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(I’d hate to think who else’s underwear I could possibly be wearing!)

I’ve had an interesting two days, and there is much that has been learnt.
After my emotional and soul baring meltdown post, I felt guilty and very miserable. Yesterday, I realised why. So before I mention all the things I have learned the last two days, let me say this :

At the very forefront of my mind right now is the reminder that when we are out of alignment with our core values, we not only lose sight of purpose, but we become increasingly miserable and lose sight of everything else too. And that is what I allowed to happen.
The very real lesson, however, was how easily this can happen. And how long it can last. And how increasingly more difficult it makes day-to-day life as the misery descends like a cloud.

But it DOES happen. And we can’t fault people for it. And we also can’t blame ourselves when it happens to us. The important thing, as with many other situations in life, is to acknowledge that it’s happening/happened and work on changing it – changing ourselves – continuing with our journey in alignment with our core values.

The lessons of the last two days have been more reminders – mainly two of them – much needed ones, that have put me back on track and allowed me to feel calm again, despite the storms that continue to rage.

First reminder : Bad things happen, even to good people. Situations and circumstances that are validly negative will happen. And while we cannot ignore that and need to keep ourselves aware and prepared, at the same time we need to ensure that they do not consume our focus.

Second reminder : Honesty about where we are at can not only be a lifesaver, but a life changer. When the cloud begins to descend and the negativity is overwhelming, there will be some people who will shy away from you – and that is okay. But hold dear and appreciate the ones who are there. Listen to their hearts.

As I listened to hearts who reached out to me, I was once again overwhelmed. But this time with a joyous emotion and a comfort that I cannot explain. Nobody held me tightly in their arms and made me feel secure and loved. And yet it was as close as it gets. Distance is merely a physical barrier – and souls can still support each other despite it.

So to those who commented, have prayed, and emailed –

I know that ‘thank you’ suffices, and yet it doesn’t express how truly grateful I am. You made a difference. To me.
I was also completely overwhelmed by a phone call – the funny thing is that it didn’t dwell on the negatives, which inadvertently shifted my focus and served as a reminder of sorts all on its very own.

WordPress World – you are special to me.

Yes, the situation in my country is ”impossible”, dire, worrisome.

But in life? I am actually doing really well.

We have a roof over our heads; we have food to eat; We have people who genuinely care for us; We have clean clothes (although some are a bit religious 😛 ) ; and we all still have a dream.

Shifting focus – thank you again for the love and reminders.

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Photo credit : Quotemaster.org

 

Stormy Disasters

I don’t mean to downplay the effects of natural disasters – but when I saw this I have to admit that I DID laugh, and my next thought was, ”Actually, that’s pretty clever”!

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My daughter is extremely fascinated by natural disasters. They started learning about them in geography a few years ago, and it’s a topic that has interested her ever since. Up until about a year ago, she wasn’t really aware of the devastating effects that they can have – and then she discovered movies about earthquakes and volcano eruptions, and that changed. (We don’t really experience natural disasters here.)

The thing about these disasters, and storms, is that they’re rather unpredictable. There is only so much man can calculate – the rest is left to ‘nature’.

I love storms. That’s something we get A LOT of – full on, electric thunderstorms! In fact, lightning related deaths around here are four times higher than the global average. And I actually have a friend who was struck by lightning, and after hours of surgery and skin grafts has the scars to prove it on her body, and is alive to tell the tale – thank goodness!

I love to sit out on the porch (undercover, of course) and see the brilliant electric sparks of the lightning, and hear the deep booming crackle of the thunder. It’s a powerful phenomenon that never ceases to amaze me. And then there’s also the rain – unpredictable too – because some days there’s a whole lot of noise and spectacular sky for just a few gentle drops. We’re edging into Summer here, and that will no doubt bring us hail storms. Those days, I have to stay inside with my dogs – they’re not afraid! Those silly, furry kids of mine want to play with the balls falling from the sky 😛

While I get overly enthusiastic about stormy weather, it’s always been a struggle to be that way with the storms of life. (Yes, you knew where I was headed 😉 ) And then one day I really thought about those storms that come into my life – sometimes out of nowhere – and something in my perspective shifted. So today, I’d like to share those thoughts with you.

