Where are you, Meg?

I am not sure who it was exactly who said it originally, but there is a very well known saying (slightly abbreviated from the original version) :

”Time waits for no man.”

And in case there is any confusion : sorry ladies, it doesn’t wait for us either 😛

The last couple of weeks saw me reaching a whole new level of being busy, because as I have mentioned before, life happens even when we are busy making other plans. 😛 Circumstances out of my control meant that a lot of things happened at once, and I had no choice BUT to give them my immediate attention – trying my best to juggle a multitude of balls, and yes… I definitely dropped one or two. But I made it through the chaos, and that matters.

There were some friends who I remained in contact with during this period, although not as much as I would have liked to. I was honest with them about the demands on my time, and shared a bit of the ‘busy’ side of things. But I only shared what I guess would be considered the ‘physically’ busy side of things. ”Driving from here to there for ‘x’, meetings and endless phone calls to sort out ‘y’, etc.”

I have one particular friend with whom I am in very close contact – as in ‘every day conversation’ via messaging. I started to share the emotional side, I guess you could call it, that was absorbing my ‘other time/free time’ that I get given every day, and unfortunately it opened a door that caused me a lot of hurt and pain.

But it reminded me yet again that I have been shaped and molded the way I am for a reason.
That we are all DIFFERENT and that it is okay. And that my acceptance of that is not a weakness, despite who may think it is, but ultimately a strength.
That the ability to still see immense value in others just because they approach things differently and do what works for them is also a strength.
That still being able to love them with all my heart and treat them with kindness when they are adamant I am completely wrong and need to change my views, is strength.
That choosing to still treat those who have hurt me so very deeply, and tried to pretty much destroy the good in me, with compassion and respect is also A STRENGTH. And trust me, the fact that there is still a small spark of a love that I cannot explain for them absolutely astounds me.

Regarding that last statement in the paragraph above – a lot of people criticise me for it, and provide a host of reasons for it that link back to abuse. And while I can see the validity in what they are saying, and appreciate that abuse does shape certain things in us and spark reactions that are not natural, my ultimate reason for MY conclusion and my feelings is one that defies comprehension for many (including me sometimes) and is also one that is a PERSONAL thing and not something I can tell you how to do or even begin to properly explain.
My ultimate reason is this : part of this very painful emotional journey from the last couple of weeks has been the realisation :

I have needed mercy SO MANY times in my life, especially in times where I have hurt others in so many ways – even if my lashing out was deserved by them. What right do I have to not show it to others, even those who have done nothing other than to try and destroy me?
If I am willing, and live my life, being kind and loving to strangers who will not always return the same to me, then how can I not be willing to also extend mercy?

There IS a pill that I am struggling to swallow though – something I really struggle to understand. But there is a Voice that whispers to me that I don’t NEED to understand EVERYTHING. I try very hard not to argue. But man, oh man, it’s tough! I don’t fully understand why, when we all want respect and want people to accept that we have our OWN views and opinions, we fight so hard to force others to think exactly how we do… to a level that we disrespect their own views and opinions and choices.
I KNOW it’s a human condition, and something I have been guilty of in my younger years… but it still frustrates me trying to understand the why. , because I can’t even tell you why I used to do it 😛 I really HAVE to just ‘let it go’.

I am hoping that somehow, some way, something in the above has been of help to someone. I don’t expect anyone to take anything ‘away’ from it though, simply because it is MY views and opinions, the choice I have made when it comes to living my life, and you may not agree. And guess what, I am okay with that. You still have value in this world. It’s not up to me to try and change you… it’s up to me to change ME, and just keep loving YOU for who you are.

I DO want a to share an image with you in closing though. Something I have had to remind MYSELF of EVERY DAY for the last two weeks, more than once a day….

Sending love to each and every one of you ❤ Here’s hoping you all get to experience LOTS of wonderful things this week.

random acts of kindness

”Actions speak louder than words.”

I understand that this age old proverb is wise and valuable. But we need to be careful when and where and how we choose to apply it. To be honest, it is actually a proverb that I don’t like. Not at all. Partially because it has been ‘thrown at me’ way too many times, and in situations that actually made it meaningless. I’ll give you an example – but not from my own life. I saw someone share this proverb as an image on Facebook this morning, and while it brought back so many bad memories for me, it also made me think of an old friend of mine – probably because she shared my sentiment about the proverb itself! So here is a piece of her story, we’ll call her Jess.

Jess was bright and talented. She was a girl who was going places. She was outgoing and lively, and one of those types of people who had a very clear path mapped out for what her life was going to look like.
Towards the end of her final year at high school, at 18 years of age, Jess fell pregnant. She was not married, and not in a relationship either. She completed her high school education, and gave birth a few months later. Her baby boy was put up for adoption.
And the people who ‘knew her’… knew her personality and her plan for her life? Well, they judged accordingly.
“Being that outgoing and lively, and I guess flirtatious? Well, I am not surprised she ended up pregnant! And as for giving the baby away? Well, he didn’t exactly fall into her mapped out plan for her life, did he?”
And in some ways, their words and judgements seemed to fit.
I met Jess three years later. I heard the background from the mutual friend who first introduced us. He added, ”I don’t know how much of it is true as such, but she’s never disputed any of it, so I guess it must be.”
A few years later Jess told me ‘the story’ – her story. And it made me cry for her.
Jess had been very involved in rowing when she was in her final years of high school. There was a huge regatta, with teams from all over the country. Afterwards, there was a social function. Jess had said her goodbyes, and made her way to her car. It was dark, and the light she thought she had parked under happened to have a blown bulb. One of the guys from a visiting team, who had had too much to drink, had followed her. He raped her. And she fell pregnant.
Her parents were sickly, and poor. They left the decision up to her, but told her that they could not help with the baby. She soul searched and got counselling for months, and decided that it was best to give him up. She never had anymore children, and to be honest, I don’t think she ever quite got over giving her little one away.
After she told me her story, I asked her why she had never defended herself when the rumours began.
Her words were, ”People will believe what they want to – even when you tell them the truth. It’s their choice. And let’s face it, my actions – who I was – seemed to match up pretty well with their version. I also didn’t want everyone to know that I had been raped. Or how poor we really were. I was ashamed. So I just left it alone. But Meggy, the lesson in there for me was this : never judge another because you really don’t know the things they had to choose from. There is ALWAYS a story. There is always a reason. And unless you know it in it’s entirety, don’t listen to others, don’t judge, don’t assume.
And I can say with absolute certainty that she truly lived that lesson in her life!

