My Tuesday Tummy

I read an article this morning that made me feel like I had just consumed a slice of the very best cheesecake in the world…
In fact I muttered out loud to my sleeping dogs, ”Ohhhh! That is just delicious!”
(The only reply I got was a gentle snore from the smaller of the two!)

The article itself is a familiar theme of living life intentionally and the small, productive moments that add up, and matter!
And that is something that nourishes me in every way!

The article ended with this, and I felt I needed to repeat it here :

We want to change the world. Maybe even save it. Focus on your moments. Small actions, consistently executed over time, can create remarkable change. You can begin creating your extraordinary life one remarkable, intentional, productive moment at a time.ย 

If you are interested in the full article, you can read it here!

And now, if you’ll please excuse me, I am going to find joy and pleasure in hanging my washing on the line ๐Ÿ˜‰

What do you say to yourself?

My car has gone in this morning to my local mechanic for some rather major repairs that simply had to be done. I am told that when I get it back, it will be like driving a new car. I sure hope so! I also really hope I will get it back today as I am on Mom’s Taxi duty this evening, having made arrangements for all the taxi duties for the day.
The lady who runs his office for him is in her early fifties, and is one of those really attractive ladies who always looks ‘well put together’. I find it quite daunting being in her presence ๐Ÿ˜› But she’s a really great gal, and whenever I find myself there we always end up having lengthy conversations.

Last week I learned that she got divorced two years ago. So of course our lengthy conversation this time was pretty much based on ‘being single in our town’, and how important it is to have girl friends to hang out with, especially ones you can trust to ‘have your back’ if you do decide to venture out. She told me that she has a great lady to do stuff with, and that they’re always looking to add to their ‘girl’s group’. That they usually get together one night on the weekend just to alleviate any loneliness they may be experiencing, and have some good fun. She promised to let me know the next time they did anything, so that I could join them. And she messaged me the next day with an invite to a local craft brewery pub called Table 58, where they would be dining the following evening. Unfortunately, I had to decline as I had already committed to plans with my daughter.

This morning Leigh (the lady who works for the mechanic) was quite insistent that I need to join them tomorrow evening. They are having a braai at her friend’s house, with two other couples. She claimed that it would be rude of me to let her down two invites in a row ๐Ÿ˜›

Now if you don’t know what a braai is… it’s very similar to an American barbeque. Itโ€™s the same sort of concept where we grill/cook meat over an open fire. Most of these fires are wood-burning, and so if you visit here and someone asks you to come over and โ€˜burn woodโ€™ it may have two meanings: it could mean to either just sit and watch the flames and drink beer or brandy; but most times it means theyโ€™re inviting you to a braai, and you need to bring the meat you want to eat to be cooked on the fire for you. In 2016 I wrote a post mentioning some amusing and ‘odd’ things in my country, with the above braai explanation, and if you’re interested then you can read it here.

My response to her invite was, ”Maybe. I’ll see.” Which opened me up to some prodding from her side, and me inevitably blurting out, ”But I don’t know anyone else, and I will just be so awkward”. And she stared at me in amazement. The rest of the conversation pretty much centered around the following :

I am not a person who has an issue with doing things alone – going to the movies, going out to eat, going for coffee etc. I can stand up on stage and perform in front of an audience; I can address a large group of people without anxiety. Many of my friends say to me, ”I wish I could be as confident as you are.”
But when it comes to more intimate settings? That dreaded self doubt looms its ugly head and I struggle – as in, just thinking about it, makes my palms sweaty and anxiety creeps in.

And I laugh at myself. Every time.

We truly are our own worst enemies, and I know I am not alone when it comes to being critical of myself. I have learned over the last year (because I became curious about my silly reactions to the ‘more personal’ settings) that it has to do with self-compassion. Yes, that really is a thing. And the more I have learned about it, the more I realise that it certainly is a ‘failure’ of mine.
I have a more than generous portion of compassion, acceptance and patience…. with other people! Too often, I forget to apply these things TO MYSELF!
And I know I am not alone.

The strangest of all (or perhaps it’s a part of the application process) is that I still feel like a worthy soul, and I do not doubt that I am loved. Even with the self doubt saying things like, ”You won’t fit in; you don’t dress as well as they do; your make-up is shoddily applied in comparison; their figures are even better than yours and they’re older than you!”
At the same time as all those horribly negative thoughts were bouncing around my head, it didn’t make me feel like I had no value. So perhaps it’s not such a failure, right?

My neighbour came to fetch me, and we spoke about the invitation on the way home, and in the driveway when we got here. He listened, with a smile on his face, and in his 63-year-old wisdom said this to me, ”If you go to the braai, dressed like them and made up like them, would you be comfortable?”
Nope. I would not.
He then said this : ”You would feel just as awkward, and like you didn’t fit, because that isn’t you. Who you are, and the way you are, is what makes you beautiful. And you are a stunning woman! So you’re not ‘supermodel material’? If I was younger, I would still date you. Because you are not like them!”

