Where do you write?

 

“Two friends were walking through the desert. At one stage in their journey, they had an argument and one friend slapped the other one in the face.

The one who got slapped was hurt, but without saying anything he wrote in the sand, ‘Today my best friend slapped me in the face.’

They kept on walking until they found an oasis, where they decided to have a wash. The one who had been slapped got stuck in a mire and started drowning, but his friend saved him. After he had recovered from his shock, he wrote on a stone, ‘Today my best friend saved my life.’

The friend who slapped and saved his best friend asked him, ‘After I hurt you, you wrote in the sand and now, you write in stone, why?’

The other friend replied, ‘When someone hurts us we should write it down in sand where winds of forgiveness can erase it away. But, when someone does something good for us, we must engrave it in stone where no wind can ever erase it.’” 

~story from thoughtcatalogue.com~

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It’s easier said than done, I know. But I read this story this morning, and it really made me pause and think. Everybody hurts sometimes, and we all get insulted on occasion. But what do we do with that?

I realised this morning that there are some hurts from the past that I have ‘written in stone’. They are things that, when I think of them, still hurt me deeply. Some of them are recent, and some of them are from many years ago. Pain is inevitable, but misery is optional. I need to make a choice, and a conscious effort, to pull those stones out, and perform a rewrite. Otherwise those things will continue to hold me back.

If something is written in stone, it is permanent and cannot be changed. However, when it comes to hurt, I believe that we can roll that stone away. And destroy it. With the chemicals of love and desire – a desire to change and move forward in our lives.

I’m going to take a chance and make a change, and try and write the negatives in sand – even do a rewrite, if I must.

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*Personal update*

I am doing a lot better health wise – a little bit tired still, but other than that, all is well.

Weather wise, your prayers (or cool thoughts, if you don’t pray 😉 ) have worked wonders!
As you may know from previous posts, our dams were emptying quickly and we were on water restrictions.
On Friday, it started to rain, and it still is, off and on. HOORAY!
Of course, there wasn’t an immediate change in our ghastly humidity levels, and Friday night was horrific, sitting at 93% at midnight. But by yesterday, it was a lot cooler, and we were even blessed with a cool breeze! This morning, when I got up at 05:00, I had to dig for a lightweight tracksuit top to ward off the slight chill in the air.
Cooler weather makes for a very happy Meg 😉

vulnerable bridges

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

With regards to yesterdays post :

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

thrown away

Today my dad turns 75. He’s still alive, but he lives in another country and I only get to see him every three years or so. I am not so sure we will get to see him again – he’s ill, and so the long distance travel may not be possible for him again. And for three of us to go to him, well, there just aren’t the finances. I tear up every time I think of the day I will get that phone call to say that he is gone. But I have peace. Because Daddy and I made peace a long time ago.
He was an absent father for the most part, but it was through no fault of his own. Long story’s that will no doubt come out in dribs and drabs in the blogging world 😉
While the opportunities were not always there for him….
….I KNOW that I have a father who loves me dearly. And I can’t think of a better dad to have been blessed with – better circumstances, perhaps – but not a different daddy.
He is not perfect – not at all. He has many faults and has made his fair share of mistakes. But my imperfect daddy is the one who loves me perfectly, as do I him.

Despite his forced absence, I am a lot like my dad in many ways. And the little bits of time that we got to spend together in my growing years ignited my passion for reading. (My stepmom says I am a carbon copy of him, and laughs at us both when we roll our eyes at the thought of a shopping centre – we’d rather be sitting at home on the couch, side-by-side, reading 😛 ) My dad also has a really corny sense of humour, so that may be where my appreciation for that comes from too 😛
“Look Meg, a graveyard. It’s the dead centre of town and very popular. Everyone’s dying to go there.” *groan* *laugh*
Something else I loved doing with dad was road trips. We didn’t do many, but I liked his music (his taste was varied) and the fact that he’d let me turn the volume all the way up 😉

