What do you say to yourself?

My car has gone in this morning to my local mechanic for some rather major repairs that simply had to be done. I am told that when I get it back, it will be like driving a new car. I sure hope so! I also really hope I will get it back today as I am on Mom’s Taxi duty this evening, having made arrangements for all the taxi duties for the day.
The lady who runs his office for him is in her early fifties, and is one of those really attractive ladies who always looks ‘well put together’. I find it quite daunting being in her presence πŸ˜› But she’s a really great gal, and whenever I find myself there we always end up having lengthy conversations.

Last week I learned that she got divorced two years ago. So of course our lengthy conversation this time was pretty much based on ‘being single in our town’, and how important it is to have girl friends to hang out with, especially ones you can trust to ‘have your back’ if you do decide to venture out. She told me that she has a great lady to do stuff with, and that they’re always looking to add to their ‘girl’s group’. That they usually get together one night on the weekend just to alleviate any loneliness they may be experiencing, and have some good fun. She promised to let me know the next time they did anything, so that I could join them. And she messaged me the next day with an invite to a local craft brewery pub called Table 58, where they would be dining the following evening. Unfortunately, I had to decline as I had already committed to plans with my daughter.

This morning Leigh (the lady who works for the mechanic) was quite insistent that I need to join them tomorrow evening. They are having a braai at her friend’s house, with two other couples. She claimed that it would be rude of me to let her down two invites in a row πŸ˜›

Now if you don’t know what a braai is… it’s very similar to an American barbeque. It’s the same sort of concept where we grill/cook meat over an open fire. Most of these fires are wood-burning, and so if you visit here and someone asks you to come over and β€˜burn wood’ it may have two meanings: it could mean to either just sit and watch the flames and drink beer or brandy; but most times it means they’re inviting you to a braai, and you need to bring the meat you want to eat to be cooked on the fire for you. In 2016 I wrote a post mentioning some amusing and ‘odd’ things in my country, with the above braai explanation, and if you’re interested then you can read it here.

My response to her invite was, ”Maybe. I’ll see.” Which opened me up to some prodding from her side, and me inevitably blurting out, ”But I don’t know anyone else, and I will just be so awkward”. And she stared at me in amazement. The rest of the conversation pretty much centered around the following :

I am not a person who has an issue with doing things alone – going to the movies, going out to eat, going for coffee etc. I can stand up on stage and perform in front of an audience; I can address a large group of people without anxiety. Many of my friends say to me, ”I wish I could be as confident as you are.”
But when it comes to more intimate settings? That dreaded self doubt looms its ugly head and I struggle – as in, just thinking about it, makes my palms sweaty and anxiety creeps in.

And I laugh at myself. Every time.

We truly are our own worst enemies, and I know I am not alone when it comes to being critical of myself. I have learned over the last year (because I became curious about my silly reactions to the ‘more personal’ settings) that it has to do with self-compassion. Yes, that really is a thing. And the more I have learned about it, the more I realise that it certainly is a ‘failure’ of mine.
I have a more than generous portion of compassion, acceptance and patience…. with other people! Too often, I forget to apply these things TO MYSELF!
And I know I am not alone.

The strangest of all (or perhaps it’s a part of the application process) is that I still feel like a worthy soul, and I do not doubt that I am loved. Even with the self doubt saying things like, ”You won’t fit in; you don’t dress as well as they do; your make-up is shoddily applied in comparison; their figures are even better than yours and they’re older than you!”
At the same time as all those horribly negative thoughts were bouncing around my head, it didn’t make me feel like I had no value. So perhaps it’s not such a failure, right?

My neighbour came to fetch me, and we spoke about the invitation on the way home, and in the driveway when we got here. He listened, with a smile on his face, and in his 63-year-old wisdom said this to me, ”If you go to the braai, dressed like them and made up like them, would you be comfortable?”
Nope. I would not.
He then said this : ”You would feel just as awkward, and like you didn’t fit, because that isn’t you. Who you are, and the way you are, is what makes you beautiful. And you are a stunning woman! So you’re not ‘supermodel material’? If I was younger, I would still date you. Because you are not like them!”

He reminded me, yet again, that I am uniquely me – and I may not be to everyone’s taste in many ways, AND THAT IS OKAY!
People! Women and men! Be originally and unapologetically yourself! The only person you need to be better than is the person YOU were yesterday! An original is worth far more than a copy!
And each and every one of you has worth!

