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 πŸ˜› ), 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 πŸ˜‰ There was, after all, cake πŸ˜› )

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 πŸ˜› )

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 πŸ˜› (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 πŸ˜‰ They might not work because of where I live – but who knows where your suggestion might send my mind to thinking πŸ˜‰ )

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! ❀

Horton heard what?

It’s that day again! πŸ˜‰

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Photo credit : skiptomylou.org

Today is Dr Seuss Day

”Theodor Seuss Geisel, commonly known by his pen name Dr. Seuss, was a writer, poet and cartoonist. Though best known as a children’s author (he released a whopping forty-six books for tykes), his career also saw him work as an illustrator for advertising campaigns and a political cartoonist during the Second World War. He was also a true perfectionist, known to discard 95% of his material before settling on a theme for a new book, sometimes spending up to a year writing a single story, and preferring payment upon completion, rather than in advance.

March 2nd is a celebration of his life and works, as it was on this day in 1904 that he entered the world. Having lived eighty-seven years and made an incredible impact on numerous generations, he died in 1991 at his home in La Jolla, California. His many bizarre, colourful and zany tales are still cherished by young and old alike, and, having been translated into more than twenty languages, are read all across the world every single day.”Β Extract taken from the link provided above.

I owned four of his books as a child (all the others I read came from the library), and I still have them!Β  I read them to my children when they were younger, and they’ve now been packed away for my grandchildren one day (although I think I will be waiting a very long time for that πŸ˜› Not that I’m complaining πŸ˜‰ )

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Photo credit : northernnatalcourier.co.za

And as I am reminiscing, and looking through all the quote images, I see a lot of the things that I have a tendency to say in them – perhaps he had a greater influence on me than I thought πŸ˜‰

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Photo credit : earlymoments.com

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So here’s my ‘Dr Seuss inspired’ wish for you :

May you find the strength and wisdom for the mountains that you climb.

May you remember that no one can be a better ‘you’ than you.

May your heart not only be open to caring for others, but may you also find opportunities to be kind.

May you be filled with courage to stand out in the crowd – stick to your values and goals and pursue your dreams… no matter who says what!

AND ….

β€œAnd the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow,
stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”

May you experience the goodness and greatness of love EVERY DAY that can’t be bought.

Holiday Wish List

Everything is different this year. Birthdays were celebrated, and yet not. New life happened, but there were no hospital visits and flower deliveries. Lives were lost, and a text message/phone call became the new way to comfort.

Christmas is different too. And yet… is it? Admittedly, my usual Christmas spirit seems to have gone on a vacation all by itself. We’ve had some dreadful humidity these last few days so perhaps it has sought out a cooler climate. I wish it had thought to take me with it!

Last night, as I sat thinking about Friday – Christmas Day – (my goodness, how did it get here so fast!!!!) I also started thinking about seasonal things. I had shared the following on my personal Facebook page last Friday, with just one week to go till the ‘big day’ :


I went to look at it again, and it suddenly struck me that this has been my wish list all year, for a few years.
If someone asked me what I would like my life to look like, it would be all of the above. Circumstances are not always conducive to these things… but I could still make the effort.

Here is hoping that in these difficult times….

May you all have the least of the less… and an overwhelmingly encouraging abundance of the more! ❀
Not just for this holiday season… but every day πŸ˜‰

Piece of Peace

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I have a hope that the pandemic has taught us all how very true the above really is. Every new morning that presents itself to us is a gift. And it truly is the greatest gift.
It’s probably the only one that I have no difficulty receiving – I embrace it with open arms; no matter how bad the weather is, my health is, how sleepy my brain is etc. I am always truly happy at being given ‘another shot’ – a whole new day full of possibilities and opportunities. And reasons to smile.

I am a giver, naturally. It’s just something I do, and have no problem doing. I struggle with taking – even when a gift is freely given. This is something I have been made very aware of that needs work. It’s a mindset that needs changing. For if we freely give, then we should also be prepared to freely receive.

And I received a financial gift from a friend who is very dear to me, which enabled me to purchase a new laptop. My previous laptop had lasted almost ten years, but was finally going on the blink more than what it was working. And eventually, it died. And my friend decided to give more than they already do, and sowed into my life financially.
(This friend blesses me daily, with laughter and smiles and excellent soul food – introducing me to things that count and help me grow! It was already more than enough for my hungry heart.)

I have spent the last two days trying to come up with a ‘killer blog post’, to do the gratitude in my heart for this amazing gift justice. I wanted to present you all with a masterpiece that would wow you. A true work of reading art that would encourage, inspire and motivate you as you dip your own paintbrushes into the colourful paint pots for your life canvases.

I came up empty.