When I think of dad and road trips, I am always reminded of one song in particular. While we have a wide variety of shared favourites, this one seems to cry from my heart and soul, time and time again. I couldn’t find a version of it on YouTube to share (although there is a cover), and there is a lot of judgmental stuff that has happened with the singer since my teen years. But it certainly changes nothing of the words and their meaning to me :

Grandpa and me, every week or so
We’d go walking down a country road
Looking for something
Others drove right past
Maybe they were late
And they were dogging the throttle
Maybe they just
Didn’t notice the bottles
Shining like diamonds in the grass
We would pick them up
And we’d cash ’em in
He’d look at me and Id look at him
And he’d say

CHORUS: Thrown away
Can you believe the things
They toss aside
And leave em where they lay? Oh, but they can be saved
If you will take the time
And try to find the good
Along the way
Oh, what this world throws away

Many years later

When my age had doubled
I met a man and his name was Trouble
He said, Son, I’ll give you some advice
A family is fine
And there’s a time you need them
But sure enough there will come
A time to leave em
You know you only get one life
He was a lonely man
Without a single friend
He looked at me and I looked at him
And I said,
CHORUS
And maybe someday

When the little ones have grown
I may have a grandchild of my own
And if I do, I can promise you
One day we’ll walk down a country road
CHORUS

We’re such a throw away society. Immediate gratification, or there’s no benefit at all. No longer mending what’s broken – not even trying. We just ‘throw it away’ and move on, and think nothing of it.

People are not disposable. And neither are relationships – family, friends, romantic.

Instead of just being honest and telling the truth, we ghost people.

Instead of discussing what might/may have gone wrong, we stay offended.

Instead of talking things through in an attempt to salvage relationships, we go quiet (withdraw/disconnect).

And then we complain that no one understands, and nobody knows us.

NO ONE CAN KNOW, IF YOU DON’T TELL THEM.

PEOPLE = EFFORT

And since no one is perfect (including you and me) the effort required is that much greater!

But taking the time to talk things through, to listen, to share your heart is a lot more rewarding than carrying around the burden of negativity surrounding cutting others off, offense and withdrawal.

Walking around with anger and hurt in our hearts does not make us better, it just make us bitter.

And yes, there are circumstances where some of the above doesn’t apply, where all options have been exhausted and it’s time to move on.

I’ve had my moments where moving on meant ‘having the last say’ and I had to make sure that that person knew that I thought they were trash. My anger and emotional immaturity hurt everyone, including me.
One of the most difficult lessons for me (that I am still occasionally having to learn, because I am not perfect), is not to throw anyone away. 
I still get hurt, and I still get angry. People still sometimes treat me in a way I don’t deserve (although sometimes when I reflect on it, I realise that perhaps my action/words may have had something to do with that, and I have to eat humble pie).

People will hurt us. People will make us angry. Sometimes we’re justified. Sometimes we’re not. At all times we should try and be better and not bitter. At all times we should try to reflect the same character we expect of others, whether they deserve it or not.

Because we’re not perfect. And when we hurt someone or make them angry, we don’t want to be made to feel that we belong on a trash pile.

 

I Need A Man

So now that I have your attention *ahem* it’s not what you think 😛

  1. There is a plug that needs changing in my house
  2. I am not a useless woman

While I am great at dangling precariously from ladders to change light bulbs in my ridiculously high ceilings (it doesn’t help that I am quite short), and while I have managed to fix my drainpipe with some ‘super tape’ and loads of instructions from the guy at the hardware store; I have never learnt to change a plug.

Google is great, and I know I could learn. But I don’t want to.

You see, I don’t mind being a woman. Or actually even being considered ”useless”, to a point. While I agree that feminists have it right in some aspects, I’m not a great advocate for feminism as such. I actually like the fact that there are some things that men ‘are supposed to’ do.

