Something I need to learn

I’ve been a bit out of sorts the last few days. Maybe you know the place I am talking about… where everything, and nothing, is actually wrong. Well, not exactly ‘nothing’, but they’re things you can’t control and so sitting and being worried or stressed because of them is a futile exercise.
But then something happens that you did have control of, and now there is stress because maybe you made a mistake, or maybe it’s left you questioning something about yourself…
And suddenly ‘everything and nothing’ affect you.

I can’t pinpoint the particular thing, or moment… but the last few days have been a slow descent, on my buttocks, over the rocky terrain of a hill – going down.

But if anyone saw me, or spoke to me, I’d appear calm, cool and collected – as if nothing was actually wrong….
Kind of like this image I saw on Pinterest 😛

My son picked up on it only yesterday. And commented, ”Mom, what’s wrong? You’re not yourself.”
And I listed a few things – he’s nearly 23, and it always amazes me that my ‘kid’ is so darn grown up!
When I ran out of breath, and just ended up sighing out loud, ”and….”, and not saying anymore, he responded with,
”Why didn’t you say anything?”
My reply? ”You didn’t ask.”

In saying the above, it sounds like I am a person who bottles up my feelings, right? Like I am someone who missed the value of the lesson, ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’.
Neither one is true…. and if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that I am actually quite an ‘open’ person – sometimes even to the point of overshare 😛

The thing is, I am one of those people that observe the question ‘how are you’ as someone merely being polite. Because isn’t it just a standard greeting?
”Hi! How are you?”
I’ll admit that there are times where I use it as such.
And most of us have accustomed ourselves to the standard reply – the polite response – the one that says something along the lines of : ” good, thanks, and you?”; ”fine, thanks. You?”
You know what I mean.

Sometimes though, there is a different response. And not just from friends and family. There have been times where I have done the polite thing with an employee at a local store, or an old school acquaintance that I may have bumped into. And what should have been a polite two minute exchange turns into a thirty minute conversation.
This doesn’t irritate me in the least bit, even if it makes me late for whatever else I am supposed to be doing.

Because that is MY nature. It’s a piece of who I am, and I believe it is a part of my purpose.
If YOU are a person who gets annoyed by it, it doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you! So PLEASE don’t take this as a personal dig, or beat yourself up over it, or feel guilty. NOT AT ALL.

WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT! Remember? And the way that you are different? There’s very likely something in that difference that gives YOU value where I am lacking – that brings value to those around you. I am NOT better than you. I am NOT right, and you are wrong. We’re just different.

There are many people who do the polite thing, and ask how I am… and there are many times that I give the generic, required, polite response. Not because there is anything wrong with the person asking… but most times it’s because I can see they are in a hurry, or experiencing their own stress, and I just don’t want to burden them. But perhaps in this, I am also wrong. Maybe they have been sent my way so that I can ‘burden’ them – because perhaps they have a solution, or a word of encouragement. Perhaps saying the words out loud to them will help me in processing what is actually happening in my situation, and I’ll provide myself with my own solution?

There are so many questions in life that are very difficult to answer ‘correctly’. It’s not easy making the ‘right decisions’. Choices are sometimes limited, and none of the options are ideal. We stumble, we fall, we have moments (or days) where we feel out of sorts.

MY lesson in this blog post? Something that I have realised that I need to ‘learn’?

I don’t have many people in my life that I can go to. My circle is very small. BUT!!! I HAVE a circle! I have got a handful of people who truly love me – even though I am different to them, and don’t always do things the way they want me to. I expect them to let me know when something is wrong – I want them to call on me when they need something, even if it’s just a pep talk!
I don’t want them to wait until I ask how they are – I want them to reach out and tell me how they are, how I can help, what they need!

AND I NEED TO LEARN TO APPLY THAT IN MY LIFE... and maybe I can save my butt from that rough terrain of the downhill 😛
Maybe I feel so overwhelmed because I am so stuck in the problem, that I forget the lifelines of people who do love me that I have been given. They may not have a solution. They may not be able to help. But they might just remind me of the beauty of the stars in a very dark night sky.

No, I won’t be telling the public people who treat me with politeness. No, I won’t be posting my problems on social media. Because it is not who I am.
And again, there’s nothing wrong with taking that approach! I have seen many people helped because they had the courage to do so! (And it isn’t easy baring your soul to the world! It’s definitely a brave thing to do!)

But perhaps I need to start giving the people I love so very much the opportunity to love me back in all the ways that I love them?

positive stress

Wait, what?!?