I will go to this braai tomorrow, in my jeans and sneakers. I will wear my smile (because it looks great on me πŸ˜‰ ) and my ‘slapped on make-up’ and just be myself. Because no one is better at being me than me. And I AM a beautiful me πŸ˜‰

Meg’s Monday Musings, I guess

Over the last few years, I have become increasingly aware of how we are all different. I don’t just mean in physical appearance, or in our hearts… I have also extended my thinking to cover things like how we respond to things, what works FOR US, our opinions and the way we approach the situations life gives us, etc.
Something else I have become increasingly aware of in my own heart is the need to not only respect these differences, but celebrate them because, quite frankly, the world needs all of us. We just have different things to contribute.

Sadly, in some cases, there will be times where celebration falls short, because that particular thing is disheartening, saddening, confusing. Perhaps that person has been shaped by a particular experience in a negative way, and that is the reason for them responding in a way that elicits hurt, anger and bitterness though.
There is a saying that goes something like this : I still care. I still want to see you eat. Just not at my table.

I understand that. A part of me can agree with that saying. And yet….

I will always want people to eat at my table. Eventually. If at all possible. And of course saying that elicits responses like, ”You’re a sucker for punishment”, ”you’re weak and a doormat”, ”you clearly lack boundaries and deserve to have your peace thrown in turmoil, because you aren’t protecting it”.

What is really funny to me is that I CAN see the small bits of truth in those things. Thanks to technology we have an overload of information to teach us all of the above, especially when it comes to boundaries and protecting our peace. We have advice pouring in via social media in the way of articles and memes and short videos to make us strong and prevent us from becoming ‘doormats’.

I remember reading once : The heart of the problem is a problem of the heart.

And so, as my heart is changing radically (in what I deem as all the best ways) a lot of the advice and sayings out there are becoming things that I just can’t fully agree with. A sucker for punishment, indeed! Because this DOES make me MORE vulnerable, and more open to experiencing hurt and heartache. BUT it has also brought me a strange sense of peace, which I simply can’t afford to fight against to satisfy the countless items of advice to ‘protect my peace’ when I have found it in a way that is not in alignment with all these things.

I am able to agree to disagree. I don’t need to always be right. I also don’t need to force my opinions and advice on people in a way that I get frustrated and angry when they don’t do what I have told them to. I am ACCEPTING of the concept that WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT! One of the hardest things I have done, and have to do every now and then, is forgive people who are not sorry, will not say they are sorry, and live in a space where they truly believe that they have done nothing wrong.

And I have, in all of this, realised something that I think is important – TO ME : I actually don’t need apologies, or changed behaviour to prove that you’re sorry. It isn’t why I am still here roaming this earth – it’s not my purpose, if you will.
Other people’s choices, behaviour and the condition of their hearts is not my responsibility. But I AM responsible for my choices, behaviour and the condition of my heart.

There are people in my life who have hurt me deeply. Someone very close to me, my very own blood, has made a lifetime of ‘trying to destroy me’, when she was supposed to love me and nurture me. People in positions of power have abused me. But all of that? Whatever choices they made and whatever they tried to do to me? Well… that is on them. Not me. I have learnt that forgiving them, even though they will never say they are sorry… TRULY forgiving them in MY heart, brings ME peace. And pretty much introduces a freedom within me that I have struggled to grasp for so many years.

Jumping back to eating at my table : any wounds, dissatisfaction, or pain that they be suffering now might possibly be self-inflicted. It is not for me to judge them for that. Or to even rejoice in the fact that they are now possibly ‘getting what they deserve’. NOT MY PLACE. NOT MY BUSINESS.
And if those people reach a point in their lives where they show up at my table, WITHOUT apology, needing a little bit of kindness, compassion, or food for their souls to help them face the day because a particular choice they made or circumstance they are facing has caused them a deep hurt, despite warnings I may have issued or advice I had given? Well, who am I to tell them : Oh, I care… but off you go. Go and find another table. Love isn’t served here.

The last few weeks have not only shown me all the things I DON’T want to be…. it has taught me the greatest lesson of all time. The ONE thing I ABSOLUTELY NEED to be. LOVE.

And because I lack perfection, this is harder than just learning the lesson. Along the way, I am finding myself in situations where this is being put to the test. In most cases, I am getting it right. There are still the odd ones though where I need to iron MYSELF out, and be more determined about living out love, no matter what it costs me.