He reminded me, yet again, that I am uniquely me – and I may not be to everyone’s taste in many ways, AND THAT IS OKAY!
People! Women and men! Be originally and unapologetically yourself! The only person you need to be better than is the person YOU were yesterday! An original is worth far more than a copy!
And each and every one of you has worth!

I will go to this braai tomorrow, in my jeans and sneakers. I will wear my smile (because it looks great on me ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) and my ‘slapped on make-up’ and just be myself. Because no one is better at being me than me. And I AM a beautiful me ๐Ÿ˜‰

my 4 ways to manage my stress

The stress management list is endless. And I find it to be yet another one of those lists with copious access to tools and ways, but they don’t all work – well, not for me, anyway.
The ones that help me may not necessarily help you. Why? Once again, it’s that necessity to acknowledge that WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT!

The 4 ways I am going to list here are things that work FOR ME. You’ve probably heard them before, but here’s a refresher anyway ๐Ÿ˜‰
And if you’ve never tried them, then it might be worth doing so ๐Ÿ˜‰
It works the same as it does with my kids ๐Ÿ˜› I always say : ”Don’t tell me you can’t do it, or don’t like it, if you’ve never tried it.” ๐Ÿ˜‰

You know the saying, ”Dance like no one is watching”? Well, I take it one step further, and I also laugh like everyone is watching me dance ๐Ÿ˜›
I’m not a great dancer. The last time I did ‘official dancing’ was when I went into high school, and I was still taking ballet lessons. I am still sort of able to co-ordinate though, and so if you teach me a dance, I can usually manage it. But there are just some moves my body can’t do. I’ve had to accept that… which is frustrating for my dancing daughter who finds it all ‘so easy’. I think she sometimes forgets I am not 16 anymore ๐Ÿ˜›
But even as I am getting older, I have found that in moments of severe stress, if a lively dance number (yes, ‘the kids of today’ have awful taste in lyrics, but there’s normally a great beat ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) busting a move (without busting my back ๐Ÿ˜› ) usually reduces that stress almost instantly ๐Ÿ˜‰
The problem doesn’t go away, but after a couple of songs, I am definitely in a happier place and better able to tackle it.

Fresh air and sunshine can be tough when you don’t see the sun all that much. And I guess that with all the pollution in the air these days, ‘fresh’ air is a little less likely. But I think you know what I mean.
Here’s what I have found : when I am feeling severely stressed, sometimes ‘stepping away’, even just for a few minutes, can be very beneficial. Except that for me, I need to be aware of ‘where’ I am stepping to. Closing myself in my bedroom with the curtains drawn just brings on more negative emotions, and pretty much only serves to increase my stress levels.
So while some of us may like the idea of a good old door slam (I have a teenage daughter – just a tip real quick : she hasn’t slammed the door since the time I told her ‘next time you do that I am taking it off its hinges and you won’t have a bedroom door’- and showed her the screwdriver I have to prove that I could ๐Ÿ˜› ) closing ourselves off completely, without sufficient air and light, can cause more problems than our initial intention of reducing our stress.

A few years ago, I watched an incredible short video, to motivate students in order to be able to ‘have the best for their future’. It was really fantastic, and there were plenty things in there that I found beneficial. But there was one part that had me shaking my head. He advocated for pulling all-nighters, claiming that ‘if you want it bad enough, you will sacrifice sleep for it’. My reply, in my head, was this : what’s the point of getting it if you won’t be able to enjoy it, or it ends up making you physically ill? Because THAT’S ME!
Extensive medical research shows that as adults, we should be getting 7 – 9 hours sleep a night. I wish this was possible, every night. Realistically, it isn’t. However….
Something I AM VERY disciplined on is my bedtime (much to most people’s horror ๐Ÿ˜› ) … and ensuring that I get at least 7 hours sleep a night.
I know myself, and I do not respond well to ‘lack of sleep’. Not. At. All.
But I also know many people, personally, who manage to function quite successfully on just 4 hours a night.
We need to make sure that we get enough sleep – the amount that is right for US – and make a conscious effort to make it happen! Because being well-rested definitely helps when stress comes along.
As does having moments when we unplug! Achieving the ‘unplugging for a day’ thing is really difficult in today’s world. But it also depends on your definition of ‘unplugging’. For me? It means this :
Not ignoring messages, but responding with something like, ”Can we talk tomorrow, please? I just really need today to focus on some other things. I’m fine, promise! I’ll message you in the morning.”
Staying off social media – and if there is something I really need to look up, then that is all I will go and do. Even though there is a lot of inspirational and motivational encouragement that awaits me there, it is too easy to get caught up in all the ‘other stuff’, and so I choose to just try and avoid it completely.
Choosing what I do with my time on that day – there are some commitments and responsibilities that cannot be adjusted, and so I have to fulfill those obligations. But for the rest of the time? Do my soul and mind need extra attention? Then I’ll read something to feed them good things, and help them grow. Am I feeling like I am on a soul/mind overload? Well then, mindless whatever on Netflix will do.
Getting enough sleep and unplugging are both doable – you just need to find what works for you, and the ways to make it happen.