The word ‘stress’ has always held such a negative connotation for me. And 95% of the articles and conversations in my life, that have been read, heard or participated in, have all been regarding the negative side of stress – distress, as some refer to it. It has never crossed my mind that there could be a ‘positive’ type of stress… until today.

I happened to be glancing through a backlog of emails, and the subject of one was ‘positive stress’. So that is the first one I read, of course! 😉
The official term for it is ‘Eustress’. It is defined as being ‘a positive form of stress having a beneficial effect on health, motivation, performance, and emotional well-being‘.

The good stress is the kind that is nerve and hormone driven – it has to do with excitement, even if we are stepping into the unknown. The list of triggers for this kind of stress is very long, and as I read through them, I understood another statement I had read just moments earlier.

The statement was this : ”Many times good stress itself turns bad… because instead of continuing to challenge ourselves in a healthy way, we often tend to overwhelm ourselves by placing unrealistic expectations on ourselves, even though we know our resources are limited.”

One of the triggers for ‘good stress’ was ‘taking on a project that will help you showcase your strengths, which will not only bring you professional satisfaction, but many positive reactions in your emotional well-being too’.

My first reaction to reading that as being an example for eustress was a firm shake of my head. Because it didn’t happen that way for me at all! And as I pondered my reaction, I reread this statement : ”Many times good stress itself turns bad… because instead of continuing to challenge ourselves in a healthy way, we often tend to overwhelm ourselves by placing unrealistic expectations on ourselves, even though we know our resources are limited.”
And I realised that THAT was in fact what had happened to me in my situation!

In my late twenties, I had been offered an amazing opportunity to use my talents and head up a new project that my current boss was considering taking on. It would mean a lot of research, but I was going to be able to not only draft the presentation, but actually present it myself, to a group of influential people in that line of work. I hardly slept that night because I was just so excited, and the ideas swimming around in my head were ‘Olympic quality swimmers’ 😉
By lunchtime the next day, I was sick to my stomach, and convinced my heart was gearing up to fail me.
In our meeting of opportunity, my boss had actually been the one to fail me. He’d handed me the Dessert, before showing me the full menu!

The presentation meeting had already been scheduled – I had three days, start to finish!
None of the presentation work could be done during working hours, as I was already busy all day, handling all the administration for his other three businesses – this included payroll and bookkeeping etc. I was newly divorced with an eighteen-month-old baby girl, and an eight-year-old son, with no child care options available to me.
Eustress escalated quickly into distress. And by the time the meeting arrived, I was physically ill as a result of lack of sleep, and, well, ‘bad’ stress.

And at the end of it all, I was not only physically ill, but unhappy emotionally too – I knew it wasn’t my best work, I was disappointed in myself and felt inadequate…. and my confidence definitely took a knock.
I suppose the lesson in my personal experience with work stress was simply this : to know myself, to be realistic about the resources I have, and to learn to speak up before I get overwhelmed (or overwhelm myself, I suppose).
And, in all honesty, it would serve me to remember to apply that to all areas in my life 😉

I’ll close with this little list, which was provided as ways to include/introduce more positive stress in your life :

• Make an effort to learn something new every day – even if it is something small
• Get out of your comfort zone – try taking on a new challenge in the ‘great unknown’.
• Boost your positive endorphins by getting some exercise!
• Start delving into ways to set realistic, yet challenging, goals and try a new way each week, growing these over time.

And that’s all from me for today ❤
I’m off to spend some time on the new course I signed up for 😉

Love Taps

Most people know a ‘love tap’ as being a ‘light punch’, usually done in jest.

I prefer the other meaning that someone once told me about. They said that a ‘love tap’ is when you get a little ‘sub conscious/pretend’ tap on the shoulder, either when receiving a form of love, or when you’re being prodded to do something to give love. Now THAT really appealed to me.

As I mentioned in my previous shared post, this last week has been a tough one. And yet every day, for the last five days, I have experienced love taps…. FOR ME! People who ‘were tapped’, and followed through. In little ways…. that encouraged me SO MUCH! An email that reminded me how very loved I am, and that I am NOT alone; messages to not only encourage me but thank me for who I am; and a video that was sent to me on Thursday.

This video? It carried a powerful message. And was sent by a ‘friendly acquaintance’ who had NO idea of anything I was going through – she sent it with the caption : ”I watched this and you came to mind, don’t know why. But I am sending it to you, and I hope you have a great day!” She followed through on her love tap…. and it made a HUGE difference to me!

