Unbecoming

Definition : not fitting or appropriate; unseemly

The weeks have flown by, and I have failed miserably at the ‘art of blogging’. I am winning though… more about that to follow πŸ˜‰

The title word, and it’s meaning, is a word I can’t say I am too fond of. Growing up, I heard it far too many times! The sentence usually went something like this :

”That is unbecoming behaviour for a young lady!”

The year I turned five, I had a lovely birthday party at home with all my friends from pre-school. In those days I was not fond of wearing dresses, mostly because they were forced on me. (Nowadays I seldom wear them, but when I do wear a dress or a long skirt it is by choice, and I will admit that at those times dressing that way brings me pleasure.)
My mother had purchased a dress for me for the party, to add to all those hanging in my cupboard, much to my dismay! It was white (good grief, I don’t even wear white now because I still can’t keep it clean πŸ˜› ) with red polka dots. She made me wear my hair in pigtails, with bright red ribbons. The white shoes she purchased remained safe, as I kicked them off just a few minutes into the celebration! πŸ˜‰
There was a stern reminder shortly before my guests arrived that I was a young lady, and should behave accordingly.
And I was fine for the first little bit. Then all us children went outside to my front garden to play.

The girls flitted about, shyly giggling and picking flowers. The boys began a game of ‘touches’, and were soon running off some of their energy. Michael and James had other plans. (YES! I still remember their names – just not their surnames, and I can even tell you what they looked like, but I have no idea what happened to them after we left pre-school, or where in the world they are now!)
These boys were trouble for a ‘lady’, but they were who I chose to spend most of my time during school hours with, ha ha!
Their plan was to climb the Plumeria tree (also known as a Frangipani) in our garden… and I was all for it!
With a quick glance towards the house to make sure that my mother was still inside, I took off running behind them and soon I was climbing…. IN MY DRESS!
The trouble that would come my way if my mother caught me was nothing compared to the trouble I actually did get into in the end!
If only we’d stayed away from that one branch!
It was longer than the others, and we decided that we could all sit on it, in a row, and observe the others playing games and picking flowers. James went first. And all was well. I slowly crept towards him, and giggled when he said, ”We should get on the roof. Imagine the view then!” Safely settled, we motioned to Michael, and he hesitantly scooted along on his bottom. I saw my aunt come out of our house, and disappear quickly back inside. And I whispered to the boys, ”Uh oh, we better go! My mother’s coming!”
I believe the branch was busy dying… and our sudden panicked haste probably didn’t help matters, but the next thing there was a loud noise and we all fell to the ground, branch included!

None of us had any broken bones – but all three of us were winded. And my dress got torn! We caught our breath, and all began to laugh. Until my mother arrived to stand before us, hands on her hips, muttering about my behaviour and my dress! I was taken back into the house, to change and wash my face because it was dirty, and of course receive the stern lecture I knew would come if I got caught. I spent the rest of my party seated on the verandah with the other girls who were then playing with my dolls.
At bedtime that evening it was like someone had pressed play on a tape recorder as the words came again, ”That is not how a lady behaves. I am so disappointed!”

And I remember thinking as that little girl : ”But what if I don’t want to be a lady?”

The irony is that I tend towards being one anyway, ha ha! My friends often tease (and it really is a loving tease, and we laugh together about it) that I am sometimes so ‘prim and proper’, so ‘elegant and correct’, (although they always assure me that it is never in a stuck-up way!) and when I use big words my one young friend giggles and comments, ”Yes, Miss Cultured”. I remember going to a biker’s rally once and having one of the guys tease me that ‘a girl like me is too sophisticated and classy for a joint like this’ – that made me laugh so loud, I think he changed his mind πŸ˜›

There are times when I truly enjoy being a lady these days – but if I’m not wearing a dress and it’s a relatively easy climb, you might even find me up a tree πŸ˜‰

So that explains – in a rather long winded manner, sorry! – why the word unbecoming is not one I am fond of. ALL that said though, there is this :

And I happen to like the word as it is being used in the image above. There are things from childhood, from my teen years, and possibly even things drilled into me as a young adult, that have become, for me, ”limiting beliefs”. These things have contributed to the issues I have with self esteem – and have brought with them guilt and shame in so many ways!
And so, as the word stands in the image above, I have begun down the uneven and unknown path in my journey where I am trying to let go of a lot of those things, and acknowledge that there may actually be a chance that ”they” were wrong.
It’s not easy, and at times it’s quite exhausting. There are things that I don’t want to have arguments in my head about πŸ˜›
BUT…..

