It’s tough but…

never give up

When I saw this, I just HAD to share it. I hope you’re singing along with me 😛

If you’re a regular reader, then you know that this is something I truly believe in – no, not the hokey pokey 😛 I truly believe that we should NEVER give up. No matter what.
But as I have said before, my advantage seems to be that I am a ‘prisoner of hope’. There’s just something in me that refuses to lose hope altogether. And I am, always have been, and always will be, extremely grateful for that! I have been through some terrible times and terrible things, and if it wasn’t for this part of me, I wouldn’t be here to share things with you today.

Interestingly enough, although we should exercise it every day, today has been chosen as ‘Never Give Up Day’.

The honest truth about this is that it’s easier said than done, I know. Because sometimes the circumstances are not within our control, and sometimes we are just too overwhelmed.
But I ask you to try anyway. To just NOT give up.

A friend of mine is really battling depression at the moment. We were talking and she was explaining to me how bad it is for her right now. She commented that she nearly didn’t bother to answer my call – that it took a lot for her to ‘summon up the will to speak to me’. And my words to her were : ‘But you did. And that’s part of the battle won. And I am proud of you for fighting that feeling, for not giving in, and for taking my call.’
There was a slight change in her mood when she realised that she did have a small win under her belt. She hadn’t seen it until it had been pointed out… because sometimes it’s so dark where we are that we struggle to see.
(Which is why it is so important for us to recognise and encourage others with the things WE see in them – even if it’s just something small.)

As I mentioned in my previous post, sometimes we need to just take time – put everything on hold and be still, and rest, and allow ourselves to replenish body, mind and soul. It can help us to gain a new perspective, and find a better way forward, making a wise choice that we possibly hadn’t seen before.

It’s also important to remember that, in the words of Zig Ziglar, ‘motivation doesn’t last… neither does bathing…. that’s why we recommend it daily’.
In order to stay motivated, we need to work on it daily. And we all have different ways and things that motivate us. What is yours? Now carve out at least ten minutes a day, and get to it! 😉

It has been said that one of the main reasons that people ‘give up’ is because they haven’t been honest… with themselves! They’ve never questioned the belief systems they have and why they have them, and so they haven’t been able to identify the ones that are actually limiting them. There are also other people’s expectations that drive us to not be honest with ourselves : is that how I really feel? is this what I really want? is this who I really am?
For many years, I struggled with my own limiting (and negatively incorrect) belief systems, and looking back now, I don’t really think I had ‘my own identity’. I completely exhausted myself just trying to do, feel and be what was expected of me – to live up to someone else’s expectations.
It’s been a long road with many uncomfortable curves and bumps along the way, and it’s been a lot of hard work. I STILL have to do the work, daily. There is no ‘quick fix’ on this journey. It takes time…. it’s still taking time…
And yet the small rewards and celebrations along the way make it bearable. And I just know that the bigger picture will be a stunning masterpiece!
And I think it is partly THAT that keeps me going!
Even if you start small, be honest WITH YOU today. 

And remember Albert Einstein… a pure genius!
His father said he was a failure. He only started talking at age 4. At 16, he failed his entrance exams to a school in Zurich.
I truly believe that Albert Einstein’s secret recipe for success was that HE NEVER GAVE UP!

May you, dear readers and friends, make the choice today to do the same and NEVER GIVE UP! 

 

Flourish

go

I saw this picture a couple of days ago, and it made me giggle. My teenage daughter has a tendency to ‘take her time’, and I find myself saying, ‘Oh my gosh! Are we on a go slow here?’ quite a bit!

Her most recent ‘phase’ has me rather amused though. I am not sure how she does it (probably an app or something) because the words are not distorted at all, but she now listens to ‘slowed down’ songs. So she will take one of her hip hop numbers for dancing, and listen to it as a ballad. Her theory is that she has discovered that so many of them are ‘prettier’ when they’re slower.

On Friday, when I went to collect our bottled water for the next few days, the lady who owns the ‘water shop’ gave me a small gift. We have built a friendship of sorts over the past year, and every now and then we give something small for encouragement. So on Friday, she gave me a Kit Kat.
The Kit Kat slogan is ‘have a break, have a Kit Kat’.
(Although these days I feel more like a Bar One – for a 25 hour day 😛 )
Her comment to me, when she handed it over, was ‘Don’t forget to have a break this weekend’.

