Can you change it?

I have never viewed myself as a control freak. In actual fact, my history with narcissism has meant that I have always been the one who has been controlled. And sadly that took me into adulthood, and created a form of ‘inability to make decisions on my own’. Which in itself was terribly destructive – some people will help you make choices that are beneficial to only them, and not you.

There were so many issues that were borne of my childhood, and resulting adulthood, that I certainly kept my therapist busy. 😛  But eventually, because I was willing, small steps became giant leaps and I grew into a ‘newer, better’ version of ME. I also worked really hard on accepting the responsibility of being in control OF ME, and ended up even having to take a course in decision making – something that comes so naturally in others, and yet something that I simply couldn’t grasp on my own. And I haven’t stopped growing, because life keeps teaching me and I am very willing to learn, even though it sometimes hurts.

I do know that there are many things that I cannot control – and I think that the past 80+ days have caused far more frustration than what they should have. As mentioned in a previous post, have continuously reminded myself that I can only control MY reactions and emotions to what is going on around me. But for some reason, I remain frustrated.

I was called on recently to ‘assist’ a couple who had decided to part ways. Except that I am friendly with them both, and so while I am always honest and will offer my opinions when asked, I don’t like to get involved at times like these. But they both asked. Under our current restrictions, I am still not able to ‘work’, or help others, as I would like to – I prefer personal interaction, one on one. But (once again, thanks to the beauty of world wide web inventions) I was able to do the next best thing. I did a video call with each of them, individually. The end result, sadly, is that they will not be getting back together. Because, they both agree, that the love is gone. Add to that a multitude of other things (including that they both want completely different things for their lives) and we all realised that it was never going to work.

But I was reminded of something of great importance to me personally.

THIS MAY NOT BE APPLICABLE TO YOU – this is all my personal experiences and journey, and perhaps food for thought for you.

I hopped on here, to write this blog post, and decided to pop in and check on a blogging friend. I was surprised to find the same sort of theme. And it made me want to share this even more.

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The words in this picture used to be me.

Up until about five years ago, I complained, a lot! Kid whining, instead of adult wining 😛 😉 

There were times where my complaints were valid though – like the time my entire town was without water for five whole days. By the third day, I was having to buy expensive bottled water, and use it to flush the toilet – and our municipalities and water workers were giving us no indication of how much longer things would be that way. Yes, my household adjusted – we took bucket showers, and used the basin spillage for the loos, wherever possible. I put buckets outside, just in case it rained. I didn’t let it devastate us completely – but I complained about the expense, and the lack of response from those who were in control. Something in me says though that I really shouldn’t have complained at all because it was out of my control and so complaining was futile.
But there ARE times where just being able to voice our complaint about certain circumstances bring a form of release.
And, sorry guys, I AM human, after all 😛

The problem came in where I complained about a lot of things that I ACTUALLY could have changed. Things I did have a semblance of control over. Now let me tell you, THAT is futile! 

I spent an entire year, at one stage, complaining about someone I had viewed as a close friend, and yet had not bothered to reach out to me – I complained about her neglect, and her lack of caring about how I was. I pretty much complained every time someone mentioned her name, or I saw something that reminded me of her. I was hurt and angry. And I made sure to voice it. But I never voiced it to her. I never told her how I felt. I DIDN’T REACH OUT! I just complained, and gleaned sympathy from others, which sort of became a driving force for more complaining.
Two years later, I actually sent her a message and organised a coffee date, and spent the first twenty minutes of that coffee date, apologising.

Because in my learning, and in my growing, it hit me that I hadn’t bothered to try and change things. I hadn’t bothered to reach out to her either. Complaints may have carried a small amount of weight and validity IF I had reached out more than once, and she had just blatantly ignored me. But I was so caught up in me, myself and I, that I had not once considered sending the first message.

I am no longer that way. I learned from the experience. I worked on ME and effected CHANGES IN ME, and so now I am different. 

It’s very easy to place blame on other peoples shoulders. It’s very easy to knit pick their actions. It’s very easy to see the weaknesses in others. It’s VERY DIFFICULT to do the same with ourselves. But oh so necessary if we want to grow into the next, and better, version of ourselves.

There will always be hope, so long as you are willing to try. And willing to see that perhaps there is something within you that needs work.

