A Positive Attitude

I really love the above statement… and to add to it : I am 100% certain that something positive WILL happen today.

The important word to note in my little follow up statement is ‘something’.
Because my day could suck in general. I just never know. My attitude doesn’t have to.
And so, into my day, I bring a positive attitude that tells me : even when stuff goes wrong, even when you feel overwhelmed or sad or angry, even when a multitude of little things just don’t turn out right…. even then, I have the reassurance that if I take the time to stop and look, SOMETHING will have gone right and be a positive plus in my day.

And some days I truly DO have to stop and look. And REALLY think about the little things.
But when I choose to reflect, and do so in a way that is trying to find something GOOD, and just ignore all the bad for a few moments while I do so…. well, I never come up empty.

My ‘life attitude’ IS generally positive. It wasn’t always like this. And it definitely isn’t something easily maintained.
But I have found that leaning towards the positive is definitely far more beneficial for me than ‘reflecting on the negative’ and inviting bitterness and anger and sadness to rule my head and my heart.

Please don’t get me wrong…

My past has been very far from sunshine and roses – there have definitely been far too many dark clouds and thorns. And I wasted a lot of time dwelling on those – allowing thoughts in my mind and feelings in my heart that slowly began to eat away at me.
Not all those ‘situations’ have been resolved – but it’s amazing what a change of attitude can do!

Somebody mentioned that being ‘endlessly positive can be toxic’. But I think they have missed the point!

Life is FULL of negatives! Bad things happen to good people! I cry, I get angry – I still FEEL those negative emotions. But when we can take control of our attitudes? When we can still find SOMETHING good, despite the chaos and turmoil? We find ourselves unleashing a new power within, and a new strength! Because even when things are out of control around us, we will have control within us… and that brings a peace and inner joy that defies explanation!

My hope for you is that this weekend you will be reminded of all that is good in YOU, instead of all that is wrong in your world!

Worth… again

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I just can’t stress this enough!

The last 24 hours have made me even more aware of this – not in my own personal life, but as I have interacted with others.

You may say, ”But you don’t understand.”

Hear me when I say this : I DO! If I shared some of the words that had been spoken over me, you would be horrified – and in total agreement if I told you that I felt unworthy.
There is validation in your feeling that way if it comes from an abusive past….

There is not validation in staying in that place though.

It’s not an easy road. Going back, identifying and dealing with that false belief system, and breaking through into a changed perspective on the essence of you is HARD! 

But it is worth it. Because no matter your circumstances, or what you have been told, YOU are worth it!

I shared a post back in February, which I feel strongly in my heart needs to be revisited by us all, especially in these troubling times, where we’re all feeling rather lost in one way or another. There is a lot right now that we cannot control, and unfortunately there are a lot of circumstances that are making us question our value as individuals (like the man who has lost his job because of Covid, and now cannot provide for his family – does this make him unworthy? NO! But it can make him feel that way!).

I also want to throw something in here real quick as well….

Your worth is not based on the opinions of others. But it’s also not based on the actions of others. Before we work on relationships ‘out there’, we need to work on the most important relationship that we have – the one we have with ourselves.

I spoke with someone yesterday who told me, ”It’s just another failed relationship. I guess I am not worthy of love.”
When I told them they were still loved, they referred back to the ‘romantic relationship’.
So then I asked, ”How do you see yourself from the perspective of being a friend? Are you a good friend?”
The answer was, ”I think so. My friends know they can rely on me, and that I have their backs – and they have mine.”
So I asked, ”Is that not love?”
”Yeah, I guess. But if you can’t have a partner to share your life with, then you’re pretty worthless when it comes to loving, aren’t you?”

The conversation continued, but I want to leave you with this :

Your worth is not based on what other people say and do.
Your worth is not based on whether or not you’re single, or a good partner in a romantic relationship.
Your worth is not based on how much, or how little you have.
Your worth is not based on the circumstances you are facing – not now, not in the future, and certainly not from your past.

YOU ARE WORTHY – so worthy, in fact, that you deserve to embrace every opportunity that you have to learn and grow and accept it! (And we have many opportunities, especially with the internet and the resources out there – we just sometimes avoid it because it seems easier not to address the issues.)

And I’ll say it again : it’s hard! It’s painful. You may still have moments where you find yourself questioning your worth – I know I do – but for me personally I have found it to be a good thing, because it makes me stop, and really think… and I remember… I HAVE got worth, despite ‘whatever’.