And my thought process was this : Sometimes, having a break and just slowing down is necessary. It makes us ‘prettier’. I’ve even heard it said that slowing down sometimes can make you that much more successful in the long run. 
Because sometimes when we take the time to slow down, we’re also allowing ourselves the opportunity to ‘just be’, and maybe even ‘just think and ponder’. This can benefit us in so many ways – helping us get clarity in certain situations that we might find ourselves in; helping us not only get in touch with our emotions, but perhaps granting us the time to identify the ones that need to be dealt with and let go of; and ultimately helping us to make better decisions. Because if my mind isn’t racing, then I guess I am giving it time to absorb and assess and process.

I also can’t do anything I need to or want to, if I’m dead. (Now I know that I cannot control when that day will come – but I also need to be careful about contributing to bringing it about by NOT taking care of me.) Slowing down for a period of time every day gives my mind, soul AND body time to rejuvenate. I am here for a purpose, and I have many things that I still want to and need to do. But if I run myself ragged and forget to ‘slow down and rest’, then eventually it will start affecting my health. And what good will I be then?

There was a time where my attitude was, ‘there isn’t time for ‘me’. Slowing down is not an option’. I’ve had to learn that taking time for me is NOT a luxury, but a necessity. 

After all… I can’t pour from an empty cup.

So yesterday, when the wind dropped for a few hours and the sun was warm, I headed for my small garden. I do not have a green thumb, or a brown one… in fact, I am questioning whether or not I have a thumb at all when it comes to my garden. And yet I find it very therapeutic to be out there, in the dirt, pottering around. And I remembered something else while I was out there – I don’t remember who said it though – but here’s a reminder for the start of the new week for all of you :

You've+gotta+nourishto+flourish.+(1)

Photo credit : juliestuckey.com

embrace

brene-brown-quotes
With the current state of the world, and various countries experiencing different levels and restrictions and difficulties with regards to lock down, I really thought that our focus would have shifted a little.

And yet, there are so many who still seem to hold a picture in their mind of how other people should be. What saddens me the most as I scroll through social media of those who live in my country, is that when people voice their frustration or even admit to an inkling of depression that seems to be falling upon them, the general response is ‘you need to practice an attitude of gratitude’, ‘you need to be more positive’, ‘you need to change / stop complaining’.

Please don’t get me wrong. I DO agree with those sentiments, because we all know that having the right ‘heart’s attitude’ about anything in life makes ALL the difference.

But at the same time, people are struggling. They’re frustrated, they’ve lost their income, they are alone and lonely, they are worried, they are stressed, they are sad and afraid. And this is where kindness and compassion need to play the biggest role – especially in the times we are facing currently, and with regards to what lies ahead and seems to be looming in my country.

Perhaps we need to pause and consider our responses, a little more than usual.

I have one friend who is a truly great chick 😉 She’s always positive and uplifting, a real fitness freak, and oh man, she’s not too proud to laugh in an unladylike manner. But our current restrictions have hit her hard the last few days, and so for the past 24 hours her Facebook posts have been what I suppose could be construed as negative and depressing.

My first thought as I scrolled through her timeline this morning was, ‘You’re so brave to be sharing publicly the negative emotions you are actually feeling because you are finding yourself overwhelmed by it all – I salute your vulnerability, my friend.’
But the responses from others just broke my heart. I didn’t publicly share any of my sentiments, but instead popped off a private message to her. And I was astounded at something in her reply : Meg, you’re the only one who has actually asked if there is anything you can do to help me. Words can’t describe my gratitude.

I don’t share this as a brag – or to boast and boost my ego. I share this to create an awareness that you know is there in your spirit. I am sure people have come to mind, I am sure you have come across negativity. Allow that to be a prompt to just ask if there is anything you can do. The likelihood that there IS may be minimal, but what I am realising the most is this : in these troubling times, the mere fact that someone is even WANTING to offer some form of support is more appreciated than whether or not they actually CAN help you. 

I’m even struggling at the moment. Things are getting a little bit ‘stupid’ here – we’re even being dictated to with regards to what we are allowed to wear, and the purchase of t-shirts and slip slops/sandals has been taken off the table for us. And there was a moment yesterday where I found myself being a little bit too hard on myself. Criticising me, because ‘everyone is struggling, and negative emotions are not good, you’re supposed to be be positive and inspirational and a kind heart is supposed to reflect beauty, not frustration and sadness, there is more expected of you than this’.

This morning I realised that I AM still being the kind of woman I want to be, that I CAN still hold my head high, that the negative emotions ARE allowed to be feltit’s how I handle the after effects of them that matters.  