I was asked the other day, ”What’s with this being ‘the next best version of yourself?’ Aren’t you happy with who you are?”

I smiled.

I am happy with me. Sometimes, I may still do or say things that cause me to be a little bit disappointed in me, but I have the tools to effect change, and I work through those moments, and do better.
What I have discovered for me PERSONALLY, on MY journey that I am on?
Every little bit of growth and new realisation in an area of personal development? It unlocks something new in me. Each one seems to unlock a new gift/reward. It not only benefits me as a person, but takes me to a new level, and opens up a new window for me. I used to just stare at the closed door – I personally wasted far too much time doing that. The open windows are bringing freshness and newness and light.
So yes, I am happy with me.
But there is so much more potential to unlock. And who doesn’t like a gift/reward? 

Starting over

I’ve sat staring at this page for about two hours now. I have started a blog post, only to then delete everything I have typed and revert to the blank page. I’ve allowed myself to be distracted by other incoming messages – perhaps it’s something that will provide a good topic to write on? Then I respond to the message, return here… and it begins again.

I love how it is so easy to take the blank page and fill it with words… decide against sharing those particular words or topics at the moment…. and just delete it all.
Like wiping the slate clean, which we all know is not applicable to life.

There are no do-overs. But we can always start over. Even in the troubling times we are now facing, world wide. Things have just got a little more complicated… more challenging.

And for me? I’ve grown too used to my comfort zones. My personal development, and growth – the self exploration and changes that needed to be made? All those things have been, and are still, painful and difficult.
What I didn’t realise though was how much my ‘security blanket’ and the general routines and stability around me, were actually helping me – in a way, protecting me.

And being thrown into the chaos of our strange, nonsensical, very strict lock down has not just caused me to stop and move a few steps back. It’s like a tornado arrived sent from the Wizard of Oz himself, lifted and tossed me around for a while, and then dumped me back in my own bed – but not to partake in life as I know it, for everything has changed so very much.

I’ve had to be stern with myself quite a lot lately – I’m a terrible disciplinarian… I’ve reduced myself to tears quite a few times 😛

Here’s what I am working on right now though : I need to stop. I need to start over.

No matter what this virus does, or what my government does, or what the people do in response to both – I NEED TO STOP.

I need to remember that my life still has purpose. That while my windows of opportunity seem to have been nailed shut, they’re not. I am just going to have to push against them a little harder. I mustn’t let the current circumstances limit my potential. 
I am still me.

Filled with purpose and potential.

A self-confessed prisoner of hope.

The circumstances have changed, but I cannot let them change me – not in the way they have been. I’ve worked too hard to be better!

I need to start seeing things differently. It starts with me!

Touching on Success

success

As with many things in life, success has different meanings in different situations.
By it’s definition, it is the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.

And although I know that I know this, sometimes I still forget some of the aspects related to the word ‘success’.

I was reading Ed Mylett’s book, and he was talking about when he first started out – the early days of his entrepreneurship. When he wasn’t a successful entrepreneur.

He speaks of how they had nothing. Bills hadn’t been paid, utilities had been shut off. He and his wife had to sneak down to the apartment complex’s swimming pool before others woke up to use the showers there, and then he’d don his business suit and ‘pretend’ to be a successful entrepreneur. He mentions that the showers were open ones, and so he would hold a towel for his wife to try and ‘protect her privacy’.

What struck me, as I read those words, was this :

Yes, he wasn’t yet a successful entrepreneur, BUT in my eyes (based on the story he told) he was pretty successful as a husband.

I don’t read Success magazine, but I liked what I found in Wikipedia…

~~According to the company, the magazine “focuses on people who take full responsibility for their own development and income,” and provides personal and professional development.~~ 

Because here’s the thing : we are fully responsible for our own personal and professional development, and the success thereof. While circumstances may play a part in delaying our ‘success’, I think that a lot of the time the fact that we just continue to persevere is successful in itself!

