What a word!

There are still times in my life, and I am sure there always will be, where I find myself questioning and grappling, and even sometimes frustrated, when it comes to ”purpose”.

Not just its definition, or how it applies to my own life, or whether or not I have found it etc. But also on the days where something happens and I end up asking it in a different way : something along the lines of ”Well, what is the purpose of that?”

I very much doubt that I will ever have a concrete answer for any of it. That one word – purpose – and our lives and the situations we find ourselves in and how it applies and all comes together, and what it means, and and and…. well, the answers are just as infinite and the layers of them exponentially greater than those of any onion. (For those who have seen the movie, yes… I just used a ‘Shrek‘ reference 😛 )

Last week, I had a lengthy catch up telephone conversation with a young lady (she’s in her late twenties now) who I have known since she was 5 years old. I went from being her mom’s friend, when she was a little girl, to now being her friend, and big sister. (In fact, she has me listed as her sister on Facebook, which confuses many people – I get messages from old school acquaintances sometimes, who feel terrible for not knowing that I had a sister, ha ha ha!)

In this conversation, she was telling me about her husband’s sister who is a really talented singer, and is struggling to get a break – she’s young and naive and being taken advantage of by our local music world. We ended up talking about purpose in general. My friend, herself, is also frustrated – she has passions and talents, and just can’t seem to ‘get her break’ either. I offered her support, love and encouragement in ways, and with words, that I thought might be helpful. And there was a happy end to our conversation, and she still loves me… so I think I did okay 😛

The last few days have been grappling days for me. Days where my head is swimming with things like, ”What if what I am doing is not enough? What if I am failing at living out the purpose intended for me? Why isn’t there writing on my wall with a definitive that I can work from? Am I doing it wrong, because there isn’t actually anything tangible being produced here? I have nothing to show for any of it! What am I going to do?”

And this morning the friend that I mentioned above send me a picture message, and captioned it, ”This is you, endlessly! I love you, Meg!”

So I’ll end with the message to me, and share it as a message to all of you out there who may be able to identify with how I have been feeling (these feelings are temporary, but hey, they exist, so we might as well offer each other some encouragement for when we’re stuck in them, right? 😉 )

Good neighbours

I live in a townhouse complex. And sometimes the people can be pretty complex too 😛
We do not have a security guard at the gate or anything like that, but basically we each have our own houses with a small fenced in yard, within a larger boundary that is high walled with electric fencing running along the top. With the increase in crime here, and a few incidents of late, the decision has been made to install cameras at the main gate as well.
Living like this has its perks, and its downfalls. You can’t help but ‘know your neighbours’ because they’re not very far away from you.
I know the neighbour next to me quite well, because he’s been living here for six years now, and I know the neighbours and their beautiful adopted little boys well too – we’ve shared life for nine years now!

I tell you this because today, among other days to be celebrated, is ‘Good Neighbour Day’.

I can remember the times when I lived in a ‘freestanding house’, on a road, along with other houses. I still knew my neighbours then, simply because when we moved in, I would go to the houses across from me and both sides of me and introduce myself. Many times, I think people thought I was just plain weird.
Someone once commented to me that it’s a good thing to do because at least you ‘know them’ if something happens to you, or if there’s a break in etc.

But that was never my reason. I’m a people person, and I like to ‘know’ – to try and connect. (So no, the reason was never out of curiosity or nosiness either 😛 ) I also wanted people to ‘see me’, so that if they needed help they could approach me.

Your neighbours are not just the people living next to you, or in the vicinity of your home, though.

My theory is this : ‘home is where the heart is’, so wherever my heart travels (wherever I go, whether it be to the shop, or to the bank etc. my heart is inside my body and goes with me) and therefore every person who comes into contact with me could be considered my neighbour. Because I live in my body – it is a home for my soul.

And so yes, we get back to the familiar tangent I always seem to be on, ha ha ha!

Having a good house neighbour that you know you can call on to borrow some sugar, or feed your dogs if you’re away, or bring home bread and milk if you are ill etc, is fantastic!

What if, when we are out there in the world (away from our ‘living in’ home) we still practice being a good neighbour? A smile, and a greeting, to the person who we happen to catch the eye of; assistance for the lady juggling three bags of groceries and her keys; an offer to assist someone who seems to be wandering aimlessly around a grocery store (it can be fun to BOTH be searching for the same thing, ha ha ha!).

