Are you optimistic?

Photo credit : me.me

According to Google/Oxford languages :
An OPTIMIST is a person who tends to be hopeful and confident about the future or the success of something.
“only an eternal optimist could expect success”

Merriam-Webster says that a REALIST is a person who recognizes what is real or possible in a particular situation : one who accepts and deals with things as they really are.

One would think that the two could not possibly go together – especially when considering harsh realities – how could there still be hope?

Apparently they do!

A couple of years ago a friend came to me for advice. She chose to ask me because she wanted ‘the dream’. She was seeking a purely optimistic perspective – ‘of course it will work! Go for it! You’ll be a great success!’
She relied on the fact that I am always an encouragement, and always hopeful. She relied on my positive energy.
She probably should not have led with, ”I want to ask you about something, because I know I can trust you to be honest!”

This is not to say that I am dishonest in my encouragement or hopefulness.
Repeating the words of a very good friend, again, ”We interpret things from where we are. One person, using their window to the world will see it/you as this, and another will view it/you completely differently.’’

My ‘window of being an encouragement’ is predominantly based on, ”be who you needed when you were younger”. And… I’ll add… who I need in my life now as well.

I find that for me personally, my need for encouragement from others usually appears at the point where I have already heard enough reality. It comes at a time where I’ve already received input into something, sometimes from people who weren’t even asked to provide input πŸ˜› , and it’s all just been so negative… to the point that it actually limits my potential in unrelated areas because it starts to affect my mindset in general – for example : While I see realistically that ‘those people’ are right, and it won’t work, their voices have been so loud and ‘so much’ that I start feeling that nothing will work.

And I find myself seeking encouragement in other areas, just to remind me that ‘one failure’ is not ‘total failure’. That I’ve still got this πŸ˜‰ – just without ‘that’.

More often than not, the people who turn to me for encouragement seem to have reached that exact same point. They’ve been slammed with so much negativity that they just desperately want to hear something positive! And, to be honest, if I can find nothing positive about whatever it is that they are asking, or struggling with…. I’ll admit it : I deflect. I try to distract from their reality, to remind them of the goodness that still exists.

I am probably wrong.

But in my personal experience, I have found that the result is usually this : the problem/reality still exists, and is still devastating, but they find an extra ounce of strength… and as small as it is, there is a definite increase in their ability to cope.

MY personal experiences and findings are probably a psychologists nightmare! πŸ˜›

Back to my friend….
She had specifically triggered the honesty in me… not the deflection. I owed it to her to be realistic. My response was hesitant – I carefully considered each word before I spoke it!
And afterwards we were in tears – with laughter!!!
She taught me something important that day! I learned that it is possible to be an Optimistic Realist!
That the two really can be combined!
I choose to put the word ‘optimistic’ first though, because I definitely lean more towards it…
Despite some of my realities, and despite knowing that the arguments some make that ‘it is impossible’ are true,
”Hope Springs Eternal” in my heart! For better, or for worse.

And I was reminded the other day that this has always been a part of ‘who I am’. The Facebook Memory that reminded me made me smile, and cry.
I smiled because I needed that reminder so desperately, at a time when my reality was overwhelming me.
And I cried because I miss this particular friend so very much – I lost her to cancer.
The memory?

I am not saying that being the way I am is an entirely good thing πŸ˜›
And over the years, many have tried to change this part of me – and I am well aware of ‘what a bad quality it can be’, because they have told me so! On numerous occasions! Ha!

But personally? From my window? It keeps me strong – in the face of harsh realities, it is what pulls me out of bed in the morning. So it really can’t be all that bad for me πŸ˜‰

So… if you need a little bit of ‘deflected encouragement’… hit me up… I’m your girl πŸ˜‰
I’ll even do it honestly and not deflect, if you so wish… but I’ll have to talk slowly πŸ˜› πŸ˜‰

Thank you for reading,
Meg x

anger apologies and love

Somebody recently read, and commented, on this blog post I wrote in 2019… saying how relevant it was for them today still!
I vaguely recalled this particular post, because it was one I so enjoyed writing! I returned to it, not only to respond to the comment, but because there was a desire in me to read it again!
Talk about accountability! How strange that it would all happen now, when parts of me need a refresh πŸ˜‰

nopassingfancy

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to be a contributor to Paul’s blog. It was quite an honour that someone wanted my voice to be heard on their page! πŸ™‚ Paul writes a lot about relationships – and about his lovely Kath. And so I thought it was fitting to write him a post about the languages of love. You can read the post here.

As I mentioned at the end of that blog post, there are now other quizzes available for growth πŸ˜‰ There’s an apology language quiz, and a personal anger assessment. I did both, but with all that has been going on I got sidetracked! (To check out the quizzes you can visit here and click on quizzes.)

Last night I revisited the results of both tests.. (Because that’s what this single mom does on a Friday night, in case you were wondering…

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A bicycle and a boat

Picture it: a little girl with freckles on her face, her hair in pigtails sporting pink bows (ugh! πŸ˜› ), pedalling as fast as her little legs will allow along a long straight, on her red BMX bicycle.
Now picture the same little girl, only five years later. Her hair loose in the wind as she ‘tears up the tar’, racing against the two boys who are along for her afternoon bicycle outing.

