Win some, lose some

Yesterday, I had a one hour wait in my car with my teenage daughter, between her school ending and allotted time slot for dancing. She had some school work to finish, and I was looking forward to spending some time reading my book. It was only about fifteen minutes after we had parked that I was able to pick it up, because of course there is the ”catch up on her day” while she eats first.

Before I opened it, I first scanned the street, double checking our safety (because that is how life is lived here), and a man a little further down the road caught my eye.
And I struggled to concentrate after that, reading only a few lines before needing to look up and watch him for a bit.
Not because he was menacing. And not because he was attractive either πŸ˜›

He had his phone in his hand, and was clearly following some form of workout on it. He would jog a short distance, then jog back to his spot, then do three sets of eight of some form of cardio exercise. Then he’d take a deep breath in and out, and repeat the whole cycle – each repetition of the cardio changing as he progressed.

What struck me was this :

He was a slightly overweight man, who appeared to me to be somewhere in his fifties.
And he was not very good at what he was doing.
But he was still doing it… and on a public street too!

(I have to add that I have a LOT of admiration for ‘overweight, untoned’ people who exercise in public. I always look at them and think, ”good for you! I should be doing that! Keep your head held high – respect!”)

My daughter saw me watching, and told me not to stare. I told her, ”I can’t help it. I should be doing that!” She replied, ”then go do it…. but not here, please! All the dancers and parents will see you, and that’s just embarrassing!” And I laughed out loud!
I tried very hard to prevent him from seeing me watching, but about halfway through his workout, I found myself staring at him as he jogged back up the road to his spot without really thinking anything, and we locked eyes. He gave me a small smile, and lifted his hand to say hi, before turning his attention back to his phone to do his cardio.

Knowing I was watching changed nothing – he didn’t suddenly improve on the exercise, or get an impressive second wind and jog a bit faster…. he continued on exactly the same as before. He knew I was watching, but he didn’t stop! Sometimes, even though we’re in public, we only really get uncomfortable when we catch someone watching us. If the roles had been reversed, I would have stopped.
And the thought that came to mind was, This guy has it right! What other people think of him is none of his business! He is doing this for himself, and is focused on the task at hand, probably knowing that the more he does it, the better he’ll get at it.

A couple of minutes before my daughter went into the studio, I watched him finish off a small stretching routine, chug down some water, and walk back into his house. I was surprised to find that, for a moment, I felt some joy and satisfaction on his behalf! I know… I’m a weirdo πŸ˜›

Unfortunately I was brought up with far too many limiting beliefs, and a lot of negativity about me personally, and I still find myself trying to unpack a lot even now.
And it’s hard. There are daily battles (some come hourly), and I win some, and I lose some. And I think it happens that way to most of us.
But I still believe that the most important thing is not in the losing, or the winning… but the trying. Yes, we need to celebrate the wins. But sometimes I think we lost sight of the fact that we should also be celebrating the ‘TRY’S’.

One of my try’s is to ‘stop listening to the voice in your head that has told you for years that you can’t because what will people think!’

Now… please don’t get me wrong…. I am not saying that we should just do or say what we please because we don’t care what anyone thinks – because that sometimes becomes an excuse for us to behave badly. You can’t, for example, intentionally insult someone and have the attitude, ”Yes, I went there and I don’t care what you think, because this is me.”
Our ‘not caring what other people think’ should never be used as an excuse for us to be rude, disrespectful or hurtful. It should not make us insensitive or cause harm to others, whether they deserve it or not.

But I DO think that sometimes we need to just dance like no one is watching… and if we catch someone watching? Well, we should just carry on dancing.

Yes, I know it’s hard. But we can try πŸ˜‰

Here’s to trying, winning, and sometimes even losing. Because if we’re open to it, there’s usually a lesson in the losing πŸ˜‰ Have a great day, everyone!

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 πŸ˜› )

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 πŸ˜›

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? πŸ˜‰ )

❀

World Dream Day

Apparently that is what today is… and although I had hoped it meant that I could just go back to bed and sleep, it doesn’t πŸ˜›

I was reading about the history of this day, and I’ll share the excerpt with you… the bold part of it being the part that stood out for me the most, and made me smile :

Dream Day was set up by an instructor at Columbia University in 2012 as a way of helping us all achieve our dreams and to make the world a better place. The creator of the day is Ozioma Egwuonwu; a transformational strategist and educator. It was her aim to create a day that would help to heal and inspire humanity.