Back to the beginning of this blog post? I am winning, everyone! πŸ˜‰

I am not getting everything I want. I am not getting to avoid the hard things. I am not getting an immediate relief from guilt and shame. I am not getting the instant ability of undoing the limits.

BUT I AM GETTING SO MUCH MORE along the way, as I occasionally stub my toe on a rock I didn’t see. πŸ˜›
And this time, I am truly appreciating each of those lessons!

Thank you for sticking around to read πŸ˜‰ Here’s to unbecoming – in a ladylike manner πŸ˜› πŸ˜‰
I hope you are all well ❀

Closer to beauty

Photo credit : cafepress.com

When I was ten years old, my brother had a sign like this stuck on his bedroom door. And every time he saw me glance at it, he’d be sure to tell me, ”You aren’t one of us”. At that time in my life, surrounded by a lot of rejection and painful circumstances, it hurt… and it was one of those hurts that I carried with me into my adult life.
It’s only now that I can laugh at it when I think about it, because I realise that his intention was to be funny, and not to add more pain to my life. It’s just his sense of humour!

This same brother (I have two who are much older than me, and he is the younger of the two) gave me something else to carry into my adult life, which has actually been quite valuable.

Between the ages of 17 and 19, this brother spent a lot of his spare time with his music blaring, and either a Scrabble board, or a large puzzle on a board, on his bed. The love for Scrabble was thanks to our grandparents, and he and I were the only two in our extended family who grew to love it so much that we’d play against ourselves for hours! Would you believe, we never played a game together, even though we lived in the same house!
But that’s not what I wanted to tell you about…. I wanted to tell you about his puzzle!

He had a beautiful puzzle, a seemingly deserted island, with two palm trees and a hammock; blue seas and a sunlit sky. When he had finished building it on his large piece of firm cardboard, he grabbed his glue, and patiently (I think it’s one of the few time I remember him being patient πŸ˜› ) stuck the individual pieces to the card. But he left one off! Right in the middle of the puzzle! And then in the space at the bottom of the sheet, he wrote these words :

Even paradise isn’t perfect!

I saw it stuck up on his wall a few days later, and commented, ”Well, that’s just dumb. You left a piece off. It’s ruined!”
I will never forget his reply!

”Nothing, and no one, is perfect. And if you think something is ruined just because it isn’t perfect, you’ll be miserable!”

I’ll admit that I have not always applied those words! But here’s what I have learnt along the way :

Yes, it is good to have expectations of things and people; to know limits and forge forward. But when we are pushed to the limit, or our expectations are not met, it is important to focus on acceptance, instead of disappointment.

Wait, what? Are you saying I am not allowed to be disappointed?

Nope! Not at all!

Feeling is equally as important as doing. In fact, it’s usually how we feel that determines what we do next.

In small moments of disappointment, it is easy for me to ‘get over it and move on’. When disappointments are great, it’s a lot harder! And sometimes take a lot longer to ‘get over’. When the tears roll down my cheeks and I feel every bit of that disappointment weighing heavy on me both physically and emotionally, I let myself feel it. I don’t even question it. I just go with it. Sometimes it even makes me angry enough to scream into my pillow πŸ˜› And my thoughts are sometimes not even very pleasant either!

But I don’t stay there.

After a few minutes, I tell myself, ”Well, girl, even paradise isn’t perfect. Stop expecting everything else to be!”
And sometimes it’s a temporary fix, that just helps me get through the rest of that day! Some things are so overwhelming that they rear their ugly heads over and over, at the most inconvenient times!
So I become a shampoo bottle! Lather (let myself feel it), rinse (remind myself about the reality of imperfection) and repeat if desired (the next time it comes along)! πŸ˜‰

When I think of that puzzle now, even though there was a piece missing, I could still see the hammock, the palm trees, the blue sea, the sunlit sky. It was no longer a perfectly finished puzzle, but it still had incredible beauty and elicited a feeling of peace and relaxation.

So here’s hoping that in your week ahead, even though it might be slightly disrupted and less than perfect, you will still be able to see some of the beauty and feel some of the peace! ❀

Awakenings

‘Leonard Lowe : We’ve got to tell everybody. We’ve got to remind them. We’ve got to remind them how good it is.