Society is very different these days. As are the general opinions. And we’re all raised different ways. I was raised that the man is the head of the home, so long as he submits himself to God. (Yip, Christian upbringing – which came with its own trials and tribulations) I was raised in such a way that the man was the provider, and the protector. That it was his responsibility to carry the burdens of the household. And in a lot of ways, I view that as correct, and possibly incorrect. But…

My own experience may have warped that thinking all together.

When my son was eight and a half, and my daughter was just twenty months, I became a single mom in every sense of the word. I initiated it because there were no longer any other options available to me – unless I was ready to welcome death. Full on parenthood of both sexes was NOT on my agenda, however. Long story short, after failing at every other option he thought was available to him, he settled on, ”If you divorce me, I will never see the children again and you will suffer for it.” And no amount of counselling or help changed his mind. So at those young ages, that was the last time my children heard from and saw their father.

And suddenly everything was my responsibility. There were no weekends off, and co-parenting was non-existent. At that stage in my life, I was pretty clueless about a lot of things because I had always been a girly-girl. I had to learn about home maintenance in a hurry, and how to be a good mom, and dad. Discipline became that much more difficult, as did dealing with all the emotions of both genders of children. I was now the sole breadwinner, provider and protector in every sense of the word (I never got maintenance out of him – long story, big battle). He passed away last year and there was nothing for either of the children. In fact, I heard of his passing purely by accident. Such is life.

It took four years to get back in the dating game. It was a disaster. I don’t blame the men entirely – I had done divorce recovery courses, but I wasn’t healed…not that I knew that at the time. I made a lot of mistakes in those dating years, and I paid dearly with the last one, because I had never fully healed. 

I had to pay a huge price for it, but finally full healing began. That intense pain and traumatic experience was the catalyst for mind blowing change, and a form of rebirth. Proof that even the most negative experiences can have very positive outcomes!

Anyway… when my daughter was 10, I was asked on a date by an attractive man I had got to know through friends. And for the first time in a long time, I found myself actually considering it. My son was non-committal when it came to his opinion on this – he didn’t mind either way, apparently. My daughter was rather vocal.

“But you don’t need to date anyone, we’re perfect like we are. We don’t need anyone else.”

The full impact of her words never hit me till later, even though for years my children had been giving me Mothers AND Fathers Day cards filled with appreciation.
I actually wasn’t failing them the way I thought I was – I wasn’t a struggling single mom. They were happy and secure despite the fact that they only had me.

I rejoined the dating world anyway, and BOY, HAD IT CHANGED! I made it through first dates just fine, and always got a second one. But there was never a third. Completely my own fault. And yes, here it comes….
some brutal honesty regarding a taboo subject : S E X. 
There seems to be this trend that when you’re a mature adult, you’re considered a consenting adult, and none of the normal rules of dating apply. Thus the expectation of an exchange of bodily fluids by date number three. UGH! What?!?!?!

(While I have no issue with the exchange itself and have always found it rather enjoyable, I am very much a relationship kind of girl and stuff like that needs to wait. Sorry fellas!)

(side note : not all men are like this – I just haven’t found the ones I have come into physical contact with to be different.)

When discussing this with a close girl friend, who has been in a committed relationship for over four years now after going through her own divorce and jumping back on the bandwagon a little faster than me, she suggested to me that possibly I was meeting the wrong type of men. It was a subtle hint from her to focus only on good Christian men.

Now, let me very clear. THE GOOD GUYS ARE OUT THERE! Do not, for one moment, in your never ending frustrations at not being able to find a mate, doubt that THERE ARE STILL GREAT MEN in this world!

Imagine how disheartened my friend was (as was I at the time) when I shared with her that one of those ‘no third date’ guys was the attractive man that I had spent ages getting to know and called a friend – excited for the possibilities – who happened to be a man who was studying to be a pastor. Sigh.