None of what I am feeling is unusual in these circumstances. I need to let go of the suppositions and expectations of others and embrace all of me…

Because ‘me’ is enough, so long as I keep doing my best in circumstances that I have no control over.

And so, for everyone reading… please be kind to yourself, and please be kind to others… no matter how near or far they are.

 

Mattress Mail

You’ve Got Mail. Definitely a movie that is near the top of my list of favourites.

It’s an old movie from 1998, and it’s a romantic comedy. Which is an unusual genre for me to find a movie in that I could be so crazy about. But I am. The brief synopsis is this : ”Two business rivals who despise each other in real life unwittingly fall in love over the Internet.”

What it fails to tell you about is the sheer delight contained in the quaint little bookstore that Meg Ryan’s character owns in the movie. I still carry the desire in my heart to one day have a little shop like hers. 😉

I’m a huge Meg Ryan fan…. and Tom Hanks is a firm favourite too. I had watched them co-star in Sleepless in Seattle and kind of just ‘fell for them’. So when ‘You’ve Got Mail’ premiered, it was top of my watch list. And I fell in love with them all over again 😉

All of the above is somewhat strange, because I am generally not a fan of romance – which is even stranger because I am a romantic at heart. Yes, I know, there’s just no sense to any of it 😛 😉

There is a place in the movie where Meg’s character needs advice. And without knowing anything about her business, Tom’s character gives her some…
”Go to the mattresses.”
This particular scene is where I completely fell in love with Tom’s character – in fisherman’s terms : he had me hook, line and sinker 😉 My heart still skips a beat when I watch this scene 😉 See, I have a crazy side too 😉
(You can click here for the YouTube cut of it 😉 )

The phrase, if you don’t already know, means the following :

To enter into or prepare for a lengthy war, battle, or conflict; to adopt a combative or 
warlike position. While the true origin is uncertain, the phrase was popularized in 
English by The Godfather novel and films, where it referred to warring mafia families 
housing their soldiers in small, secure apartments to await orders.

And no, I am not inciting any form of global war with this blog post, so please don’t misunderstand. This IS personal – unlike the situation in the movie.

I have been reminded, yet again, that there is always a conflict within ourselves – the wolves that we feed. That there is always a war in our minds – and preparation for battle is the only way we can get victory.
When we allow ourselves to become complacent and stop feeding our minds with the things we need to in order to equip ourselves to become stronger and better versions of ‘us’, we make ourselves vulnerable to the voices from the past that want to take us to places we no longer deserve to be.

The struggle is real.

I am being kind to myself in that I am constantly reminding the big brown eyes that stare back at me in the mirror that their light is still shining. That I’m not a failure, and that I am allowed to be feeling the way I do. No matter what anyone else says or thinks. 

But the greatest kindness of all is to remind myself that I didn’t get this far by neglecting to prepare. I have been so diligent in the past about devoting time to ‘equipment for my mind’.
With all that has happened and is happening with our lock down, I got distracted. And perhaps some of you have too?

So I’m sharing the above in case it helps : when it comes to my mind, I need to remember to keep ‘going to the mattresses’.
And I’m loving the benefits of doing so the last couple of days 😉

Using My Time

All-we-have-to-decide-is-what-to-do-with-the-time-that-is-given-us

 

Last week, I was invited to meet with someone regarding a project they were considering. They wanted me in on it, which made me feel really honoured, and a little afraid, at the same time. It wouldn’t provide any income for me – but there was a possibility of a small percentage after a year, if the project was a success and actually generated income. In the meeting, their enthusiasm and excitement was contagious. Despite me feeling all fired up though, I knew that I needed ‘time to think about it’. We’re meeting again next week.
But I’m going to have to decline.

I’ve always been quite hard on myself with regards to maintaining a ‘work life balance’. I’ve read the articles and jotted down tips regarding this, and even tried to force myself to comply with ‘rules’ set to ‘ensure work life balance’. And I still seem to fail. 
At one stage, about four years ago, I even kept a ‘time journal’ for a month.
I still failed. 
Most days, I was leaning either one way or the other. Most days, I either seemed to favour ‘doing life’, or ‘working’. And I don’t just mean a 60/40 split. I’m talking 80/20 and 90/10. And it made me feel like such a failure. I’d not only beat myself up for having ‘poor time management skills’, but I’d carry the burden of ‘not being able to achieve something that is so simple’. I had all the printouts, and worksheets, and calendars – the ‘tools for time management’, and I still sucked.

So when the new project came along last week, the first thing that jumped to my mind was, ‘You already don’t have enough hours in a day. Say no.’
But instead, my mouth said, ‘Can I have a couple of weeks to just mull it over, please?’

