Unbecoming

Definition : not fitting or appropriate; unseemly

The weeks have flown by, and I have failed miserably at the ‘art of blogging’. I am winning though… more about that to follow πŸ˜‰

The title word, and it’s meaning, is a word I can’t say I am too fond of. Growing up, I heard it far too many times! The sentence usually went something like this :

”That is unbecoming behaviour for a young lady!”

The year I turned five, I had a lovely birthday party at home with all my friends from pre-school. In those days I was not fond of wearing dresses, mostly because they were forced on me. (Nowadays I seldom wear them, but when I do wear a dress or a long skirt it is by choice, and I will admit that at those times dressing that way brings me pleasure.)
My mother had purchased a dress for me for the party, to add to all those hanging in my cupboard, much to my dismay! It was white (good grief, I don’t even wear white now because I still can’t keep it clean πŸ˜› ) with red polka dots. She made me wear my hair in pigtails, with bright red ribbons. The white shoes she purchased remained safe, as I kicked them off just a few minutes into the celebration! πŸ˜‰
There was a stern reminder shortly before my guests arrived that I was a young lady, and should behave accordingly.
And I was fine for the first little bit. Then all us children went outside to my front garden to play.

The girls flitted about, shyly giggling and picking flowers. The boys began a game of ‘touches’, and were soon running off some of their energy. Michael and James had other plans. (YES! I still remember their names – just not their surnames, and I can even tell you what they looked like, but I have no idea what happened to them after we left pre-school, or where in the world they are now!)
These boys were trouble for a ‘lady’, but they were who I chose to spend most of my time during school hours with, ha ha!
Their plan was to climb the Plumeria tree (also known as a Frangipani) in our garden… and I was all for it!
With a quick glance towards the house to make sure that my mother was still inside, I took off running behind them and soon I was climbing…. IN MY DRESS!
The trouble that would come my way if my mother caught me was nothing compared to the trouble I actually did get into in the end!
If only we’d stayed away from that one branch!
It was longer than the others, and we decided that we could all sit on it, in a row, and observe the others playing games and picking flowers. James went first. And all was well. I slowly crept towards him, and giggled when he said, ”We should get on the roof. Imagine the view then!” Safely settled, we motioned to Michael, and he hesitantly scooted along on his bottom. I saw my aunt come out of our house, and disappear quickly back inside. And I whispered to the boys, ”Uh oh, we better go! My mother’s coming!”
I believe the branch was busy dying… and our sudden panicked haste probably didn’t help matters, but the next thing there was a loud noise and we all fell to the ground, branch included!

None of us had any broken bones – but all three of us were winded. And my dress got torn! We caught our breath, and all began to laugh. Until my mother arrived to stand before us, hands on her hips, muttering about my behaviour and my dress! I was taken back into the house, to change and wash my face because it was dirty, and of course receive the stern lecture I knew would come if I got caught. I spent the rest of my party seated on the verandah with the other girls who were then playing with my dolls.
At bedtime that evening it was like someone had pressed play on a tape recorder as the words came again, ”That is not how a lady behaves. I am so disappointed!”

And I remember thinking as that little girl : ”But what if I don’t want to be a lady?”

The irony is that I tend towards being one anyway, ha ha! My friends often tease (and it really is a loving tease, and we laugh together about it) that I am sometimes so ‘prim and proper’, so ‘elegant and correct’, (although they always assure me that it is never in a stuck-up way!) and when I use big words my one young friend giggles and comments, ”Yes, Miss Cultured”. I remember going to a biker’s rally once and having one of the guys tease me that ‘a girl like me is too sophisticated and classy for a joint like this’ – that made me laugh so loud, I think he changed his mind πŸ˜›

There are times when I truly enjoy being a lady these days – but if I’m not wearing a dress and it’s a relatively easy climb, you might even find me up a tree πŸ˜‰

So that explains – in a rather long winded manner, sorry! – why the word unbecoming is not one I am fond of. ALL that said though, there is this :

And I happen to like the word as it is being used in the image above. There are things from childhood, from my teen years, and possibly even things drilled into me as a young adult, that have become, for me, ”limiting beliefs”. These things have contributed to the issues I have with self esteem – and have brought with them guilt and shame in so many ways!
And so, as the word stands in the image above, I have begun down the uneven and unknown path in my journey where I am trying to let go of a lot of those things, and acknowledge that there may actually be a chance that ”they” were wrong.
It’s not easy, and at times it’s quite exhausting. There are things that I don’t want to have arguments in my head about πŸ˜›
BUT…..