But here is a parting thought for you to take into this day with you, and one that I hope you will remember and possibly even dwell on for a while each and every day :
Master Peace

In each day, pause for a moment and focus on peace – inner peace, if you will.
There is turmoil in the world around us, and no doubt we will face trials each day – some small and possibly insignificant, and some that threaten to overwhelm us.
But in each day, we also need to take a moment to ‘see the peace’ as well.
It isn’t unattainable, despite what is happening around us.

But we need to be aware, and sometimes we need to just work a little harder to seek it out, in order to find it. Sometimes all it takes is that pause in the busyness to just breathe. It’s a one step at a time kind of thing – one minute, one hour, one day.

And so I end with my hope for all of you : may you all experience contentment and pure joy starting today and extending into forever ❀

Arts and Crafts

The other day I shared my hobby of painting.

I am sort of an Arts and Crafts kind of girl. Sometimes. πŸ˜‰

In my early twenties, a girl friend who shares my love for creating stuff, gifted me an afternoon craft class. It was a voucher for both of us to attend, and we got wine and snacks! πŸ˜‰ I remember it as being loads of fun – but somewhat frustrating too – and it wasn’t the wine πŸ˜›

It was a class in ‘serviette glass decoupage’.

Now back in those days, I was nowhere near as patient as I am now. And it showed in that class (hence the frustrating part of it).

We arrived twenty minutes early, and were greeted with a variety of wines to choose from. The studio the class was being held at had a beautiful garden, and I remember sitting on the grass with our wine, next to a small rock fountain, just sunning ourselves. No words passed between us, we just were. It was bliss.

We were ushered inside a while later by the hostess – an elderly woman with long gray hair, dressed in a brightly coloured kaftan, sporting a glass of wine twice the size of ours! (A couple of months ago, I watched the series Grace and Frankie.When I saw Frankie, I was instantly reminded of the teacher we had that day πŸ˜‰ Frankie is the lady on the right, pictured below)

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Photo credit : tvline.com
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Photo credit : deadline.com

I’m struggling to remember what our hostesses name was, so for the purposes of my story, I shall refer to her as Frankie πŸ˜‰

My friend, Tish, and I took our seats, and I was excited to see the box of supplies in front of me. Frankie took her place at the front of the room and rather dramatically announced,
”Ladies, today we are going to test our patience!”
I wasn’t the only one who wore a horrified expression, promise.
She laughed, and added, ”We’re going to create something beautiful that you can be proud of.”
We all relaxed – but we should have known that she was an honest woman (she gave us wine, after all) and wasn’t actually kidding about the first part despite her laughing after she said it.

As we unpacked our items, I got more excited, while she talked us through a brief explanation.
”First we will tear the mulberry paper into small pieces, and you will use the normal paintbrush to ‘glue’ the pieces to your jar with the glaze I have provided. (It’s a water based glaze type varnish, thin and colourless, and after this class I preferred working with it to working with the traditional modge podge that is usually used in decoupage.)
When you have finished, while your jar is drying – it will take about fifteen minutes to dry, you may come and select a serviette from the box. Then you will cut out your picture and gently apply it with the softer paintbrush to your bottle, using fine strokes to pretty much paint it on.”

It didn’t sound too difficult.

There was a lot of chatter as we got busy with our jars (we’re women, after all πŸ˜› ), and Frankie made her rounds to check on us and top up our wine. Such a good woman πŸ˜‰

What she had failed to tell us was exactly what our serviette time would entail.

I don’t remember who waited for who, but when Tish and I were both done, we went to the serviette box together. Tish selected a serviette with bright flowers, I went with something softer – pale seashells.

Seeing us returning to our work stations with our serviettes, Frankie came over, with prestik?!?!?! What followed was a true test of patience. And I blame my youth back then for my lack thereof πŸ˜›

The serviettes had three layers, which made them ‘firm’. We were to only work with one very delicate and easy-to-tear layer. The prestik was to assist in separating the layers. Once we had the final thin layer, we could pick up our scissors, andΒ very gently begin to cut out our chosen sections.
Now, I need to tell you, for some reason I struggle a little with ‘gentle’. I am not a bull in a china shop by any means, but I am also not a very soft and gentle worker with my hands. I’ve improved… but back then it was an almost disaster.

I went through three serviettes before I had my few shells! The more intricate the cutting pattern (Tish learnt the hard way with her petals) the easier it is to tear the serviette while cutting. By the time we were done, I am pretty sure our sighs of relief could be heard in other countries. We high-fived each other, because, well, the bad part was over.

And then Frankie reappeared, her sample in hand. She showed us how to very carefully apply the serviette with the soft brush. As with most things when people do them who know what they are doing, she made it look easy.

