More than this

We’re all on a journey – and sometimes it feels like the ‘road to nowhere’. But all roads lead somewhere.

It’s not about the destination itself though, it’s about the journey.

And sometimes the best memories, the most growth, and the most beautiful things can result from dirt roads.

When I go somewhere for the first time, and realise that I have made a wrong turn, I either do a U-turn and go back the way I came, or I seek an alternative route. But I DO stop. I pretty much apply the same to life. But on some of those roads, I seem to have got a flat tyre, and am stuck in one place a bit too long.
(Because although my dad was very responsible and arranged a visit to a mechanic for me when I got my first car, to teach me how to change the tyre, I’ve never done it since, and I don’t know now if I would be able to! 😛 )

There is a blog I visit regularly, which is extremely thought provoking and more often than not, there is something that inspires me. Some days it even serves as a ‘kick in the butt’ for me. (And that kick is not always enjoyable, but it’s what I need.)

There is one person in this world who truly knows everything about me – she could probably even tell you exactly how I will react to most things. I think the fact that we are in two different countries and only had communication to aid our growing friendship has made us that much closer. Especially since we are both really good at communicating 😉 And I guess the fact that we are both totally honest about what we perceive as failures and negatives is of even greater service to our ‘sistership’.
She is my ‘sister’, L. I mentioned her in a blog post here.

She knows my fears… and my fantasies. One day when we meet in person there will be huge, lasting hugs and many tears… and then she’ll probably give me an ass whooping!

Human nature is funny sometimes. Here’s this woman who I KNOW knows me better than anyone…. and yet when she tells me to do something, I hesitate.
Last year, she read a book. And she instantly let me know that the book was me! (Most of it was.) She told me I HAD to get it. I said I’d check it out… but I didn’t ever buy it.

I spend a lot of time on self-motivation and self-improvement and trying to grow in good ways. Accountability is key though – someone to not only check if you’re maintaining, but give you a push in the right direction and encourage you along the way. And there are days where I actually need someone to TELL ME WHAT TO DO!
It makes me a little bit sad that since I am usually the person mentioned above, I don’t actually have a physical person here who does that for me.
But I have L, and two other people overseas, who fulfill that role, I’ve discovered. (As strange as that sounds!)

Admittedly, the pressure on me is a little more, because there’s no one to see if I am actually listening!

Like, did I actually buy that book?

Then on Saturday I read this letter.

There are many areas in my life where I have managed to conquer the pain and fear of the past that would otherwise be holding me back, and no one is more thankful for that than me, because if I hadn’t I’d be a truly horrible person right now. But there are also still parts, and moments, where the lies (which elicited the pain and fear) somehow seem to shadow my heart and my brain – and hold me back, robbing me of confidence.

One of the things I have discovered about myself along the journey of the past few years is that I am a walking contradiction at times, ha ha ha ha!

I read the letter above. Then I read it again, commented, and read it a third time.
And that afternoon I went to buy the book ‘L’ said I should.

I read it, and kicked my own butt the whole way through. I am now going to read it again. In fact, I need to read it as many times as it takes to absorb it in my heart. For the heart of the problem IS the problem of the heart, in this case.
It’s all stuff I already know – it’s in my head. My brain says it repeatedly, and imparts it on others, ultimately helping them to break free from their chains.
My heart really needs to know it though. Once and for all. I don’t know how it will, but I am going to give it my best shot.
It’s going to be a real struggle – the lies I have believed so long? They began when I was 10. And they came from my mother. Year after year they have been reinforced by her. And added to. It was no shock when I was 12 and she started telling me that ‘she never wanted me’. Somehow she has always kept me in her life – probably because I was the only one she could control…and I let her, for fear of not allowing it and the repercussions thereof.
It’s taken many years to reach the place I am at with her – where I can be dedicated to her well-being and do things for her, despite the way she feels about me – and the constant reminders of who she says I am.

There are many books out there to help me on the way… and to help you. I think the fact that I truly identify with this one though has made it all that more special to me. It’s directed mostly to women – but I could still see some men appreciating some of what is said.