What makes you amazing? When stress rears its ugly head, I find that one of the first things I feel is ‘out of control’. This could be because it usually happens when I actually am – when something has happened, and I have no control over it. When I am in a situation where I want to be a part of the solution, and not a part of the problem, but in order for that to happen, the other person (or the situation) needs to take part and be involved in some way (or change).
And one of my stress responses is to ‘feel failure‘, and pretty much ‘run myself down’- begin to feel inadequate and unworthy and incapable.
It really helps me to ‘take a moment’. (And if there is a mirror nearby, I use it. And my kids will be heard saying, ”Mom’s talking to herself again”! ๐Ÿ˜› )
Many times, I am NOT feeling it. But I do it, and say it, anyway. Three things. Just three things about me that are ‘good’. Not necessarily applicable to the situation – but three positive qualities, nevertheless.
To be honest, some days it’s so difficult that by the time I have named them, the stressful situation has actually been forgotten ๐Ÿ˜›
Again, this little thing that I do doesn’t change the situation – whatever is ‘stressing me out’ doesn’t magically disappear. But it does serve to remind me that I still have worth – I still have strength and positive attributes – yes, this will slow me down, but I’m still okay. I have to say that this one is my absolute favourite – it has benefitted me the last few years in ways that I cannot even begin to describe.
I’ll say it again – I don’t always FEEL it when I say it. And it is VERY far from easy, especially when I am stressed. But the more I have been doing it, and saying it, the more I am reaping the benefits of it ๐Ÿ˜‰

There are other techniques I have discovered over the years that also help me. But these are by far my top four. So, in short :

And just for fun, I’ll share a little statement I saw on Facebook recently, which made me laugh out loud.

”Don’t forget to drink water and get sun. You’re basically a house plant, with complicated emotions.” ๐Ÿ˜›

Making Other Plans

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again… ”Life sometimes happens when we are busy making other plans”.

The original quote came from John Lennon, apparently. (There has been some speculation, and according to the Yale book of quotations, the origin is attributed to writer and cartoonist Allen Saunders.)

Whoever said it, whoever came up with it? There’s truth to it!

We all know that sometimes ‘life’ just happens. And let’s face it, in an ideal world it would happen the way we wanted it to… but we all know that at present our world is less than ideal. I have many moments (some good and some bad) where I find myself stopping to catch my breath, and thinking, ”Wait! What just happened?”

These days, it’s just too easy to ‘get busy and run out of time’. So many occurrences that dim the light of our passions.
Suddenly we notice that yet another week has passed us by, and in reflecting on it we suddenly become aware of the little things : there wasn’t a moment where I experienced a good old belly chuckle; that great thing happened on Tuesday, but I was so worried about the meeting on Wednesday that I didn’t actually take time to appreciate it; my days were so full of ‘being busy’ that I didn’t stop to breathe, and just be ‘me’. And the list goes on and on.

It’s a never ending ‘cycle of life’ for many of us, right?

In a world where bravery and strength only seems to be acknowledged when you’re doing it ‘out loud’, perhaps we should try and pause for a moment, and reflect inwardly, and try and remember that the bravery and strength that lies within our hearts is far more important than the ones that get ‘shouted about’.

There is power in holding joy in your heart
There is power in practicing restraint.
There is power in giving to others – not only in not expecting to get it back, but also in not needing to advertise it.
There is power in being kind – especially to those who ‘don’t deserve it’.

And the bravery and strength within your heart – if your heart is true and you allow these things to consume it (take time to reflect on THEM and educate yourself/absorb your heart and mind in THESE things) – will give you that power…

To ‘do’ life… when it happens…

To learn to live with grace, for yourself, and especially for others!

And to experience a joy that not many people can actually understand!

Please be good to yourselves this week – and to your hearts! Because you are worth it! โค

Scrambling For Words

Today is SCRABBLE DAY!

A day I simply had to post about because of the fond memories I have associated with this board game!

Today was chosen as the day to celebrate the game, because it is also the day that the game creator was born! His name was Alfred Mosher Butts and he invented this board game during The Great Depression in the 1930’s.

At the time that he created the game, many were out of work, starving for food, depressed. Including Alfred himself. He was an Architect – an out of work Architect.

I’d like to think that it wasn’t just boredom that caused him to create it. But that’s me and my positive spin on life, I guess ๐Ÿ˜› I’d like to think that as he looked around him, and saw people struggling, that he wanted to provide them with something that would not only stimulate their brains, but possibly also distract them from the misery of their circumstances.

The game was originally called LEXICO, later changed to Criss Cross Words, and of course it is now Scrabble, as we know it.

Alfred teaches us a lesson in tenacity – in the reward that comes with never giving up. Because initially his game was rejected by most board game manufacturers. He eventually encountered a man by the name of James Brunot, who purchased the rights to the game, made a few minor adjustments and renamed it…. making Scrabble (and Alfred) a household name.