Unfortunately, feeling and thinking all of the above means that there will be tables that I will be no longer invited to. There will not be an attitude of ‘agree to disagree’ and I will be viewed in an undesirable light, and criticised in many ways. And the feeling and knowledge of that? Well, it feels a bit like trying to swallow a pineapple whole.
But here’s the thing. It’s THEIR table. If I am not welcome there, then I need to respect that. I need to truly forgive so that I can find peace.
And if there ever comes a day where they approach MY table in an hour of need (even if only to just get them through that need and have them walk away again) I will set them a place, comfort them and show them kindness, and love them for as long as they let me.

NONE of these changed hearts attitudes have come without a price to me. NONE of the musings above have come easy. NONE of it is necessarily part of YOUR journey. But it is a part of mine. As are each and every one of you.

Here’s hoping you all have an incredibly special and wonderfully enlightening week ❀

Just a dog

I was thrown into a ‘state of anxiety’ for about a week, because of my dog. Let me explain – or try to, at least. I don’t know how eloquent I will be… or how much sense any of it will make…. but please bear with me…. or dog with me, rather πŸ˜› This is Toffolux – Toffee for short :

The top two pictures are from the last couple of years – the bottom two are from when my daughter was 10/11 – they would watch movies together. πŸ˜‰

I have touched on, in previous posts, a severe traumatic incident in 2012… that was followed with a lot more trauma till 2013. But added to that, I have childhood trauma too… that was more ongoing. Anyway….

At the end of 2013, I was helped with my 2012 incident… adequate trauma counselling etc. Things started looking up. However, I was still having nightmares and I was still afraid.
In 2014, it was suggested to me that I get a dog – to help me.

I have ALWAYS been a dog person… I find myself incredibly attached to them though… whether it’s mine or not. Ha ha! I have a feeling dogs sense this. In my complex, anytime a dog escapes their yard, they show up on MY doorstep. In fact, there are two dogs living outside my complex at the end of the road, who come here too. It’s rather amusing, really.
The lady at the end of the road asked if I was a vet – no ways! My dog passion can never be followed that way… my heart would literally break.
In fact, a few weeks back, there was a doggy run over on the highway (the opposite direction we were driving) and traffic had come to a standstill… and I had to pull over a little later because my tears were blurring my vision. Moving on….

The children were excited at the announcement that we would go to one of the local animal sanctuary’s in search of a dog. They love dogs as much as I do… and had been waiting two years for a ‘replacement’ for our last one. My instructions were clear – not a puppy! I wanted a ‘grown up’, about the size of a maltese poodle.

We came home with a puppy. Sigh.

Toffee had arrived at the sanctuary at three weeks old, after being thrown out of a car window in a plastic packet. ‘One man’s garbage is another man’s treasure’. This was most certainly the case when he came into our lives.
We went searching the day he was six weeks old. He had just finished fighting off Biliary too! This pup was a survivor!

And he chose us. By attaching himself to the fur at the top of my daughter’s boots and hanging on. I still laugh out loud when I think of that moment!
And Toffee became this girl’s best friend – yes! I would choose him over a diamond ANY day!

Most of my free time has been spent with Toffee by my side. We have engaged in long conversations – I haven’t really had anyone else to spend time with… so he is my movie companion, my sounding board, my friend.
My children often joke that he is also the ‘husband in the household for mom’, and that they don’t know how a guy would fit into the equation – and since they are okay with that, I am too. Ha ha!
Because Toffee sleeps on the pillow next to me at night. He snores in my ear. And sometimes he even steals the blankets.
When I talk to him, he gazes at me, listening intently. And sometimes even offers up appropriate ‘noises’ in response. My son is still convinced he KNOWS what we are saying and is talking back.
The funniest is when you ask him a question, and he responds with shaking his head as if to say no.

And in all honesty? He is definitely the most ‘human’ dog I have ever had. I’ve had eight dogs in total in my lifetime – I got my first puppy at age 2. And so when I compare? He’s definitely a ‘person’ more than an animal πŸ˜‰

But there is this too : when the nightmares came, Toffee would wake me… and cuddle against me, sometimes licking my cheek in reassurance that it was okay. When the ‘unexplained fear’ overcame me, it was like he knew. When I was feeling anxious, he knew. And he always offered reassurance. A paw on my leg if we were sitting together. A look he would give me, followed by a big sigh, and then an approach where he would bump against me for love…. and giving him love always gave me a strange form of comfort.