35542451._SY475_

Girl, wash your face

So if you have ever been told that you are not good enough? This book is for you.
Been told that you’re not thin enough, that you’re unlovable, that you’re a bad mom, that you deserve to be treated badly, that you will always be a failure at whatever you do, that you’ll never amount to anything, that your life is meaningless because it doesn’t look like your siblings/cousins/friends?
This book is for you.

Feel free to recommend other books to me. I’ll check them out, and when I can, I will do my best to buy them and read them 😉

Off to start reading my new book again, because…

there must be more than this!

 

focus

new

(I’d hate to think who else’s underwear I could possibly be wearing!)

I’ve had an interesting two days, and there is much that has been learnt.
After my emotional and soul baring meltdown post, I felt guilty and very miserable. Yesterday, I realised why. So before I mention all the things I have learned the last two days, let me say this :

At the very forefront of my mind right now is the reminder that when we are out of alignment with our core values, we not only lose sight of purpose, but we become increasingly miserable and lose sight of everything else too. And that is what I allowed to happen.
The very real lesson, however, was how easily this can happen. And how long it can last. And how increasingly more difficult it makes day-to-day life as the misery descends like a cloud.

But it DOES happen. And we can’t fault people for it. And we also can’t blame ourselves when it happens to us. The important thing, as with many other situations in life, is to acknowledge that it’s happening/happened and work on changing it – changing ourselves – continuing with our journey in alignment with our core values.

The lessons of the last two days have been more reminders – mainly two of them – much needed ones, that have put me back on track and allowed me to feel calm again, despite the storms that continue to rage.

First reminder : Bad things happen, even to good people. Situations and circumstances that are validly negative will happen. And while we cannot ignore that and need to keep ourselves aware and prepared, at the same time we need to ensure that they do not consume our focus.

Second reminder : Honesty about where we are at can not only be a lifesaver, but a life changer. When the cloud begins to descend and the negativity is overwhelming, there will be some people who will shy away from you – and that is okay. But hold dear and appreciate the ones who are there. Listen to their hearts.

As I listened to hearts who reached out to me, I was once again overwhelmed. But this time with a joyous emotion and a comfort that I cannot explain. Nobody held me tightly in their arms and made me feel secure and loved. And yet it was as close as it gets. Distance is merely a physical barrier – and souls can still support each other despite it.

So to those who commented, have prayed, and emailed –

I know that ‘thank you’ suffices, and yet it doesn’t express how truly grateful I am. You made a difference. To me.
I was also completely overwhelmed by a phone call – the funny thing is that it didn’t dwell on the negatives, which inadvertently shifted my focus and served as a reminder of sorts all on its very own.

WordPress World – you are special to me.

Yes, the situation in my country is ”impossible”, dire, worrisome.

But in life? I am actually doing really well.

We have a roof over our heads; we have food to eat; We have people who genuinely care for us; We have clean clothes (although some are a bit religious 😛 ) ; and we all still have a dream.

Shifting focus – thank you again for the love and reminders.

new1

quotemaster.org

Photo credit : Quotemaster.org

 

A long version of dire straits

THIS IS NOT MY USUAL TYPE OF BLOG POST – and yet in it you will find the pieces of me that tie up with previous posts. I am apologising BEFORE you read it for the raw emotions that will come across as negative – but there are snippets of positivity and lessons to be learned in reading it. Thank you for taking the time ❤

I’ve been struggling. There, I said it.
I didn’t realise how bad it was until I bumped into an acquaintance on Friday who asked me how the New Year has been treating me so far, and my eyes welled up with tears in response. I swallowed a lump in my throat and shrugged. I don’t know who was more embarrassed, him or me. I do know that when I threw the question back at him, I found myself in a situation yet again where I was the counsellor. Half an hour later we parted, him saying how grateful he was to have bumped into me and how much better he was feeling. I paid for my purchases, got in my car, and cried the whole way home.

This entire blog post will seem like a senseless contradiction – but there are moments where we just have to share what we’re going through and so that is what this is.
Because guess what? You are never going through anything alone.
I have no doubt in my mind that someone out there who reads this is probably in the same place as I am, but with different circumstances.