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Photo credit : boomsumo.com

When my children were young, I spent a lot of time reassuring them that all was okay and that the storm would eventually pass. I spent a lot of time having to calm them. And I guess that’s the thing with storms in life. They happen. We can’t always control them. But we need to keep ourselves calm in their duration. And while their duration may be a little too lengthy for our liking, they will end. And yes, perhaps there will be another one directly thereafter – we don’t know what the future holds, or how many are heading our way. And sometimes it’s more of the same type of storm. But each one does have an end. Being calm for its duration helps.

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Shelter from the storm is important. Especially when it’s raging. It’s no good holding things in and going it alone – have the courage to turn to others that you feel you can trust and ask them to help shelter you in whatever means you deem necessary : with prayer, encouragement and support.

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It’s easy to get caught up in the despair of the storm that is brewing or raging. It’s easy to experience a multitude of negative emotions overlapping and consuming us. It’s NOT so easy to pause in the midst of the storm and reflect on what is actually happening. But it’s important. If we can acknowledge and recognise the cause, we can equip ourselves with the tools to outlast it. We can learn from them – and the outcome is usually linked to helping someone else later down the road. Sometimes they’re a test, sometimes they’re to show us what we need to change within ourselves, sometimes they’re there to take us out of our comfort zones and develop our character – no wonder they’re not enjoyable! 

But most important of all :

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Photo credit : quotabulary.com

Being caught up in a storm is difficult. Rest when you need to. Fuel your body and your mind. Be attentive to your needs. Remember that you’ll never speak to anyone more than you speak to yourself in your head, so be kind!

AND….

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    What’s Really Important?

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    We all have a heart condition – it’s just not always physical. And the condition of your emotional/spiritual/soul heart is very often based on what you put in. These things will form your thoughts and in the end they will shape you. When you allow the wrong things to room in your heart with free board and lodging, all they’ll do is continue to steal from you.

    Confucius said : “When you see a worthy person, endeavor to emulate him. When you see an unworthy person, then examine your inner self.”

    Examining our inner selves and continuously revisiting our personal core values, being receptive to learning lessons even when they hurt, taking responsibility and turning our pain into something powerful – all these things bring change… growth. All these things affect our hearts.

    And my heart is my responsibility. The same way that yours is, well, yours.

    We grow everyday. We make mistakes and learn lessons. We give each day our best, and the next day we give our best in an even better way – because in growing we learn new things, and the new things raise us to new heights of achievement. 

    I love this part in The Lion King :

    Simba: Going back means I’ll have to face my past. I’ve been hiding from it for so long…
    (Rafiki whacks Simba on the head with his stick)
    Simba: OW! Geez, what was that for?!
    Rafiki: It doesn’t matter! It’s in the past! (chuckles)
    Simba: Yeah, but it still hurts.
    Rafiki: Oh, yes, the past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it, or… learn from it.
    (Rafiki swings his stick, but Simba ducks)
    Rafiki: Aha! You see? So what are you going to do?
    Simba: Well first, I’m gonna take your stick. (grabs Rafiki’s stick)

     

    When we are prepared to learn the lesson, we will grow, and our hearts will change.

    In most cases, this takes time. It’s a process. And it can be painful.

    We all have our own journey. Our own hearts. Our own painful lessons to learn.

    Be kind to others, because you never know which part of their past is busy growing them.

    And always try to remember that even if you knew a person before, they may just have changed in a good way (we all know that this is very likely because as we grow on our own journeys we see the positive changes within ourselves) –

    don’t use their past to invalidate who they are now. 

