Are you hoarding it?

One of my happy places is being given the opportunity to read to a child / children.

For my daughter’s fifth birthday (eleven years ago, where has the time gone?!?), I really didn’t have a whole lot of money (not much has changed 😛 ), but wanted her to have a party. And so I decided to put my happy place to good use. I threw her a Cinderella party, and we played ‘pass the slipper’ (a plastic bling-ed up little girls high heel). But only after I had gathered the children around to read them the story of Cinderella.
(Yes, there were boys at the party, but I didn’t hear a single one of them complain 😉 There was, after all, cake 😛 )

Because of the age group, the parents stayed for the party. That was the day that I discovered that my happy place was not just a place – but a gifting of mine! That I definitely had a talent. Every single parent at the party approached me at some stage during the party to compliment me on my ‘story delivery’. The most surprising compliment came from a man! He said, ”Meg, I’ve always known you to be expressive – but oh man! You even had me mesmerised by the story. I know it well, because my daughter requests it often. I’ll never be able to read it like you can though!”

I’ve mentioned before, in a blog post from the past, that delightful movie called ”You’ve Got Mail”!
In the movie, Meg Ryan owns a bookstore called ‘The Shop Around the Corner’. And it’s the most exquisite little bookstore! Because she has a time set when the children can come, and she reads to them! She even dresses up to do so! I look nothing like that Meg, but this Meg would love to have that bookstore and do the exact same thing!

My daughter gave me the privilege of allowing me to read to her right up until she was eleven years old. People called me ridiculous, because no one could call me, visit me, or take me out between 6:30 and 7:30pm for many years. That was ‘my’ reading time – precious moments spent, reading to my daughter, sharing my love for books and, well, my love for reading.
It was very much the same thing with my son. And both my ‘children’ (now nearly 16 and 23) still spend hours reading.

Am I sharing this with you in order to brag? To ‘toot my own horn’? Nope. I am actually sharing it because it’s something I consider an ‘epic fail’ on my part… and although the ‘fail’ may not be the same, perhaps you find yourself in a similar predicament today.

I randomly came across these two images this morning, one directly after the other :

A talent is usually defined as a ‘natural aptitude or skill’. Aptitude? Well, that is the natural ability to excel in a certain area.

When I saw those two images, the first thing that sprang to mind was, ”When last did you read to a child, Meg?”
(Yes, apparently I am also talented when it comes to talking to myself 😛 )

And I instantly felt sad because this is the one thing I am fully confident in : I am an extremely expressive person who loves reading and takes great pleasure in sharing all of that with others by reading out loud to them. And I’m not doing it. (Quite possibly because I lack full confidence in other areas that may be hindering this one – to mention one : having someone video me and posting it online.)
I simply have to work on this! It’s important… and not just to me!

Because, for whoever is reading this and nodding their head :

Imagine how boring and awful this world would be if every person who had a talent kept it to themselves? We’d have no musicians, no books to read, no Netflix 😛 (the list goes on and on)

I am sure there are many things you can do well. But what is that one thing that you do the best? Are you sharing it with the world? Or is something holding you back?

I still don’t know how I am going to drown out the noise, conquer my fears, overcome the challenges in order to use this truly beautiful talent I have! (Suggestions are welcome 😉 They might not work because of where I live – but who knows where your suggestion might send my mind to thinking 😉 )

What I do know is this : We ALL need to find a way to use the talent we have been given.

In a world where we can be anything, the saying goes that we should be ‘kind’. And sometimes being kind to others is as simple as sharing our gift with them! ❤

positive stress

Wait, what?!?

The word ‘stress’ has always held such a negative connotation for me. And 95% of the articles and conversations in my life, that have been read, heard or participated in, have all been regarding the negative side of stress – distress, as some refer to it. It has never crossed my mind that there could be a ‘positive’ type of stress… until today.

I happened to be glancing through a backlog of emails, and the subject of one was ‘positive stress’. So that is the first one I read, of course! 😉
The official term for it is ‘Eustress’. It is defined as being ‘a positive form of stress having a beneficial effect on health, motivation, performance, and emotional well-being‘.

The good stress is the kind that is nerve and hormone driven – it has to do with excitement, even if we are stepping into the unknown. The list of triggers for this kind of stress is very long, and as I read through them, I understood another statement I had read just moments earlier.

The statement was this : ”Many times good stress itself turns bad… because instead of continuing to challenge ourselves in a healthy way, we often tend to overwhelm ourselves by placing unrealistic expectations on ourselves, even though we know our resources are limited.”

One of the triggers for ‘good stress’ was ‘taking on a project that will help you showcase your strengths, which will not only bring you professional satisfaction, but many positive reactions in your emotional well-being too’.

My first reaction to reading that as being an example for eustress was a firm shake of my head. Because it didn’t happen that way for me at all! And as I pondered my reaction, I reread this statement : ”Many times good stress itself turns bad… because instead of continuing to challenge ourselves in a healthy way, we often tend to overwhelm ourselves by placing unrealistic expectations on ourselves, even though we know our resources are limited.”
And I realised that THAT was in fact what had happened to me in my situation!

In my late twenties, I had been offered an amazing opportunity to use my talents and head up a new project that my current boss was considering taking on. It would mean a lot of research, but I was going to be able to not only draft the presentation, but actually present it myself, to a group of influential people in that line of work. I hardly slept that night because I was just so excited, and the ideas swimming around in my head were ‘Olympic quality swimmers’ 😉
By lunchtime the next day, I was sick to my stomach, and convinced my heart was gearing up to fail me.
In our meeting of opportunity, my boss had actually been the one to fail me. He’d handed me the Dessert, before showing me the full menu!