I read a blog post last week where someone listed their reasons for being depressed. I commented about them all being quite valid and I loved the response : ” I’m all for positive thinking and all that, but also believe in fully feeling and expressing our emotions so they don’t fester.”

It’s no surprise that the picture below is one that I agree with completely :

sauces-girl-liked-ash-lsamiaella-dont-invalidate-peoples-struggles-42350310

Photo credit : onsizzle.com

I am WELL AWARE that things could be worse. I KNOW we could be suffering more. And hearing/reading about other situations and circumstances certainly makes me grateful if I am not facing the same – but just because my struggle is ‘less’, doesn’t mean that the hurt, anger and frustration that I feel has no validity. It also doesn’t mean that no one else can rely on me to be there for them and help them through their struggles.

I DO take time to self care, and just be. And I don’t know quite how to explain this next part, other than that this is my purpose – for some reason, even in my pain and tears, I will always make a way and be strong for those who need help. Yes, it’s a momentary distraction from my own circumstances, but that isn’t why I do it. And the strength to do it is not mine. My friends know better than to say to me, ”I didn’t want to ask you because I know you have a lot going on.”
Yes, I have boundaries. And there have been times where I have had to say to them, ”I’m sorry, I just can’t.” My levels of endurance are far too great though – and as much as I fight discussing religion and politics because of the damage that has been done to so many due to both, I KNOW that my help comes from above.

Recent events have left my faith feeling somewhat shaken – but unlike James Bond (shaken NOT stirred), something within me has stirred too. 

To be completely honest, things are looking grim. But I’m NOT giving in!

To outline some of the circumstances surrounding these things, I screenshotted a dear friend’s shared Facebook post – she is one of the most positive people I know, and very seldom dwells on the negativity of our country as it stands right now.

SAA is our airline. Eskom is our sole electricity provider. SABC is our broadcasting commission. Transnet is the custodian of ports, rail and pipelines.
The Eastern Cape is hit the hardest by all of the above – and that’s where I live.

With major infrastructure falling apart, it is no surprise that the effects are being felt astronomically by small business. There are no jobs available – the ones that are advertised have to select 1 employee from over 180 applications. Employers are offering very low salaries and wages because they know how desperate people are.
Here, if you work for one hour at minimum wage, you will be considered fortunate to be able to use that one hour’s wage to purchase one loaf of bread and one litre of milk.

I have lost four people in these 27 days of January to suicide – the reason being financial.

There has been a recent outbreak of a terrible stomach bug here – people have been hospitalised, and I believe that in the rural areas there have been deaths. It’s no surprise when you see my town’s main water supply – and consider the amount of chemicals that need to be added to make it run clear in the taps (pic from November last year)

3

My children and I DO NOT drink tap water – which means we have to PAY for drinking water. And the three of us are water babies when it comes to drinking preferences (as well as coffee for me).

If it wasn’t for my brother, the children and I would have starved to death by now.

But all doors are closing, fast.

Small business closed. 😦 No jobs available. The chain of payment for services rendered is completely broken – A didn’t pay B, so B couldn’t pay C, so C couldn’t pay D, so D closed its doors – which left E, F, G completely stranded etc.

I have extensively researched moving overseas. Those doors are all closed too. I cannot go anywhere without securing employment first – a company that will petition their government/immigration procedures and possibly give me a chance to be approved. The list of candidates and people doing their utmost to follow this route is extensive, to say the least. Their advantages? They are gainfully employed and have some sort of university degree behind them.

I didn’t get a university degree because I fell pregnant, and after being abandoned by the father, I chose to keep my baby. I then chose to get married. Youth, and the struggle of being a mother and a wife and working full time blurred my vision. As did the after effects of abuse. I should have done more. I take full responsibility for that, and understand that my complacency in the years that counted is the reason I am where I am now.

Stuck. Stressed. Frustrated. Angry with myself. Hurting. Sad.