So I came up with a new motto at that time, about three years ago :

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And what a journey that was! The sudden acceptance of the fact that I was single taught me more things than any romantic relationship ever could. Acceptance brought about a change in my attitude. And it provided me with the time to explore my emotions, my mind, my heart. That exploration was not always pretty – there were some very ugly truths that I needed to accept about myself, and dealing with them – learning about them and changing them – was HARD! My childhood and past left me with this ‘lonely’ feeling much of the time – but I discovered that being alone didn’t mean I had to be lonely. 

And I discovered that in order to be able to give of myself to anyone, I needed to actually KNOW myself, and love me for what I knew.

(I still fall short with typical female rants of, ”I’m too fat”; “I’m not pretty enough” etc. But not to the degree where I dislike myself like I used to – it’s more of a laughable, ”I’m such a woman” thing 😛 )

AND THEN…

The other day I was scrolling through my newsfeed on Facebook, and came across a friend of mine who had played one of those OMG games. Apparently Santa is bringing her ‘the perfect man’ for Christmas. Her caption was, of course, ”Yes please”!

LIGHT BULB MOMENT! (must be the one I changed in the bathroom last week 😛 )

Now we all know that NO ONE is perfect. But I think when people speak of a perfect situation, or the perfect partner for them etc. it’s basically their own personal perception of perfect. And so I don’t criticise my friends when they tell me they have found ‘the perfect man’, because in their perception that may very well be exactly what they have found, for them.

And that got me thinking about MY ‘perfect’ man. And something popped (broken light bulb that needs fixing) in to my head :

My perception of perfection may be what I WANT, but it may not be what I NEED!

In getting to know myself I have learnt that there are a lot of things that I want for life, and from life, but they’re not always the things/tools/equipment that I actually NEED for life. I am continuously given moments where I learn that annoying fact. It’s annoying because I don’t like to be wrong. I like things to be clear and concise.

And this suddenly became an epiphany for me on romance.

I can have my list of all the things that I want in a man. I can seek him out, or check items off the list when he somehow finds me. But at the end of the day, those are things I want and because I am continuously growing and learning, they may not actually be things I need. (And here’s where my Christianity comes into play) God knows what I NEED and in His time, he’ll provide it. And He’ll provide me with discernment with regards to that – I just need to keep asking!

When I shared this with a friend yesterday, she was discouraged by my views. I thought I was being quite positive. I shared the above with her, and ended with, “So if it means I spend the rest of my life single, I’m actually really okay with that.” And I really am. I can’t explain it. I just am.

I am not closing myself off to the potential of a future romantic relationship. I am not in  state of lonely depression. I am not shutting myself off and withdrawing to an unlit room – I know how to change a lightbulb 😛

But I am also not going to chase after what I want, because even in my successes with regards to getting to know myself, what I want may not actually be what I need. So I’m leaving it up to Him.

dating-affirmations

For now it might have to just be my dog – but if you knew my dog, you’d understand that he’s worth it 😛

It might always just be the air – but for the chance to wake up each morning to a new day, and have the love of my life only being the breath that I take – well, that’s pretty much worth it too 🙂

Goodness, this really was a post of ‘relationship randomness’. Here’s hoping someone got something out of it…even if only just a good giggle somewhere along the way 😉

Stormy Disasters

I don’t mean to downplay the effects of natural disasters – but when I saw this I have to admit that I DID laugh, and my next thought was, ”Actually, that’s pretty clever”!

thefunnybeaver.com

My daughter is extremely fascinated by natural disasters. They started learning about them in geography a few years ago, and it’s a topic that has interested her ever since. Up until about a year ago, she wasn’t really aware of the devastating effects that they can have – and then she discovered movies about earthquakes and volcano eruptions, and that changed. (We don’t really experience natural disasters here.)

The thing about these disasters, and storms, is that they’re rather unpredictable. There is only so much man can calculate – the rest is left to ‘nature’.

I love storms. That’s something we get A LOT of – full on, electric thunderstorms! In fact, lightning related deaths around here are four times higher than the global average. And I actually have a friend who was struck by lightning, and after hours of surgery and skin grafts has the scars to prove it on her body, and is alive to tell the tale – thank goodness!