The presentation meeting had already been scheduled – I had three days, start to finish!
None of the presentation work could be done during working hours, as I was already busy all day, handling all the administration for his other three businesses – this included payroll and bookkeeping etc. I was newly divorced with an eighteen-month-old baby girl, and an eight-year-old son, with no child care options available to me.
Eustress escalated quickly into distress. And by the time the meeting arrived, I was physically ill as a result of lack of sleep, and, well, ‘bad’ stress.

And at the end of it all, I was not only physically ill, but unhappy emotionally too – I knew it wasn’t my best work, I was disappointed in myself and felt inadequate…. and my confidence definitely took a knock.
I suppose the lesson in my personal experience with work stress was simply this : to know myself, to be realistic about the resources I have, and to learn to speak up before I get overwhelmed (or overwhelm myself, I suppose).
And, in all honesty, it would serve me to remember to apply that to all areas in my life 😉

I’ll close with this little list, which was provided as ways to include/introduce more positive stress in your life :

• Make an effort to learn something new every day – even if it is something small
• Get out of your comfort zone – try taking on a new challenge in the ‘great unknown’.
• Boost your positive endorphins by getting some exercise!
• Start delving into ways to set realistic, yet challenging, goals and try a new way each week, growing these over time.

And that’s all from me for today ❤
I’m off to spend some time on the new course I signed up for 😉

Because some days…

These last couple of weeks, I have had many challenges thrown my way. Life is not handing me lemons, its not even throwing them at me. I am sure it has switched to brightly coloured yellow cricket balls instead! 😛 The challenges have come by way of every aspect of my life – family, health, friends, financial. The truly difficult part for me is that although I keep having them thrown at me, every single one is at the point of a ‘stale mate’.

There are decisions to be made (some that are VERY important) and I can’t make them.
Because I am waiting.
I am waiting on other people to provide me with concrete answers so that the decisions in some of the situations can be informed ones. In other situations, I am waiting for other people to make choices that will affect the decisions that I then need to make – my heart is with them, no matter what they decide, always… but I can only ‘be of service’ if they are willing and open to it.

In all of this, every moment of the day, I have just felt drained. (The endless hours of back and forth phone calls where no one can give me a straight answer is possibly a big part of that!)

I cannot control any of it. And I can’t help but smile. Because the small challenges along the way in the past year have actually prepared me for THIS time now… where things are coming at me from all angles.
The past year, as I slowly accepted the learning and growing process, I came to a point where I was finally able to say : I will not allow the things I can’t control to afford me unnecessary stress. I need to truly accept that I can’t control them, and find a way to ‘let it go’. I need to focus on what I CAN control, and take it from there.

And no… it’s not as easy, or as simple, as we often make it sound. It’s hard work. And I am willing to do it and keep striving for the ‘unexplainable peace and ability to still have joy’ that exists within me despite all these circumstances surrounding me.

But (such is life) I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that there are times where negative emotions DO make their appearance.

The other day, after an extremely emotionally driven phone call where MY calmness was very much required, I eventually got to hang up the phone… and I just burst into tears.
This would have been fine if I was at home… it was rather embarrassing that it happened while I was sitting in my car, outside of the studio my daughter dances at. Even worse, another mom pulled up and hopped out of her car to come and say ‘hi’.
We chatted very briefly, and she completely understood what I meant when I said, ”If I could tell you, I would. But I just can’t seem to find my words right now to even begin to explain.”
She squeezed my hand encouragingly, and we both chuckled as I whipped out my sanitiser and sprayed both our hands. And then her phone rang, and she needed to rush off again…. but she said to me, ”There is a message you sent me a few months ago. I still have it. I am going to find it and send it to you. Hang in there, girl, you’ve got this!”
And off she went.

I spent the next forty five minutes fighting off tears and sobs, trying to distract myself from my earlier phone call. I felt like I was losing a battle I hadn’t had time to prepare for. And then her message appeared on my phone. A screenshot of my message to her :

”I know you’re feeling sad, so I won’t tell you to try and be happy. I am not going to tell you to ‘go and do things that make you happy’. I am not going to ask you to be a warrior woman of strength and faith (even though I know you are). What I AM going to tell you to do… ask you to do… for now, in this moment of sadness : please eat something, please take a hot shower or bath, please put on some nice comfy clothes. Do the physical stuff that will keep you alive. I don’t know how or when it will get better… but I do know that it will. In the meantime, please just keep trying to stay alive. The rest will follow eventually. I am here, if you need me.”

Dear readers, bloggers, friends… what we put out in this world DEFINITELY comes back to us, and most times the good things come when we need them the most. So keep putting the good stuff out there, and my hope for you is that you will ALWAYS experience the returns on that when YOU need them the most! ❤

today is not your day

attention-i-can-please-only-one-person-a-day-today-14702205Photo credit : me.me

The wording in the above picture is for entertainment purposes only. Well….not completely.

I’d like to draw your attention to : Today is not your day. Tomorrow doesn’t look good either.

Those are the words that I am meaning to say to you right now.

Today is NOT your day and tomorrow isn’t either……

It is NOT your day to give up.

It is NOT your day to stop dreaming.

It is NOT your day to dwell on your past and the mistakes you may have made.

It is NOT your day to stop growing and challenging yourself.

It is NOT your day to rob the world of the beauty within you, and all you have to give.

It is NOT your day to stop trying, or believing.

It is NOT your day to give in to fear.

And tomorrow isn’t looking good for you either 😉

WUAuPCSLgrPhoto credit : faxo.com