The fear and intrigue of the serial killer as we go on the hunt; the emotion and pain of a family being torn apart (there were parts there that made me cry!); and adult desires that carry you into a romance.
When I say full – it’s like it was three different stories that could have each been books on their own… but were edited to make the ‘story’ shorter… without losing your emotional connection to every aspect. Interwoven to make for a heck of a read.

This type of book isn’t everyone’s cup of tea… but it ‘had something’ and I’m really glad I read it. When I finished it, I was filled with a lot of admiration for this author, because for me it truly was skillfully brought together. A little predictable in parts? Sure. But I’m a book lover and not a very good book critic πŸ˜› πŸ˜‰

Happy World Book Night, adults πŸ˜‰

More than this

We’re all on a journey – and sometimes it feels like the ‘road to nowhere’. But all roads lead somewhere.

It’s not about the destination itself though, it’s about the journey.

And sometimes the best memories, the most growth, and the most beautiful things can result from dirt roads.

When I go somewhere for the first time, and realise that I have made a wrong turn, I either do a U-turn and go back the way I came, or I seek an alternative route. But I DO stop. I pretty much apply the same to life. But on some of those roads, I seem to have got a flat tyre, and am stuck in one place a bit too long.
(Because although my dad was very responsible and arranged a visit to a mechanic for me when I got my first car, to teach me how to change the tyre, I’ve never done it since, and I don’t know now if I would be able to! πŸ˜› )

There is a blog I visit regularly, which is extremely thought provoking and more often than not, there is something that inspires me. Some days it even serves as a ‘kick in the butt’ for me. (And that kick is not always enjoyable, but it’s what I need.)

There is one person in this world who truly knowsΒ everything about me – she could probably even tell you exactly how I will react to most things. I think the fact that we are in two different countries and only had communication to aid our growing friendship has made us that much closer. Especially since we are both really good at communicating πŸ˜‰ And I guess the fact that we are both totally honest about what we perceive as failures and negatives is of even greater service to our ‘sistership’.
She is my ‘sister’, L. I mentioned her in a blog post here.

She knows my fears… and my fantasies. One day when we meet in person there will be huge, lasting hugs and many tears… and then she’ll probably give me an ass whooping!

Human nature is funny sometimes. Here’s this woman who I KNOW knows me better than anyone…. and yet when she tells me to do something, I hesitate.
Last year, she read a book. And she instantly let me know that the book was me! (Most of it was.) She told me I HAD to get it. I said I’d check it out… but I didn’t ever buy it.

I spend a lot of time on self-motivation and self-improvement and trying to grow in good ways. Accountability is key though – someone to not only check if you’re maintaining, but give you a push in the right direction and encourage you along the way. And there are days where I actually need someone to TELL ME WHAT TO DO!
It makes me a little bit sad that since I am usually the person mentioned above, I don’t actually have a physical person here who does that for me.
But I have L, and two other people overseas, who fulfill that role, I’ve discovered. (As strange as that sounds!)

Admittedly, the pressure on me is a little more, because there’s no one to see if I am actually listening!

Like, did I actually buy that book?

Then on Saturday I read this letter.

There are many areas in my life where I have managed to conquer the pain and fear of the past that would otherwise be holding me back, and no one is more thankful for that than me, because if I hadn’t I’d be a truly horrible person right now. But there are also still parts, and moments, where the lies (which elicited the pain and fear) somehow seem to shadow my heart and my brain – and hold me back, robbing me of confidence.

One of the things I have discovered about myself along the journey of the past few years is that I am a walking contradiction at times, ha ha ha ha!

I read the letter above. Then I read it again, commented, and read it a third time.
And that afternoon I went to buy the book ‘L’ said I should.

I read it, and kicked my own butt the whole way through. I am now going to read it again. In fact, I need to read it as many times as it takes to absorb it in my heart. For the heart of the problem IS the problem of the heart, in this case.
It’s all stuff I already know – it’s in my head. My brain says it repeatedly, and imparts it on others, ultimately helping them to break free from their chains.
My heart really needs to know it though. Once and for all. I don’t know how it will, but I am going to give it my best shot.
It’s going to be a real struggle – the lies I have believed so long? They began when I was 10. And they came from my mother. Year after year they have been reinforced by her. And added to. It was no shock when I was 12 and she started telling me that ‘she never wanted me’. Somehow she has always kept me in her life – probably because I was the only one she could control…and I let her, for fear of not allowing it and the repercussions thereof.
It’s taken many years to reach the place I am at with her – where I can be dedicated to her well-being and do things for her, despite the way she feels about me – and the constant reminders of who she says I am.