Back to the beginning of this blog post? I am winning, everyone! πŸ˜‰

I am not getting everything I want. I am not getting to avoid the hard things. I am not getting an immediate relief from guilt and shame. I am not getting the instant ability of undoing the limits.

BUT I AM GETTING SO MUCH MORE along the way, as I occasionally stub my toe on a rock I didn’t see. πŸ˜›
And this time, I am truly appreciating each of those lessons!

Thank you for sticking around to read πŸ˜‰ Here’s to unbecoming – in a ladylike manner πŸ˜› πŸ˜‰
I hope you are all well ❀

Because some days…

These last couple of weeks, I have had many challenges thrown my way. Life is not handing me lemons, its not even throwing them at me. I am sure it has switched to brightly coloured yellow cricket balls instead! πŸ˜› The challenges have come by way of every aspect of my life – family, health, friends, financial. The truly difficult part for me is that although I keep having them thrown at me, every single one is at the point of a ‘stale mate’.

There are decisions to be made (some that are VERY important) and I can’t make them.
Because I am waiting.
I am waiting on other people to provide me with concrete answers so that the decisions in some of the situations can be informed ones. In other situations, I am waiting for other people to make choices that will affect the decisions that I then need to make – my heart is with them, no matter what they decide, always… but I can only ‘be of service’ if they are willing and open to it.

In all of this, every moment of the day, I have just felt drained. (The endless hours of back and forth phone calls where no one can give me a straight answer is possibly a big part of that!)

I cannot control any of it. And I can’t help but smile. Because the small challenges along the way in the past year have actually prepared me for THIS time now… where things are coming at me from all angles.
The past year, as I slowly accepted the learning and growing process, I came to a point where I was finally able to say : I will not allow the things I can’t control to afford me unnecessary stress. I need to truly accept that I can’t control them, and find a way to ‘let it go’. I need to focus on what I CAN control, and take it from there.

And no… it’s not as easy, or as simple, as we often make it sound. It’s hard work. And I am willing to do it and keep striving for the ‘unexplainable peace and ability to still have joy’ that exists within me despite all these circumstances surrounding me.

But (such is life) I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that there are times where negative emotions DO make their appearance.

The other day, after an extremely emotionally driven phone call where MY calmness was very much required, I eventually got to hang up the phone… and I just burst into tears.
This would have been fine if I was at home… it was rather embarrassing that it happened while I was sitting in my car, outside of the studio my daughter dances at. Even worse, another mom pulled up and hopped out of her car to come and say ‘hi’.
We chatted very briefly, and she completely understood what I meant when I said, ”If I could tell you, I would. But I just can’t seem to find my words right now to even begin to explain.”
She squeezed my hand encouragingly, and we both chuckled as I whipped out my sanitiser and sprayed both our hands. And then her phone rang, and she needed to rush off again…. but she said to me, ”There is a message you sent me a few months ago. I still have it. I am going to find it and send it to you. Hang in there, girl, you’ve got this!”
And off she went.

I spent the next forty five minutes fighting off tears and sobs, trying to distract myself from my earlier phone call. I felt like I was losing a battle I hadn’t had time to prepare for. And then her message appeared on my phone. A screenshot of my message to her :

”I know you’re feeling sad, so I won’t tell you to try and be happy. I am not going to tell you to ‘go and do things that make you happy’. I am not going to ask you to be a warrior woman of strength and faith (even though I know you are). What I AM going to tell you to do… ask you to do… for now, in this moment of sadness : please eat something, please take a hot shower or bath, please put on some nice comfy clothes. Do the physical stuff that will keep you alive. I don’t know how or when it will get better… but I do know that it will. In the meantime, please just keep trying to stay alive. The rest will follow eventually. I am here, if you need me.”

Dear readers, bloggers, friends… what we put out in this world DEFINITELY comes back to us, and most times the good things come when we need them the most. So keep putting the good stuff out there, and my hope for you is that you will ALWAYS experience the returns on that when YOU need them the most! ❀

Arts and Crafts

The other day I shared my hobby of painting.

I am sort of an Arts and Crafts kind of girl. Sometimes. πŸ˜‰

In my early twenties, a girl friend who shares my love for creating stuff, gifted me an afternoon craft class. It was a voucher for both of us to attend, and we got wine and snacks! πŸ˜‰ I remember it as being loads of fun – but somewhat frustrating too – and it wasn’t the wine πŸ˜›

It was a class in ‘serviette glass decoupage’.

Now back in those days, I was nowhere near as patient as I am now. And it showed in that class (hence the frustrating part of it).

We arrived twenty minutes early, and were greeted with a variety of wines to choose from. The studio the class was being held at had a beautiful garden, and I remember sitting on the grass with our wine, next to a small rock fountain, just sunning ourselves. No words passed between us, we just were. It was bliss.