The fond memories I mentioned? I can still see my Granny and Grampie now, huddled over their Scrabble board, trying to outdo each other and achieve maximum points so as to ultimately be declared the winner. It makes me smile. They played every night – early evening, straight after supper. And I looked forward to sleepovers at their house, so that I could be a part of the action!

As soon as I was able to begin spelling, there was always a ‘pre-game’ game – Grampie would take me on, and Granny was allowed to help me, but only a little bit. For a few years, I found myself scrambling for words! And then I started to get better at it, and Granny no longer needed to assist. I never did beat Grampie though – he remains ‘our champion’, in more ways than one โค

I found this image on Pinterest, and it made me smile even more, as it is a picture of the original game, and the box looks identical to my grandparents box – well used ๐Ÿ˜‰

It was amusing to see my brother (the middle child in our family – nine years my senior) proudly unpack his very own Scrabble game when he was eighteen, and right up until the moment he moved out (when he was about 24, I think it was) I would regularly find him playing against himself, either on his bed, or next to the swimming pool while he was ‘tanning’.

No one in my family has ever participated in any formal Scrabble championships (that I know of) – playing against each other was apparently challenging enough! ๐Ÿ˜› The only time I have ever won a game, was when I played against myself ๐Ÿ˜› But that has never caused me to turn down the opportunity to play – I have definitely always played for the enjoyment of it ๐Ÿ˜‰

Interestingly enough, even worldwide Scrabble championships have scandals attached to them! What next?!?! Ha ha ha!

Happy Scrabble Day, everyone! Please go and have some fun with words today ๐Ÿ˜‰

Belated Easter

They say that Easter is the only time it is safe to put all your eggs in one basket. Nope. Not true.
If I did that, in MY house, by the time I got to the basket there probably wouldn’t even be one left for me. ๐Ÿ˜›

This is not because my children are selfish. Or because they don’t care about their mom. (In fact, my daughter will tell me it is because she cares, and is trying to help me lose weight ๐Ÿ˜› )
It is simply because, well, they love chocolate.
And they know their mom – if it’s left lying around, it’s for us – if mom wanted it for herself, she would have hidden it ๐Ÿ˜›

Something was missing for me this Easter. By the time Sunday lunch rolled around, I felt a bit restless, trying to determine what it could be. (We celebrate Easter on Easter Sunday – the chocolate overload dished out in the morning, and a delicious roast dinner at lunchtime.)
I put the ‘missing part’ down to the fact that by the time Sunday rolled around I was utterly exhausted, after the events of the last few weeks, both emotional and physical. Pain didn’t help – I’d helped move my mothers care home and lifting boxes, carrying things etc. isn’t quite a great thing to be doing when you suffer from old back injuries.
Plus there was the fact that I had kicked my baby toe so hard, I broke it – but that just makes me laugh. I am a strange one, indeed!

It was only when my daughter came to me in the late afternoon, and made a comment, that I realised what had been missing!

Every Easter Sunday, for the past 20 years, I have woken up early in the morning, to write out clues and hide them with Easter eggs…. sending my children to hunt for their next dose of chocolate. As they have got older, I was able to have even more fun with it, because I could make the clues a bit more difficult. On Saturday afternoon, knowing how truly tired their mom was, both kids had approached me at different times, saying that they were really too old for it, and it wasn’t necessary. And so I didn’t give it another thought.

And then my daughter commented on Sunday afternoon, ”I actually missed the clues this morning – it wasn’t the same.”
And in that moment, I knew that my heart had missed doing it…. that that was the ‘missing part’ for me. Something so small, and seemingly insignificant. That actually had a great impact on all of us – because when I asked my son later if he had missed it too, he smiled and said that even though he knows he is an adult and too old for ‘his mom to be doing stuff like that’, it was weird to get all his share of the Easter eggs at once.

Things change with every year that rolls by. The pandemic brought VAST changes in just a year, that none of us saw coming. If you’re a believer, then you know that God never changes.

But I also realised something else that doesn’t change : the little things really DO make a difference! We need to keep doing them!

Here’s hoping you all had a really great Easter! โค

Meg’s Monday Musings, I guess

Over the last few years, I have become increasingly aware of how we are all different. I don’t just mean in physical appearance, or in our hearts… I have also extended my thinking to cover things like how we respond to things, what works FOR US, our opinions and the way we approach the situations life gives us, etc.
Something else I have become increasingly aware of in my own heart is the need to not only respect these differences, but celebrate them because, quite frankly, the world needs all of us. We just have different things to contribute.

Sadly, in some cases, there will be times where celebration falls short, because that particular thing is disheartening, saddening, confusing. Perhaps that person has been shaped by a particular experience in a negative way, and that is the reason for them responding in a way that elicits hurt, anger and bitterness though.
There is a saying that goes something like this : I still care. I still want to see you eat. Just not at my table.