My children have been growing – they have their friends, their recreational activities, their social lives. In my down time? I have Toffee, and whatever it is I choose to do – read, watch series or a movie, or just sit and think about life. He’s always at my side.

Since March, Toffee has (after six years of perfect health) been unwell. Recurring bouts of prostatitis, and a need to be neutered. And so his neutering was booked for the 2nd October. And the day I booked it, my anxiety was what some considered ‘stupid and abnormal’. Because of him being an older dog, there was the niggle of ‘what if something goes wrong’? My kids weren’t around, and when I got home from the booking, I’ll admit it… I cried. Toffee, with his 26 kilogram body, jumped up on me to hug me (he does that too! Stands with his paws stretched up on your shoulders and actually curls them into you as if pulling you in for a hug!)
Then he disappeared to my room… and when I followed a few minutes later and entered the room, he let out a loud sigh and I saw this :

The pillow says RELAX on it. He stayed like that for me to take a photo… but then I couldn’t contain my laughter any longer and he lifted his head, wagging his tail, and ‘smiled’ at me.

He came through surgery that day like the champ that he is. But the following week there were minor complications that caused me some sadness and stress…. and again, some people commented that I was being ‘ridiculous’, ‘he’s just a dog’, ‘this is quite pathetic of you’.

WHEN YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND IT, WHEN YOU DON’T KNOW THE BACKGROUND, WHEN YOU WEREN’T THERE TO COMFORT SOMEONE THROUGH THE TRAUMA… PLEASE DON’T JUDGE THEM! THIS IS WHERE KINDNESS SHOULD KICK IN.

I have said that in CAPS because it is SO important.

In the end, Toffee needed an extra large cone… but as you can see, he wasn’t too unhappy about it πŸ˜‰

Unfortunately he’s not quite back to being healthy yet. He now has an ear infection. Sigh.

Why all of this? About my dog?

I had seven days of struggling with sleep, and anxiety. How silly, right? But here’s the thing :

When you’re unfamiliar with trauma – whether it be long lasting or a particular incident – and if you do not understand the complications that can follow years later, then you too are nodding your head in agreement at how ‘ridiculous I have been, allowing a dog to make me almost not able to function for a week’.

But if you ARE familiar… and if you’re not please try and understand :

Although it IS about me loving my dog ‘too much’, there was a whole other thing taking place.
It’s called a trigger.
After a few years of being ‘almost completely free’? This ‘event’ triggered something in me. And I don’t know how this really works or why it happens…. I just know it does.

And so… when I slept? The nightmares came back – not as severe, and yet I still woke up terrified. I looked over my shoulder a little more than usual…. even in my own home. I found excuses to communicate with my daughter when she wasn’t home – sending her a meme or something, just to get her to respond, so that I would know she was okay.

You may not fully understand. Because you don’t know what I went through.
And the reactions from others made me think about it quite a lot.

And I had to add another thing to my ‘to do list’ in my character….

I know I should not have an opinion about anyone unless I fully know their why.
But at the same time – what is it in me that always seems to want to know the WHY? Yes, it helps explain… and it makes understanding easier….
And yet….
There are times where people will not be able to find the words to explain their why to me; they may not trust me enough or they may just not want to talk about that part of the past; or they may have ten million other reasons NOT to tell me their why.
I still have just ONE reason to at least TRY and understand without the necessity of every detail….
And it surpasses those ten million….

It’s doing everything I can to show REAL love to others – an ‘unnatural’ kindness and compassion, that just is, and doesn’t need explanations.

It’s not easy. I won’t always get it right. But I have made a decision to be ‘more aware’, and at least TRY to get it right!