As per the post I referred to above : Jump that fence! You’re worth it! ❤

embrace

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With the current state of the world, and various countries experiencing different levels and restrictions and difficulties with regards to lock down, I really thought that our focus would have shifted a little.

And yet, there are so many who still seem to hold a picture in their mind of how other people should be. What saddens me the most as I scroll through social media of those who live in my country, is that when people voice their frustration or even admit to an inkling of depression that seems to be falling upon them, the general response is ‘you need to practice an attitude of gratitude’, ‘you need to be more positive’, ‘you need to change / stop complaining’.

Please don’t get me wrong. I DO agree with those sentiments, because we all know that having the right ‘heart’s attitude’ about anything in life makes ALL the difference.

But at the same time, people are struggling. They’re frustrated, they’ve lost their income, they are alone and lonely, they are worried, they are stressed, they are sad and afraid. And this is where kindness and compassion need to play the biggest role – especially in the times we are facing currently, and with regards to what lies ahead and seems to be looming in my country.

Perhaps we need to pause and consider our responses, a little more than usual.

I have one friend who is a truly great chick 😉 She’s always positive and uplifting, a real fitness freak, and oh man, she’s not too proud to laugh in an unladylike manner. But our current restrictions have hit her hard the last few days, and so for the past 24 hours her Facebook posts have been what I suppose could be construed as negative and depressing.

My first thought as I scrolled through her timeline this morning was, ‘You’re so brave to be sharing publicly the negative emotions you are actually feeling because you are finding yourself overwhelmed by it all – I salute your vulnerability, my friend.’
But the responses from others just broke my heart. I didn’t publicly share any of my sentiments, but instead popped off a private message to her. And I was astounded at something in her reply : Meg, you’re the only one who has actually asked if there is anything you can do to help me. Words can’t describe my gratitude.

I don’t share this as a brag – or to boast and boost my ego. I share this to create an awareness that you know is there in your spirit. I am sure people have come to mind, I am sure you have come across negativity. Allow that to be a prompt to just ask if there is anything you can do. The likelihood that there IS may be minimal, but what I am realising the most is this : in these troubling times, the mere fact that someone is even WANTING to offer some form of support is more appreciated than whether or not they actually CAN help you. 

I’m even struggling at the moment. Things are getting a little bit ‘stupid’ here – we’re even being dictated to with regards to what we are allowed to wear, and the purchase of t-shirts and slip slops/sandals has been taken off the table for us. And there was a moment yesterday where I found myself being a little bit too hard on myself. Criticising me, because ‘everyone is struggling, and negative emotions are not good, you’re supposed to be be positive and inspirational and a kind heart is supposed to reflect beauty, not frustration and sadness, there is more expected of you than this’.

This morning I realised that I AM still being the kind of woman I want to be, that I CAN still hold my head high, that the negative emotions ARE allowed to be feltit’s how I handle the after effects of them that matters.  

None of what I am feeling is unusual in these circumstances. I need to let go of the suppositions and expectations of others and embrace all of me…

Because ‘me’ is enough, so long as I keep doing my best in circumstances that I have no control over.

And so, for everyone reading… please be kind to yourself, and please be kind to others… no matter how near or far they are.

 

Starting over

I’ve sat staring at this page for about two hours now. I have started a blog post, only to then delete everything I have typed and revert to the blank page. I’ve allowed myself to be distracted by other incoming messages – perhaps it’s something that will provide a good topic to write on? Then I respond to the message, return here… and it begins again.

I love how it is so easy to take the blank page and fill it with words… decide against sharing those particular words or topics at the moment…. and just delete it all.
Like wiping the slate clean, which we all know is not applicable to life.

There are no do-overs. But we can always start over. Even in the troubling times we are now facing, world wide. Things have just got a little more complicated… more challenging.

And for me? I’ve grown too used to my comfort zones. My personal development, and growth – the self exploration and changes that needed to be made? All those things have been, and are still, painful and difficult.
What I didn’t realise though was how much my ‘security blanket’ and the general routines and stability around me, were actually helping me – in a way, protecting me.

And being thrown into the chaos of our strange, nonsensical, very strict lock down has not just caused me to stop and move a few steps back. It’s like a tornado arrived sent from the Wizard of Oz himself, lifted and tossed me around for a while, and then dumped me back in my own bed – but not to partake in life as I know it, for everything has changed so very much.