Sometimes this means stepping out of our comfort zone. For some of us, it isn’t easy to ‘go boldly and just do’ because it isn’t in our nature.

But the rewards of kindness, for both the person performing the act as well as the person on the receiving end, are simply out of this world! And they make your heart/home a little happier and lighter.

So once again….

Let’s leave footprints of love and kindness wherever we go! 😉

Who Do You Need?

 

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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.
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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 :

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‘Nuff said!

 

funny fat stuff

 

Sing with me…..

 

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The above was sent to me by my friend of 20+ years. She knew I would appreciate the humour in it. And of course I do….even though some of it is true for me 😛

I discovered recently that I have a very toxic relationship that I am truly struggling to let go of – the relationship I have with my body. It’s a recent discovery for me because I have never viewed my poor physical self image in this light. It truly is a ‘woman thing’ (although, sorry girls, we’re not exclusive! There are men who suffer too!) – we all experience it at some stage or another. But my stage has lasted way too long. For me, it is linked to what can only be described as emotional baggage – a culmination of negativity, lack of support, stressful events and criticism dating back to childhood. The result was poor self esteem in every area of my life. And while I am managing quite successfully to learn lessons and grow in all other areas in a positive way, I am still struggling with this one thing – my body.

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And I have to admit that the funny image above carries with it a semblance of truth – because I have always felt fat, fussing over finding something to wear that doesn’t make me look it has never been an issue.

Strangely enough, this has never sent me along the path of having an eating disorder. And I am truly grateful for that.

But it is still an unhealthy obsession to have, and it is definitely a toxic relationship to be in. It’s understandable when your body is quitting on you due to ill health – my body is slowly giving in to a variety of health issues, and so to be upset with it for that reason still carries a small amount of justification. But to be mad at my body because of fat? Well, that’s just ludicrous! Because my fat is not entirely owing to medical issues.

And here’s the really funny part….. I’m actually only 10 kilos (22 pounds) ”overweight”.
Before my daughter was born, I was at what I thought was MY perfect goal weight – 55kg’s (121 pounds). It was my perception of what ‘looking good’ would be for me. No big surprise that even then I was critical of my body, claiming that I was still too fat. *rolling my eyes here*
Last week I found a photo of my son and I from those days, and I was horrified. And my children agreed… I looked terrible!!!! That ‘thin’ me didn’t suit me at all. My body looked great, but my face looked gaunt and drawn – I looked ill! It gave me some perspective.

I’m not designed to have a body like all the other ladies I want to look like, because it doesn’t suit my face! 

Yesterday I read this quote by JK Rowling : “Is ‘fat’ really the worst thing a human being can be? Is ‘fat’ worse than ‘vindictive’, ‘jealous’, ‘shallow’, ‘vain’, ‘boring’ or ‘cruel’? Not to me.”

I’ve read it before – a few times, actually. I think that the self growth journey I have been on and working so hard at in recent years may be starting to influence my body image too, because yesterday the words finally made sense deep within me. As I stared down at the tyre tube formed in the place that used to be my waist, a new appreciation in my spirit formed.

Summer is here and I have a built in flotation device for swimming! 😛

Okay so, no, that was not the appreciation.

This morning it was confirmed for me : I need to at least try to, in everything, practice what I preach. I can’t keep pushing, ”you’re beautiful on the inside and that’s all that counts”, when I lack appreciation for that in myself.

The world will always make me feel physically inferior, for as long as I keep allowing it to make me compare my physical attributes to others.  

My physical body is not my character – who cares if I am known for having a stunning figure? Does it really matter that much to me that I have a great figure if my character is ugly? In all honesty?
NOT AT ALL!

Most important to me is to be known for my heart.

And from personal experience (mentioned above when my body looked great) I also know that no matter what my body looks like, I won’t be satisfied. I really need to end this toxic relationship – so yes, I’ll be looking for ways to do that….if you have tips and tricks, feel free to leave them in the comments.

I ALSO KNOW THAT….

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Two babies, actually 😛

Health and age may be motivating factors for the extra pounds piling on…. but I have to take some form of responsibility too! I don’t exercise enough, and although I try and eat healthy I also have a tendency to give into tasty temptation a little too often. And I definitely need to change that!

While self care and self reflection in an effort to grow and build positive character will always be of the utmost importance to me, I need to remember that there should always be a form of balance – and physical me needs attention too (and not just for appearances sake).

But then again…. there’s always this 😛 :

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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!

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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