As I am sure you have guessed, the little girl was me. When I was a child, it was still safe for us to ride our bicycles in the street. And we took advantage of every opportunity to do so! Ha ha!
In the area I grew up, we were a crew of six, when we could all be together. Four boys, two girls. I still remember every side road, every shortcut, and every little bump in the road.

I also remember the tree at the bottom of a small hill when I was nine years old. πŸ˜›

It was a warm Saturday afternoon, but a gentle, cool breeze prevented it from being too uncomfortable. I had waited out the required 45 minutes after lunch, set by my mother, and had just surfaced from an underwater length of the pool, when another freckled face appeared before me, giving me such a fright. Brown eyes laughed at me as I clutched my little chest, and my friend, Brian, asked, ”Wanna go for a ride?”

We cycled to two other ‘crew members’ houses, but neither one was home. We went past the old couple sitting on their verandah having their tea, but we didn’t stop to chat that day, just waved at them and cruised by πŸ˜‰ We rode to the park (in those days they still existed and were fully functional, and they were safe too) and see-sawed, had a swinging competition, and ended with trying to see how fast we could make the roundabout go! A few sips of water, and a few biscuits from Brian’s backpack, and we were on the road again, this time home to my place for a quick swim before Brian cycled home to his own house.

We got to the junction of the road with the small hill, and Brian stopped. I stopped next to him, and grinned. I waited as he rode a little further, then turned. Perched on his bicycle, he rubbed his hands together, and then gripped his handlebars tightly. Then his legs pedalled furiously and I whooped as he made it around the bend at the bottom of the hill, skidding to a stop. I clapped my hands in delight, and he beckoned to me that it was my turn.

There’s very little fear in youth, ha ha! I repeated his process. And I have no idea how… but I got a speed wobble (technical term : a quick oscillation of primarily just the steerable wheel of a vehicle). I ended up skidding and falling in a most ungraceful manner, landing against the big tree at the bottom – no bend for me. Brian dropped his bicycle and came running, concern on his face. I looked down at my bloody knee, and the scrapes and blood on my forearm, and had no reaction. Brian lifted me off the ground, and I tested my legs and the mobility in my arms. Then I dusted myself off, and asked him, ”Oh man! Did you see that?” We both burst out laughing. And then we pushed our bicycles back up the hill, and up the road to my house. We didn’t get to swim – my mother was furious, ha ha!

Speed wobbles happen. And so do ’emotional wobbles’.

Life happens, and sometimes there’s that overwhelming moment when it has all happened at once, and it’s all been rather negative, and it causes a bit of a wobbly in our emotions. Not a full on crash… but more of a ‘stop and breathe, think, retreat for a bit’…. and I like to add, ”and if you can find a steady supply of chocolate, it helps!”
Some emotional wobble’s can even leave us feeling like we’re bleeding. Those are the worst kind. Those moments are the ones where it’s important to have someone to step in and lift you off the ground – wait while you dust yourself off, and then remind you what it is to laugh!
Reality is though that sometimes there isn’t anyone to help you get up. And then these next two things are very important to remember :

It is not only okay to have that wobble… it is also okay if you take some time to recover, in whatever way you need to. For some, it is escape into a book or a few movies that distract them from their reality; for others, it might be a long lunch with a group of uplifting friends, where you all ‘don’t talk about it‘, but find laughter in something entirely different.
This is not about ‘ignoring it and maybe it will go away’. It’s just about building strength emotionally so that you can try and deal with it when you’re not feeling so wobbly. (Well, that’s what it is like for me, anyway.)
The other thing to remember is that nothing is permanent… not even the seemingly never-ending issues you might be facing. ”The only thing constant is change”.
Yes, the light at the end of the tunnel may well be another train coming BUT who knows what will come after? πŸ˜‰

You guessed it! I had a rather serious wobbly the other day, ha ha! I retreated, to try and balance my emotions (by reading a book about black ops specialists and assassins, ha ha ha!). Interestingly enough, it reminded me that life really does seem to be full of plot twists – but experience has shown me that they are not always bad. There cannot be magnificent views from stunning mountain tops, without there also being valleys – some for just plodding along; some with rough terrain and very little sunshine. But if we stop in our tracks in the valley, how will we see the view from the mountain? And how will we get to the next mountain top, which may have an even better view than the one that preceded it?

I’ll close with this image I saw on Facebook :

As I look at the world as a whole, I can see that we’re in one huge storm – but the repercussions differ from country to country.
As do our boats. I found myself so very grateful for my canoe! Yes, sometimes my soul may feel like it’s drowning… but I have a canoe! I get to feel the storms differently to those who have neither a canoe nor a yacht!
Some days it feels like I am stuck at the train station, waiting for my ship to come in πŸ˜›
BUT AT LEAST I HAVE A CANOE!
It is important for me (and maybe you) to remember that some people don’t even have that! And maybe there isn’t space in my canoe… but I sure can reach out a hand of kindness and clutch theirs, and try and help them stay afloat!