There are many books out there to help me on the way… and to help you. I think the fact that I truly identify with this one though has made it all that more special to me. It’s directed mostly to women – but I could still see some men appreciating some of what is said.

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Girl, wash your face

So if you have ever been told that you are not good enough? This book is for you.
Been told that you’re not thin enough, that you’re unlovable, that you’re a bad mom, that you deserve to be treated badly, that you will always be a failure at whatever you do, that you’ll never amount to anything, that your life is meaningless because it doesn’t look like your siblings/cousins/friends?
This book is for you.

Feel free to recommend other books to me. I’ll check them out, and when I can, I will do my best to buy them and read them πŸ˜‰

Off to start reading my new book again, because…

there must be more than this!

 

Little Word Worm Children

I love to read. It upsets me greatly that so many today lack the desire to read, particularly when that β€˜many’ is children. They say that a child who reads will be an adult who thinks – is this perhaps why there are generations of thoughtless people out there? Jacqueline Kennedy said, β€œThere are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.”

(Of course, I am biased!)

I have always been an avid reader. I learnt from a young age that reading most certainly is for pleasure, and not just because school makes it a requirement.

My children were still in my belly when I began reading to them. Late nights and early mornings of Dr. Seuss, while they floated around in amniotic fluid, completely unaware of the antics of β€œSam, I am”.

My daughter is ten, and can read for herself – which she very often does. But, at bedtime, when she is snug (and I still have a million things to do before I can disappear into duvet folds of slumber), there is this little voice that asks,
β€œMommy, please can you read to me for a bit?”

And suddenly, the laundry and dirty dishes disappear from the foremost parts of my mind and there is no hesitation as I reach for her book, and begin to read.

The benefits of reading are evident in both of my children. My son has achieved an Honours blazer at school for excelling academically, but specifically for his contribution to the Council of English Education in our country – he has achieved gold awards four years in a row for contributions to short story writing, poetry, and language papers. (I have to add that the Council participation is voluntary.)

My daughter has been selected three years in a row to represent her school in the junior section of competitions for this same council, as part of a team, for language skills. (Selected as one of six, in a school of about six hundred.) They have won two out of three competitions – taking runner up in the one that they didn’t win.

Both of them have a talent for stringing words together, and no-one will ever be able to accuse them of having no expression or imagination. Yes, I blame reading. More importantly, I blame the fact that they were read to.

There is just so much to say about the subject of reading. But I am going to limit this post to the one thing that bothers me of late – the fact that these days so few children read, and almost as many parents just don’t seem concerned with this at all.

I love children. I love reading. I love teaching. Okay, so those are three things I love (plenty more, the list is endless) and I also happen to be a very passionate person. So in an effort to combine the passion of these three things, and of course my disappointment in the disinterest of children and reading, I started a reading club for kids. I read to them, and we discuss what we have read. It’s great fun interacting with 6 – 9-year-olds.Β  I also add a fun filled activity to each session where they get to exercise their imaginations. The results are amazing.

I have seventeen little ones in my club. In a school of six hundred, this number is ridiculously low. I really wish more parents would encourage their children to read, because ultimately it is the parents who make the choice as to whether or not their children attend – and a lot of the children who attend have not ever picked up a book to read for enjoyment. This disappoints me.

But I’ll tell you what inspires me. I am told by my little students that I read β€˜out loud’ so well and make it all sound so interesting that they have started reading at home. Mission accomplished. Hearing that my reading is the first time anyone has ever read to them (besides during school hours) is heartbreaking for me.

And then there is the kid who has made such good progress, and actually read a whole book for pleasure, who will no longer be attending reading club. His mother tells me they decided not to send him anymore, because now β€˜all he wants to do is read’.Β She says this like it’s a bad thing?!?! What is happening to this world?

I end with this Dr Seuss quote : β€œYou’re never too old, too whacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child!”