These days, any mention of this pandemic that our world is facing, seems to bring negative words to mind. In all honesty, the amount of disrespect and hate that I have encountered in my entire lifetime, has been superseded by the amount I have seen and experienced in the past 18 months. And it all links back to the virus. It makes me hurt, in so many ways!

And so as I read those words, ”help to heal and inspire humanity”, my heart soared as I smiled and almost shouted out loud, ”Oh man! YES! We need days like this, and not just for dreaming!”

If you want to read more about Dream Day, then you can go here.

Another quick share from the article :

Dream Day is a vital day in terms of honoring the role that dreams play in all of our lives. Even more importantly, it is a day whereby we all inspire one and other, helping our loved ones, peers, and even strangers to put a plan in action to make positive changes in their lives and the wider world.

And then, my Facebook post for today….

I am sure you know what I am going to say now πŸ˜›

It’s the weekend, and we have a whole new week ahead of us : please can we all not only be kind, but let’s look for ways to inspire and encourage one another – maybe even find ways to do so that will be practical in helping them get one step closer to their dream!

Let’s make it Dream Day, every day! (I wonder if we could get away with pyjama shopping…. hmmm. πŸ˜› )

Please be safe, everyone. Thank you for stopping by ❀

Kindly smiling and caring…

Just checking in quickly with a little bit of Monday Motivation πŸ˜‰

It’s one of those ‘ripple effect’ kind of things… it will leave you, and the recipient, both smiling πŸ˜‰

This image popped up in my Facebook memories as something I shared a year ago. Not only is it a worthy re-share, but also a great reminder for me πŸ™‚

Heading out the door, determined to do the above as I make my way through the day. Except the touch part. People are not very receptive to a random stranger touching them πŸ˜›

Have a fantastic week, everyone! ❀

Just a tip…

There was a lot of buzz surrounding a ‘new and cool’ place that was coming to our town. Cool… mostly because Summer is coming and it’s an ice cream shoppe! πŸ˜› (My daughter eats it whatever the weather, though! πŸ˜‰ )

The biggest attraction was ‘rolled fried ice cream’ – we’ve never had that here so it was a whole new taste test coming our way!

I bypassed the opening, knowing that it would be crazy busy, and finally took the girls (my daughter and her friend) after school one Friday, two weeks after they had opened. And let me tell you, it was the best ‘all five senses’ experience I think anyone of us had had in a very long time!
The dΓ©cor had an almost vintage feel – turquoises and pinks – I found myself smiling as I thought, ‘Frenchy, from the movie Grease, should be here!’ (Or even ALL the Pink Ladies πŸ˜‰ )
I kid you not… the place smelled like candy floss! Not a sickening sweet smell…. but a bit like Goldilocks and the Three Bears…. ”Juuuuuuuuuust right!” πŸ˜›
Our taste treats did NOT disappoint in anyway! We were given extra spoons, so that we could each taste the other ones choice – and we all made mental notes to ‘have that one’ next time πŸ˜‰

But what stood out the most for me? Which sense was made the happiest? HEARING!

There was background music, yes. But at a volume that could only just be heard. It could have been louder – I really like my music πŸ˜‰ But in this case, louder would have drowned out the energy coming off of the staff.
(Yes, I have told management, and given them a great review πŸ˜‰ )
There are four staff members (and a manager) … and watching and hearing their interaction with us, other customers, each other? I smiled and laughed so much that my cheeks were sore by the time we got back to my car!

I am not sharing all of this with you to try and convince you that you need ice cream… but maybe you do? πŸ˜›

We were waiting for our order, and my soul was busy soaking it all up πŸ˜‰ while my eyes tried to notice every little detail, when I saw the small jar….

A small glass jar, no fancy ribbon or decoration on it to make you notice it. A small glass jar, sitting on the top of the display of brightly coloured bubbles and Boba, for their special tea’s. A small glass jar, placed between the beautifully branded cups and serviettes. A small glass jar, with a little label on it that read ”TIPS”. A small glass jar that was EMPTY, at three o’clock in the afternoon, when they had been open (and busy) since 9am.