    Let’s yank our hands back and try to remember what is important!

    tentacles of life

    Many years ago, as soldiers fought in the heat of the jungle, they experienced something very frustrating, to say the least. It was bad enough that they were hunting, and being hunted, by an unseen enemy. But they also had nature to contend with. There was a prickly vine that would attach itself to them, trapping them in such a way that the more they struggled to get free, the more the plant would send extra tentacles to entangle them. They named the plant the ‘wait-a-minute’ vine because they were not able to move forward and would have to call on their team members for help. “Hey, wait a minute, I’m stuck!”
    Now if they didn’t ask for help, they’d probably die of starvation and thirst eventually.
    They called out for help though. But what would the result have been if, upon arriving on the scene to help, the entangled soldier did not allow them to help? Yes, death, but this time with an audience. (we all know they never would have watched their man die, but for the purposes of this blog, let’s just go with my chosen outcome 😛 )

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    We all get stuck sometimes. Things happen in life that
    send unseen tentacles our way that entangle us and
    prevent us from moving forward.

    Retrenchment, a failed relationship, the death of a loved one – these are only three in a very long list of life occurrences that can have detrimental effects on our happiness and general well being if we don’t handle them correctly.

    Acknowledging that you need help and asking for it is NOT a sign of weakness – it is in fact a very strong and courageous thing to do. 

    These occurrences will often have emotional responses attached to them. It’s important for us to be careful of the effects our responses may have on our hearts and thoughts, and the impact of that later on in our journey.

    We shouldn’t make permanent decisions based on temporary emotions.

    And getting back to those soldiers…. it’s easy, particularly in the blogging world, to pour out our hearts and our emotions and acknowledge that we may need help in certain areas because of external influencing factors. It’s easy to tell our friends, ”I lost my job today. I may need to call on you for some help at a later stage.”

    The actual act of doing so is where it gets tough.

    Because it makes us vulnerable. Because there may be a learning curve attached to whatever it is we are going through in that moment. Because we may actually have to deal with something painful within ourselves so that we can grow. And because human nature is proud and stubborn.

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    Photo credit : picturequotes.com

    Being able to admit you need help is half the battle won. But if you keep saying ‘no’, you’ll never win the war.

    You’re going to stay stuck.

    And if you choose to just give up on that tentacle that is weighing you down – ”I’ll never find another job with the current unemployment status of my country”?

    You’re going to stay stuck.

    The most important part of getting unstuck though is this : moving forward.

    The soldier acknowledges he needs help – ”I’m stuck”! The soldier then accepts help – his mates thrash away at those tentacles and eventually free him. But then…the soldier HIMSELF is the one who has to move forward.

    I wish I could tell you that moving forward when you’ve become unstuck is easy. It’s not. These tentacles usually bring with them a fair amount of emotional pain. But these tentacles are very often the obstacles that are representations of opportunities for personal growth. And we all know that personal growth can be painful. A big part of accepting that help is also accepting the need for change within yourself – a change in attitude, if you will.

    It’s not the time for flight. It’s the time to fight. To reassess your values, put an end to the limiting belief that ‘it will never happen’, embrace your mistakes and challenges, and continue on in hope. In the words of Mahatma Ghandi :

    It’s the time to be the change you want to see in the world.

     

     

     

     

     

    effort to grow

    Last night I was reminded of the lesson of the butterfly. I had read the story many years ago, but somehow it had got lost in the back of my mind somewhere. It was a story written by Paulo Coelho :

    A man spent hours watching a butterfly struggling to emerge from its cocoon. It managed to make a small hole, but its body was too large to get through it. After a long struggle, it appeared to be exhausted and remained absolutely still.
     
    The man decided to help the butterfly and, with a pair of scissors, he cut open the cocoon, thus releasing the butterfly. However, the butterfly’s body was very small and wrinkled and its wings were all crumpled.
     
    The man continued to watch, hoping that, at any moment, the butterfly would open its wings and fly away. Nothing happened; in fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its brief life dragging around its shrunken body and shrivelled wings, incapable of flight.
     
    What the man – out of kindness and his eagerness to help – had failed to understand was that the tight cocoon and the efforts that the butterfly had to make in order to squeeze out of that tiny hole were Nature’s way of training the butterfly and of strengthening its wings.
     