The video spoke of a father and daughter who were driving home after a time away. The daughter was the driver, and having only just recently acquired her license, when a storm came up, she got nervous. Her dad said to keep driving. The storm got worse, and other cars and even a great big truck, all pulled over. But her dad told her she would be okay, and to just keep driving. And then they were through the storm. And her dad said,
”You can pull over now.”
She did, and she smiled and said, ”I know, Dad. You want me to stop and thank God for bringing us through safely.”
He replied, ”Yes, but there is something else too. Climb out the car, and I’ll show you.”
So they got out of the car, and he told her to look back the way they had come, and asked her what she saw. She replied that she could still see the storm back that way. He asked her to look again and tell him what else she saw, and she seemed a bit confused, and so he asked,
”Where are the cars, and the big truck, who pulled over? Do you see them?”
She looked back and slowly shook her head.
He said, ”You don’t see them, because they are still in the storm. You see, when you pull over, you make the storm last longer. If you keep going, keep moving ahead, keep believing that it’s possible, keep your hope and your faith…. then you will make it through your storm.”

Now, there may be plenty of ‘holes’ in this story. But for me? It was just another reminder of the general theme in my life : Hold on to your hope, keep pushing on… you’ll be okay.

And I needed to hear it, and know it, and feel it.

And I know that when we’re in the storm, sometimes the generic replies like : this too shall pass; you can’t have a rainbow without the rain; it’s just a bad day and not a bad life – sometimes those replies can be frustrating, and not very helpful for the place we are in.

But for me personally? I have learned that the even if I don’t like them, and even if I don’t feel them… I will keep saying them out loud anyway – because there comes a time where THEY become the first thoughts my brain has when the next storm threatens 😉

And one more thing about love taps …..

(And sometimes I embarrass my children, ha ha ha!)
I often have these moments where I will notice someone, and perhaps see that they have on a pretty dress, or a top that brings out their eyes, or their hair looks really pretty that day – but let’s stick with the dress for now 😉 I say it in my head. But a minute later, they pass me again, and I have the urge to tell them, ”That’s a really pretty dress.” I hold back though. And then we’ll end up in the queue together, or they’ll pass me again, and the urge is too great… and I end up blurting it out,
”I’m sorry… but I just want to tell you, that is a really pretty dress that you’re wearing.”
Most times, they’re a little taken aback at first… and then I see the light in their eyes, and the difference my silly comment has made to them in that moment… and it makes it all worth it.

Follow through on your love taps…. it makes the world just that little bit better, for them…
and for you ❤

Bring Your Manners To Work Day

Yes, apparently that is the day that is being celebrated today.

But as with all these days that have their own specific celebratory day, we should be practising them every day! Today is a good day to acknowledge the importance of manners though 😉

My teen and young adult STILL sometimes forget their ‘please and thank you’s’ with me – and it frustrates me to no end.
But I have been told on numerous occasions that they are very well-mannered. And I was reminded of something someone once said to me when I complained about my then four year old’s behaviour.

”Would you rather have them misbehave at home, or in public? Because in public, she is an absolute gem, and you can be proud!”

Naturally my answer was that I was glad she wasn’t that way ‘out in the world’, ha ha ha!

But something I tell my kids regularly is this : it’s just as important ‘at home’, and when you’re alone, to be consistent in your behaviour – and that includes remembering your manners 😉

Because what you keep doing, and thinking, and saying will eventually spill over into all spheres in your life.

Saying please and thank you are basic etiquette, and cost nothing. Such simple words that we sometimes seem to forget.

Such simple words that actually mean more than we sometimes realise, because they show kindness and respect, which are things of great value.

And if we really think about it? When we neglect the small things we start to form poor habits, and the consequences of that can be quite overwhelming.

So for today, PLEASE remember to say please 😉
And don’t forget that a simple thank you can go a long way.

THANK YOU 😉

You need to quit

Not quite in keeping with the theme of my last few posts, right?
But please allow me to explain….

I still believe that we should not quit, or give up…. but am only adamant about this when it’s application is ‘for living’. 

As bad, or as good; as difficult or as easy; as sad or as happy – you have ONE life to live, and I encourage you to NEVER quit on it… or the people who care for you, love you, and who you (sometimes unknowingly) inspire and have a positive effect on.

But sometimes we need to ‘take stock’, and sometimes we need help from others, to help us discern which things IN our lives may need quitting. 

I was in a very abusive relationship – abusive in every way.
By the end of the first year, I am told that the ‘light was gone’ from my eyes, and I know that although I was still in there, I was lost. Young, vulnerable, and lost.
And very much alone. Seemingly no way out. Everyone had turned their backs on me – most of my family had written me off and the general consensus was : ‘that’s who she chose, she made her bed, now she must lie in it’.
IT HURT!
But yes, I HAD chosen him – I just didn’t realise all that was involved when I made that choice.
And life sucked – I was miserable.
Someone showed me that I could make a new choice, and they offered me their help – and it opened the door for me to be able to leave. It took TEN YEARS!