And I felt so sad.

I plucked the last note from my purse, stepped forward, and dropped it in. That cheerful vibe went up a notch, as they all clapped their hands and gave me a thumbs up. One guy even looked up at the ceiling and shouted ‘thank you, God’. The manager smiled, and came to tell me, ”That’s their first tip!”, and I replied, ”For today?” My heart hurt when he said, ”No. Since we’ve opened!”

If I had had more money, I would have added it to that jar!

But here is the truly amazing part!

A customer came in a minute later, placed their order, paid – and noticed the note in the jar (because people seldom miss seeing money, am I right? πŸ˜› )… so instead of putting their change in their purse, they threw it in the jar. Somebody else was waiting to be served, and they paid by card… but dug a note out of their wallet to throw into that jar!

THERE WAS A RIPPLE EFFECT!

Because that’s how it goes! πŸ˜‰

So with a new week looming….

Please can we help the old lady across the street, or help the old man carry those heavy packages? Please can we pay for the coffee of the person behind us, or buy an ice cream for the little girl pulling on her mommy’s hand but mommy clearly doesn’t have enough?
Someone will see…. and maybe they will do the same for someone else!

Let’s get a ripple kindness going! All over the world! Every day!

It might make you smile so much that we can have sore cheeks together… despite the distance between us πŸ˜‰

(P.S. Management has now decorated that glass jar πŸ˜‰ )

Gratitude Journal Prompts

A couple of weeks ago, I was chatting to a lady (I’ll call her Patty) who told me, ”Oh, how I wish I could write!”

There is nothing physically wrong with her that limits her ability to do so…. it’s just that it’s not a passion for her, and she says that she continuously stares at blank pages, not knowing where to start! So I queried the ‘blank pages’ part.

Her explanation made me smile, because I already had the answer, sort of πŸ˜‰

Patty said that she had been battling depression for the past year. It started shortly after she lost her husband. Every day had just been so hard! She started seeing a professional about six months ago, and things had started improving for her. Then, about a month ago, her sister in law came for a visit. It was a good visit… but then Patty had to say goodbye. The departure stirred up some deep hurt…

Patty received a text message that evening from her sister in law : If you haven’t already found it, there’s a gift for you on my bed πŸ˜‰

A tear fell down her cheek as she told me, ”She had written me the most beautiful note, and inside the prettily wrapped package was the most exquisite ‘Gratitude Journal’- my favourite colours, decorated with splashes of glitter! You know how much I love glitter! I opened up the journal, hoping there would be words already there, but the pages were all blank, except the To and From page where she had penned : Write something every day. It will help. But what do I even write? It’s not like I am not grateful, I just feel silly writing on a page that I’m grateful for the rain today, and nothing else.”

So here’s a little message for today :

On the hard days? The days when your heart is hurting and you feel a bit lost? It really IS okay to JUST be grateful for the rain ❀

On the other days, when the sun has broken through the clouds and you feel like you can focus a little more? Perhaps these little prompts (I found this picture a few months ago and had it saved on my phone πŸ˜‰ ) will help you to write a bit more…

Remember that a ‘grateful heart is a magnet for miracles’ πŸ˜‰

Here’s hoping you all have a miraculously beautiful weekend πŸ˜‰ ❀

Battery light

A couple of months ago, my bathroom scale stopped working. I was thrilled. My teenage daughter, not so much πŸ˜›

My son asked if that meant we had to buy a new one, or is a bathroom scale battery operated? I replied with a hasty, ”battery, will get later”, because I was on my way out the door.

A few hours later, I returned home with two packs of batteries, AA and AAA. I opened up the back compartment and realised that neither one would work. It needed one of those 2032 flat batteries. I’d never owned anything before that used those types of batteries, so it was new to me. I didn’t recall ever seeing one like that either. Yes, you can laugh at me and ask, ”You’re HOW old?” Well, clearly not too old to learn something new πŸ˜›

The following morning, I took the flat little battery ‘coin’ to the shop with me, and was surprised to see a whole section of different brands, right next to the batteries I usually buy! Note to self : be more observant! πŸ˜›
Armed with a matching flat, I returned home and hey presto, our scale worked again! Much to my disgust πŸ˜›

Why the battery story? I read something this morning that I felt I simply had to share with you. So the anecdote was your introduction πŸ˜‰

I identified so much with the first part of the little story I read this morning because I have a torch/flashlight that is busy dimming. It needs new batteries. And thanks to my bathroom scale disaster, I still have some in my drawer πŸ˜‰
The story I read goes like this (no idea who to credit because there was no name attached to it) :

When a torch/flashlight grows dim or quits working, do you just throw it away? Of course not! You change the batteries!
When a person messes up or finds themselves in a dark place, should we just cast them aside? Of course not! We should help them change their batteries!