And it’s been a brain battle ever since. I’ve run through every scenario regarding my current commitments in my head for if I take it on – what I would need to restructure, organise, sacrifice. Up until this morning, I didn’t know that I was indeed going to say no.

This morning, we had no power again for three hours. I did the chores and things that I could do without needing electricity, and then settled in my chair with my new Rachel Hollis book. I picked up where I left off two days ago, and began reading. I turned the page, and actually said out loud, ‘You’re kidding me’!

The ‘excuse’ section that I was graduating to? It was entitled, “I don’t have time.”

Then I just chuckled to myself for a few minutes, before I continued reading.
And she posed some interesting concepts. And an example, that was a bit extreme, but drove home the point. (Her example named a famous man.) But basically, if a famous actor/actress who you really admire and have been dreaming of meeting invites you for coffee, you’re going to write it in pen in your diary. And you’ll adjust your schedule accordingly. And if someone calls who ‘needs’ you at that particular time, you’re going to say no to them. It’s that important.

She mentions that the question is never, ‘do you have enough time’? The question is actually, ‘how are you using the time that you have’? 

A little later on, she addresses the thing I always hold over my own head : work life balance. (Although it’s under a different heading in the book, for me it still qualifies as part of my time concerns.)

Here’s where it’s going to ‘get a bit dicey’ – not everyone is going to agree. I’m not even sure if I agree with her fully. But to alter my perspective a little bit (and the limiting belief I have that there should be a perfect work life balance or you are failing) and try and hear what she is saying actually benefited me somewhat. 

She puts it out there that Work Life Balance is a myth. Yes! She said that! She substantiates why she thinks it too – her own personal experiences.
And I like when people share honest accounts of their own battles.

And she pretty much mentioned me! And I don’t even know her personally 😛

How we tend to look around and think that everyone else is achieving this work life balance thing and we’re the only ones who aren’t, and so we assume that it’s yet another thing that we’re failing at.

lightbulb-vector-icon

Photo credit : vecteezy.com

And then off I went back to the ‘I don’t have time’ section, and started reading again from there. And I stopped again at the end of the work life balance mention.
Then I pulled out both my notebook, and my diary, and got to work in my head and on paper.

I am currently working on a project of my own – and it’s quite a large one. It has required huge effort on my part, and a lot of schedule adjustments, to carve out the time I need to put into it in order to achieve the goal I have for it.
And to be honest, it is my ‘coffee with my favourite actor’ – because none of them have asked yet 😛  I am only prepared to negotiate the time I spend on it if my children have ‘an emergency type need’.

The only other time I could give to this proposed new shared project, without neglecting essential life things, would be my own personal development time. (I know, I know – it’s funny. You can laugh. I actually do allocate myself a certain amount of that type of time. But I have to – or I’d never get to read great books like Rachel Hollis’. 😉 )

If I was to sacrifice some of that personal development time (which already sometimes has to be adjusted because life really does happen while we’re making other plans 😛 )…. IF I took some of that time away to focus on the new project, then unfortunately it would be detrimental to me personally.

Because what is keeping me grounded and at peace, and helping me find stability despite turmoil around me? What is helping me grow and become better and giving me the inspiration to DO better? It’s that personal development time. 

It works for me 😉

And in case you’re wondering… the new Rachel Hollis book that I got is : Girl, Stop Apologizing

Thanks for taking ‘the time’ to read 😉

What are the odds that you’re awesome?

I don’t listen to podcasts – well not really, anyway. And it’s not just a personal thing.

My children love apples – but only the Granny Smith kind, and so there’s always a few on the kitchen counter. When they complain that there’s ‘nothing to eat in this house’ (usually in reference to nothing that they consider worth eating – no sugary substances or other such junk food – and I know you have this problem too), I am able to point at the apple supply with satisfaction and a murmur of, ‘see? you won’t starve’!

But those are the only ‘apples’ in our house.

I don’t know the exact year, but after asking a few friends, and based on my own knowledge, I think Apple only really became popular in South Africa about 6 years ago. And over here, if you have an iPhone, you’re pretty much top-notch.

As I mentioned above, I am only top-notch with my endless supply of Granny Smith Apples. 😛

I discovered midway through last year, due to a friend sharing a link to a ‘must hear’ podcast with me, that my computer can actually access these, despite it not being Apple related. Since then, I have listened to a few. The thing is that they don’t really ‘work for me’. I can’t get on with my day while I am listening – I need to give it my attention and a lot of times I want to be able to make notes to remember things that are important to me. When I half listen and wash the dishes, I can’t make notes… and I miss a lot.