I hope you all have a great week ahead! Thank you for reading!
Meg ❀

Worthy contributions

I recently found myself alongside an armed response reaction officer. (All is well, I am fine, in case you are wondering πŸ˜‰ )

In the moment, I was pretty darn angry, because I felt he was failing in something that to me was ‘just logical’. I controlled my anger well in that moment. And I am glad that I did!
(Practising self control when feeling infuriated by something is definitely not easy, and not something I am always very good at. But I have definitely improved over the years πŸ˜‰ )

The reason I am glad that I didn’t β€˜lose it’ with this young man is this : when the moment was over, and I was able to sort through the compartment in my head that contained the details of β€˜what had just happened’, the anger slowly dissipated. Because what I know kicked in. (Well, what I have been learning about and trying to train my brain to consider before responding!)

The more I carefully considered the situation, and the way the individuals involved (myself included) responded to each minute of that hour and a bit, the more the words of my friend came to me (I mentioned them in my last blog post) : β€˜β€™We interpret things from where we are….’’

In this case, perhaps the young man alongside me had very little to draw from. His training had prepared him for certain situations, but this was not one of them. I know that if I were in his position on any given day in his job, my response to things would probably disappoint him – he’d probably shake his head at me!
The view from my window of the world provided me with the knowledge and instincts necessary for me to be able to assist in a way that he could not, and possibly had not even thought about. But the view from his window of the world, should I have been alongside him in a different situation, would probably have saved my life!

It all brought me back to something I say often :

We are all different, even though some of us are the same, and there is nothing wrong with that!
This weekend, not only will I be pondering the above (different views from different windows), but I will also be focusing my thoughts (making it a habit for my brain to respond in this way) on the following :

β€˜β€™It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences!’’ ~ Audre Lorde

The world needs me! But it also needs that young man! And it needs someone like you!
We all have something beautiful and worthy to contribute – we just do it in different ways!
So here’s to unity, instead of division πŸ˜‰

Have a great weekend, everyone!
Meg ❀

battling choices

”You really need to speak to her about her dishes. And punish her. Or she will just keep doing it.”
”I know. I’ll talk to her on Friday.”
”But that’s four days away!!!”
”I know. But I need to not only choose my battles with her, I need to also carefully choose my timing as well.”
”Hmmm. Okay.”

My teenage daughter’s bedroom is a war zone on its own, quite regularly. Apparently her cupboards and drawers are just for show πŸ˜› and half my kitchen is regularly invited to live in there!
I refuse to play pickup though, and so it’s a regular battle in my house.
I know it’s not a battle that I fight alone – it happens in other houses too. I do find some comfort in that πŸ˜‰

In the last few years, I have managed to apply the ‘choose my battles’ statement a little better in general.

For some reason, I have found myself regularly stopping and thinking : how important is this really in the ‘grand scheme of things’?
I’ve come to appreciate that my time on this earth is indeed limited : tomorrow is not promised, today – this moment – is all I have.
Is this (whatever it is) worth the time that arguing about it will take; is it worth the energy I will expend?

This past year, I have thrown more questions into the mix.
Will this person even be receptive if I bring it up? Or is this going to be a win/lose battle – exactly how important is this? and..

Is this really the right time?

Now please don’t get me wrong – all of the above cannot be applied to every battle we face. And sometimes we get dragged into battles that we hadn’t even considered; never even knew were brewing!

We can’t control everything – and we definitely can’t control other people’s behaviours, actions, words – but we CAN control ourselves!

Referring back to my introduction – a conversation that regularly happens with my son. Ha ha!
Any time I mention the ‘teenage bedroom disaster’, I get plenty of opinions from the people I am talking to. We all have the right to an opinion. We do not have the right to force it on another, and treat them like they are less if they don’t agree with us.
There should also be some respect for the fact that what works for me, might not work for you, and vice versa.

We should also always at least TRY to understand the bigger picture, even when it’s unclear.

In the case of the bedroom (enter Miss Sherlock, sans the hat and pipe πŸ˜› ), here’s what I know : when she has a free weekend, or school holidays, her room is tidy. She even wipes down her shelves, repacks her cupboards and vacuums her carpet! Kitchenware is returned to the kitchen shortly after it has been used.
I am slightly unclear about her bigger picture, because if she just ‘maintained’ every day, her room wouldn’t get so bad that it would require a full day’s work.
BUT….

Her ‘regular’ schedule is ‘busy’. She leaves for school at 6:30am. Comes home just before 3pm. Leaves home again at about 5pm, to go to the dance studio. Returns from there at about 8pm. Climbs into bed exhausted at 9:30pm.
In her awake time, Monday to Thursday, she has only three and a half hours at home, as ‘free time’.
But is it free time? She has homework, assignments, tests to study for. Which often spills into her weekends. She needs to eat, and shower.
Do I really need to fight with her about her bedroom now? Where is she at time-wise? How much school work does she have this week? What does next week look like? Will she need to work over the weekend?
Is her messy bedroom more important than the other areas of her life that she is committed to and diligent in? Is this really worth arguing about now, destroying our peace, distracting her from the things she really needs to do?

And in this case, my conclusion is always : it can wait.
You might disagree – you might even be right! Ha ha!

For me, this has actually become a very easy battle – and neither of us end up too wounded! πŸ˜‰ I suspect it will continue to be a regular one, but she’ll move out… one day πŸ˜‰ (And I will probably miss arguing with her about her bedroom!)

When I explained my ‘it can wait’ attitude to my son, as I have outlined above, his response was, ”I didn’t really think about it like that. It makes sense. But she doesn’t make sense because it really doesn’t need to get like this. I do sort of understand better now though. I suppose if that was my schedule, I’d end up being the same way.”