I can’t afford to study now. And with our education system being what it is, there is a very real fear that in the three years it will take, any degree issued here will be worthless anyway.
I am deeply concerned for my son. He finishes his degree in July. There are NO JOBS. Many young people finished their degrees two years ago (I know three personally) and are still without employment. My only hope is that HIS degree will somehow be enough to open an overseas door for him – but he doesn’t want to leave us behind. There is merit in that – but at the same time, I need him to at least have a future.
(I’ll admit that recently I felt more pro New Zealand, for the simple fact that we could all go together – his age would allow him to still fall under me, 24 being the cut off. He can’t go with me, as my dependent, anywhere else. I don’t want to leave him behind either.)

My daughter has been selected for two dancing competitions this year – qualifiers for world championships. My mind is racing with regards to fundraising – I cannot carry costs and will not ask my brother – he does enough. And in the back of my mind there is that voice screaming, ‘how will you fundraise when people have nothing to give’. Impossible.

I’ve looked extensively at further study – diploma wise – with overseas correspondence institutions. I even went so far as to first search the possible industries and fields of jobs available to me in the US and the UK, and then find qualifications relating to those. The financial implications make all of this impossible.

There is a saying something along the lines of this : ‘Sometimes when one door closes, we are so busy staring at the closed door, that we miss the window that has opened.’

And based on the recent reblogged post, how dare I limit God???!!!

My mind is reeling – and I am trying to make sense of it all. Last night, I was just quiet. A meditation of sorts. But there has been no great revelation – I do know though that good things take time 😉

And for now we have food to eat and a roof over our heads – something NOT to be taken lightly in our country at this time.

It’s all hopeless. It’s all impossible. It’s all every negative emotion that you can possibly think of.

BUT

While I have no control over the circumstances and all economic indicators show that it is indeed looking dire, and hopeless – I have control of me. I may be a walking contradiction at this time, because I FEEL hopeless – and yet, I remain the prisoner of that beautiful word : H O P E. I want so desperately to just give up, because I really am exhausted. BUT I CAN’T. And not just because I have two beautiful ”children”. It’s just not in me. My spirit refuses. It simply will NOT.

The negative emotions are screaming loudly at me at the impossibility of it all. The choices I made in my youth, and as a defiance to everything I probably knew because of hurt and abuse that once again were not in my control, add fuel to the fire of those emotions, screaming belittlement and blame on me – leaving me feeling guilty and downtrodden.

But every tear, and every pain in my heart (and yes, it is almost a physical heart pain), whisper to me : It IS possible, there IS hope, keep going. You’ve come too far to give up now. 

And so, dear reader, do not doubt… I may FEEL that I want to give up.

But I won’t.

optimist-someone-who-figures-that-taking-a-step-backward-after-taking-a-step-forward-is-not-a-disaster-its-more-like-a-cha-cha

Photo credit : Facebook

 

I’m going to look for my dancing shoes 😉

An Unholy Rant

I read this today, and it HAS to be shared.
Current circumstances and situations have me saddened and stressed – I will probably blog about it in the near future.
It’s not personal as such – all things I can do nothing about that are completely out of my control.
They have left me feeling despondent and doubtful.

I logged on to WordPress to type a blog – this blog post was the first place I visited though instead.
The tears are streaming down my face as I type this.
What a pertinent reminder – He is a Big God and we need to trust His abilities!

Letters To Pogue

Dear Pogue,

This is a letter that I have started several times only to find it populating the waste bin. I know what I feel and want to say but have never found the right way to express it. You see, this letter will start with an idea, a rather passionate one, something I need to say, and before long it will take on a life of its own, choosing its direction. It’s all an adventure.

Here’s my issue. When I talk about God I have come to realise that the entity that I am defining is not understood by others in the same way I do. What they’re hearing is not what I am saying! Indeed I get to wondering if we are even thinking about the same entity. So, Pogue, I have a question for you, even a challenge:

Are you a big Godder or a small Godder?

View original post 754 more words

Christmas Every Day

This season is a very demanding time for me. It reaches beyond my children, and the usual chaos of Christmas. Many reach out – because although it’s the season to be jolly, the reality is that it is also a painful time for many – sometimes at the drop of a hat.