I need to connect. I need to see you talking to me. Somehow words work in written format for me – I am able to connect. But if you’re telling me something important so that I can grow and be a better me, then just hearing your voice isn’t going to cut it. I need to see you. So the better option for me is always video – thus YouTube is my ‘go to’. So now the point of this blog post (gosh, yes! I took a long time to get here!) :

I watched a YouTube video the other day and something that was said has been on my mind ever since. (Thanks, Mel Robbins!) I did check what I heard and saw, and there were tons of other equally astounding odds in relation to this.

“Scientists estimate the probability of your being born at about one in 400 trillion.”

 

Wait, what???!!!!???

^^^Read it again^^^That’s a BIG number, and those odds are mind blowing!

Now I totally get it when someone has gone through experiences in life that has robbed them of their self-worth. I totally get it that sometimes life is hard, circumstances are devastating, peace feels like it’s only ever going to be a sign from the 60’s.

I totally get it because I have experienced it first hand. I sometimes still do. Life ain’t perfect, and neither am I. We can’t control everything.

BUT …. 1:400 TRILLION ???

COME ON! 

Your existence is extraordinary! It surpasses all known human or natural powers. You’re a miracle that breathes! 

You ARE awesome!

And the next time you begin to question why you ever born… or someone else questions it and tells you that you shouldn’t have been – that you are unwanted and unworthy? PLEASE remember the above! Because with odds like that, there is DEFINITELY a reason for your birth – your life definitely serves a purpose!

It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, or where you’ve been, or where you’re at right now. It doesn’t matter what other people tell you, or what you have been led to believe. 

It matters that you let the above sink in, and take a chance to make a change, if need be. Put in that little bit extra… because YOU’RE WORTH IT! With odds like that, stop underestimating yourself!

Go and be the awesome ‘you’ that you are!

Who Do You Need?

 

mistakes

Photo credit : sayingimages.com

 

“Nobody’s perfect, but some of us are closer than others.”

The above statement about perfection was written on a wooden board sign hanging in my brothers room while I was growing up. Every time he caught me looking at it – which was usually about the same time he caught me in his bedroom (his room was no man’s land, and definitely not a place that I was allowed to be) he would say to me, “Sorry for you, but you’re not some. Now get out of my room.”

I never fully understood until my other brother, the oldest of the two, explained that he was telling me that I was nowhere near perfect. I can remember that for many years, this hurt me. Looking back now, I laugh about it – and regret the time I wasted in my growing up years allowing it to upset me.

Because here’s the thing : while I sound like I know what I am doing, the only reason I can be this way (and sort of know what I am doing) is because of the mistakes I have made – sometimes the same one a number of times. It used to be ”classic Meg syndrome”. Make a bad choice/mistake – say sorry. Get another chance. But everyone knew I would do it again a few more times.

I never struggled with learning at school, unless I was being lazy 😛 And although I don’t think I have a brilliant IQ, I do think that I am intelligent enough to be able to hold my own. A comment I often heard growing up, and in adult life too, was, “You’re a beautiful girl and you’re not stupid. So WHY? It just baffles my brain.”

Unfortunately, a lot of bad choices were circumstantial. And a lot of those frustrated people who made that comment about me were the greatest ‘influencers’ of the circumstances.
Quotes-About-Judging-Peoples-Choices

Photo credit : therandomvibez.com

They say that life is all about making mistakes – there was a time where I was succeeding beyond my wildest dreams! 😛 😉

Perhaps I was striving for genius status – since we learn from our mistakes? 😛

Here’s the thing though : while I have always been a responsible and caring person, with a kind and loving heart, I have not always been very wise – and I have had my moments of my own form of rebellion, and have done and said things that I cannot take back.

In the past few years I have aged greatly. Apparently I still look young – even though I don’t feel it. My son is very complimentary with regards to this, and was not surprised when a 27 year old asked me on a date. I was horrified – as was my daughter, because I am old 😛 And yet, when I say I am probably best suited for a man in his fifties, she tells me I am too young for that. Kid can’t make up her mind 😛 (My son agrees with me though – but always tells me I look younger than what I am. He’s not just flattering me, which makes me feel good. But not good enough to date a 27 year old 😛 )

But I have aged greatly – and not in years (or looks apparently). In the past few years, I have gained a lot of wisdom and insight, and I have grown a lot. 
Much more than many people my age. I’ve always had a bit of an old soul, so that has already sort of set me apart. An elderly lady I encountered a few days ago told me, “You are not like the youth of today. You have a lot of wisdom. You’ve obviously had a challenging past.”