Dr. Sayer : How good what is, Leonard?

Leonard Lowe : Read the newspaper. What does it say? All bad. It’s all bad. People have forgotten what life is all about. They’ve forgotten what it is to be alive. They need to be reminded. They need to be reminded of what they have and what they can lose. What I feel is the joy of life, the gift of life, the freedom of life, the wonderment of life!

and……

β€œThe human spirit is more powerful than any drug, and that is what needs to be nourished: with work, play, friendship, family. These are the things that matter. This is what we’d forgotten, the simplest things.”
ROBIN WILLIAMS – Dr. Malcolm Sayer

The above are two quotes from the 1990 movie, Awakenings”.

I was a pre-teen when this movie came out (yes, I am old πŸ˜› ) and the day of my cousin’s wedding, we all headed to the movies afterwards to watch it. (all the cousins, except the one who had just got married, of course!) I didn’t fully understand the movie back then, but it still made me cry. And I was teased relentlessly for months afterwards because I was the only one in our group of 9 who did so.

In my twenties, I still remembered that early evening at the movies. I found that I could no longer recall the movie itself, or why it had me cry, and so I sought it out to watch it again. Yip! I cried again! I think it’s impact on me changed somewhat though, because I was more mature and able to understand better.

What made me think of, or reminded me of, this movie?

On Friday evening, I had a brief conversation with my neighbour. We’ve been living opposite each other in our housing complex for almost ten years now. And after a few years, we became friends. Even though we live so close, our schedules don’t always allow for social time, and so every now and then you’ll find us having ‘driveway conversations’ in passing. Once or twice, her husband has even brought us cups of coffee while we’re doing so πŸ˜› (And the best husband award goes to…. πŸ˜› )
Friday evening was a ‘scheduled driveway conversation’. Because we sometimes do that too! πŸ˜›
I had asked her to let me know when she came home and had time for a quick chat – yes, I can see when she comes home πŸ˜› But she has two young boys, so I prefer not to stop her on her way in to the house, but instead allow her time to say hello etc. She messaged me when she was free and we met on her driveway. I asked my question, she told me what she thought, and we moved on to a general quick catch up. We parted ways about thirty minutes later, and her parting comment to me was, ”I just don’t know how you do it… but I’ll say this : in all of it, you’re changing. In a really good way. Yes, you’re softer… but in ways that count… and it’s not a bad thing. Keep going, because it’s actually a strength.”

Those words have been a running loop in my brain ever since.

We all know that the world, and sometimes people closest to us, will tell us ‘you’re too this, or too that’- you’re too much, or not enough. We all know that sometimes that truly hurts us, or angers us, and bitterness momentarily creeps in.

And yet we are so quick to do the same to others!

I am definitely going through a ‘time of awakening’. There is no doubt in my mind of that! I can’t tell you exactly when it started but I know it is happening. I know because I am experiencing it daily.
I am just beginning to SEE things differently, in every way. And it has become a whole new journey on its own! It has its own rewards, but it is also probably one of the most difficult journey’s I have ever had to make. It is NOT easy, and I’d be lying if I said there were not times that I wish I could just go back. Especially since all of a sudden, daily, troubles are abounding – and not of the small variety either!

And having the very nature of my soul softening even more than what it has ever been, means that I am now open to being hurt more easily, as well as feeling more hurt on an even deeper level. It is increasing my levels of compassion and kindness and making me even more patient and tolerant than what I ever thought I could be. Even my reasoning is changing : a small example?
In the past, in a particular situation, I was known to ‘tolerate’ because if I didn’t, then xyz would happen and it would affect me – for all intents and purposes, giving that person a semblance of control over me; allowing them to use me because of the ‘carrot they could dangle in front of me’.
Now, I find myself tolerating even more than before, being more understanding, responding a little more gently because lashing out at them, saying my piece to purposely hurt them (because I really could), rebelling and excusing it as standing up for myself? NONE of those things would be a reflection of good character. None of those things would benefit the situation in any way, other than to make it worse. And it would disrupt my peace and joy entirely!

Please don’t get me wrong. I understand the concepts of ‘telling it like it is; not wasting time beating around the bush; brutal honesty is sometimes a necessity’. I know that there are many times in life that call for all those things. And if those things, delivered as is, bring you peace, cause you to grow in a positive way, help you move forward in life, and bring you an explainable joy even in times of trouble? Then that is YOUR journey and what works for YOU!