I’ve had to be stern with myself quite a lot lately – I’m a terrible disciplinarian… I’ve reduced myself to tears quite a few times 😛

Here’s what I am working on right now though : I need to stop. I need to start over.

No matter what this virus does, or what my government does, or what the people do in response to both – I NEED TO STOP.

I need to remember that my life still has purpose. That while my windows of opportunity seem to have been nailed shut, they’re not. I am just going to have to push against them a little harder. I mustn’t let the current circumstances limit my potential. 
I am still me.

Filled with purpose and potential.

A self-confessed prisoner of hope.

The circumstances have changed, but I cannot let them change me – not in the way they have been. I’ve worked too hard to be better!

I need to start seeing things differently. It starts with me!

Who Do You Need?

 

mistakes

Photo credit : sayingimages.com

 

“Nobody’s perfect, but some of us are closer than others.”

The above statement about perfection was written on a wooden board sign hanging in my brothers room while I was growing up. Every time he caught me looking at it – which was usually about the same time he caught me in his bedroom (his room was no man’s land, and definitely not a place that I was allowed to be) he would say to me, “Sorry for you, but you’re not some. Now get out of my room.”

I never fully understood until my other brother, the oldest of the two, explained that he was telling me that I was nowhere near perfect. I can remember that for many years, this hurt me. Looking back now, I laugh about it – and regret the time I wasted in my growing up years allowing it to upset me.

Because here’s the thing : while I sound like I know what I am doing, the only reason I can be this way (and sort of know what I am doing) is because of the mistakes I have made – sometimes the same one a number of times. It used to be ”classic Meg syndrome”. Make a bad choice/mistake – say sorry. Get another chance. But everyone knew I would do it again a few more times.

I never struggled with learning at school, unless I was being lazy 😛 And although I don’t think I have a brilliant IQ, I do think that I am intelligent enough to be able to hold my own. A comment I often heard growing up, and in adult life too, was, “You’re a beautiful girl and you’re not stupid. So WHY? It just baffles my brain.”

Unfortunately, a lot of bad choices were circumstantial. And a lot of those frustrated people who made that comment about me were the greatest ‘influencers’ of the circumstances.
Quotes-About-Judging-Peoples-Choices

Photo credit : therandomvibez.com

They say that life is all about making mistakes – there was a time where I was succeeding beyond my wildest dreams! 😛 😉

Perhaps I was striving for genius status – since we learn from our mistakes? 😛

Here’s the thing though : while I have always been a responsible and caring person, with a kind and loving heart, I have not always been very wise – and I have had my moments of my own form of rebellion, and have done and said things that I cannot take back.

In the past few years I have aged greatly. Apparently I still look young – even though I don’t feel it. My son is very complimentary with regards to this, and was not surprised when a 27 year old asked me on a date. I was horrified – as was my daughter, because I am old 😛 And yet, when I say I am probably best suited for a man in his fifties, she tells me I am too young for that. Kid can’t make up her mind 😛 (My son agrees with me though – but always tells me I look younger than what I am. He’s not just flattering me, which makes me feel good. But not good enough to date a 27 year old 😛 )

But I have aged greatly – and not in years (or looks apparently). In the past few years, I have gained a lot of wisdom and insight, and I have grown a lot. 
Much more than many people my age. I’ve always had a bit of an old soul, so that has already sort of set me apart. An elderly lady I encountered a few days ago told me, “You are not like the youth of today. You have a lot of wisdom. You’ve obviously had a challenging past.”

Yes. I have had a challenging past. Yes, I have done things, and said things, that I am not proud of. I have had things happen to me that have caused pain beyond just their occurrence. The things kept coming, and the circumstances wouldn’t change, and I kept making bad decisions. And it made things challenging. And I was too busy playing the blame game and making excuses and wallowing in my misery to face those challenges. 

I’ll admit – when it comes to my physical appearance, I still don’t see anything worth writing home about. I still struggle with poor self image when it comes to my outer being – partly, a woman thing; partly for other reasons. I do work on that, and am trying to change it. I will say that I have grown to love my eyes – I do see, when I look in the mirror, that although they are a boring brown, they are far from boring. I know how expressive they are, and acknowledge that physically they are my best feature. People who see me speak – my friend in the US only on video calls – have always told me the above. I have only accepted in the past few years. And that’s as far as I have got with physical image.