I understand that. A part of me can agree with that saying. And yet….

I will always want people to eat at my table. Eventually. If at all possible. And of course saying that elicits responses like, ”You’re a sucker for punishment”, ”you’re weak and a doormat”, ”you clearly lack boundaries and deserve to have your peace thrown in turmoil, because you aren’t protecting it”.

What is really funny to me is that I CAN see the small bits of truth in those things. Thanks to technology we have an overload of information to teach us all of the above, especially when it comes to boundaries and protecting our peace. We have advice pouring in via social media in the way of articles and memes and short videos to make us strong and prevent us from becoming ‘doormats’.

I remember reading once : The heart of the problem is a problem of the heart.

And so, as my heart is changing radically (in what I deem as all the best ways) a lot of the advice and sayings out there are becoming things that I just can’t fully agree with. A sucker for punishment, indeed! Because this DOES make me MORE vulnerable, and more open to experiencing hurt and heartache. BUT it has also brought me a strange sense of peace, which I simply can’t afford to fight against to satisfy the countless items of advice to ‘protect my peace’ when I have found it in a way that is not in alignment with all these things.

I am able to agree to disagree. I don’t need to always be right. I also don’t need to force my opinions and advice on people in a way that I get frustrated and angry when they don’t do what I have told them to. I am ACCEPTING of the concept that WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT! One of the hardest things I have done, and have to do every now and then, is forgive people who are not sorry, will not say they are sorry, and live in a space where they truly believe that they have done nothing wrong.

And I have, in all of this, realised something that I think is important – TO ME : I actually don’t need apologies, or changed behaviour to prove that you’re sorry. It isn’t why I am still here roaming this earth – it’s not my purpose, if you will.
Other people’s choices, behaviour and the condition of their hearts is not my responsibility. But I AM responsible for my choices, behaviour and the condition of my heart.

There are people in my life who have hurt me deeply. Someone very close to me, my very own blood, has made a lifetime of ‘trying to destroy me’, when she was supposed to love me and nurture me. People in positions of power have abused me. But all of that? Whatever choices they made and whatever they tried to do to me? Well… that is on them. Not me. I have learnt that forgiving them, even though they will never say they are sorry… TRULY forgiving them in MY heart, brings ME peace. And pretty much introduces a freedom within me that I have struggled to grasp for so many years.

Jumping back to eating at my table : any wounds, dissatisfaction, or pain that they be suffering now might possibly be self-inflicted. It is not for me to judge them for that. Or to even rejoice in the fact that they are now possibly ‘getting what they deserve’. NOT MY PLACE. NOT MY BUSINESS.
And if those people reach a point in their lives where they show up at my table, WITHOUT apology, needing a little bit of kindness, compassion, or food for their souls to help them face the day because a particular choice they made or circumstance they are facing has caused them a deep hurt, despite warnings I may have issued or advice I had given? Well, who am I to tell them : Oh, I care… but off you go. Go and find another table. Love isn’t served here.

The last few weeks have not only shown me all the things I DON’T want to be…. it has taught me the greatest lesson of all time. The ONE thing I ABSOLUTELY NEED to be. LOVE.

And because I lack perfection, this is harder than just learning the lesson. Along the way, I am finding myself in situations where this is being put to the test. In most cases, I am getting it right. There are still the odd ones though where I need to iron MYSELF out, and be more determined about living out love, no matter what it costs me.

Unfortunately, feeling and thinking all of the above means that there will be tables that I will be no longer invited to. There will not be an attitude of ‘agree to disagree’ and I will be viewed in an undesirable light, and criticised in many ways. And the feeling and knowledge of that? Well, it feels a bit like trying to swallow a pineapple whole.
But here’s the thing. It’s THEIR table. If I am not welcome there, then I need to respect that. I need to truly forgive so that I can find peace.
And if there ever comes a day where they approach MY table in an hour of need (even if only to just get them through that need and have them walk away again) I will set them a place, comfort them and show them kindness, and love them for as long as they let me.

NONE of these changed hearts attitudes have come without a price to me. NONE of the musings above have come easy. NONE of it is necessarily part of YOUR journey. But it is a part of mine. As are each and every one of you.

Here’s hoping you all have an incredibly special and wonderfully enlightening week โค

a little love

In case you missed all the romantic paraphernalia in a variety of stores… tomorrow is Valentine’s Day – or for me, Single Awareness Day ๐Ÿ˜›
I am not a big fan of this day, because it’s been exploited, and prices skyrocket, and besides, every day is a day to celebrate love – whether it be love for your partner, or love for your friends, or love for your children etc.

Many years ago, I wrote a Valentine’s story. There are a few of you who will recognise it as I have shared it before, and you liked and commented. It’s something I like to revisit every year at this time. Not because it is any great piece of literature… but because I personally never want to forget the meaning behind it.
When I wrote it, I truly hoped it would go viral. Even if it went that way as ‘anonymous’. Because it wasn’t about ME! It was about the MEANING.