    Sometimes, a little extra effort is precisely what prepares us for the next obstacle to be faced. Anyone who refuses to make that effort, or gets the wrong sort of help, is left unprepared to fight the next battle and never manages to fly off to their destiny.
     
    (Adapted from a story sent in by Sonaira D’Avila)

    In life, we are so often presented with situations and circumstances that restrict us. The things that we face sometimes require great physical and mental effort on our parts to break free from those restrictions, and it’s exhausting!

    I know that for me, sometimes those things come as a result of my own choices, based on a particular set of circumstances. Those times I have bruised shins from kicking myself 😛

    Other times, they seem to come out of nowhere!

    There was a time that I looked at the struggle, conceded defeat and wallowed in my misery, asking myself over and over, “Why me?”. I never learnt anything, and it affected who I was as a person in a negative way. Admittedly, it was easier to be miserable about it because then I didn’t have to own anything. Ownership requires great responsibility, and I had enough responsibilities as far as I was concerned!

    An attitude adjustment was needed, but denial was so much more comfortable. And soon the heart of the problem, became a problem with my heart.

    I can’t pin point an exact moment when my attitude shifted. But I can tell you that I am very glad it did, in fact, shift. Heads rolled….well, mine did 😛

    It wasn’t just a case of making better choices despite the circumstances, it was having a whole new attitude with regards to the things that seemed to hit me out of nowhere!
    The activation of positive changes in my life happened when I started to view each struggle as a ‘learning curve’. When things happened (as they so often do) I was more inclined to pause and reflect – behaving like a raging bull (or cow, since I am female 😛 ) always had such negative results!

    Viewing the obstacles in a different light inspired growth within me (I’ve also grown on the outside, but that’s just because I’m getting older, and I like food 😛 )

    I won’t lie. Growth and change hurts a lot of the time. (Ask my jeans 😛 ) The lessons can sometimes be painful. It’s NOT the easy way out and doesn’t happen overnight. But as with the butterfly, with the extra time and effort, we can not only get over the hurdle, but gain wisdom for the next hurdle that’s going to come our way – and it will!

    In the growing, I have learnt that the important things of life WILL come to me
    …and that they’re not things at all!

    I’ve become more compassionate – more understanding towards those around me. I’ve become a little wiser (and not just because I am getting older 😉 ) and I am more inclined to think things through in an effort to eliminate hurting others.
    My thought patterns have changed and I no longer want to know ‘why me’ – these days it’s more like ‘why NOT me?’- because I realise that ‘this thing’ has happened to inspire growth within me. Somewhere there is a lesson I need to learn. Somewhere there is a piece of my heart that needs changing.

    For me, at the stage of life that I find myself in, the most important thing of all is that all the pain, and misery, and growing, makes me empathetic to so many situations that other people find themselves in. And people matter. Parts of my story help others.

    And that is the key to the essence of me. 😉

    But here’s a shocking little piece of info for you : I don’t always get it right! There are moments where I fail miserably to do some or all of the above. But that is the only failure. Because I try again.

    There are times where the negative emotions resurface, and I need to forgive myself for that, and remind myself of how far I have come. I need to remember that there is a bigger picture – pick up my backpack and push through the thorny brush on my journey. I need to stop being so hard on myself and give myself a break – growing pains aren’t easy. Not sure who said it, but I think about it often 😉 : If life was meant to be easy it wouldn’t have started with something called labor!

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    Wound repair in every aspect

    My friend was closely inspecting me with a strange stare and I became uncomfortable – naturally.
    No one likes being stared at.
    The words that followed made me smile,
    “My word, you have so many scars on your face. They’re small and not really noticeable, but when I really look I can see them.”
    My scars are as a result of being a passenger in a motor vehicle accident when I was eighteen – glass shattered in my face and in some places embedded itself inside the skin. My scars should be worse. I was blessed. They’re barely noticeable.
    I smiled because….

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