Choosing our battles goes so much deeper than just ‘avoiding conflict and protecting our peace’.

I have found that taking all things into consideration can also be quite taxing on my energy, and time : is this really the right time; am I able to just offer thoughts and opinions, or am I going to be forceful – am I open to discussion; how important is this; am I even trying to understand the bigger picture; and (depending on the situation) can I see a win-win result… if not, am I prepared to lose/concede to save the relationship – or is it that important to me that I am willing to lose the person, instead of the battle?

Whew! Just typing those questions was tiring!
In my personal experience though, if I manage to pause long enough to take it all into consideration, most times there is very little bloodshed πŸ˜‰

(Once again, depending on the battle, and the other party – I can only be responsible for me.)

I’ve said a lot in this blog post, ha ha!

One more thing before I go though….

A very special friend has been teaching me this past year (possibly without even knowing it) the value of this :
β€˜β€™We interpret things from where we are. One person, using their window to the world will see it/you as this, and another will view it/you completely differently.’’

And I find myself wondering if that is actually the key to unlocking every door in my mind and my heart!

Because this post has been about ME – my personal experiences and MY window to MY world.
MY world tells me that true power lies in sitting back, thoughtfully considering, and then trying to apply logic as well, and practising restraint!

Somebody else’s window will see me as ‘avoiding conflict’, and in the example I have given about my daughter, ‘bad parenting’.

I am going to repeat my friend’s statement…
’’We interpret things from where we are. One person, using their window to the world will see it/you as this, and another will view it/you completely differently.’’
… because another door it has unlocked has brought me a little bit more inner peace.
Being accused of being a bad parent, even for silly things that I know are not true reflections of my parenting skills, used to really upset me. Because it would bring back unpleasant things from the past.
By making the choice to ‘learn’ the statement above, I am finding it a lot easier to accept that that is their view, and quite possibly has nothing to do with me!

And so this is a very helpful tool when I go to battle too πŸ˜‰

Have a great week, everyone! Here’s to making good choices πŸ˜‰
Meg ❀


People, things, social media!

Life is made up of moments. Some are good, some are bad. And some are worse. The ‘things’ in life are much the same. As are we, as people.

As individuals, we also have ‘our moments’. Sometimes I share something with someone, and then find myself giggling and adding, ”So there it is. The good, the bad and the ugly!”
Naturally, my preference is to aim to have a lot more good to share than anything else! πŸ˜‰

Social media definitely has its moments. I am only really active on Facebook. And even then, my ‘activity’ apparently leaves much to be desired! Ha! I am not very good at ‘stopping to capture things on camera’, so I’d quite possibly be an Instagram failure πŸ˜› It would appear that I don’t do very well with these things either : #

I am relatively comfortable with Facebook though. It was my very first social media account, and I found ‘finding people I knew’ rather exciting and interesting. You’re about to shake your head in horror : but I even found it interesting to find the people I didn’t want to find! (They remained ‘found’ though – not added as a friend or contacted πŸ˜› )

In the last few years, I have had to be very careful when it comes to ‘scrolling my newsfeed’ though. I have almost mastered not even stopping to read 80% of the things that my ‘Facebook friends’ post – I say almost, because sometimes I am so busy ‘scrolling to skip it’, that I miss things I would have loved to have seen! πŸ˜›

My avoidance of those posts is not because I am afraid of confrontation, or because I don’t think other people should be able to voice their opinions. It’s mostly because it is important to me to protect my inner peace. As a highly sensitive empath, I can become quite overwhelmed quite quickly.

This morning I found Facebook to be ugly, for me.

This world has changed so much, and this morning I found myself shaking my head sadly and muttering, ”Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse”, as I saw my timeline flooded with the Russia/Ukraine situation. I think I managed to read three posts, with comments, before I simply had to shut it down!

I found my heart hurting about the situation itself, and about the way people were speaking to each other – zero respect – just because opinions varied, about the amount of hate that was jumping out at me from my phone screen.

I needed more coffee!

(I don’t drink coffee to wake up! I wake up to drink coffee πŸ˜‰ )

A few thoughtful sips had me reaching for my phone again. No, I am not a sucker for punishment! πŸ˜›
My theory was this : Life, as I know it, is made up of moments. There is bad, but there is also good. So somewhere in the bad in my newsfeed, there simply HAS to be a hidden gem of good, and I mustn’t miss it!

My brain kicked in as well πŸ˜› (Okay, yes, I wake up to drink coffee… to wake me up πŸ˜› )

My mind focused on names, as opposed to status updates. And I only stopped scrolling when I came across the name of someone who I knew ‘handled their Facebook’ very similar to the way I ‘handle’ mine – sharing positives, funny things, love and kindness as opposed to news headlines and personal opinions that lead to ‘comment fighting’.

I was not disappointed, because here this was :

I DO need to point out the following though :

YOUR fully, bravely and beautifully are YOURS! The same way mine is mine.
Please don’t ever feel like you’re doing it wrong, or that you’ve failed, or that you’re a fool just because yours is different.

I overheard the guy behind me on his phone yesterday afternoon. I don’t know who he was talking to but I heard him say, ”I live my life to the fullest – that’s why I go fishing and surfing often. It would be a waste of my life if I didn’t. You’re wasting your life, bro!”