So here it is, for those of you who may have missed it….

Iโ€™d appreciate it if youโ€™d take the time to read it.

โ€œI feel like I should go.โ€
โ€œWhenever youโ€™re ready.โ€
โ€œNot yet. I think Iโ€™ll have some more juice first.โ€

She smiled and filled his glass, and then plopped into the chair next to him, sighing deeply. He smiled, raised his glass to her, and said,
            โ€œHereโ€™s to us.โ€
She winked and gave him the biggest smile she could. Then she giggled,
โ€œHappy Valentineโ€™s Day.โ€

He rolled his eyes and they laughed together. Theyโ€™d been together for ten years and had never yet โ€˜properlyโ€™ celebrated a Valentineโ€™s Day together.

This was the thing that had drawn them together in the first place โ€“ the knowledge and desire to live every day as Valentineโ€™s Day.
To do things with love โ€“ loving strangers and animals and friends, and inadvertently loving themselves.

Every day the opportunity to love each other was not wasted.
Every week he brought something new for the garden โ€“ so her house had a permanent supply of her favourite plants and flowers.
Breakfast in bed, taking turns with housework, a surprise bottle of champagne or dinner outโ€ฆ these things were not just saved for special occasions.
Uplifting words of love and encouragement, and exclamations at their good looks and intelligence, were a daily thing.
So when Valentineโ€™s Day came around, it was just another day for them.

He reached for her hand, and stroked it gently, asking,
            โ€œDo you think theyโ€™ll ever get it?โ€
She shrugged and replied solemnly,
            โ€œSome do, and that counts.โ€

He nodded thoughtfully, and then said,
            โ€œI broke our rule a bitโ€ฆI got you something for Valentineโ€™s Day. Itโ€™s in the cupboard.โ€
Raising an eyebrow, she retrieved a large, flat box from its hiding place.
As she slowly lifted the lid with a frown, he grinned,
            โ€œDonโ€™t be too mad. Itโ€™s for the baby.โ€

Instinctively, her hand rested on her swollen belly for a moment, and she caressed the bundle that had been nestling there for the past seven months. Then she smiled lovingly at him, and opened the lid.

She lifted out the large scrapbook, entitled โ€˜The Love Journalโ€™, and began to page through it. Unable to hold back the tears any longer, she let them travel a silent path down her cheeks, wetting her neck, as she saw what heโ€™d done.

He had taken their photoโ€™s and memories as a couple and filled the book with them, as well as tips and quotes on each page, as a reminder and guide to the beauty of loving every day โ€“ doing things for others unselfishly. At the end of the book, in a sleeve, was a voucher to purchase another journal โ€“ she removed it from its plastic resting place and gave him a watery smile,
            โ€œFor me and the baby?โ€

He nodded, a tear escaping from the corner of his eye. She gently nestled in next to him and held him tightly when he said,
            โ€œI guess Iโ€™m ready.โ€
Looking up at his handsome face, she kissed his chin and whispered,
            โ€œI love you.โ€
He held her, and whispered words of love to her. Then laying a hand on her stomach, he whispered a little more, before closing his eyes.

The doctor and nurse watched from the doorway, tears streaming down their cheeks, listening and waiting patiently for the young couple to say their goodbyes. As he took his last breath, each of them knew in their hearts that they had got it.

~~ Written by Meg ~~

Here’s hoping you all experience the love of Valentine’s Day, every day… and the joy that comes with giving โค

Meg’s mind… be afraid… ha ha!

In my late twenties, and then again in my early thirties, there was an extended period of self loathing – mostly directed at my physical appearance, but not so strangely sparked by emotional negative belief systems. It was bad! In fact, in my late twenties, I actually removed every mirror from my house. Make up was quickly applied in the car, in the rearview mirror – before going in to the office – because it minimised having to look at myself. And yet I did the make up anyway… because I still cared how I looked. What a conundrum, right? Not seeing anything good, and yet still making the effort!

And in those awful periods of hatred, the people who knew me and actually loved me, were consistent in telling me that it needed to end. That I was not what I had been told I was. That I was different, and worthy, and beautiful. That in this self loathing period, they still loved me, but they missed me. That I was the sunshine in their lives, bringing a positive attitude to all circumstances… and they needed me back.
And in all of that, something in me was still the ‘never say die, prisoner of hope’, because although I was emotionally self destructive, I didn’t give up.

Nowadays? Those same people are still in my life. We don’t see each other very often, and the pandemic has almost wiped out our social time. But the odd phone call is usually accompanied by the statement, ”I just needed a dose of Meg (Meg is my name, in case you didn’t know). I needed to at least hear some sunshine.”

Sounds great, right? But here’s the thing, everyone who is reading this : I am NOT sunshine all the time.

I woke up with this blog post on my heart, but checked my email first. Regular readers will know that I often share posts from Letters To Pogue… and there was a new post in my inbox. So I went off to read it first, and I guess that in a way it confirmed the words in my heart.