So this was one part of the ‘all will be revealed in time’ that I mentioned in my last post πŸ˜‰

(And just as a side note : someone told me that I can’t help anyone with their life purpose if I am still reliving things from my past – my response was this : if it wasn’t for the past, and the understanding that triggers exist, THEN I would be ineffective. If I wasn’t experiencing the things that I am, and learning from them and growing, then I wouldn’t be in a place to identify with anyone, would I? I don’t relive my past – and I don’t live in it either… but sometimes it just appears out of nowhere. This is reality for so many! Getting through something, dealing with it, moving forward in life? Unfortunately it doesn’t mean it never happened. Our response to the reminder is what changes… and we are better equipped to ‘fight’.
This trigger was an unknown – I didn’t expect to react like this at all…. or for it to have been as bad as it what it was. I probably should have identified it sooner, and not lost a week, as such! BUT I have learnt from this… and I am prepared for next time πŸ˜‰ I won’t be completely unaffected by it next time, but the impact WILL be a little less.
I guess my honesty ISN’T always a good thing – and makes people question my abilities and character.
BUT…. connection comes from honesty – I want to be REAL!
So my apologies to everyone – I am not perfect. But I share tidbits for this reason : guys and girls! Life is still worth living! Sometimes we get slowed down… but keep putting one foot in front of the other! Sometimes it will take a little longer than we feel it should….
But always remember that slow progress is still progress, and you’re still a lot further than anyone who isn’t even trying ❀

being practical

 

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Photo credit : Facebook

Yes…this sometimes happens. In a world where entertainment is the focus a lot of the time, my ‘kids’ still get bored with it sometimes. Reading a book is usually the next option for them, but every now and then they get cabin fever. The bored is usually in referral to the fact that they need toΒ go somewhere, andΒ do something.

Yesterday, I was standing washing the dishes, when the two little boys across from my house came out to play. On one of their dads business trips, he had purchased each of them handmade wire push cars – in South Africa, you will often see the handmade wire items for sale on the side of the road. They are truly exquisite, and the time and effort that goes into them must be priceless! The push car looks something like this :

Photo credits : 123RF.com and unsungart.co.za

The younger of the two (6) has a car, and the older one (7) has a small truck.

I live in a townhouse complex, in a corner of four houses. The roads are not very wide, and our little corner is quite safe traffic wise, especially if we’re all at home. The neighbour next to me, and this family who are across from me to the left, have become my friends, after 7 years of us all living here.
The boys are adopted, and I was there for each one ‘coming home’. They have the same biological mother, but different fathers. Both were discarded at the hospital – she just ran away. Both times, I was called on because ‘new mom’, my friend and neighbour, was a little unsure. And to them I am an expert with babies πŸ˜› I’ve cared for quite a few that have not been my own.

But I digress…

So the boys were playing and I was watching and smiling, with my arms buried in a sink full of hot water and dish soap. The older one disappeared inside, and came out with two Father Christmas teddies being transported in his truck. The younger one was not happy – he also wanted to drive someone around. But the soft toy his brother shared with him just wouldn’t stay put. He was becoming upset and frustrated. The older one disappeared back inside, and a few minutes later he was helping his little brother tie the teddy to the roof of the car.

By this stage, my dishes had been forgotten, and I was giggling – off they went, racing to see who would deliver their precious cargo first. My heart was instantly warmed and happy.

And I was reminded of a story from so many years ago that I can’t even tell you if I read it or heard it, or how old I was when I did. I found the story this morning, and wanted to share it with all of you, in case you hadn’t heard it before. It’s called ”The Broken Doll” and this is my re-telling of itΒ :

~~A little girl was late coming home from school one day. Her mother was, of course, upset and worried. When she at last walked through the door, her mother demanded an explanation as to why she was late.

The little girl explained, ”I was walking home with Julie, and she dropped her doll. It broke into a million pieces.”

Her mothers heart softened and she asked quietly, ”Oh honey, you helped Julie pick up the pieces of her doll and put it back together?”

In her young and innocent voice, the little girl replied, “No, Mommy. I didn’t know how to fix the doll. I just stayed to help Julie cry.”~~

We all know someone who has a problem. It’s magnitude terrifies us, and we cannot even begin to wrap our heads around what it feels like to them. We have no idea how to help, or change things. For most of us, it’s in our nature to want to fix it. We think up solutions, and offer advice. We try to assist in practical ways – we reach out and offer knowledge and research.

But do we just stay and help them cry?

There are hardly ever ‘quick fixes’. Practical help is truly great, because it changes the situation, and can often make things seem less overwhelming – offer hope of something better to come.

But sometimes, all that is needed, is someone to cry with you, to comfort you, to reach out and just ‘be’ with you.

Be practical, yes. Offer solutions, yes. If you’re in a position to assist, then do it, yes.
But don’t forget to be emotionally practical.

Because sometimes, having someone who cares enough to just cry with you, can make the biggest difference of all.

 

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Photo credit : goodreads.com