But I have begun to realise that in MY journey – those things don’t work for me. They disrupt my inner peace and attempt to steal my joy. They stunt my growth and stop me in my tracks.
Delivering what possibly needs to be said with brutal honesty/just telling like it is, knowing that I am deeply hurting someone else (especially when it’s under the guise of ‘I say it/do it because I love you’) is not the time for ME to have the attitude of ‘sorry not sorry’.

For me? I reserve the right to use ‘sorry not sorry’ in this way :
I will continue to try and be kind, and grateful, and understanding, even towards those who have hurt me, and are not deserving of my compassion in any way. (It is so difficult!!!) I will continue to be respectful and considerate of them for the most part. I will deliver things that do have to be said gently, without intention to hurt. This does not mean that their behaviour is being excused, or that I am ‘allowing’ them to treat me badly because I am ‘broken/a sucker for punishment/a victim of abuse/a doormat/unable to win at life’.
It just means that I want MY character to reflect something different to theirs.
It just means that I want to continue to grow IN MYSELF, in a positive way, spreading goodness and love and mercy – being this way is what brings me inner peace and joy in ways that I cannot explain.

And neither way is wrong. Because how we choose to be is what works for us, as INDIVIDUALS!

Which one are you? Which way do you choose to be? (Rhetorical questions!)
Parting thought on this post : a new week lies ahead and my note to self for it is this :

Dearest Meg, respect ‘the journey’. And not just your own!

And just keep being who you are, growing in the ways that bring you joy, peace, gratitude and appreciation for all the simple and beautiful things in life that YOU WANT! The things that matter to YOU! Stop letting other people’s opinions about your journey weigh so heavily on you! Don’t be distracted, or stand in judgement, of someone else’s journey. You’ve got your own ride πŸ˜‰


With Compliments…

This is all I have for you today… and no, I am not looking for compliments πŸ˜›

It’s just a small reminder of the things that really count – what really matters!

For me, it’s always great to hear that I have pretty eyes, or that I don’t look old enough to have an adult son πŸ˜›
But that feeling I get is nothing in comparison to the warmth I feel when someone compliments the matters of my heart and positive attributes of my personality!

Because at times like that I know that they have taken the time to truly see ME!

Please try and get out there today and SEE the people around you – and if you feel brave enough, maybe give them a compliment πŸ˜‰ Because they matter….

AND SO DO YOU! ❀

random acts of kindness

”Actions speak louder than words.”

I understand that this age old proverb is wise and valuable. But we need to be careful when and where and how we choose to apply it. To be honest, it is actually a proverb that I don’t like. Not at all. Partially because it has been ‘thrown at me’ way too many times, and in situations that actually made it meaningless. I’ll give you an example – but not from my own life. I saw someone share this proverb as an image on Facebook this morning, and while it brought back so many bad memories for me, it also made me think of an old friend of mine – probably because she shared my sentiment about the proverb itself! So here is a piece of her story, we’ll call her Jess.

Jess was bright and talented. She was a girl who was going places. She was outgoing and lively, and one of those types of people who had a very clear path mapped out for what her life was going to look like.
Towards the end of her final year at high school, at 18 years of age, Jess fell pregnant. She was not married, and not in a relationship either. She completed her high school education, and gave birth a few months later. Her baby boy was put up for adoption.
And the people who ‘knew her’… knew her personality and her plan for her life? Well, they judged accordingly.
“Being that outgoing and lively, and I guess flirtatious? Well, I am not surprised she ended up pregnant! And as for giving the baby away? Well, he didn’t exactly fall into her mapped out plan for her life, did he?”
And in some ways, their words and judgements seemed to fit.
I met Jess three years later. I heard the background from the mutual friend who first introduced us. He added, ”I don’t know how much of it is true as such, but she’s never disputed any of it, so I guess it must be.”
A few years later Jess told me ‘the story’ – her story. And it made me cry for her.
Jess had been very involved in rowing when she was in her final years of high school. There was a huge regatta, with teams from all over the country. Afterwards, there was a social function. Jess had said her goodbyes, and made her way to her car. It was dark, and the light she thought she had parked under happened to have a blown bulb. One of the guys from a visiting team, who had had too much to drink, had followed her. He raped her. And she fell pregnant.
Her parents were sickly, and poor. They left the decision up to her, but told her that they could not help with the baby. She soul searched and got counselling for months, and decided that it was best to give him up. She never had anymore children, and to be honest, I don’t think she ever quite got over giving her little one away.
After she told me her story, I asked her why she had never defended herself when the rumours began.
Her words were, ”People will believe what they want to – even when you tell them the truth. It’s their choice. And let’s face it, my actions – who I was – seemed to match up pretty well with their version. I also didn’t want everyone to know that I had been raped. Or how poor we really were. I was ashamed. So I just left it alone. But Meggy, the lesson in there for me was this : never judge another because you really don’t know the things they had to choose from. There is ALWAYS a story. There is always a reason. And unless you know it in it’s entirety, don’t listen to others, don’t judge, don’t assume.
And I can say with absolute certainty that she truly lived that lesson in her life!