I DID wonder why he was making this assumption about ‘the bro’ on the other end of the line, and chuckled to myself : ”Well, Meg, you’re wasting your life! You don’t surf and you haven’t been fishing in about seven years!” πŸ˜›

I could chuckle because I know that fishing and surfing are not my ‘fully’.

So whether it is, or isn’t enough, for others : please go out today and do things fully, bravely and beautifully in the way that reflects YOU!

Thank you for reading ❀
Meg (who is not going surfing, or fishing! πŸ˜› )

Memorable Friends

I don’t remember when Facebook introduced the ”Memories” / ”on this day” page. Google says it was in 2015.
What I DO remember is that there were a lot of memes thereafter, basically complaining about it and mostly because people ‘didn’t want to be reminded’.

I’d love to be able to tell you that my memories of my life as a whole are all amazing and wonderful. But I can’t. I have some really bad memories. (And as I am getting older, I seem to just have a bad memory in general πŸ˜› – Yes, I know… ”ugh, Meg, just ugh!” πŸ˜› )

What I have discovered with my Facebook Memories though is this : because I did not use the public platform to vent anger or hurt (other than the odd post from the first three years I was on there), or share things my older self would chastise my younger self for πŸ˜› , MY Facebook memories actually bring me a lot of joy! Not always, because there ARE memories of a failed marriage, or losing a friend to an illness, along the way etc.. BUT I’d say that 90% of the time, scrolling back through my memories ‘on that day’ in years gone by give me wonderful food for thought, or have me laughing out loud as I remember ‘way back when’.

There is usually a connection somewhere in that memory to something unpleasant. And I find myself sometimes having to be mindful of sticking only to the good parts πŸ˜‰

This morning I had a memory from 14 years ago that had me thinking, ”What were you thinking?” πŸ˜›

It was a status update and I had said this : ”I am ready to go. Not sure how ready I will be when I get home though.”

Confusion reigned in my mind – what on earth was I talking about!?!? I was relieved to see that there were comments! Perhaps that would shed some light? And it definitely did! Because I found myself (14 years younger than I am now πŸ˜› ) replying to someone else’s comment and saying this :
”I just got home. Did a 5km walk/jog to the beach and back. Will be repeating tomorrow. And tomorrow I will have a swim too. It’s supposed to be a daily repeat after work each evening… if I CAN still walk in a few days time πŸ˜› So grateful to have (not their real names) Tina and Paul in my life!”

My heart leapt for joy at the memories that came flooding back! And I suddenly yearned for that couple who were such an active (pun intended πŸ˜› ) part of my life! ❀
(And the days that were a bit safer around here too… sigh.)

Tina was British. I don’t remember if Paul was or not. Tina was simply amazing! Both were about 15 years older than me, and became my closest friends very quickly. Tina had a no nonsense way about her… and she was quite hilarious!
(She’d sometimes read to my daughter if I was still busy changing from work clothes into exercise clothes, to keep my daughter occupied. Tina’s daughter would babysit for me so that we could go exercise! And Tina’s stories were always ‘added to’ versions of old favourites. Example? ”And the Prince found her shoe on the steps.” Tina would then say, as if it was actually written there in the book, ”which was the silliest thing ever because what woman in her right mind leaves a shoe behind?” And she would just continue reading – there was a flow to it all – and every now and then my daughter would accuse me of not reading the story properly because ‘Aunty Tina’ read ‘xyz’ and I had left it out. Ha ha ha!)

Every time I was sad, or upset, or wanted to be miserable, I’d hear, ‘hosh posh, come along then!’ from Tina… and along I’d go, to whatever she was dragging me to πŸ˜›
She also couldn’t be bothered with gossiping, or judging others. Everyone was beautiful to her. She never got offended. If I remember right, she used the word ‘ridiculous’ a lot. Ha ha!

Paul was the exercise driven one. And he was always around. He was honest, and sometimes I’d say to him, ”You really have no filter, do you?” because he’d have no problem telling me, ”yes, that makes you look fatter” when asked, ha ha ha!

Together, they were just magic! We only had about six months together – then life took us in different directions, and they moved away. I guess life got busy for us all… as so often happens… and we lost touch! I vaguely recall an invitation at the beginning of 2020 that if I was ever in their area, I was to come for a visit. It was a quick post on my Facebook wall, and I don’t even remember if I ever responded!

So… I saw the memory this morning, yearned for them, and then began to go about my day. But they were all I could think about, and an hour later the yearning had intensified! I needed to reach out!
We’re Facebook friends, but I discovered that Tina’s profile seems dormant. I popped off a quick message, but it wasn’t delivered. I don’t give up that easily though πŸ˜›

I found their daughter’s profile, and sent her a message too! She explained that Tina is not actually on Facebook anymore. So I gave her my email and my cellphone number, and asked her to please ask her Mum to get in touch!
From what I can glean, they’re all in the UK now… which is very far away!

But not far enough that if Tina and I get on a phone call, she will somehow lovingly hit me upside the head despite the distance πŸ˜› and I get the feeling we’ll be good friends again! (And this time I will make sure that we don’t lose touch again!)