Some need AA – attention and affection. Some need AAA – attention, affection and acceptance. Some need C – compassion. Some need D – direction.

And if they still don’t seem to shine, sometimes we just need to sit with them quietly and share OUR light with them!

(I understand that there are some cases with circumstances where none of the above apply. BUT in all cases, the above is needed, whether it changes things or not!)

Here’s to being kind! To accepting and acknowledging others! To showing compassion! To sharing our light!

Closer to beauty

Photo credit : cafepress.com

When I was ten years old, my brother had a sign like this stuck on his bedroom door. And every time he saw me glance at it, he’d be sure to tell me, ”You aren’t one of us”. At that time in my life, surrounded by a lot of rejection and painful circumstances, it hurt… and it was one of those hurts that I carried with me into my adult life.
It’s only now that I can laugh at it when I think about it, because I realise that his intention was to be funny, and not to add more pain to my life. It’s just his sense of humour!

This same brother (I have two who are much older than me, and he is the younger of the two) gave me something else to carry into my adult life, which has actually been quite valuable.

Between the ages of 17 and 19, this brother spent a lot of his spare time with his music blaring, and either a Scrabble board, or a large puzzle on a board, on his bed. The love for Scrabble was thanks to our grandparents, and he and I were the only two in our extended family who grew to love it so much that we’d play against ourselves for hours! Would you believe, we never played a game together, even though we lived in the same house!
But that’s not what I wanted to tell you about…. I wanted to tell you about his puzzle!

He had a beautiful puzzle, a seemingly deserted island, with two palm trees and a hammock; blue seas and a sunlit sky. When he had finished building it on his large piece of firm cardboard, he grabbed his glue, and patiently (I think it’s one of the few time I remember him being patient πŸ˜› ) stuck the individual pieces to the card. But he left one off! Right in the middle of the puzzle! And then in the space at the bottom of the sheet, he wrote these words :

Even paradise isn’t perfect!

I saw it stuck up on his wall a few days later, and commented, ”Well, that’s just dumb. You left a piece off. It’s ruined!”
I will never forget his reply!

”Nothing, and no one, is perfect. And if you think something is ruined just because it isn’t perfect, you’ll be miserable!”

I’ll admit that I have not always applied those words! But here’s what I have learnt along the way :

Yes, it is good to have expectations of things and people; to know limits and forge forward. But when we are pushed to the limit, or our expectations are not met, it is important to focus on acceptance, instead of disappointment.

Wait, what? Are you saying I am not allowed to be disappointed?

Nope! Not at all!

Feeling is equally as important as doing. In fact, it’s usually how we feel that determines what we do next.

In small moments of disappointment, it is easy for me to ‘get over it and move on’. When disappointments are great, it’s a lot harder! And sometimes take a lot longer to ‘get over’. When the tears roll down my cheeks and I feel every bit of that disappointment weighing heavy on me both physically and emotionally, I let myself feel it. I don’t even question it. I just go with it. Sometimes it even makes me angry enough to scream into my pillow πŸ˜› And my thoughts are sometimes not even very pleasant either!

But I don’t stay there.

After a few minutes, I tell myself, ”Well, girl, even paradise isn’t perfect. Stop expecting everything else to be!”
And sometimes it’s a temporary fix, that just helps me get through the rest of that day! Some things are so overwhelming that they rear their ugly heads over and over, at the most inconvenient times!
So I become a shampoo bottle! Lather (let myself feel it), rinse (remind myself about the reality of imperfection) and repeat if desired (the next time it comes along)! πŸ˜‰

When I think of that puzzle now, even though there was a piece missing, I could still see the hammock, the palm trees, the blue sea, the sunlit sky. It was no longer a perfectly finished puzzle, but it still had incredible beauty and elicited a feeling of peace and relaxation.