As a child, I spent a lot of time with my maternal grandparents. Granny and Grampie (my names for them) were wonderful, in more ways than just regular great ‘grandparents’ are. They introduced me to many of life’s treasures : the arts, theatre and musicals, classical music and music in general, singing,  Scrabble and crosswords, books and poetry and writing. But the greatest treasures they gave me were their time, and lessons of love and kindness and respect for all. 
Growing up, I was a ‘drama queen’ – but not in the sense that I made much ado about nothing. More in the sense that I loved everything to do with Dramatic Arts. I took private drama lessons, and appeared in every school show I could. Grampie used to say I was his ‘little Anne’, because a lot of my reactions as a child came from hours of watching Anne of Green Gables with my grandparents.
When I was eight, my parents took me to see the musical ‘Hello, Dolly’, at the theatre in Cape Town. (We were there to move my brother into his residence for university.)
When it was over, I paused at the top of the flight of stairs on the way out. Surrounded by people, I made my descent slowly and purposefully, imitating Dolly in the show, singing at the top of my lungs, “Hello, Meggie… well, hello, Meggie… it’s so nice to have you back where you belong….”

Being a dramatic young soul, it surprised no one that my favourite story was ‘The Little Match Girl’ by Hans Christian Anderson. I had a large book filled with his stories, but those particular pages were almost grubby, having being visited so many times. Although the story is set on New Years Eve, it was one that was read by me, and to me, all year long – but multiple times during the week leading up to Christmas. As an adult, I have struggled to understand how anyone could read it to me without crying. Because as an adult, each time I read it, the lump in my throat makes it difficult to read out loud – my breath catches in my throat and the tears flow when I am close to the end. Sobs escape, and I pause many times. I have yet to read this story out loud to my children, without frustrating them at the drawn out ending – but they understand, for they struggle too.

When I was 9, Grampie and Granny added to my book collection with another omnibus of stories. The featured story in this book (as it was the title of the collection) quickly became my next firm favourite. It was a story by Oscar Wilde, entitled ‘The Selfish Giant’.
And yes, this story made me cry as well. Although it has nothing to do with Christmas, or New Year – nothing to do with this particular time of year at all – it was another story that I revisited most during Christmas preparation time. And still do, as an adult.

Because both these stories remind me of the things that Grampie, in particular, always tried to teach me. (I was about 10 when my parents split, and Grampie stepped in as a replacement dad as much as he could, when my real dad wasn’t around.)

I am grateful for this Christmas season, because somehow it makes most people more generous. But…

EVERY day is the time for peace, love and joy. EVERY day is the time for compassion and kindness. EVERY day is a time to celebrate, and wish for others the treasures that cannot be bought to be in abundance for them.

EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

But because it’s the season… my wish for you :

The true heart of Christmas (and every day we have 😛 ) is one of wonder and warmth. May any holiday stress you feel fade away and be replaced with this. To those who have lost loved ones during this season, may there somehow be comfort for you. To those who have little, may you be given more. And may we all show kindness and love, and be shown it in abundance too! Merry Christmas to all!

78477153_10158205607824009_3200521101113294848_n

 

honest intentions are important

Yesterday was somewhat interesting. I got a late start to the day because I was busy with an email that was important to me. And then I had a phone call, which resulted in a couple of hours of relationship counselling for a good friend. It all worked out though, because when I was done, things fell into place for an outing with the kids. So no time lost, as such.

The relationship counselling really got me thinking. 

I have another good friend who has always been of the opinion that I will be single for the rest of my life because I am too honest, and there just isn’t enough mystery surrounding me to make me interesting – therefore, I am boring, and too upfront about where I stand regarding my feelings, and thus will never be a good partner for anybody. Since I have been single for a very long time, I am inclined to agree with her 😛 If anyone shows any interest in me, I keep her well informed – especially if the feeling is mutual. And then when my feelings change, for whatever reason, I frustrate her by letting her know that too, which usually leads to me receiving a lecture along the lines of, “But don’t you think you could just say that you ….”

I love her dearly, and I know that at the end of the day, she truly just wants me to not ‘be alone’. That she sees me as a person with a lot of love to give, and wants me to find someone to share my life with. I am never offended by what she says – and I know that a lot of the reasons I am single are because of ME. Cliched, I know – it’s not you, it’s me – but it’s true!