With that in mind, and because I am sometimes patiently impatient πŸ˜› I wondered if Paul wasn’t maybe still on Facebook. So I took a chance, and popped off a message to him. An hour later, I had an inbox! As a result, I am now communicating with Paul, who has passed on Tina’s number but says she’s quite busy at work and will be in touch later today! I wish later would come sooner! Ha ha ha!

I’m sharing this for two reasons.

One (another pun) some memories can be really great to remember!
and two :

I am appreciating more and more each day how much we lose along the way because, well, life! It seems that as much as we try to slow down, the pace of it doesn’t seem to want to let us! It is so easy, even when we have free time, to be caught up in the busyness of everything around us!
A true, good friend is rare. We should cherish the moments we can! ”Life” should never be so busy that we forget to set aside time for those who are in it with us!

That said, I am truly grateful for my fellow bloggers, who not only give me great reading material πŸ˜‰ but likes and comments on my mishaps and motivations too! πŸ˜‰

Yours, counting down the hours, πŸ˜›

Meg x

Rubber Band Potential

I am currently busy putting together a β€˜β€™Survival Kit for Life’’ for a friend. It’s not going to be anything fancy, and I have focused more on the odds and ends I have about my house for its contents.
It is a β€˜helpful gratitude’ gift for her. Helpful, because the little reminders will make her smile when she’s facing a tough time. Gratitude because she has truly gone out of her way to be of great encouragement these last few weeks.

And I know that that is what friends do, and the way it should be. But part of who I am is to pause and mutter, β€˜β€™may I never take it for granted’’, and so this small gift – while it will cost me very little in monetary value – is an expression of the gratitude I feel when she sends me encouraging picture messages, or pauses for a quick chat!

One of the suggestions I found was to include a rubber band in the package, with the wording, β€˜β€™Stretch yourself beyond your limits.’’

And I shook my head and said, β€˜β€™No.’’

Reading that took me back to one of the motivational talks my children and I watched a few years back. It was a brilliant talk – a man addressing a bunch of students, and so very applicable to my two who were both still in school and studying. But there was one thing that he said that I just could not agree with. And I told them both, when the clip was done, β€˜β€™do not do that!’’ It surprised me when both of them told ME why it was a bad idea, instead of me telling them. Although they both ended with, β€˜β€™you’ve told us this before. See? We do sometimes listen!’’ πŸ˜›

It was that concept of β€˜work hard, sleep less’. Β 

For me, it comes back to β€˜β€™KNOW THYSELF’’. (And by extension, know thy kids πŸ˜› )

If you’re the kind of person who can sleep for a few hours and still be fully functional, then yes! That’s great! Do it! Work hard instead of sleeping.

But I know myself! I need 7-8 hours sleep a night. Strange, but true! Occasionally, I can manage a night where I get only 5 or so hours. Sometimes even two of those nights in a row. But then! Oh my! A third night added to that, and the next day even my coffee needs coffee – my brain is lethargic, and I can forget about remembering, or focusing!
I often wish it was different. I know I am not young anymore πŸ˜› but sometimes I feel like I β€˜sleep too much and let life pass me by!’ This may seem silly, but I still have a friend or two who will message me at 8:30pm in the evening and ask me what I am doing, and do I want to meet up?
They already know my answer… I’m either on my way to have a quick shower and get into bed, or I’m already in bed πŸ˜› And they tease, ”Okay, old woman, sweet dreams!”
I get up at 5am, every morning. Early riser means early bedtime, ha ha!

There are plenty of things I want to achieve. And I probably could.
But β€˜working harder and sacrificing my sleep’ isn’t going to help me. Not one bit!

And… bless my kids and their precious selves… it won’t help them either! Entirely my fault, I suspect. I’ve wired them like me πŸ˜› Except they seem to get by quite well on 6-7 hours. But oh my goodness gracious, I can definitely tell when they’ve struggled to sleep the night before!

Which takes me back to the rubber band….

There was someone who once told me, β€˜β€™You think you know your limits, but you can actually stretch yourself beyond them.’’
And so I tried. I pushed myself harder and ended up stretching so much that I nearly broke – that rubber/elastic just got too thin! (and at that point, so did I! A delightful side effect, but not ideal, since my brain pretty much stopped working!)

I had misunderstood the concept completely! Instead of taking it to mean that there is actually great potential within me, and I need to be willing to explore that (stretch my mind) because I AM actually capable of more than I think I am, I almost made myself ill by β€˜stretching myself thin’!

And so, in order to help others avoid the mistake I made, my rubber band note will say this :

β€˜β€™A rubber band to remind you that life holds so many great possibilities, and if you are willing to stretch your mind a bit, you may discover great potential in yourself that you didn’t know existed!’’

Maybe even that isn’t the right way to put it? But I like it πŸ˜‰  

Hot Egg

In 2017, around about this very same time of year, in Queensland, Australia, a policeman fried an egg on his car hood! I am not joking! From what I understand, the temperature that day was around 46Β­Β°C (about 114.8Β°F)!

My country shares the same seasons with Australia, and so currently I am in the hottest Summer month! The town I live in is on the coast, and while I don’t experience the same very high temperatures as my Aussie family, I still think the humidity I experience is a lot worse than what they do!

Plus, I don’t have aircon.

Most houses in my town don’t. Businesses, hotels, offices, most retail stores – yes. But housing is a no. The few who do have are more those who are considered ‘wealthy’. Suffice to say, I don’t qualify! πŸ˜› but I am far from being alone in this!