A couple of weeks ago, I was approached by a friend who was being poached by another company – according to her she was really happy in her current placement, but the other company was offering her a much better salary package. She asked me what she should do. I told her to speak to her boss, and see if he could perhaps counteroffer. Naturally, she was worried that the other company would still be offering her more – and what then? My reply was ‘to determine what it was she was chasing – if she’s happy where she is, and that is what she wants from life, then she should stay. If her aim was to make more money, then she should change jobs’.
I don’t know that this was the best advice (since then, her current company came in with a better offer and she is staying where she is) but I do know this :

Success is largely about perspective, and it’s personal. What it means to me may not necessarily be what it means to you. 
I found this article about 9 famous people who spoke of what success is – to them. There were some interesting things in there, so I thought I’d share it in case you wanted to do some further reading 😉

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Photo credit : quotefancy.com

I love the quote above. It’s something I often refer to, and is a reminder for me to ‘think big’.

But I find that I have to regularly argue with myself. (An article for reference because I am not crazy 😛 )

And I know I am not alone when I say that I am ‘my own worst enemy’ and that the main thing ‘standing in my way is ME’!

I have to argue with myself because I have not yet conquered all those limiting beliefs, and one of the biggest ones that I struggle with is the one that tells me I will never be successful.

do think it is all about perspective though – and it’s personal. Because what I want to be successful at? I think I am slowly but surely achieving. I doubt it’s going to make me famous though 😛

My definition of success is just that – it’s mine. It’s looking at my aims and purposes (goals) and celebrating when I achieve them.

I like to dance… so I think I am going to go with an optimistic view on this :

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Photo credit : me.me

For now I will just keep doing my best, work on believing in myself, continue learning and growing so that I can be a better version of me, and keep checking my list of what I want to achieve.

And I will celebrate each small success (my perception of it) along the way!

Feel free to reward yourself now, since you have successfully completed reading this blog post 😉

 

What are the odds that you’re awesome?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

BUT …. 1:400 TRILLION ???

COME ON! 

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

You ARE awesome!

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

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

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

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

You Are The Best!

Each and every one of us are different. And there are days when I look in the mirror and think, ‘well, thank goodness for that!’. 😛
Honestly though….

NO ONE can be a better YOU than YOU! (And it’s in red because it is really important!) And guess what? Your birth was a blessing, no matter what the circumstances. You have gifts and talents, even if you haven’t discovered them yet. And you have a purpose!

You aren’t defined by your past, and that includes yesterday. Because perhaps yesterday you did something that suddenly sparked a much needed change and so today you are a better person, striving towards the greatness you were created for.

And if you feel like you haven’t yet managed to grasp your particular talent, ability, purpose and it’s making you feel worthless? Please don’t lose heart! You will! You’re still the best ‘you’ that anyone could ever hope to be and you’re filled with undeniably positive potential! (Even if it means you need to learn and grow and discover 😉 )
No matter what : you matter!

So having said all that, I am also going to say this : some people can be really mean, and sometimes I think that’s why Noah only took animals on the ark. 😛
They stand in judgement of every little thing, and they’re critical, and they’re a downright hindrance to whatever self esteem we are trying to build. And sometimes, if we pause to explore where they’re coming from, we might find a lot of hidden hurt… and opinions based on the beliefs they have. They can still be quite destructive though. (If we let them be : and let’s face it, sometimes we’re in a place where we struggle to not let them influence us.)
They’re a ball of continuous negativity that just seems to never stop rolling.

The thing is, when I think about it, there are times where my behaviour was exactly like theirs. Those times may have been fleeting, but I’d be lying if I said that I have never judged another, or been critical, or broken down someone’s self esteem.

However, nowadays when that old pattern of self threatens to emerge, I am usually a lot more successful at preventing myself from reacting or behaving in that way, because I have worked really hard to eliminate the beliefs that taught me to be that way and deal with my pain.  And I owned my mistakes – and appreciated the times they were not thrown in my face. There’s also something extra special and extremely uplifting when someone pauses at an action you have taken and wants to know ‘why’ – without just the assumption that actions speak louder than words.

The ‘WHY’ is actually the source of the biggest step towards change and growth. Without understanding ‘why’, or caring enough to ask someone ‘why’, they may not ever get the help they need and may continue on a path of self destruction. I understand that sometimes the why isn’t a simple answer – but growth and change aren’t always simple either.

In a world where we can be anything, let’s not only be kind…. let’s also be understanding.