I love to sit out on the porch (undercover, of course) and see the brilliant electric sparks of the lightning, and hear the deep booming crackle of the thunder. It’s a powerful phenomenon that never ceases to amaze me. And then there’s also the rain – unpredictable too – because some days there’s a whole lot of noise and spectacular sky for just a few gentle drops. We’re edging into Summer here, and that will no doubt bring us hail storms. Those days, I have to stay inside with my dogs – they’re not afraid! Those silly, furry kids of mine want to play with the balls falling from the sky 😛

While I get overly enthusiastic about stormy weather, it’s always been a struggle to be that way with the storms of life. (Yes, you knew where I was headed 😉 ) And then one day I really thought about those storms that come into my life – sometimes out of nowhere – and something in my perspective shifted. So today, I’d like to share those thoughts with you.

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Photo credit : boomsumo.com

When my children were young, I spent a lot of time reassuring them that all was okay and that the storm would eventually pass. I spent a lot of time having to calm them. And I guess that’s the thing with storms in life. They happen. We can’t always control them. But we need to keep ourselves calm in their duration. And while their duration may be a little too lengthy for our liking, they will end. And yes, perhaps there will be another one directly thereafter – we don’t know what the future holds, or how many are heading our way. And sometimes it’s more of the same type of storm. But each one does have an end. Being calm for its duration helps.

there-is-no-need-to-suffer-silently-and-there-is-no-shame-in-seeking-help-quote-1

Shelter from the storm is important. Especially when it’s raging. It’s no good holding things in and going it alone – have the courage to turn to others that you feel you can trust and ask them to help shelter you in whatever means you deem necessary : with prayer, encouragement and support.

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It’s easy to get caught up in the despair of the storm that is brewing or raging. It’s easy to experience a multitude of negative emotions overlapping and consuming us. It’s NOT so easy to pause in the midst of the storm and reflect on what is actually happening. But it’s important. If we can acknowledge and recognise the cause, we can equip ourselves with the tools to outlast it. We can learn from them – and the outcome is usually linked to helping someone else later down the road. Sometimes they’re a test, sometimes they’re to show us what we need to change within ourselves, sometimes they’re there to take us out of our comfort zones and develop our character – no wonder they’re not enjoyable! 

But most important of all :

1200-578801320-be-kind-to-yourself

Photo credit : quotabulary.com

Being caught up in a storm is difficult. Rest when you need to. Fuel your body and your mind. Be attentive to your needs. Remember that you’ll never speak to anyone more than you speak to yourself in your head, so be kind!

AND….

WUAuPCSLgr

    anger apologies and love

    A couple of weeks ago I was invited to be a contributor to Paul’s blog. It was quite an honour that someone wanted my voice to be heard on their page! 🙂 Paul writes a lot about relationships – and about his lovely Kath. And so I thought it was fitting to write him a post about the languages of love. You can read the post here.

    As I mentioned at the end of that blog post, there are now other quizzes available for growth 😉 There’s an apology language quiz, and a personal anger assessment. I did both, but with all that has been going on I got sidetracked! (To check out the quizzes you can visit here and click on quizzes.)

    Last night I revisited the results of both tests.. (Because that’s what this single mom does on a Friday night, in case you were wondering 😛 )

    b3d7ecf61bd4bf914bedbec016c6d6bd

    I wasn’t too surprised that my two strongest results in my apology languages were Expressing Regret and Accept Responsibility. To touch lightly on these, I’ll tell you this :

    Expressing Regret is basically the simple ‘I’m sorry’ – obviously said in a genuinely heartfelt manner – without making excuses or deflecting blame.  And sometimes being able to tie it in with body language makes it that much more meaningful – eye contact, a gentle touch of the hand etc.
    Accept Responsibility means being able to acknowledge I am wrong – which is no easy feat for our ego. It’s not easy to admit that we may have made a mistake. But in this form of apologising it is important – as it is important for all humans everywhere to be able to acknowledge the fact that we all do, and will, make mistakes at one time or another.