The basics of the counselling yesterday are as follows : they met three years ago, and moved in together after six months. He only acknowledged them as a couple officially after they had been living together for the same amount of time. She’s almost 40, he’s late 40’s. He’s been married twice – she never has. He doesn’t have children, she has a son. They’re both very stressed work wise, and financially. Yesterday she hit him with marriage. She bought herself an engagement ring, and the pressure was on. He didn’t respond as she wanted, and I got a call. She was ready to throw it all away.

There’s a lot that needs fixing. They’ve said they’ll try. I don’t know what the new year will bring. For all their faults, they’re good together – they truly do compliment each other. So I can only hope they manage to fix the broken bits.

What got me thinking a lot was the marriage ball she threw in his court. Because when they moved in together, he told her he was never going to marry her – never going to get married again. And she told him she didn’t want to ever get married. And it’s been that way for three years – when people joke with them about engagement, she always laughs it off and says, ”Oh please, I don’t want to get married.”

So I was as surprised as I think he was. And I brought it up, of course. Her reply to me was, ”I only said it from the beginning to impress him and make him like me more. And I thought he’d change his mind. But it’s been three years, and I am tired. I don’t want to be someones girlfriend forever. I want more.”

Uh oh!

My children overheard a lot of the conversation – and yesterdays outing involved a lot of relationship discussion among us. It was interesting to anyone who may have overheard – the opinions of a 14 year old, 21 year old and 41 year old, on relationships and marriage. It was also interesting to me, as their mother, to hear what my children had to say. Especially about me 😛 😉

”Mommy might get married again one day, but I doubt it. I know she’s not looking for it, but I don’t think she’s totally against it.
Mom would make a good partner to someone, but they’d have to sleep on the floor because Toffee (dog) would be upset.
When we move out one day, Mom will love being on her own – I can picture her going out, and travelling, whenever she gets the money to.
(But my son says he’s never moving out 😛 )
I can’t picture Mommy being affectionate with a man – I know she’s that type of person… but seeing her kiss someone ‘like that’ would just be weird.
Mom’s not into the way people date these days. She’s deep, and emotional. (me, deep….um okay?)”

There was a lot more. But last night, at suppertime, the conversation shifted to honesty and intentions, in general. And expectations. My son is still friends with a group of guys who’ve known each other since junior school. They’re all home from ‘varsity at the moment, and so his social life has picked up again. 😛 He was filling us in on things that were happening within their group. With maturity has come change – and the dynamics of the friendships within the group have changed. He shared someone’s response to something that had happened, and I told him why it was a bad response – the intention was good, and the view was correct – but the way it was delivered was wrong.

So the point of ‘over’ sharing all of the above is this:

In an effort to impress others, we sometimes find ourselves caught up in saying things that are dishonest. As difficult as it is, your honesty will actually make the greatest impression of all.
Your intentions and expectations with regards to anything in life – your job, your relationships, your finances – need to always be clear… and in some instances (relationships in particular) it’s important that they are not just clear to you, but to others too.
Honesty – and truth – can sometimes hurt. The delivery of it matters. Hugely!

There is no one on this earth exactly like you – take a moment and realise and appreciate how amazing that actually is. You ARE valuable, to someone, even when you don’t feel like it.

Live life on purpose / intentionally. 

Be honest about your expectations.

And in your honesty, always be kind.

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! 😛 😉 )

striving for seed-ship

I was introduced to someone new the other day.
“This is Meg, my friend that I was telling you about.”
Pretty standard introduction, although it usually somehow elicits the panicked thought, ”Uh oh! What exactly has been said?”

The reply was not standard.
”Ah, Meg… the seed.”

19447.ThinkstockPhotos-535416132_confused

Photo credit : quotes.yourdictionary.com

In that moment, I certainly felt that I had achieved genius status! I have a very expressive face and so I knew my confusion was evident, but I followed up with,
“Um….hi. Seed?”

Yeah, I know, really eloquent!