This was actually all sparked by a motivational speaker who has fed me some truly great opinions and knowledge that have helped me, but has also recently been tarnished in the media for doing something ‘terrible’. And while I agree that ‘the deed’ is in fact a bit questionable, I don’t know why it was done – I have no real knowledge of the circumstances or the emotions, or the struggle that I am sure was happening internally.  Does it mean that the food I was able to glean for my own soul now no longer has worth? NO! 
It just means that this person has weaknesses too – and that the weakness has temporarily won – and perhaps there is a great sense of purpose to it? For who knows?Perhaps there’s a lesson for them and an opportunity for even more growth. Because we never stop growing or learning. Perhaps this is a part of their journey.

They may be a celebrity with a recognised social status and more money than I could ever possibly imagine having or even desire (unless it means I can give it away and help the people in my life who I know so desperately need it!) … but that celebrity is still a person, like me. They also matter. They also need kindness and understanding. They also make mistakes.

And since I didn’t like being judged and criticised for mine, I don’t think it’s fair that I jump on the bandwagon and do the same to them – especially since I don’t understand the situation.

That weakness led to a mistake being made. Celebrities are not perfect, so why do we think they don’t make mistakes? Just like we do. Just like some parents do. Just like some pastors do. Just like some teachers do.

Just. Like. Me.

 

 

inside the box

As I have been making my way through the book a second time, noting down things that are important for my journey, I was reminded of something that I would like to share.

I thought of the ‘me’ I was twenty years ago, and how she would have reacted had she read this book back then. That ‘me’ was inclined to still be quite naive, and opinionated in a sense that what I believed was the only way and if you didn’t agree, you were wrong.
Oh my! How I missed out on so many valuable things along the way!

It had a lot to do with the belief systems that were taught to me from a young age – passed down to me. (I wrote a post about belief systems here last year – pardon the language.) The thing is that I was never encouraged to form and build on my own belief system. There was no freedom to think out of the box – it was a scenario relatively close to ‘’it’s my way, or the highway’’. And if I didn’t live inside that box, then I was a failure, and unworthy. And I BELIEVED I was!

But you see….

That particular belief system probably originated from the generation prior. Because we build and live according to what we know. And some of us are not fortunate enough to ever ‘broaden our horizons’. I’ve had a lot of life experience in a lot of areas – sometimes I feel like I’ve already done life three times over. 😛

There are studies that have shown that as a child, the more we get exposed to, the more our immune system builds. It gets strengthened by the yucky stuff. I often joke that part of the reason my immune system is so strong can be accredited to gravel (a selection of small stones all together).  When I was 5, our school had gravel beneath the swings. In hindsight, it wasn’t such a wonderful thing because if you jumped off the swing and lost your balance, it hurt! I would sit in that swing and gently rock myself back and forth, sucking stones that I had picked out from the gravel. Ewwww! I know! I also played in the dirt a lot, even in my white dress with red polka dots, much to my mother’s horror. (I ruined that dress on my 6th birthday at my party when I fell out of a tree 😛 )
But I also wasn’t very sick as a child, so perhaps that’s why?

Here’s how I think this relates to my own belief system (which is continuously growing, just by the way) :

I was brought up inside the box. To the extreme. And from a little girl, I fought with that lid.
I have had more than my fair share of bad experiences – some where I carry the responsibility, and some that were circumstantial and out of my control. I have also had some good experiences, and although they have left me with positive emotions and a lot to laugh about, none of them have ‘changed’ me.
The bad experiences have allowed me to grow, and become stronger. The lid has flown right off that box, and I am no longer bound by the way I was taught that things ‘should be’.

I don’t fully agree with everything written in the book I am now ‘studying’. Does that make the author a bad person, a failure in some areas, not worth listening to? NO! Because there is a LOT that I do agree with, and needed to hear. And the things I don’t agree with? I have ‘listened to’ anyway, because it has given me another view of something in me that was ‘concrete’ (no, I didn’t swallow any of the gravel 😛 ). And quite honestly, I need to think about what she has said.

It comes down to a firm belief that everyone is different, and that just because I believe or think the way I do, you don’t have to! And it doesn’t mean that you are worth less as a person, or that you cannot impact my life, or that we can’t be friends.