    I wasn’t surprised because the above are usually the way I apologise. Perhaps not in the moment (sometimes I’m just too angry or hurt), but definitely when I have taken a few deep breaths and had time to think.

    What I found the most helpful though was the little piece that said this : In the same way, it will benefit others to know your apology language in order to express apologies to you in ways that you interpret most sincere. This translates into better communication, increased understanding, and, ultimately, improved relationships.

    It’s so easy to assume that the people who know us would then know exactly what we expect from them in their dealings with us – right down to if it ever comes to apologising. My children know, because let’s face it, in a family we spend a lot of time saying sorry! 😛

    But they know because it’s something I often speak to them about – truly mean it when you say sorry and don’t add in excuses. Take responsibility for the fact that you have also messed up. Then we move on. Interesting to read that I should be sharing this with everyone I am in a relationship with – and by relationship, I am covering the whole spectrum – romantic, family, friends.

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    Photo credit : volganga.com

    (Have I mentioned how much I love dogs? 😉 )

    My Personal Anger Assessment results were a little bit of a surprise. A bit of background as to why : there are a lot of very painful things in my past, and for many years I struggled with the anger inside of me. It’s taken a lot of hard work, painful reflection and agonising growth to practise the correct measure of self control when it comes to my anger.

    I was very happy when my result displayed that I’m doing well with my anger – then I read, ‘but you can improve‘. Sigh. Nothing too new when we think of life though, is it? There is ALWAYS room for self improvement! I do know that I am still okay when it comes to anger – because back then I wouldn’t have bothered to read the rest 😛

    The explanations that followed were simply this :

    I need to recognise the difference between good and bad anger – injustice and mistreatment being the former, and incorrectly perceiving and then reacting being the latter.
    I need to be wary of implosive anger – internalising the anger completely, being silent and withdrawing myself which results in resentment, bitterness and eventually hatred further down the road.

    I’d love to be able to say that the above is nowhere near being true. But it is. It’s not something I do often, but I have been known to get angry because of my perceptions as opposed to knowing the full truth and circumstances, and there are moments where my anger can definitely be defined as implosive… and yes, I acknowledge that the results listed above do then occur. Thankfully I am self-aware when it comes to that, and the moment they begin to rear their ugly heads, I am able to delve into their origin and begin a course of ‘self-care’ to heal them before they take over completely.

    I’ve shared all this so that you can go and check it all out for yourself if you’re into self-improvement 😉 and also as an accountability note of sorts for myself 😉 Remember that growing oneself, and learning to know oneself, is often a painful process – but the results are very rewarding! Remember that sometimes growth will take you out of your comfort zone, because sadly we don’t only grow where we are comfortable. 

    And just because I really like these :

    inspirational-quotes-personal-development-ideas-and-self-improvement-tips      tumblr_p9d3nu7XKb1vyr6o2o1_1280

        Photo credit : quotesviral.net             Photo credit : motivatedaily.tumblr.com

    And then, just for fun 😉

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    teaching learning moments

    Yes, the pictures above ARE ME! (I usually avoid sneaky captures, so this is a rare moment 😉 ) What I am doing here, however, is not rare.

    On this particular day about a month ago, I had collected three girls (one being my daughter) from school, and taken them to the dance studio they are all a part of. I’d been rushing around for two hours prior, and was desperate to relieve my bladder, so I accompanied them inside (okay, so me going inside with them IS rare – keep reading 😉 ).

    The conversation in the car had been centered around a particular teacher, who had left them feeling rather uninspired and completely demotivated for the upcoming exam period. They needed to vent and have their own discussion, and so I didn’t interrupt. But I listened – partly because other than driving, there wasn’t much else I could do!