When February rolls around, even those who hate their jobs can’t wait to go to work! Ha ha! I’ve even known some who have put in unpaid overtime to snatch an extra couple of hours in the company aircon! Crazy, right? But we all get pretty much desperate to escape the humidity!

Typically, it goes like this : your sleep is disturbed around 2am because you need to scratch a few new itches… the mosquito’s have been busy! There isn’t a breath of wind and even though the thermometer clearly says that’s it’s only 27Β°C (80.6Β°F), it feels like you can’t breathe because of the heat. And then you confirm it! The humidity is 96%. No wonder you’re gasping for air!
(AND your area is experiencing loadshedding (where they take your power for three and a half hours at a time), and your electricity will only be returning at 3:30am, and so the small fan next to your bed isn’t even circulating the hot air because it needs power to work!)

OR…

It’s 1pm. Lunchtime. Maybe the shade of the tree will help? You step outside into the garden and your breath is actually taken away – nope, better off inside the house, even without aircon!
Because outside there is still no wind, the sun is beating down at about 35Β°C (95Β°F) and the humidity is 88% – hey, at least it’s dropped! πŸ˜‰

OR…

Oh man! This is great! The wind has picked up and it looks like a storm might be rolling in! That lightning in the distance looks promising! (I love storms, and we have some serious electrical ones here… that sometimes take away our electricity and it takes 7 hours to fix and get it back on! Which is annoying, to say the least!!! But I still love storms πŸ˜‰ )
And then it happens! The first raindrops begin to fall. Your heart flutters with excitement…. but you’re about to get a lesson in disappointment πŸ˜›
Oh…. it rains! Hard! And you actually go out and stand in it because it cools you down! (Yes, we do that!)
But it doesn’t last long. And as the storm passes, the wind disappears.
And all you’re left with is a rapidly climbing humidity percentage!

Perhaps now you will understand why I say I don’t like Summer. I was made for Winter, and the cold! Ha ha ha!

This girl is not designed for the heat!!!! πŸ˜›

It’s also quite a stressful time because of all the creatures that come with it! Moths the size of my hand, other creepy crawlies that I have yet to identify (I probably don’t want to know πŸ˜› ), bees and wasps and hornets that need to be chased as soon as possible because my dogs are forever trying to catch them, and my two big frogs who seem to have taken residence here (although I still can’t find where they hibernate) and produce lots of little babies, who are really small and very cute – and I get to watch them grow up which brings me some happiness – but I also have to be on constant alert for snakes.
I am on call for the kids – my adult son and teenage daughter both squeal, and not with delight, and off I go to ‘catch and remove’ whatever creature they have discovered! (I still think I have a mini heart attack every time I have to catch one of those large moths, ha ha!)

BUT!!!!

I get the opportunity to practice PLENTY of gratitude during all of this, especially when we are given the most wonderful opportunities of experiencing a little bit of coolness. Everyone notices the instant happiness that pretty much floods my being! Ha ha ha!

And the absolute best part of it all?

I truly love butterflies. I once visited a butterfly sanctuary with the purpose of a picnic lunch in the botanical gardens after. I wanted a few more minutes with the butterflies, and before I knew it, everyone had finished their two hour relaxing lunch and it was time to go… and I was still standing with my butterflies! Yes, I was very hungry by dinner time! πŸ˜›

This horrible heat and humidity that is brought by the month of February also brings plenty of butterfly sightings! I sometimes see four or five, all in one day! And a couple of days ago, the most exquisite black and bright blue one followed me in to my house when I had finished hanging the washing on the line. It sat on the wall above my bed, and actually looked more like a sticker than a living creature! I reached for my phone to take a picture, but it was clearly camera shy and fluttered away, back out of my bedroom door (that leads on to my patio). And as strange as it sounds, that just made my day! ❀

Yesterday was just plain strange! I popped in at ‘the shop up the road’, which is a small supermarket, and while I was standing looking at the fruit, I heard a buzzing sound. I looked to my left and there was a bee hovering next to me. I put some banana’s in my basket, and hurried off to the first aisle, only to discover that the bee had decided to go with me! And would you believe it, he continued to follow me, and hover next to me, throughout that whole darn store! Ha ha ha ha!
There was an old lady in the checkout queue ahead of me, and my bee friend was still next to me. She turned to look, and I laughed and explained ‘he’s been following me since I arrived, silly bee’! She laughed and said, ”it’s your brightly coloured aura and the positive energy you exude, he thinks you’re a flower!”
I just laughed even more and replied, ”or probably because today I actually put on perfume!” πŸ˜›

What is my point? (Other than complaining about the heat and humidity? πŸ˜› )

Well? It’s a miserable time for me πŸ˜› The weather we are having makes me sticky and uncomfortable, and sucks the energy out of me. It will slowly begin to move on though, and I imagine that by the end of April, I will be feeling a whole lot better about the weather πŸ˜‰
(And no, I won’t be complaining about the cold!!!)
But I will miss my butterflies!
(And so long as the bees stay away from my dogs, and don’t sting me, I might miss having one as my companion too πŸ˜› )

It’s a very effective reminder for me that even in uncomfortable circumstances, there is always something good to be appreciated, even if it’s as small as a butterfly!