Yes. I have had a challenging past. Yes, I have done things, and said things, that I am not proud of. I have had things happen to me that have caused pain beyond just their occurrence. The things kept coming, and the circumstances wouldn’t change, and I kept making bad decisions. And it made things challenging. And I was too busy playing the blame game and making excuses and wallowing in my misery to face those challenges. 

I’ll admit – when it comes to my physical appearance, I still don’t see anything worth writing home about. I still struggle with poor self image when it comes to my outer being – partly, a woman thing; partly for other reasons. I do work on that, and am trying to change it. I will say that I have grown to love my eyes – I do see, when I look in the mirror, that although they are a boring brown, they are far from boring. I know how expressive they are, and acknowledge that physically they are my best feature. People who see me speak – my friend in the US only on video calls – have always told me the above. I have only accepted in the past few years. And that’s as far as I have got with physical image.

I am too busy with matters of the heart – my main focus is on what is going on inside of me. Who I am. Because on my blog pages, and in emails to distant new friends who I may never meet, who I am inside is what shines through.

I have worked hard the past few years, at facing my mistakes and taking responsibility where I needed to. And learning. It’s been difficult, and I have suffered. The pain has been insurmountable at times – particularly when having to forgive and move on with people who will never say they are sorry.

Because of my mistakes, I am able to counsel and advise others in many areas.
Funny enough, a lot of the time, I learn something new while doing so.

But please don’t ever be under the impression that I have always been the way I am depicted here. While my core has always been good, there have been many moments of bad. When I write here, I write from personal experiences and my ‘wisdom and goodness’ come from having made some awful mistakes. This alone should terrify you a little 😛

And the thing is, I still make mistakes. Thank goodness. Or there would be nothing left for me to learn! Some of those mistakes come from choices I willingly make : being too trusting, and too honest; my willingness to accept, acknowledge and embrace the fact that everyone is different, and that everyone deserves kindness and consideration, and as many chances as it takes for them to heal and ‘get it right’.

Yes, I leave myself exposed and vulnerable. And get hurt. But I’d rather be making these types of choices and mistakes, than be selfish and bitter and wallowing and blaming, like I tended to be in my younger years.

One of the things that had the greatest influence on me (there have been many), and brought about HUGE changes was a picture I saw on Facebook a few years ago – I googled and found it :

be-who-you-needed

 

‘Nuff said!

 

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! 😛 😉 )

Hearts Cry

A lengthy post.. but worth a read. Not all sunshine and happiness – sorry! I’ll do better next post!

 

7accabc5b3cc60fb680cf012f5dce6ccPhoto credit : coffeelovesme.com

I sure am trying… but yesterday, my morning wake up didn’t even allow for time to smell the coffee. Because there wasn’t any. For four hours. No electricity, and no water.

Further to Monday’s post, let me add this :

There is a schedule for loadshedding. Provided to us in an attempt to help us plan ahead. The electricity cuts fall into different stages. So for example, if Stage 2 has been implemented, you can check the schedule for your area and plan around the hours that you will be without electricity. It’s great – if and when it works.

Yesterday – Tuesday, (in case I don’t get this posted today) they jumped between stages without advising anyone, until after they had switched the electricity off. There was no time to prepare for it. So yesterday, in a space of 14 hours, we were without electricity for 8 of them!

For the first time ever (loadshedding has been happening on and off for many years now), there has been a stage 6 implemented. Things just got serious. Stage 6 means that 8 hours of the day without electricity needs to be expected.

What needs to be understood is this : the tension and total failure in this country is already at dangerous levels – loadshedding is adding to an already highly sensitive situation, and things are looking more than grim.

I always giggle when ‘foreigners’ are not aware of the state of things here. I don’t expect any of you to be. Speaking with family in the UK, and my ‘sister’ in the US, I am well aware that a lot of the time there is a media blackout of sorts with regards to most issues. And who wants to sit and troll through the awful crime and failures of government in other countries when their own areas are enough to deal with.

The other reason I am so ‘well educated’ with regards to other countries (other than the having family and a best friend living overseas) is that I do a lot of homework and research because if I ever get out of this country, I need to be well aware of where we are going, for my children’s sake.