    While I was in the bathroom and thinking about what had transpired in the car (because a bathroom is a place that inspires great thought), I remembered a story about a similar type of teacher that we had had when I was in high school. There was also a lesson in there, so I decided to share. Upon entering the room, the audience had grown and now there were two other younger beings, as well as the assistant dance teacher present. (The assistant dance teacher is the ”capture culprit”.)

    To my daughters horror (oh the shame, my mother speaks, uttered by most teenage girls her age) I opened my mouth and began to recount what I remembered. I know it doesn’t look like it from the pictures, but they did all laugh with me at the end, including my kid 😉 I don’t know who it was who commented how lucky my daughter is to have a mom that is not only good at story telling, but is such an inspiration. Her reply was, “Yeah, well try living with it. Every moment is a teaching moment.” This was followed with a roll of her eyes – and then everyone was rushing about getting ready because their class was about to start.

    I’ll admit it. I was a little disappointed with her reaction, and her comment. But it wasn’t new to me. I also know that she really didn’t mean any disrespect , nor was there the intention of emotional harm. I know this, because I know her. She’s often frustrated with me, and queries, “Why does everything have to be a teaching moment with you?” We had a long conversation about it a couple of weeks ago. I understand her frustration – she’s 14, and I am ‘the mother’. At 14, any instruction offered by those in authority (even when intended to help, inspire or uplift) is always taken as if it truly is a bitter pill. And since my daughter simply doesn’t swallow pills (we’ve tried in jam, cheese, chocolate, yoghurt – that small thing simply isn’t going down her throat) it’s a little more difficult with her.

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    Photo credit : Facebook

    (Ah yes, teenagers! Don’t get me wrong – she’s a great kid. But she’s still growing, and tends to be a little more defiant when it comes to seeking out lessons to learn. But then again, look how long it’s taken me!)

    And she’s sort of right. Because I suppose there comes a time when it can get really annoying. She has also pointed out to me that I am ‘worse’ these past few years when it comes to teaching moments.

    I think that this may be because in the past few years I have opened myself up to experiencing more learning moments. As I have mentioned in many previous posts, something has shifted. And although this process is painful, it’s bringing with it a lot of very positive outcomes. It’s changing my character, for the better.

    While the word purpose is inclined to draw our focus to goal-based achievements – the type where we set a target that is usually ‘verb’ orientated (get a promotion at work, gain new customers, publish a book) – I have allowed myself to broaden my thinking 😉 Yes! Goal-based achievements are important. They are long term, future focused and give us a direction in which to head, often with a  tangible result.

    But what about the other types of goals? While those achievements are great, if they never happen in your life it doesn’t mean that you lived a life without purpose, or that you somehow failed to achieve in your journey.

    I have many ‘verb based goals’ and, truth be told, I happen to be falling behind. Tomorrow is not promised and I may never reach them. This thought is a little bit frustrating for me. BUT…

    I am already aligned with the greatest purpose of all that I can hope to achieve when I choose to act in kindness, compassion and love. This ‘personal purpose’, while it is based on verbs, may not always have a visible outcome. I may not see the end results. I won’t always know if I was able to help guide someone, or influence them in a positive way. I won’t always know if I helped others change the course of their lives to a better direction, or whether my smile that day was the one thing that changed their mind about taking their own life. I won’t always know.

    But it won’t stop me from being kind, sharing a smile, showing compassion.

    And in the same way, as frustrating as my teaching moments are, I won’t stop dishing them out.
    (Although I may need to be a little more sensitive regarding their frequency 😛 )

    Most importantly of all, as painful as the learning moments are, I won’t stop being more aware of me and my surroundings in an effort to find them and determine what it is I need to know about them. Because it’s an ongoing process, and I am very aware of how it affects my emotional, intellectual, spiritual and physical health.

    So, for me? I am quite happy being a goal setter, go getter, in matters pertaining to the heart. And who knows, the rest of it may just follow 😉