So here’s hoping that in your week ahead, even though it might be slightly disrupted and less than perfect, you will still be able to see some of the beauty and feel some of the peace! ❀

Believe this

I was reading something this morning, and as usual there was a portion of the text which had me thinking about something different, and so off I went to my dear friend Google, and ended up at the picture above.

Of late, difficult situations seem to abound – and not just for me!
There are so many things going wrong and so many tragedies around here, and not just through losing people to Covid.

People are changing, as things are changing. Their hearts and attitudes are changing – and not always for the better. And it can be really hard to see/experience.
I keep thinking of the saying/concept : You are only responsible for YOU – your choices, your attitude! You can’t take responsibility for them, or allow them to affect you!
And yet, when it happens in ‘close proximity’, it can be tough to remember that – to not take things personally or be hurt by what is said or done.
Especially when you have a soft heart!

And so it becomes one of those things in life where I think that maybe we should train our brains and then operate from a place of ‘what we know, not what we feel’. So we’re still allowed to feel (because bottling up emotions is never good for anyone!), but we can’t allow those feelings to affect our lives in a way that stops us in our tracks, or prevents us from being the person we were created to be. Well, that’s what I think for me anyway πŸ˜›

I have grown into ( and I am still growing) and become the woman I am for a reason. Maybe even for such a time as this.
I know who I am – and in the words of a dear friend : it works for me!
Who I am is not only of benefit to some in so many ways (even though it irritates others a lot πŸ˜› ), but it is also of great benefit to me, because in times of great loss and fear, I still have peace and joy, and am able to continue on with encouraging and assisting others.

It is NOT EASY to be in difficult situations.
But today’s exercise for my brain training is to CHOOSE to continue to believe that somewhere in these difficult situations there truly is something of value – and to recognise all that I have that is valuable to be grateful for!

Gone Looking! πŸ˜‰

Painful lessons… funny not funny

Ah… I have missed this ❀ Explanation to follow πŸ˜‰

Time has flown, yet again. One would think it would have dragged by, since I have spent most of it in bed, pretty much unable to do most things. Even the simple things hurt. I have a newfound appreciation for my usual ability to get on and off the toilet, for example. Yes, I said that. Too much information? When last did you appreciate being able to do that without experiencing pain? πŸ˜›

I injured my lower back, and for five days I was pretty much in bed. Moving hurt. Once I was standing, walking around a bit actually helped – but man, oh man! To get to that standing position? UGH!
I could not sit up. So here I have this beautiful laptop that I was so graciously blessed with and absolutely love, and I couldn’t use it. I had to lie here, and just stare at it.

Day six, things began to get a little easier, and less painful. I started becoming more ‘able’. What a relief that was! And with it came the realisation that the part of me that is sometimes stubborn needed to get out the car – forget about taking a backseat! Despite all my prior injuries and illnesses, this time I fully appreciated the concept of ‘sometimes you actually just need to continue to take it easy, and go slowly, to get back to full health’.
I’m still not there yet, but I’m definitely on the road – and Stubborn is still running next to the car because there is no way I am letting it get back in yet πŸ˜›

And in all this excruciating pain and very limited ability, have I complained at all? You betcha! Ha ha!

I’ve also had my moments of misery – feeling sorry for myself and even shedding a tear or two.

But let me assure you, an attitude of gratitude really goes a long way!
And perhaps sometimes things like this need to happen, not just to remind us of the need to slow down and our physical limitations, but also to jump start our hearts – to bring us back to the place of remembering the small mercies we have – the things we can usually do that we don’t fully appreciate, and how valuable inner peace and joy truly is.

The pandemic, and the extremely volatile situation in my country at the moment; our current crime wave and the latest statistics; all in ‘life as we know it’ that is happening around me every day – I was getting distracted, and I didn’t even know it. I was spending more time every day worrying – wondering ‘what is going to happen next’, ‘will we survive this’, ‘what am I going to do’.

I guess I needed this to shift my focus back to the things that matter – the joy INSIDE of me, despite what is happening outside.
I needed to be reminded of the goodness too.
Like being able to get on and off the toilet with ease πŸ˜›

Here’s hoping I won’t need another lesson in this anytime soon πŸ˜‰

Have a great week, everyone!