We were ushered inside a while later by the hostess – an elderly woman with long gray hair, dressed in a brightly coloured kaftan, sporting a glass of wine twice the size of ours! (A couple of months ago, I watched the series Grace and Frankie.When I saw Frankie, I was instantly reminded of the teacher we had that day πŸ˜‰ Frankie is the lady on the right, pictured below)

gf

Photo credit : tvline.com
gf2
Photo credit : deadline.com

I’m struggling to remember what our hostesses name was, so for the purposes of my story, I shall refer to her as Frankie πŸ˜‰

My friend, Tish, and I took our seats, and I was excited to see the box of supplies in front of me. Frankie took her place at the front of the room and rather dramatically announced,
”Ladies, today we are going to test our patience!”
I wasn’t the only one who wore a horrified expression, promise.
She laughed, and added, ”We’re going to create something beautiful that you can be proud of.”
We all relaxed – but we should have known that she was an honest woman (she gave us wine, after all) and wasn’t actually kidding about the first part despite her laughing after she said it.

As we unpacked our items, I got more excited, while she talked us through a brief explanation.
”First we will tear the mulberry paper into small pieces, and you will use the normal paintbrush to ‘glue’ the pieces to your jar with the glaze I have provided. (It’s a water based glaze type varnish, thin and colourless, and after this class I preferred working with it to working with the traditional modge podge that is usually used in decoupage.)
When you have finished, while your jar is drying – it will take about fifteen minutes to dry, you may come and select a serviette from the box. Then you will cut out your picture and gently apply it with the softer paintbrush to your bottle, using fine strokes to pretty much paint it on.”

It didn’t sound too difficult.

There was a lot of chatter as we got busy with our jars (we’re women, after all πŸ˜› ), and Frankie made her rounds to check on us and top up our wine. Such a good woman πŸ˜‰

What she had failed to tell us was exactly what our serviette time would entail.

I don’t remember who waited for who, but when Tish and I were both done, we went to the serviette box together. Tish selected a serviette with bright flowers, I went with something softer – pale seashells.

Seeing us returning to our work stations with our serviettes, Frankie came over, with prestik?!?!?! What followed was a true test of patience. And I blame my youth back then for my lack thereof πŸ˜›

The serviettes had three layers, which made them ‘firm’. We were to only work with one very delicate and easy-to-tear layer. The prestik was to assist in separating the layers. Once we had the final thin layer, we could pick up our scissors, andΒ very gently begin to cut out our chosen sections.
Now, I need to tell you, for some reason I struggle a little with ‘gentle’. I am not a bull in a china shop by any means, but I am also not a very soft and gentle worker with my hands. I’ve improved… but back then it was an almost disaster.

I went through three serviettes before I had my few shells! The more intricate the cutting pattern (Tish learnt the hard way with her petals) the easier it is to tear the serviette while cutting. By the time we were done, I am pretty sure our sighs of relief could be heard in other countries. We high-fived each other, because, well, the bad part was over.

And then Frankie reappeared, her sample in hand. She showed us how to very carefully apply the serviette with the soft brush. As with most things when people do them who know what they are doing, she made it look easy.

I can assure you, it’s not. A single delicate layer of serviette that becomes wet tears really easily at the slightest amount of ‘too much pressure’. And so we were back to square one, fetching another serviette and holding scissors.

It took FIVE HOURS to make one jar! Some ladies gave up, and Frankie did theirs for them in the end, showing them how as she went along – for future use. I wonder if they ever tried again?

Tish and I were part of the determined group. And weΒ finally succeeded!

So this was my very first jar, made with serviette decoupage…

Shell Bottle

I have since, after many years of practice, managed to hone my skill so that it’s a lot less frustrating… and I don’t tear as many serviettes anymore either πŸ˜‰ It helps that I am older now, I think – so my ‘patience skill’ has been honed too πŸ˜›

In fact, I actually now enjoy working with the serviettes, and even use them for decoupage on wooden items. πŸ˜‰ I made butterfly coasters for a friend for her birthday, I made a flower fairy tissue box for someone else. And I’ve done a few bottles as gifts, with some form of something in the neck to add to the decor – a fake flower, or greenery etc.

So without further ado, I’ll share more pictures with you πŸ˜‰

Butterfly CoastersCello BottleExamplesFairies tissue box coverSunflower bottle

Here’s hoping you’re all keeping safe, and keeping well.

And if your patience isn’t already being tested, you might want to try some serviette decoupage to get it started πŸ˜› πŸ˜‰