Today is ”Random Acts of Kindness Day”

The story above may seem extreme, and I am sure you are wondering how it ties in to ‘the day’ we are supposed to be celebrating….

Well….

When it comes to ‘random acts of kindness’, there is often reference to ‘paying for a stranger’s coffee’, or ‘smiling at and complimenting someone you don’t know’, or ‘baking cookies for an old age home’ etc.
And these are all very valid and very beautiful things to do.

But what if, inwardly, instead of judging or being irritated by the tramp, the alcoholic, the drug addict, the prostitute, we stop for a moment and actually see them? What if we do ourselves a kindness by opening that box in our hearts that contains compassion and understanding? What if, instead of only seeing the action, we choose to see that perhaps something truly terrible may have happened to them in their youth, or at whatever stage in their lives, that has actually caused the action we are seeing now?

Some people may never actually tell their story. But most times, there will be something in their actions/behaviour that will confirm that there is definitely a story to be told, and that it isn’t pretty.

Not judging others, even in small ways, is difficult to do. It is something I have wrestled with many times. Especially when their actions are hurtful to me personally. As I have got older though, I have carried the words Jess said to me in my heart, and find myself more easily able to refer to them and practice them. Especially now that so many parts of my own story tie in with it.

On this day (and every day, really) I will not only find ways to be kind to others….
I will also be kind to myself…
By acknowledging how unfair and hurtful it is when others judge my actions or behaviour and shun me, without knowing my story, or even caring to ask my why…
And not doing the same to the people I encounter in my life.

Seeing

I’ve had it confirmed by more than two people in the past two months. Something I have actually never thought about, but after the first person made the observation, I DID think about it… and have come to realise that it might possibly be true.

I SEE PEOPLE.

And no… not in that creepy kind of way where I see what isn’t actually there 😛
(although one time I wasn’t wearing my glasses, and in the waning light of dusk, I could swear someone was standing in my neighbour’s house, staring at me. I called my kids, and they laughed so hard at me, they were actually in tears! Both of them! It was the tied back curtain and the lamp that I was seeing 😛 😛 😛 )

The interesting thing is that my brain seems to be selective with ‘who’ I see. It has happened far too many times that my teenage daughter shakes her head in disgust because I DIDN’T see the ‘good looking’ guy in the store with us – even when she describes his clothing, or tells me he was with us at the dairy section. 😛 Her final statement is usually something along the lines of, ”because you were too busy greeting and chatting to all the staff”.

I guess that has always been ‘my thing’….
But this past year, with the pandemic, it’s become even more of ‘a thing’.
Medical professionals and personnel/healthcare workers have rightfully earned the lion’s share of attention this past year – they are on the front lines, and by the time people get to them, exposure to the virus is a guarantee. They’ve put in extra hours to care for the sick, and despite sheer exhaustion, they have shown up. They deserve our thoughts, prayers and gratitude – and my next statement is in no way meant to detract from the amazingly difficult work they have had to do, so please don’t misunderstand me.

It struck me, as I watched yet another complaining customer get rude with the manager at my local store because of an out-of-stock item, and he very patiently let her verbally attack him, and continuously apologised until she had worn herself out, and marched off. And the thought that came to mind was,
”What about him? And the rest of the staff? Has anyone actually thanked them?”

Because in this pandemic, they have all shown up too. They’ve arrived at work, and stocked the shelves, and stood at the tills…. for me! And so many others! And they have done it, not knowing if some careless customer HAS the virus and just isn’t saying anything – not knowing if they are going to be exposed. And yet they are there, every day.
And it reaches so much further than the grocery store. Because it made my mind travel to those who provide transport, and those who are waiters and baristas, and those who are educators etc etc… the list goes on…
They’re still providing a service to us all…. not knowing if on THAT day they are going to be exposed.

But it’s not just about the virus. Or the gratitude to the people who show up and expose themselves, day after day.

It’s about life. I felt this way before the pandemic, and I will still feel this way after it has passed. Yes, I feel it more strongly in the midst of the chaos in the world because of the pandemic. But it will ALWAYS be in my heart….

Let’s try and SEE PEOPLE! Not just the ones who are pleasing to the eye, not just the ones with the fancy cars and the expensive clothes, not just the ones who have important jobs and job titles…. let’s try and see the ones who, because of circumstance, are ‘less attractive’ than the list above. Let’s try and see the ones who have nothing to offer us. And let’s offer them the greatest gift of all – hope.

Because any act of kindness, even if it is just a broad grin on your face when you catch their eye because in that moment you have nothing else TO give? That one small thing could be the reminder they needed…

”Somebody sees me. There is still hope.”