There was a slight shrug, and a knowing smile exchanged between my friend and the ‘new person’. Her reply knocked me off guard completely,

“I’ve been told that you’re a great encouragement and inspiration. That you’ve been through so much, and yet you continue to smile and spread love and kindness. Your friend here says that you’re the one she turns to when she needs joy.
My husband and I call those sorts of people ‘seeds’. Because they inspire and encourage growth.”

This morning, I saw a picture on Facebook and had to smile :

encouraging-quote-planted

Now I have to be honest here, I am sometimes a bad seed. Although I don’t quite fit this description! 
a person who is dishonest, evil, or unprincipled by nature : an innately bad person

I’d be extremely dishonest though if I said that I have never had a moment of being any of the above. Worry and negativity creeps in every now and then, which messes with my character and sends my whole being into chaos. I then become frustrated/angry/disheartened/disillusioned and ‘act out’ because I am not in alignment with my core values.

And this is why I KNOW how very important it is to continuously be aware of, practice and educate ourselves to handle correctly whatever bad thing comes our way. 

The words that were spoken about me above definitely boosted my ego a bit – but they also spoke to my core being in a way that I very much needed at the time.
(And I have to stress that while they were lovely, and very true of my relationship with this friend because we’ve been in each others lives for 20+ years and that has always been my place in her life, I don’t think that everyone views me that way. In fact, I know that they don’t.)

So this is not a boasting moment.

Instead, it was actually a type of ‘wake up’ moment for me.

Do I want to inspire and encourage growth in everyone I come into contact with? YES!
Am I doing that? Sadly, no…. not always and not everyone.
Can I change that? YES!

But it’s going to require courage and commitment. It’s going to mean hard work. It’s going to mean some pain. But this is an area I NEED to grow in. And so I have to accept all those things.

And I am not saying that I need to be perfect. It’s in my imperfections that I can actually inspire others – but I need to handle those imperfections correctly in order for them to achieve the purpose of helping others to grow – in their lives, in kindness and in love.

inspirational-business-quotes-mandy-hale-beautiful-750x750

Photo credit : bigcommerce.com

 

I want to be THAT beautiful!

be a pencil

23cbf82e2ccquotesgram.com

Photo credit : quotesgram.com

Just a little thought for us to consider today…. and yes, sometimes life is unpleasant, so feel free to eat cookies 😉

There was once a humble lady who spent her lifetime caring for the poor in the harsh slums of Calcutta. She lived her life by the words she was often heard to say :

”I am just a little pencil. But God is using me to write a love letter to the world.”

How about today we decide that instead of just complaining about all that is wrong (in our lives, in our immediate surroundings, in the world) we actually decide to make a positive contribution and difference?

arabic_proverbfilm-english.com

Photo credit : film-english.com

How about today instead of just taking from what is available to us, we also make a decision to give?

we-make-a-livingfluerdelyz.com

Photo credit : fluerdelyz.com

How about today we walk around in a state of global awareness, not just of how environmental, social, cultural, economic and political factors impact the world, but also in a way that helps us see opportunities to love, give, and encourage others – to see how kindness can impact the world?

pay-it-forward-quote-18-picture-quote-1

Photo credit : PictureQuotes.com

And if you find yourself eating cookies, remember this :

 

27-Funny-Quotes-Inspirational-That-will-Inspirecentralofsuccess.com.jpg

Photo credit : centralofsuccess.com

 

It’s Time

You know that expression, ”I feel like I’ve been hit by a bus”? Well, yesterday afternoon I nearly was that expression!

A bit of background : It’s been raining non stop, a steady drizzle interrupted by the odd downpour, for the past 40 hours. I am celebrating. And not just because I love the rain. 😛 Water restrictions came to town last Friday. September is our heavy rainfall month around here – we didn’t see more than a few drops. Our main dam is now sitting at less than 35% capacity. The last census in 2011 showed that there are 267 007 people living here – we have largely increased in numbers since then. This rain is nowhere near to filling the dam, but it sure is helping!

And the roads are very wet as a result.

So I leave the house at lunchtime to perform Mom’s Taxi duties with a smile on my face. The garden beds in front of my house are overflowing with water. The bucket next to it is almost full.

My celebration of happiness has been extended.