I made a comment on someone else’s blog post, that I think is fitting to share here, and now. Please understand that I am under NO illusion that ‘the grass is greener on the other side’. EVERY country has its issues and nowhere is paradise – unless humans have never found it. But I will say that the severity of our issues is a lot less than what my family and friends overseas face. And this is factual – not just based on hearsay. The countries and places I have investigated are numerous – of course I always start with crime statistics and the types of crime committed. But I also do lengthy research in the form of reading their local online newspapers. It’s not all stored in my head…but I know where we wouldn’t go 😛

Getting back to that grass….

I saw a sign the other day, and I had to laugh. (Although it’s sad when you think of it…but there’s definitely a funny side to it.)
The sign said, “The grass is only greener where you water it.”
I didn’t laugh at the sign as such… I laughed because at the time I didn’t have any water in my taps. How am I supposed to water the grass? Another thought popped into my head… our water is contaminated a lot of the time and municipal advisories are to not drink the tap water in my area – so if there is water and I water the grass? Pfft.

As much as I research other places to live, I avoid our own news. I no longer watch it, and I refuse to buy a newspaper. Our local paper was giving away free copies a month back, and my son got one – and dumped it in the trash after the first three pages. His comment? “Not one good thing. And now I’m more scared.”
I have Facebook – and our local community page is enough to upset and anger me. But I can’t stick my head completely in the sand – I need to know what is happening around me for our safety. Especially considering that most of the things never make actual news.  Every now and then, the radio news catches me. I listen with one ear, but sometimes have to mute it. I know my daughter did the same the other day when they were reporting on yet another baby that had been raped and she said, “Sorry, but I just can’t listen to this stuff anymore.” (My cousin runs a safehouse/children’s home, and we have held and poured love out onto a nine month old baby who required extensive reconstructive surgery due to this very thing, and will have a colostomy bag for the rest of her life…so it hits very close to home for us every time we hear reports of this happening.) 😥

Yesterday, I heard an economist speaking about loadshedding and its impact on us, and this morning I had a look at what he said in a broader light – ie. I went to look at some financial reporting.
Basically our economy is facing its second recession in two years. Mines have had to shut down. Everyone is already financially drained – businesses that are not corporate cannot afford generators and so no electricity means a halt in productivity, which means an inability to generate income, which means difficulty paying staff – forget about business running costs. A local man, someone I am acquainted with, committed suicide last week due to the financial pressures. He’s not the first this year, and I think that the way things are going, even though the year is nearly up, he won’t be the last 😦

Please forgive me for feeling despondent and frustrated and sad. And angry. All of which are emotions that are ridiculous when you take into consideration that they are all because of things that are completely not within my control. But I’m feeling them anyway. And I’m struggling a bit.

It hasn’t robbed me of my joy completely. And I am very grateful that for now the children and I have what we need and we woke up this morning, safe. So I know the negative emotions are a contradiction… but I can’t help feeling them. 😦
And yes, I have been a victim of crime – but the angels were working overtime and my protection was in place. I’ve been stabbed and robbed on a beach walk – saved from worse by fishermen nearby who heard my screams. My home has been broken into – and I live in the centre of a secure complex (a gated community with electric fencing all around). I am grateful we were not harmed – the stuff they can have. I don’t have much anyway.

I’ve never been a material person. In fact, it’s always been a standing joke : Show Meg a brochure without prices and she’ll still somehow love the cheapest things in it. That even applies to jewelry. It’s hilarious. I guess I don’t have expensive taste 😛 But what I really want most in all the world is the most expensive thing – strange huh? I want out of my country.

Whatever you believe, here’s my hearts cry almost every day…..

Dear God,

I know it’s all about timing, but I am asking anyway… and I know that nowhere is ideal… but please can we move overseas? Please make a way where it is completely impossible and unattainable for us. Please.

I want my children’s education to MEAN something – I want them to have a future.

We want jobs that will provide for us.

I want our lives to mean something.

We don’t want to live in fear anymore.

We don’t want to be where human life has so little value – where petty theft is no longer just that.
Where people are killed for the few coins they have on them.
Where rape and murder are everyday occurrences.
Where even the ‘good and previously safe areas’ are areas of violent crime.
Where the sexual violence rate is one of the highest in the world.
Where babies are raped due to a ‘virgin cleansing myth’ that this will cure men of AIDS.
Where a house break in when people are home almost always involves rape, torture and murder.

That’s what we want. The timing may not be right. I get that.
Thank you for your complete protection this far. If this is where we have to be, please continue to provide and protect. Please.

And please help my heart to stay filled with joy. Please help me to continue to be kind to those around me.