Today is ”Random Acts of Kindness Day”

The story above may seem extreme, and I am sure you are wondering how it ties in to ‘the day’ we are supposed to be celebrating….

Well….

When it comes to ‘random acts of kindness’, there is often reference to ‘paying for a stranger’s coffee’, or ‘smiling at and complimenting someone you don’t know’, or ‘baking cookies for an old age home’ etc.
And these are all very valid and very beautiful things to do.

But what if, inwardly, instead of judging or being irritated by the tramp, the alcoholic, the drug addict, the prostitute, we stop for a moment and actually see them? What if we do ourselves a kindness by opening that box in our hearts that contains compassion and understanding? What if, instead of only seeing the action, we choose to see that perhaps something truly terrible may have happened to them in their youth, or at whatever stage in their lives, that has actually caused the action we are seeing now?

Some people may never actually tell their story. But most times, there will be something in their actions/behaviour that will confirm that there is definitely a story to be told, and that it isn’t pretty.

Not judging others, even in small ways, is difficult to do. It is something I have wrestled with many times. Especially when their actions are hurtful to me personally. As I have got older though, I have carried the words Jess said to me in my heart, and find myself more easily able to refer to them and practice them. Especially now that so many parts of my own story tie in with it.

On this day (and every day, really) I will not only find ways to be kind to others….
I will also be kind to myself…
By acknowledging how unfair and hurtful it is when others judge my actions or behaviour and shun me, without knowing my story, or even caring to ask my why…
And not doing the same to the people I encounter in my life.

butterflies

Nope. I am not experiencing the flutter of excitement that comes with a new love interest.
Sorry. Not sorry πŸ˜›

But I learned something new today, and you’re probably going to laugh when I tell you what I have learned because it’s quite possible that you already know. It fascinated me though, and added to my perspective on butterflies and humans πŸ˜‰

First though, I want to share some of my favourite butterfly quotes :

There are two ‘things’ that I absolutely love. Butterflies… and the colour purple. My friends often comment how easy it is to pick out a gift for me – if they can’t find anything with a butterfly on it, then they just buy something purple. Anything purple! πŸ˜› My dad gave me the best thing I have in my kitchen – a clingfilm hard plastic holder…. IT’S PURPLE πŸ˜›
If I ever got to immigrate, it would be packed in my suitcase! πŸ˜‰

When it comes to butterflies, and likening them to humans, I usually say this :

A caterpillar gets one chance. There is one process of change. And then it goes from being what some consider ‘ugly’ to a creature of great beauty. In that process of change, the caterpillar thinks its life is over, and yet its life is just beginning again… giving it wings to soar.
And I have told more than one person how grateful I am that we get those processes and opportunities to change and become more beautiful MORE THAN ONCE in our lifetimes! That sometimes to us, when we are in a bad place or feeling down and depressed and anxious? Well, let’s admit it, we have actually all been there at some stage or another and the burden is heavy and we feel that life has no purpose, that this moment will never end, that there is no point and that true beauty will elude us forever. BUT THEN? Something blows on that tiny flame of hope within us that is still flickering, and it suddenly flickers a little stronger and we are able to carry on. How wonderful is that? We find ‘new wings’ and are able to soar once again.

What I learned this morning just added to what I have told more than one person!

I did not know that during the caterpillar’s process of becoming a butterfly, in the Chrysalis, the caterpillar ‘melts’ almost completely! :O It releases enzymes that literally digest nearly ALL of its OWN BODY!
So basically, it dissolves into a disgusting pile of gooey substance before it can transform into a beautiful butterfly!