Now, as ridiculous as this may sound, one thing I don’t do is break the speed limit. That doesn’t mean I am a slow driver though – because I hit the speed limit in the given areas. 😉 But when it rains? I stay in the slow lane where possible and I drop my speed by 10 or 20 – depending how fast I’m allowed to go in that spot 😉  I suppose you could call me a careful driver, who isn’t a hazard on the road.

So there I am, pulling onto the highway, still in the euphoric state brought upon by this much needed and beautiful rain (and cooler weather – added bonus!) and I see that on the bridge up ahead, in the fast lane, there is a massive truck that has come to a complete standstill. This is a two lane highway, and I’m in the slow lane, so no problem.

Big problem, when there’s a massive bus coming up fast in the same lane as the truck! It was a good thing I glanced in the rearview mirror to see if I needed to warn anyone. I put my hazards on and slowed a little – but that didn’t help the bus. When you have that much steel at that sort of speed, and the roads are wet, braking hard isn’t going to do anyone any favours. So he did the next best thing, and swerved. While the front of his bus was in the clear and one could just say that he ‘cut me off a little’, I think he’d forgotten that there was a back side that would follow. I was reminded when I saw it coming to meet me at my drivers side window, and braked a little harder than I like to in wet weather.

Of course you know that my car skidded a bit – but the side of the bridge came nowhere near me. If I had been going faster, this ending would have been very different, and I’d be celebrating wetness in the river below that bridge. Although, as my son pointed out, if I was a speedster, I may have cleared that truck way before the bus arrived on the scene 😛

Admittedly, I was in a small amount of shock – but as I continued on my way, I actually laughed because I thought, “My gosh, I nearly was the back of a bus”! My friends often tell me that my reactions to close calls, where I laugh and think of something funny, is a very dark and unhealthy coping mechanism. Well, it is what it is, and I am what I am.

Right, the point of sharing this silly story with you is this :

I am not totally afraid to die. Fear of death is a very real thing, and is known as Thanatophobia. It affects people so deeply that even the thought of death gives them an anxiety attack. This is one thing I cannot completely identify with, but because I have other phobias I can understand and be sympathetic to their plight. I say ‘cannot completely’ because there was a time when I admit that I couldn’t think of anything worse than dying!

My journey in the past four years has been filled with epiphanies. The turning point for me was looking back on my life and accepting that my pain had purpose – I had lessons to learn and painful roads of the past to travel, because I needed to grow.

When I made the choice to accept the pains and hurts of the past, changed the way I viewed them, and turned them into opportunities of growth, changed for the better.

Please don’t get me wrong. I do not mean that I will put myself in dangerous situations or do anything intentionally that will cost me my life. Neither am I advocating that you do, if you’re not afraid to die. It’s not about suddenly being irresponsible. And it’s certainly not about taking life for granted.

And I am not saying I want to die.

There’s just been a shift in me. I still will say, ”I don’t want to die”, but I will not allow that to be my focus or make me negative. Time’s a-wasting, and life is short, and you just never know. So while I’d like to have the mercy of being around for a very long time still to come, I’d also like to LIVE while doing so.

Living means different things to different people. And it means different things to me, depending on the context in which I am saying it. The context today means this:

I want to feel alive. In order to do that, I need to remain in alignment with my values. I must not waste my days. I need to change lives, one life at a time. My values mean that I have an insatiable need to show kindness, motivate and inspire, and be courageous even in the face of pain and grief – especially when dealing with areas that need tweaking in my personality…to never stop growing and learning! These are to just name a few. And these are some of the reasons that I get up every morning – they put purpose in my life… along with the kids and dogs who kind of NEED me to get up every morning 😛 😉

My friends, think about what it’s like to be alive. What drives you? What are your values at this moment in your life?

Because it’s TIME TO BE ALIVE!

Chase after the things that get your blood racing, follow your dreams, reach out if you have a need, spread kindness like a disease, feed your soul.

TAKE CARE OF YOU! 

Because YOUR LIFE MATTERS, YOU MATTER, and despite what you may think or feel, YOU make a positive difference in someone’s life and they’re very glad they have you!