BUT, if I hadn’t ‘quit that marriage’? I may not have had life now. And that’s the reality.
I HAD to give up, and quit, in order to live.

That example is a bit extreme, I know. But the important lesson from it is this :

Sometimes we need to shift our focus, and instead of growing our knowledge in the areas of ‘winning and having a happy and successful life’, we need to perhaps also concentrate on ways to grow in wisdom, and discernment.
To be honest with ourselves and ask the hard questions. To be honest enough to accept the difficult answers, and make the changes that we need to.

Sometimes we need others to help guide us. I am not saying that other people will always know what is best FOR YOU. But having another opinion, someone who has been there, perhaps someone a little wiser? That always helps us as far as perspective goes, and sometimes we need ‘a different opinion’ to get us on the right path – or perhaps their perspective will just confirm for us that the path we are on IS in fact the correct one.

I suppose you could say that another important skill in this life is this :

We need to know WHEN to quit, when to change direction, when to walk away from a toxic friendship or relationship (is it hurting you, are you hurting them, has it become unhealthy? etc), when to give up on something that isn’t working and move on.

When we ‘take stock’, it’s helpful to identify these things and quit/give up…

But just so we’re clear 😉 :

NEVER GIVE UP… ON LIFE ITSELF! 

momentary presence

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Photo credit : thatsundayfeelingblog.com

This morning, as I sipped thoughtfully on my second cup of coffee and watched a YouTube video, something in me seemed to wake up – and it wasn’t just because of my brain’s caffeine ecstasy.

I’m sure that in my archives somewhere I have probably written a post on ‘balance’ – healthy life balance to boost happiness and productivity each day. A part of me still agrees with that because sometimes we have to be careful about what we choose to connect to – we need to balance things out and focus more on priorities, seeking out positive contributions to our lives as opposed to negative ones.

As a single mom, (and dad – because he’s been gone for 12+ years), breadwinner, head of the household, I have a lot that I need to juggle and balance on a daily basis. Throughout the day, I find myself thinking of the next thing that needs to be done on the list and how I am going to accomplish it, or fit it in, while still attending to the things that require my immediate attention.

BUT….

I’m missing out! Sabotaging myself, in a way!

Instead of balancing my need to be balanced, I’ve focused way too much on it! (That makes sense in my head – hope it does in yours too!)

I’ve been so focused on finding balance and accomplishing it, that I have lost sight of being present in the moment. Completely present. Showing up and being there, just in that moment!

And allowing myself to reflect on that, I can actually ‘see’ where I have missed out on so many opportunities to experience so many wonderful things! 

Moments have always been special to me, don’t get me wrong. Being present is something I push for. But if I am entirely honest? As ‘present’ as I am? My mind is still ‘juggling’, at a mile a minute, the next thing that needs to be done.

I am totally missing out on what can be accomplished, enjoyed and celebrated if I just stop and stay in that moment instead of worrying if I’m balancing things correctly!

After all, the present moment is all I have that is guaranteed – so I need to make the most of it! 

 

Meandering Along in the Journey of Mediocrity

In an effort to find content for a speech I am preparing, I decided to look back at blog posts of the past. I vaguely recalled that somewhere in my collection, there were things that I had said that are applicable to the topic. And I stumbled on this.

Society has worsened since its first writing. And I suppose my life is still mediocre by all accounts. However, my journey to excellence is continuing. Where are you in yours?

nopassingfancy

I’m not very good. But I’m not very bad either. If you compare me to many others, I will come across as average, bordering on inferior. According to most, I’m mediocre. I guess that’s the problem with comparisons – particularly when we’re comparing people. If you compare me with someone like Mother Teresa, for example, then every act of kindness I have ever done will suddenly seem so insignificant – and yet, in that moment of time, it was greatly significant to its benefactor, and it made me more than just mediocre.

Did you know that when we trace back the history of words, we can sometimes gain a whole new perspective on the particular word we are tracing?

In a society where everyone seems to be competing and comparing, and realising my inadequacy when I tend to do this to myself, I had a look at the word mediocre.

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Ducks and Squirrels

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Photo credit : Teepublic.com

 

This aptly describes life at the moment. I’m considering busting a few moves myself. If you can’t beat them, join them 😉

Although, to be honest….

I forcefully removed myself from the dark valley slump I was in, and last night I got myself organised in anticipation of the next lot of challenges that may be heading my way. There is a light at the end of the tunnel… and if it’s another train coming? My bag is packed and I am ready to ride!