My new addition (and takeaway from the process above) will be this :
So you think you’re having a meltdown? It’s okay! Let yourself FEEL it! Pull the covers over your head and hide if you need to. Take a little time.
Just don’t stay there too long! Remember to emerge!
You may still feel ‘sticky’.
Keep going!
But what if I fail?
Well, what if you fly? πŸ˜‰

the reflection

When you look in the mirror, what do you see? And no, I don’t just mean physical appearance. I don’t know about you, but glancing in the mirror at myself, I don’t just see my physical reflection. For some reason it sparks a quick ‘check in’ with my mind and soul too.

Looking in the mirror can be a tough one for many of us – and it may surprise some to know that the ‘us’ who struggle with it are not just women!

When you’re in a good place in your life, the mirror’s reflection will make you smile, as you will see everything good. For some, this is most of their lives.
But for many it isn’t so.
Especially when there has been a history of abuse.

I want you to know, if you struggle, that I hear you. And I feel you.
Many times I stared in that mirror with harshness. I was truly my own worst enemy, critical of everything about me. I seemed to remember every mistake I had made, and berated myself for all of them. I noticed every line, every wrinkle, every scar – and I felt ugly.
I could feel the anger growing – at myself, at those who had hurt me, at the world as a whole.
And I would walk away from that mirror feeling frustrated and sad, angry and rejected.

It takes time.

I intensely disliked that statement. ”It takes time”. I have always been a fairly patient person, but hearing that always sparked a response in my mind, ”Good grief! How much longer? What a farce!”

But it happened. Slowly, at first.
And it doesn’t just take time. It happened when my attitude began to change. And that in itself was extremely difficult!
I don’t even remember the beginning of the change.
All I remember is that I made a choice.

I had seen, and experienced first hand, the damage that bitterness does – not just to the individual, but to every person they ‘touch’. I also noticed how that bitterness spilled over into almost everything, and because it was not dealt with, it grew at an alarming rate. And it negatively affected all other emotions. I watched that individual for many years (it wasn’t me) and saw how the only emotions that seemed to ‘increase’ along with that bitterness that never stopped growing were dissatisfaction, anger, sadness, misery.

And some of those things ‘latched’ onto me. But I think I was in denial. Or perhaps I was so busy trying to survive my circumstances, that I didn’t give them the attention they deserved.

All I know is that about four years ago, I began my journey with personal growth. It was sparked by the thought, ”There has to be more to life than this”. And as I began to delve into parts of my mind that ‘just were’, I was horrified to discover that even though it wasn’t a permanent state of mind, I was definitely nurturing my own little garden of bitterness, and all the other things that came with it!

And I made a choice. Because I had seen first hand how destructive these things were, and I knew I didn’t want to ‘end up’ like that individual!

The journey has not been pleasant. I still have to find that path sometimes. And I share all this because I want you to know that THERE IS HOPE and it IS possible to break the cycle.

Most days now, I can look in the mirror and be gentle. But it took time for me to get here. And hard work. And a willingness to change my attitude.
I still see the scars and lines and wrinkles, but I also see the strength and courage… and the places that have creased my face from laughter πŸ˜‰
I see the beauty of compassion.
I see love and kindness.
I see a woman worthy of both.
I see a woman who still makes mistakes, but now views them differently. Who now looks for the lesson.

I am growing. I hope I keep growing. Because it gets better and better.

Life has a lot to offer! If we let it. ❀

Suddenly

Isn’t is amazing how quickly things can change?

On Wednesday, we were adjusting to the ‘return to school’ routine – very different to the usual school time routines, and not only because times had changed, but also from the perspective of the current pandemic and all the checks and sanitising, before and during school hours. Then of course, repeating it all upon returning home.

On Thursday evening, our President announced that schools would close again on Friday, for a month. My daughter got three days of ‘normalcy’, and then was thrown back into ‘stay at home’. I found myself singing Billy Ocean’s song ‘Suddenly‘, but of course only the word ‘Suddenly’ really applied.