I am too busy with matters of the heart – my main focus is on what is going on inside of me. Who I am. Because on my blog pages, and in emails to distant new friends who I may never meet, who I am inside is what shines through.

I have worked hard the past few years, at facing my mistakes and taking responsibility where I needed to. And learning. It’s been difficult, and I have suffered. The pain has been insurmountable at times – particularly when having to forgive and move on with people who will never say they are sorry.

Because of my mistakes, I am able to counsel and advise others in many areas.
Funny enough, a lot of the time, I learn something new while doing so.

But please don’t ever be under the impression that I have always been the way I am depicted here. While my core has always been good, there have been many moments of bad. When I write here, I write from personal experiences and my ‘wisdom and goodness’ come from having made some awful mistakes. This alone should terrify you a little 😛

And the thing is, I still make mistakes. Thank goodness. Or there would be nothing left for me to learn! Some of those mistakes come from choices I willingly make : being too trusting, and too honest; my willingness to accept, acknowledge and embrace the fact that everyone is different, and that everyone deserves kindness and consideration, and as many chances as it takes for them to heal and ‘get it right’.

Yes, I leave myself exposed and vulnerable. And get hurt. But I’d rather be making these types of choices and mistakes, than be selfish and bitter and wallowing and blaming, like I tended to be in my younger years.

One of the things that had the greatest influence on me (there have been many), and brought about HUGE changes was a picture I saw on Facebook a few years ago – I googled and found it :

be-who-you-needed

 

‘Nuff said!

 

vulnerable bridges

It’s been an interesting 24 hours. I’ve felt quite overwhelmed, with good things, and bad things. And loadshedding (read the post here) continues…although not quite as bad as it was – we’re down to only being without power for four hours a day – I can handle that!
The funny thing is that even though we’re conscientious with the scheduled times and switch off plugs etc to prevent damage from power surges, the surprise cuts seem to have affected things somewhat. My modem appears to be confused – it seems to think its function is now that of a strobe light 😛 It’s rather fun watching the internet light go on and off every minute or so. Green…red….green….red…. it’s a special kind of Christmas tree 😛 adding holiday spirit to my home 😉

With regards to yesterdays post :

Thank you to those of you who have offered support, prayers and encouragement. It is very much appreciated at all times, please know that.

Up until a few months ago, I wasn’t aware that I could be reached at my private email address through WordPress. This isn’t a problem for me at all – as you all know, I love to communicate and make new friends – and of course I am always there for support and encouragement. I’d like to thank one lovely lady in particular for emailing me – I won’t mention her name but she knows who she is – your continued encouragement and outpouring of love and prayers touches my heart deeply. 

I did receive another email though, from someone that I wasn’t even aware was reading my blog. The irony of this email is that it’s from an ex-South African, now living overseas, who only returns to SA every few years for a week or two on holiday. I haven’t responded… I guess I’ll do so a little later… or maybe I’ll just leave this here :

I am well aware that yesterdays post was rather negative, and reveals that I have ‘that side’ to me. Unfortunately, living with, working with, seeing and being emotionally involved with the atrocities that are occurring here daily, it sometimes does affect me in a negative way. My heart is not made of steel. While I have the ability to practice ‘tough love’ in situations where it is called for, this does not mean that I do not shed tears when I am alone, and that it doesn’t affect me in any way.

So in a round about kind of way, this post is actually about vulnerability.

I am an extremely vulnerable person. And no matter how you try to convince me otherwise, I will never see this as a weakness. 
I AM an open book. You can pretty much ask me anything, and I will answer you. But I won’t just give you facts. I will share in a way that exposes my emotions and will ultimately open me up to the possibility of getting hurt. How else will I connect with you?

And you see, that’s the thing…. I truly believe that I am designed for the purpose of connecting – not just with God, but with other people. In order to achieve that purpose, unfortunately, I need to make myself vulnerable. 

And yes, it means I get ’emotionally hurt’ sometimes. (Other times it is the most rewarding thing for me!) But through all those experiences, the rewarding ones and the hurtful ones, I learn life’s greatest lessons, and the crucial skills that I need to continue with living this life.

Raw truth is necessary to connect. But it has another function too. If I am not prepared to be vulnerable and share the truth of my experiences and failings, then how will anyone ever be able to walk away from me knowing hope, kindness, goodness, grace and joy? 