And I also remembered a dialogue… I don’t remember where from, but it may have been something I watched last year :

”Will the storms ever stop?”
”Perhaps not. But neither will the rainbows!”

Thank you for reading πŸ˜‰

Go to the Trees!

I’ve mentioned before that one of my all time favourite movies is ”You’ve Got Mail”.

Whenever ‘bad’ things happen, I can hear Tom Hanks doing his ”Godfather” impression in the movie, telling Meg Ryan to ”go to the mattresses”. ”GO TO WAR! Use ruthless tactics, if you must! But fight fight fight!”

When I get off my mattress in the morning though, I go to the trees! πŸ˜‰ (and I am ruthless about focusing on positive self talk πŸ˜› πŸ˜‰ )

Somebody once told me that their peaceful place is a beach – the rolling waves and the cry of seagulls, the sand between their toes… it instantly calms them.
I smiled, because that isn’t my sedative πŸ˜‰ and told them, ”I’m a forest and waterfall, mountains kinda girl.”

Neither option is safe for me to run to for some solitude in my area. BUT there ARE trees!!!! And I always feel a sense of silent wonderment when I gaze upon them!

I am not a tree hugger in the sense of ‘campaigning for the environment’… but I have been known to hug a tree once or twice, ha ha ha!

And when things go wrong, as they so often do; and when I am feeling sad or angry or overwhelmed…
I go to the trees! Sometimes this means finding a place to pull over in my car where there is a tree, so that I can just look at it!
And most times I am amused when my brain reminds me : you’re feeling down, and now you’re looking up πŸ˜‰

I have no idea where this fascination or appreciation comes from – I do think it’s a culmination of many things, and people. But I do remember that as a child we had a large garden with big trees – some I would climb, and some I would hide behind. I’d use the large trunk to support my back, and read ”The Enchanted Wood” series. Hmmm, perhaps I have Enid Blyton to thank πŸ˜‰

And then there was the garden next door!
It was huge, and the side section was made up of a maze of pathways in amongst the lilies, daisies and clivias, and what to this little girl seemed like giant Weeping Willows!
The couple who lived there were grandparents – not mine – but they might as well have been, ha ha! I would often go there for tea – freshly baked scones with jam and cream, or whatever batch of homemade biscuits/cookies had just been baked! And then I would go and help Uncle Ian in the garden, while Aunty June rang my mother to let her know I was with them (because sometimes I just went there without seeking permission to! Ha ha!) Tea was always after the garden!
Uncle Ian knew how much I loved my Enchanted Wood books, and would let me drone on about the interesting characters, never once getting impatient with me!
And one day when I arrived unannounced, he told me he had known I was coming and he had a surprise for me. Looking back now as an adult, I am still filled with such fondness for that dear old man!

As we approached the Weeping Willows, he put his finger to his lips and whispered, ”You need to be very quiet. Maybe you will spot a fairy!” My eyes were suddenly the largest they had ever been, and they glistened with excitement as my lips made an excited oval! He smiled, and continued whispering, ”I think the fairies have come to live here because of you. Be careful where you step, because they have made little beds in places on the side of the path. Off you go now! I’ll wait here. They might run away if they see me!”
And he waited and watched as I tiptoed along the path, being extra careful where I put my feet, my eyes searching the area for fairy beds, and fairies!
The fairies were afraid of me, and stayed hidden… but oh! I found some of their little beds!!! Tufts of canopy foliage all bunched together – and some even slept with a small daisy as a pillow! (I grew up and realised he had made those little beds, especially for me! I think my heart did cartwheels the day I realised that!)

Inwardly, I squealed with delight upon every discovery – but I remembered what Uncle Ian had said about scaring the fairies, and so I would look back at him with a huge smile, my eyes dancing, and a finger to my lips, nodding that I understood. And he would be standing there, in the same spot under the shade of a tree, smiling back at me.
We had eight magical months of fairy seeking (despite my mother being extremely unhappy about it because he was filling my head with nonsense!) – and my imagination being what it was, I even caught a glimpse of a few fairies in that time πŸ˜‰ And then Uncle Ian got really sick, and a few days later he passed away.
I snuck back into the garden one day, without first seeking out Aunty June because I knew she was sad. I couldn’t find a single fairy bed, and I remember curling up on the path, staring up at the Weeping Willows, and weeping!
I wasn’t there for very long when Aunty June found me. (My mother had rung to say I was missing and Aunty June knew where I would be.)
Over tea and scones she explained to me that the fairies had gone with Uncle Ian, to look after him. And I actually remember that that made my heart happy!
I’m guessing Uncle Ian played a big part in my love for trees too!

Why all the tree ‘bark’ (talk)? πŸ˜›

I saw something on Facebook, and it actually made me cry! Thinking back on the last 40 plus years of my life, I identified with every single word of it! The ending was an epiphany of sorts!

Trees help me breathe! Not just because they produce oxygen! They truly stop me in my tracks… they force me to pause in their magical beauty… they remind me to BREATHE!

I don’t know what works for you…. I don’t know what it is that reminds you, in pain and sorrow and anger and confusion; in moments where you just want to give up…. TO BREATHE….

But my hope for every single one of you reading this is that in the coming days whatever that thing is, it will find its way to you somehow, in immense amounts, so that whatever you are facing, you will be able to remember to ‘just breathe’! ❀