I noticed the change in her after the announcement – like a switch had been flipped.Β 

She has been ‘fine’ throughout our situation here – despite not seeing anyone for more than 100 days (I believe our very strict lock down has been over 140 days now – crazy! That means it’s been that long since I have had any social time with my friends too! We’re not allowed to visit in each others homes – it’s against the law. BUT we can go to the casino together and expose ourselves there?!?!?!)
It’s been strange to have her coping so well, simply because she is the most social of the three of us. She is a teen girl who has always thrived being around others – definitely not an introvert by any means. It’s almost like she has always ‘fed off the energy of others’.
But two weeks ago, she had a melt down. She came to me, laughing about something, and I started laughing too – then all of a sudden, her face changed and she burst into tears.

I feared someone had said something to upset her – apparently not. Her words were, ”I don’t know what’s wrong. I think I am losing my mind. This lock down is making me crazy”. We spoke for a long while, and the upside for her was that in a week she would see people again, with the return to school. She was back to her bright, chatty, almost impossible ( πŸ˜› ) self when I fetched her that first day! The announcement had a huge impact.

A couple of months ago, she started with a strange breathing problem. I have stayed on the alert since then, checking for other symptoms, but it’s definitely not the virus. She would be breathing, big gasps almost, saying that it felt like that last little bit just wasn’t filling her lungs. Now… I get the same when I am too anxious… and I wondered if it was possible that she was now anxious because of the current situation.
I had to take her to the doctor for her shoulder on Friday. She did something to it during one of her Zoom dancing classes. Apparently the trapezius muscle is in spasm and is strained – I told her ‘I knew you were too funny’, and then had to explain – trapeze = circus = clown. It’s a running joke in our house how she misses the humor – and yes, she laughs about it too!
SO… while we were at the doctor, I explained about her breathing. He checked her oxygen levels, which were 99%!!!! And listened to her chest – no issues there. Then he asked her a few questions, and yes, it’s anxiety. He gave her a few tips, and suggested a proven, herbal pill to help her cope.

I found myself humming ‘Suddenly’ on the way home… and actually disappeared to my room to listen to it when we got home. And I found something in there for her, and I, and the anxiety and pandemic, ha ha ha! It’s funny how our brains operate, and find things in the strangest of places – like finding inspiration and a sense of peace in a love song, to apply to something that has nothing to do with romantic love πŸ˜›

(And please don’t get me wrong, this does not come from a ‘place of perfection’. I have not achieved the ultimate 24 hour peace and happiness, as such. I still have moments where I am tearful, or angry. I still struggle sometimes to make sense of it all, and it affects the way I am feeling. Sometimes it only lasts an hour, sometimes it lasts a day. But then I retake the stock in my attitude and emotions, and make a come back πŸ˜‰ Seeing the effects manifest in my beautiful teenage ‘baby girl’ hurt me deeply, and I was sad – and angry – about it on Friday, for a good few hours.)

I let her listen to the song – and after that she kind of rolled her eyes and said, ”MOM! That’s a love song!!!! How does that help me?”
The gist of what followed was this :

Suddenly, in this pandemic, life has new meaning – although some would say there is just no meaning at all. We look at what is happening in our country, and the rules and regulations that make absolutely no sense, and there is little meaning in it all.Β 
We cannot control anything that is happening around us and to us as a result.Β 
But we still have our own feelings, perspectives, attitudes – which we can control.Β 

As bad and sad as we may feel, we need to remember that there is still beauty in this world, and in our lives. Our vision is blurred by the situation and circumstances, and so we need to make an effort to seek it out, and we’ll find it. It may be in something small, but it’s better than nothing at all. It’s in the things we forget to take notice of – the silly things sometimes too. There may be little about the pandemic to love, but there is still much about ourselves and our lives that weΒ can love.Β 

She was quiet for a few minutes, and then she started laughing. I gave her my raised eyebrow / questioning look, and she answered me πŸ˜‰
”Well, I don’t have to see Jared and have awkward moments for another month (he’s her ‘ex boyfriend’); and I can shower and put on a new pair of pj’s when I don’t have dancing; and I can still video call with my friends and not have to stop myself from randomly hugging them.” Yesterday, she came through to my room laughing, because her and her two best friends had come up with four other advantages to the current situation.