I am about to make a statement that many are going to possibly attack me for :
I understand and a part of me has to agree with Ghandi : ”I’d be a Christian if it wasn’t for Christians.”

Except I AM a Christian. And now you’re as confused as a chameleon in a bag of skittles.

So I’ll explain it like this : I grew up in the church. And there were some who didn’t preach God, but showed me who He was. But from a little girl, through various stages in my life, I was emotionally, physically and sexually abused by people in the church who were in positions of leadership. I left in my late teens. I have returned many times, to different places, and found much of the same, sadly – except now it has added judgment for some of the bends in the road of my life.
It has been preached to me on numerous occasions that I am a dying ember – because to be a burning light, I need to be with the coals in the fire – a church. While I understand what they are saying, and agree that it is an amazing thing to worship with a group, I remain a dying ember. I guess? Well, in the churches opinion (and the opinion of most of my family members too). That’s where it all gets confusing, even for me…and we’re talking about me… so confusion reigns! 😛

It has taken me a very long time to fully appreciate the statement that ‘God is God, and I am not.’ In the same way, all those people seated in church, as well as all their leaders, are also not God. Which means that like me, they also suffer from sin – hidden or exposed, their choice. They choose to wear masks, instead of being vulnerable enough to admit to their failings. And this means that they never learn anything, and can never be helped. It discredits any good that those who know their secret sins could ever glean from their words or their seemingly perfect lives. By not making themselves vulnerable, they have prevented growth, not just in themselves but in their ‘victims’, because many of those ‘victims’ have turned their backs on God as a result.

I am no longer angry about the abuse I suffered personally. It’s been a long and very difficult road to get to that place. The circumstances surrounding those different types of abuse affected the options that were open to me – and while I could have made different choices, at those times the circumstances affected me negatively and I made a long list of bad choices.

In the past few years, I have grown. And here’s what I know :

I will never come into contact with someone who isn’t loved – I need to be kind always.

I have learned NOT to judge – because I don’t know what choices you actually had. And here’s an additional thing to add to that – take time to find the person they are at that very moment, and not who they were yesterday or last week – based on fact or rumors. Change takes time, but the choice to change takes a minute. By judging and making it known, you may just undo that choice.

Don’t preach it – be it. At the end of the day, my words are meaningless if I can’t show you.

Unconditional love. The hardest of all. So important though because it sums up all of the above, and so much more. I struggle with this particular one a lot. It is hard to love others, especially those who have hurt us. It’s a journey all on its own. 
I love my children dearly – but they know when they disappoint or upset or anger me – a statement often used in my house is this : I love you, but I don’t like you right now because…..
And my children have free reign to use it on me. And they have. I have learnt from those moments – sometimes I am unreasonable, and sometimes I have worded things in a hurtful way. If they did not have the opportunity to tell me, “Mom, I love you but I don’t like you right now because…”, we would all live in a war zone in our own home right now. Being able to say this, and then walk away, leaves time for what has been said to sink in. When the initial anger and hurt has passed, there has always been apologies, calm discussions and resolution. And the freedom to continue loving and liking one another.

So yes, I am vulnerable, even with my kids. How else do I teach them that not everyone is right all the time, and that even parents/adults fail?

Vulnerability HURTS sometimes! It opens me up to judgment and criticism, and nastiness and negativity. But it also grows, helps and heals.
There may be ten people judging me, attacking me, and hurting me when I am vulnerable enough with admissions of guilt and failings. But there may be ONE person who is listening…. and hurting…. who connects with me and experiences hope in their seemingly hopeless situation; who somehow finds healing in a broken piece of their heart; or feels a kindness that no one else has ever shown them and sparks a ‘kindness seed’ that they in turn sow themselves. 

Vulnerability is also sometimes VERY REWARDING! I would not make the beautiful connections and friends that I do along the way if I wasn’t. And many of them patch up broken pieces of my heart in their own way.

And that, for every person who is reading this, is MY purpose in life.

Words and actions WILL hurt me. I WILL spend time crying and experiencing a form of brokenness. I WILL wish that I had a steel heart. And I will have my moments where I fight being ‘good’. I have tried being bitter and angry – I even think nasty thoughts. I have the potential to be all those things – and I’d probably be very good at it. In my head, I do great…for about twenty minutes.

But I WON’T change. And I have come to accept that. I am, and always will be, vulnerable. 

(there’s green light on the modem, so I’m hitting publish! 😛 😉 )