I have a rather long list of to do’s that need to get done. My squirrels are gyrating on some long lost island for now, and I have ducks! Hooray!

But…..

i-dont-haveall-not-even-some-of-my-ducks-in-13273047

Photo credit : me.me

 

Yeah, it’s cool. I am okay. I’ve got this!

Do you have ducks, or squirrels?

Don’t worry if you have squirrels…. we all need to have a little fun every now and then – nothing wrong with a little techno trot 😉

Are you okay?

I suppose this can be considered my comeback post.
It contains no great literary excellence and would not be attractive to any magazine looking for new article writers, because this post has not been well researched.

What it does contain, however, is some truth.

Personal experience gathered through another series of painful episodes, and I have chosen to spew some of that experience here….because you just never know who needs to hear/read this truth today.
So if you’re reading, welcome to ‘my world’, as it is at the moment.

The last few months have been a mixture of negative emotions : fear, anger, hurt, worry, a sense of hopelessness fueled by unnecessary anxiety. And yet somewhere deep inside me there is this determination that refuses to just let me rest.
Because there have been moments in all of the above where I look in the mirror and think, “I just want to close my eyes and sleep forever”. I think I may have even said the words aloud on a few occasions. Whoops! 

Because, ladies and gentlemen, truth be told : Life sucks, for everyone. It never goes according to plan, no matter how successful you are – the merit of that success being whatever you base success on. We all have a vision for the way we want / wanted our lives to be. And nothing has gone according to plan. And guess what :

IT’S OKAY!!!!

I don’t remember who said it, or where I read it, but I remember in my early twenties that I came across the following statement ~ 

If life was meant to be easy, it wouldn’t have started with something called labor.

All the negative emotions of the last few months have deprived me of so much, mostly restful nights of deep, uninterrupted sleep. I’m exhausted. Because, truth be told, I am, for the most part, a positive and happy person. I have my moments, but they never last very long. Of late, they’ve lasted longer than usual. I don’t know how to handle the experience of such awfully draining emotions for more than a day. And it has scared me.

Anyone who has any influence over my life – and media in general – have forced the words ”suck it up”, ”it is what it is”, ”stop being negative” into my brain.

acbba77346e27d716bc6c9b535ee75ac54948e9712e3981ebfb5f29b23e95ef2_1 Photo credit : ifunny.co

 

(I don’t have a baseball bat, which I suppose is a good thing, all things considered)

Again, I repeat, if you find yourself in a negative space consumed by crippling emotions, IT’S OKAY. YOU’RE OKAY! 
People (the world over) want to force the beauty of life on us. 
Reality is that some days (sometimes for a few consecutive days) life simply isn’t beautiful. 

I mentioned earlier a determination that won’t let me rest. Guess what? You have it too. Somewhere deep inside you, it’s simmering. Because you’re still here. (And hopefully still reading this.)
We’ve all heard that life is a journey. Well…what journey is perfect? Your boarding pass gets lost, or your luggage goes to a different destination, or the weather doesn’t co-operate, or the hotel isn’t exactly what it made out to be online, or the food/travel made you ill, or……
There’s a multitude of ”’or’s” in life. Embrace them. Feel them. Experience them. Even if you’re there for a few days. 

My epiphany of truth yesterday was simple : I’ve had months of more than one bad/negative day. I’ve been in valleys of despair. But I haven’t pitched my tent and stayed there. Each time, I’ve reached a point (after a few days) where I’ve continued on….carrying a heavy load….but continued on, nevertheless. Slow, heavy, burdened progress is STILL progress!

And THAT’S why it’s okay, and you’re okay. If you’re still here, you’re winning.  

I’ve suddenly realised that it’s okay to say I am NOT okay, because that makes me okay. (That sentence makes sense in my head – here’s hoping yours can find the sense in it too!) There’s no shame in admitting that things are not great. And it’s probably my greatest achievement yet.
Life sucks. It doesn’t mean that I have to.
My life is going on…. and I am going to live it. Bad days and all.
And there’s no promise that the good will eventually supersede the bad.
But I’m sure as hell sticking around to find out…I’m a sucker for travel 😉 

And then this happened

funny techno

I’d like to think that I am not technologically challenged – and I’m quite proud of the few things that I have managed to figure out for myself. For everything else? I have kids 😉

The threat of technology and even the so-called simple process of doing certain things has been a hindrance to me. But I finally swallowed the pill of fearless internet, and embarked on a new journey. There’s no stopping me now 😉

I have seven books currently on my computer – all written by me, in a variety of genres. I have finally published my very first one.

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