Amen

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Photo credit : quotefancy.com

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Photo credit : quickmeme.com

Lights out

I have been struggling to keep up the past few days. A large part of the blame for this rests on a lack of electricity. Things are a total mess right now here where I live in general – so many human rights continually being ignored.
However, there is no right to electricity. That said, and even though I can understand why it would not be considered a right, our electricity provider for this country has recently upped our rates astronomically. I’m pretty sure if you google Eskom, or loadshedding, you can find all the forums and discussions and anger and frustration of consumers. If I added everything in here this would be a very negative post – and yet there is still a part of me that wishes the truth would find its way out there… in regards to everything that is wrong with where I live. Electricity is a very minor part of it.

Unfortunately, I am part of the majority who has to pay these ridiculously high rates, and cannot afford to purchase and run a generator in my home. This means that currently, due to loadshedding of electricity that has been implemented, I am without electricity for four hours during the day – and these are active hours, and not hours where we can just sleep through, and continue life as normal during our waking hours.
The complex I live in has another problem when there is loadshedding – the water reservoir that supplies us with water is on an electric pump – so when we have no electricity, we also have no access to water. (In a country of roughly 57 million people, about 15 million people do not have access to a safe water supply at all.)
And my water supply isn’t safe for drinking either. In fact, in my town, we were advised two months ago to not drink tap water, due to sewerage spillage in the main supply dam. There was an outbreak of cholera at the time, and lives were actually lost. 😦

But back to loadshedding – if you delve into it you will discover that one of the many reasons that our electrical supplier has provided for the current loadshedding schedule implementation is that ‘due to heavy rains the coal got wet’. We have been given this excuse for over four years now. And every one of us who have any sense can be heard saying, “You have reached an entirely new level of stupidity if you expect us to accept that. How many times do you have to experience heavy rains and severe damage that affects an entire country before you build a flipping roof over the coal???!!!!!”

It’s always during these implemented schedule times that suddenly ‘maintenance’ is also carried out – which never makes any difference and it’s naturally just assumed to be a decoy of something bigger. Yesterday, we had ‘maintenance’ in my area – from 6am till 6pm. No electricity or water for 12 hours. I have also been told that there will be ‘water maintenance’ on Thursday and Friday – 24 hours with no water.

My reason for sharing all this is this : No electricity means no computer time. My laptop battery lasts only 90 minutes – it’s an old laptop. And only has an internet connection via wifi anyway…which is off when there is no electricity. My cellphone is also really old, and so despite having a new battery, the drain of the old model means that the battery only lasts two hours.
And I can hear you saying – buy a new laptop, buy a new phone, get a dongle or other form of internet data. I am a one income household who has to pay for education, with two children – one at university and one at high school – where there is no job availability for my oldest – earning a very minimum level salary, only just managing to feed and educate my children, and keep up with costs and maintenance on a house and vehicle. SO… no new purchases will be made any time soon. (My brother assists me, for which I am very grateful, but it also makes me feel like so much of a failure, not being able to provide fully for my children and I. I’ve tried everything to change that… but with circumstances in my country being what they are, it just doesn’t seem like it will ever be possible. I refuse to give up though, and keep trying anyway!)

And NO! Please do NOT send me money! 

It always amazes me how when someone posts something like this, people naturally assume that that is what they’re after – that it’s a form of begging or trying to solicit cash. I can assure you that this is not the case AT ALL. 

I tell you all of this so that those who really care are not concerned when I ‘disappear’ for a few days at a time. (And there is that concern when you take into account the current crime rate where I live and the risks every time I leave my house.)
Most of my work is computer based – and so when the electricity returns, there is usually a lot of work, and work emails, that need to be attended to. If I don’t do that, then I don’t earn any money. So unfortunately, at this stage, that is the priority in the my life.

The following pictures are all from sapeople.com  – the first ‘bedtime story’ is exactly how I live – it’s a no wonder so many of us here are living with high awareness and anxiety – and are exhausted 80% of the time. (Except I don’t have a gun – and my last big dog that I had six years ago and let sleep outside was poisoned and I lost her – which is why my two now sleep on my bed, with me) But it’s a funny way of seeing things, this story, I guess. The other pics are also part of the jokes that are making the rounds.

And did you know that South Africa is currently the most romantic country in the world? We eat our dinner out (of cold cans) by candlelight almost every night 😛 😛 😛

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(While there are still some great things in my country – winning the rugby world cup, our Miss South Africa being crowned Miss Universe – the bad still outweighs the good, sadly.)