I can assure you, it’s not. A single delicate layer of serviette that becomes wet tears really easily at the slightest amount of ‘too much pressure’. And so we were back to square one, fetching another serviette and holding scissors.

It took FIVE HOURS to make one jar! Some ladies gave up, and Frankie did theirs for them in the end, showing them how as she went along – for future use. I wonder if they ever tried again?

Tish and I were part of the determined group. And weΒ finally succeeded!

So this was my very first jar, made with serviette decoupage…

Shell Bottle

I have since, after many years of practice, managed to hone my skill so that it’s a lot less frustrating… and I don’t tear as many serviettes anymore either πŸ˜‰ It helps that I am older now, I think – so my ‘patience skill’ has been honed too πŸ˜›

In fact, I actually now enjoy working with the serviettes, and even use them for decoupage on wooden items. πŸ˜‰ I made butterfly coasters for a friend for her birthday, I made a flower fairy tissue box for someone else. And I’ve done a few bottles as gifts, with some form of something in the neck to add to the decor – a fake flower, or greenery etc.

So without further ado, I’ll share more pictures with you πŸ˜‰

Butterfly CoastersCello BottleExamplesFairies tissue box coverSunflower bottle

Here’s hoping you’re all keeping safe, and keeping well.

And if your patience isn’t already being tested, you might want to try some serviette decoupage to get it started πŸ˜› πŸ˜‰

 

Christmas Every Day

This season is a very demanding time for me. It reaches beyond my children, and the usual chaos of Christmas. Many reach out – because although it’s the season to be jolly, the reality is that it is also a painful time for many – sometimes at the drop of a hat.

As a child, I spent a lot of time with my maternal grandparents. Granny and Grampie (my names for them) were wonderful, in more ways than just regular great ‘grandparents’ are. They introduced me to many of life’s treasures : the arts, theatre and musicals, classical music and music in general, singing,Β  Scrabble and crosswords, books and poetry and writing. But the greatest treasures they gave me were their time, and lessons of love and kindness and respect for all.Β 
Growing up, I was a ‘drama queen’ – but not in the sense that I made much ado about nothing. More in the sense that I loved everything to do with Dramatic Arts. I took private drama lessons, and appeared in every school show I could. Grampie used to say I was his ‘little Anne’, because a lot of my reactions as a child came from hours of watching Anne of Green Gables with my grandparents.
When I was eight, my parents took me to see the musical ‘Hello, Dolly’, at the theatre in Cape Town. (We were there to move my brother into his residence for university.)
When it was over, I paused at the top of the flight of stairs on the way out. Surrounded by people, I made my descent slowly and purposefully, imitating Dolly in the show, singing at the top of my lungs, “Hello, Meggie… well, hello, Meggie… it’s so nice to have you back where you belong….”

Being a dramatic young soul, it surprised no one that my favourite story was ‘The Little Match Girl’ by Hans Christian Anderson. I had a large book filled with his stories, but those particular pages were almost grubby, having being visited so many times. Although the story is set on New Years Eve, it was one that was read by me, and to me, all year long – but multiple times during the week leading up to Christmas. As an adult, I have struggled to understand how anyone could read it to me without crying. Because as an adult, each time I read it, the lump in my throat makes it difficult to read out loud – my breath catches in my throat and the tears flow when I am close to the end. Sobs escape, and I pause many times. I have yet to read this story out loud to my children, without frustrating them at the drawn out ending – but they understand, for they struggle too.

When I was 9, Grampie and Granny added to my book collection with another omnibus of stories. The featured story in this book (as it was the title of the collection) quickly became my next firm favourite. It was a story by Oscar Wilde, entitled ‘The Selfish Giant’.
And yes, this story made me cry as well. Although it has nothing to do with Christmas, or New Year – nothing to do with this particular time of year at all – it was another story that I revisited most during Christmas preparation time. And still do, as an adult.

Because both these stories remind me of the things that Grampie, in particular, always tried to teach me. (I was about 10 when my parents split, and Grampie stepped in as a replacement dad as much as he could, when my real dad wasn’t around.)

I am grateful for this Christmas season, because somehow it makes most people more generous. But…

EVERY day is the time for peace, love and joy. EVERY day is the time for compassion and kindness. EVERY day is a time to celebrate, and wish for others the treasures that cannot be bought to be in abundance for them.

EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

But because it’s the season… my wish for you :

The true heart of Christmas (and every day we have πŸ˜› ) is one of wonder and warmth. May any holiday stress you feel fade away and be replaced with this. To those who have lost loved ones during this season, may there somehow be comfort for you. To those who have little, may you be given more. And may we all show kindness and love, and be shown it in abundance too! Merry Christmas to all!

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