Now let me explain why I made the statement I did, and repeat for those who may have missed it :

I AM NOT SUNSHINE ALL THE TIME.

Yes, if you knew all the things that have happened to me in my life, you would see a woman who definitely holds onto hope like it’s as important as the air she breathes, and you would probably see that my nature – despite everything that has tried to twist it to the contrary – is upbeat and happy.

And I generally am. Funnily enough, the pandemic has made me EVEN MORE SO! absolutely crazy, right?!?!?!

BUT if you could spend a day in my mind – if I dared to write an hour by hour account of the thoughts in my head? You’d be more confused than a chameleon on a smartie box (roll of Rockets, for my US friends)!

I love to make friends online. I love that the world has evolved to a point that it has been ‘made smaller’. I love that I have a heart that can connect with people ‘across the miles’, even if I never get to see them in person.
What I don’t love though is that this has also evolved us to a point where we struggle with trust even more, because people have taken advantage of being able to hide behind the internet and many have proven themselves to be dishonest to a frightening degree. It makes me sad.

In my posts, I am genuine. I promise. The words I write are where I am at on that given day. Honesty is important to me. I try to be as real as possible, without dragging you all down any negative emotional roads ๐Ÿ˜›

But this morning, as I reflected on words spoken by someone I love dearly : ”I was just saying that you always find the positive and are just so darn sunshiny, that it is sometimes nauseating, but I love that about you anyway” – this blog post was born. The person who said them? She knows me better than I sometimes know myself. She’s seen the good, the bad and the ugly – and yet she still said that about me? The funny thing is that I got all defensive! I had replied to that statement with : ”No, I don’t! You’ve heard me complain, and be miserable, and be angry!”

Further explanation and discussion revealed to me that ‘she knows those ugly sides of me, but in general my sunny disposition seems to win, and she loves that about me’.

Why on earth am I telling you all this?

Because this is me at my most real – some raw truth about Meg, which may disappoint some, I might add…. and oddly enough, I am telling you as a form of ENCOURAGEMENT! Wait, what?!?!?!

For every person who is still reading, who regularly reads, who is waiting for the explanation :

Yes, I have always been ‘full to overflowing’ when it comes to hope, and not given up when I should have.
Yes, I smile FAR TOO MUCH, that even the staff at the local store and gas station call me ‘Miss Smiley’.
Yes, my general disposition resembles sunshine.

And maybe those things make it ‘easier’ for me?

BUT GUYS!

When I woke up this morning to the USA news (8 hour time difference means that chaos usually erupts while I am asleep!), my heart sank and I swore and I was instantly discouraged when I thought of how this will impact everything, all over the world. (I felt the same way with the UK Brexit news – except with only a two hour time difference I was awake for that!)
For a good half an hour, it felt like all hope was lost. My mind was a browser, ten tabs open, and it crashed.
I will never fulfill any of my dreams! My bucket list may as well get torn up and trashed! It’s all going to be downhill from here. I was afraid : what will the impact be? Every day just keeps getting worse – my own personal circumstances, the circumstances of those I love, the circumstances of people I have no knowledge of, my town, my country, this world as a whole.
And I cried. And I felt miserable. And angry. And I FELT hopeless. Exhausted. Ready to just go back to sleep.

And then I heard that quiet voice – barely a whisper as the waves of negativity tried to drown it – PLEASE STOP!

I still felt all those horrible things. I was still miserable about all of it. But I got up, and made my first cup of coffee. And as I took my first sip, I asked myself a question that I have trained my brain to ask when these moments come : ”Can you control it?”
And because this post is about being transparent, here’s what happened in my brain :

No. And I am f***ing sick of that question. Over it. Who the hell came up with that smart ass concept to start with, anyway? Like it’s supposed to just magically make everything better? I don’t want to play that game! There’s enough depression and anger in this f***ing world already! And now this! I can’t control it, but it doesn’t make me feel any better. I can’t change it either, and that makes me feel worse.
What CAN you change?
You know what? Just shut up! Take your positivity for a long walk off a short pier. I’m done!
No, you’re not.
No, seriously. I am. Everything just f***ing sucks.
Everything?
Yes, everything! I hate this! There’s no jobs here, we’re scraping by with no hope of anything getting any better, my friends are depressed, every time I leave my house I don’t know if I will come home unscathed because crime is so bad, I don’t want to die here, I want a future, I want my dad.
I thought you were upset about the US thing?
I am. But there’s a bunch of other stuff and it makes me just think of everything that is hopeless. There’s just no point anymore.
Hey, take a deep breath.
No.
Yes. And go get more coffee.
Fine. I need coffee.
You do.
What’s going to happen next? I am so tired of it all.
Well, what do you need to do today?
I don’t know… but I definitely need to vacuum my bedroom. I should probably think about what to feed the kids today as well, and I need to check email.
Okay, then that is what is going to happen next.
What?
Sometimes things just suck. You know this. It’s hard to understand when stuff defies logic. You don’t even know the question, but you’re looking for the answer. There might not even be a question. Who knows? You’re upset, concerned, afraid. You’re allowed to be. But it’s shifting you to think of everything else that is wrong. And yes, there is a lot. If you keep thinking of everything that is wrong, you will forget to remember everything that is right. Go write down three things that are right and think of them! It won’t magically make you feel better. You might still feel sad and angry and discouraged. But you still have sh*t to do. So do it.
Okay. *deep sigh*