Here’s hoping that we all find the parts of life that we can love, despite the circumstances. That we notice the beauty in our current stressful and unusual situations. And that when we find that we are lacking in reasons to laugh, that we find the courage to be honest, and reach out, and ask our friends and family to help us to.Β 

 

Great moments

This morning, I have been seeking inspiration. Something to share with all of you. And I came across a story that I have read a few times before, and it made me cry, as it always does. The message is one of such great importance and is a reminder of how many great moments we could be experiencing that we sometimes let pass us by because we’re tired, or busy, or rushing… I just thought I’d share it today.

A reminder to me that not only does a small measure of kindness go a long way and sometimes have great meaning to others, but that sometimes it can impact us in a very great way too – and become one of our ‘great moments’ that we so often seek.

The last ride…

I arrived at the address and honked the horn. After waiting a few minutes, I honked again. Since this was going to be my last ride of my shift, I thought about just driving away, but instead I put the car in park and walked up to the door and knocked.

‘Just a minute’, answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor. After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 90s stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940s movie. By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets. There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.’Would you carry my bag out to the car?’ she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman. She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb. She kept thanking me for my kindness. ‘It’s nothing’, I told her. ‘I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother to be treated.’ ‘Oh, you’re such a good boy’, she said.When we got in the cab, she gave me an address and then asked, ‘Could you drive through downtown?’ ‘It’s not the shortest way’,’ I answered quickly. ‘Oh, I don’t mind,’ she said. ‘I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a hospice.’ I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. ‘I don’t have any family left’, she continued in a soft voice. ‘The doctor says I don’t have very long.’ I quietly reached over and shut off the meter.’What route would you like me to take?’ I asked. For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl. Sometimes she’d ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.

As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, ‘I’m tired. Let’s go now’. We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico. Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her.

I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair. ‘How much do I owe you?’ She asked, reaching into her purse. ‘Nothing’, I said ‘You have to make a living’, she answered. ‘There are other passengers’, I responded. Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly. ‘You gave an old woman a little moment of joy’, she said. ‘Thank you.’ I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light.Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life. I didn’t pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away? On a quick review, I don’t think that I have done anything more important in my life. We’re conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware – beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.

Author: New York City taxi driver”

 

 

Beach Sunrise

I’ve mentioned before that I am a ‘mountains and waterfalls, forest and lakes’ kind of person. I think this may be largely due to the fact that I grew up in a coastal town where the beach was never more than a 5 minute car drive away.
Because we’re a coastal town, people flock to the beach in droves – and not just in Summer. Our Winter’s are generally warm, and so even though the sea temperature is not of great encouragement for swimming purposes, many visit the beach in Winter for walks, and beach games (rugby, cricket, volleyball). Young families can be found on the beach in Winter, because the children can still run and build sand castles.

It’s not that I don’t like the beach. Please don’t get me wrong. I love the ocean – but have a deep respect for it too. I love watching the waves, and can sit for hours when dolphins come out to play, or whales decide to entertain me. My children and I had the opportunity a few years back to go on a small Catamaran sailing yacht, with some of the sailors from a local yacht club. We went quite far out, and even saw a shark! It was an amazing experience and we all discovered that we may just have sea legs πŸ˜‰
I love long walks on the beach, just before sunset.

That said, I doΒ not get excited about planned beach outings. Especially when the beach is busy, which it is, more often than not, here. I like it when it’s almost deserted – but the last seven years have not allowed for enjoying this time with the horrific rise in crime.
I don’t like lying around in the sand. And I still wear long pants or a long skirt to the beach! Ha ha ha ha! I just can’t bare to share, well, my bare legs.
My friend, who is now 63, assures me that in another ten years I really won’t care what people think anymore, and I’ll don my bathing suit and go for a dip in the ocean despite them. I’m waiting another ten years πŸ˜› πŸ˜‰

At the moment, our beaches are closed. And law enforcement is prohibiting us from going for a drive, just to soak in the scenery. Our 21 day lock down is surprisingly strict for my country. They’re successfully pulling it off in my town – I suppose that’s the ‘bain’ of living in a small place. But I understand why the measures are in place, and I accept them.

I found this random picture on Facebook, to show you what my local beach looks like – it’s about a twenty minute walk from my house.

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What sparked me to look for this pic?

Because I actually want to share the pictures I am going to post below, that I saw this morning. They were taken by someone who lives along one of the beach roads… basically from the opposite side of the picture above. He shared them on our community group on Facebook this morning. They were of sunrise, today.

So I thought I’d share some sunrise beauty with all of you too! πŸ˜‰

Trusting everyone is safe and well!

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