And here I am. Doing it. The conversations in my head can get quite entertaining – but they DO make my heart hurt sometimes. I let myself feel it all, and process it. And in that process, I seem to calm down. Strange, right?
SOMETHING VERY IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER : your thought processes pretty much determine your life. Yes, circumstances play a big role and can often ‘dash our hopes and dreams’… but that’s why it is so vital for us to practice daily the ‘carry on’ concept. Eating right is important, but so is ‘thinking right’. I haven’t quite mastered it yet… but I am sure as heck going to keep trying!

How do I feel now, you may be silently asking?
I’m still sad, and a little bit worried about it all. I’m angry that this world is such a horrible place. I’m afraid.
But I have drummed into my brain, through daily dedication to doing so : I NEED to accept the things I cannot change and change the things I can. I NEED to not dwell on the negative. Even with my doubt and discouragement screaming the opposite, I NEED to carry on, regardless.
I need to remember that my life, my ‘small and insignificant existence’, STILL HAS PURPOSE!
Even if, in an overwhelmingly negative moment, the only purpose seems to be a clean bedroom carpet ๐Ÿ˜›

Dear ones, you may be afraid and discouraged. You may be feeling lost and alone. Sad. Angry.
I don’t know your circumstances, or what it is you have to choose from.

But please know this : if you are reading this, you are here for a reason. You have value and meaning. There will be plenty you cannot change. But please change the thought pattern that says that all is lost. I’m living proof that it’s not true.
If you need help, reach out!
KNOW that despite everything, you are loved!

YOUR LIFE HAS PURPOSE!


(And now you know why my brother has always said : Nobody’s perfect, but some of us are closer than others, and you, little sister, are not one of them ๐Ÿ˜› )

New what?

Somebody shared a meme with me that they thought was hilarious.
It stated : ‘has anyone else noticed that this new year, when you say it out loud, says that 2020 won!’

I could see the humour in it, yes. But I didn’t laugh. Because to be honest, it made me think of war. And isn’t that just what fighting this pandemic has been for us?

The thing is that in my humble opinion, no one wins in war. Because I look at lives lost, particularly innocent ones, and I just see LOSS.

There is a New Year looming… and I struggle to admit this, but I don’t think much will change with the ‘pandemic situation’. My country has put us back on curfew, and we need to be in our houses by 9pm – so my bedtime works to my advantage ๐Ÿ˜› They’ve banned alcohol again – yes! I have no champagne for midnight! Not wearing a mask is still a criminal offense – who would have thought that going into the bank WITHOUT a mask would send you to jail over here?!?!?

A young friend of mine shared a picture that said : No one claim 2021 as your year. We’re all going to walk in real slow. Be good. Be quiet. And Don’t. Touch. Anything.
And I smiled at that… because I have never really ‘claimed’ any year as being my year.

In fact, I haven’t had ‘proper’ New Years resolutions for many years – and here’s why : Many years ago I did the generic, ”I’m going on a diet in the New Year”. And I am sure you can guess the next part : 2 weeks later, I went to a birthday party, and my diet was history. But that wasn’t the problem. The problem was that I had been so focused on this one thing that would be a huge change in that particular year, and so focused on being a slimmer, sexier me, that when I failed, I was crushed. I was not only disappointed in myself, but despondent in the year that had come to be, and it definitely affected my attitude. I was younger then ๐Ÿ˜‰
Over the years I have learned that we all make mistakes, and we all eat that extra piece of cake because life is short ๐Ÿ˜‰ BUT when I get given a new day? I am just going to try a little harder – I can’t undo yesterday’s errors… but I can change the forecast for today!

I’d love to be able to say with absolute assurance that this new year WILL be new – that things will change. Sadly, I think it may be a little bit more difficult than the one that has passed. But I want to focus on that word MORE and not the negativity.
This year, I want to meet that more difficult head on, and I want to BE more!
To be MORE compassionate, and kind.
To be MORE aware, and sensitive.
To believe MORE, and hope MORE
To be MORE graceful.
And MORE grateful!

Because like with cake, there is ALWAYS room for more ๐Ÿ˜‰

My dear fellow bloggers, and friends, I am sending love and thoughts to the blogging world as a whole :
No matter what lies ahead in the year that is coming, my hope is that you will all find the strength to carry on and face each new day with the thought to at least TRY and be more. And in the words of Tony Robbins, I think it is, even if you make mistakes and your progress is slow…. please remember that you are still way ahead than those who AREN’T even trying ๐Ÿ˜‰

HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!

โค