My perspectives and my beliefs and values? They’re mine. I can share them with you, I can hope that my experiences will help you or just impact you positively. But I can’t fight with you and be angry with you just because you aren’t in complete agreement with me.
Besides, you may have much to teach me if we don’t think alike, and I might miss out of the beauties of friendship and life in general if I build myself back into a box.
(I do have to add this though: I can’t put myself in harm’s way, and so sadly there are some interactions that I am forced to avoid. But these are definitely few and far between.)

We need to embrace what makes us different – celebrate your quirks, and even the things that you can’t do. And then pause for a moment and accept that someone else is probably in the same boat as you : different… trying to embrace themselves.

I’ll end with this : Someone told me the other day (in agreement with me saying that I am a very open person who doesn’t leave much to the imagination) that ‘mystery is not my superpower’.
I loved that! And had a good laugh! Of course I’d like to NOT always be so open, because I love a good mystery and so do many other people out there, but it’s the way I am and it makes me ‘me’. And I have learned to embrace it and celebrate it.

Besides, I have other superpowers 😉 *stands and swoops her cape dramatically and clicks ‘publish’*

 

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.

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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!

 

Where do you write?

 

“Two friends were walking through the desert. At one stage in their journey, they had an argument and one friend slapped the other one in the face.

The one who got slapped was hurt, but without saying anything he wrote in the sand, ‘Today my best friend slapped me in the face.’

They kept on walking until they found an oasis, where they decided to have a wash. The one who had been slapped got stuck in a mire and started drowning, but his friend saved him. After he had recovered from his shock, he wrote on a stone, ‘Today my best friend saved my life.’

The friend who slapped and saved his best friend asked him, ‘After I hurt you, you wrote in the sand and now, you write in stone, why?’

The other friend replied, ‘When someone hurts us we should write it down in sand where winds of forgiveness can erase it away. But, when someone does something good for us, we must engrave it in stone where no wind can ever erase it.’” 

~story from thoughtcatalogue.com~

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It’s easier said than done, I know. But I read this story this morning, and it really made me pause and think. Everybody hurts sometimes, and we all get insulted on occasion. But what do we do with that?

I realised this morning that there are some hurts from the past that I have ‘written in stone’. They are things that, when I think of them, still hurt me deeply. Some of them are recent, and some of them are from many years ago. Pain is inevitable, but misery is optional. I need to make a choice, and a conscious effort, to pull those stones out, and perform a rewrite. Otherwise those things will continue to hold me back.

If something is written in stone, it is permanent and cannot be changed. However, when it comes to hurt, I believe that we can roll that stone away. And destroy it. With the chemicals of love and desire – a desire to change and move forward in our lives.

I’m going to take a chance and make a change, and try and write the negatives in sand – even do a rewrite, if I must.

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*Personal update*

I am doing a lot better health wise – a little bit tired still, but other than that, all is well.

Weather wise, your prayers (or cool thoughts, if you don’t pray 😉 ) have worked wonders!
As you may know from previous posts, our dams were emptying quickly and we were on water restrictions.
On Friday, it started to rain, and it still is, off and on. HOORAY!
Of course, there wasn’t an immediate change in our ghastly humidity levels, and Friday night was horrific, sitting at 93% at midnight. But by yesterday, it was a lot cooler, and we were even blessed with a cool breeze! This morning, when I got up at 05:00, I had to dig for a lightweight tracksuit top to ward off the slight chill in the air.
Cooler weather makes for a very happy Meg 😉

Who Do You Need?

 

mistakes

Photo credit : sayingimages.com

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo credit : therandomvibez.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

be-who-you-needed

 

‘Nuff said!

 

vulnerable bridges

It’s been an interesting 24 hours. I’ve felt quite overwhelmed, with good things, and bad things. And loadshedding (read the post here) continues…although not quite as bad as it was – we’re down to only being without power for four hours a day – I can handle that!
The funny thing is that even though we’re conscientious with the scheduled times and switch off plugs etc to prevent damage from power surges, the surprise cuts seem to have affected things somewhat. My modem appears to be confused – it seems to think its function is now that of a strobe light 😛 It’s rather fun watching the internet light go on and off every minute or so. Green…red….green….red…. it’s a special kind of Christmas tree 😛 adding holiday spirit to my home 😉

With regards to yesterdays post :

Thank you to those of you who have offered support, prayers and encouragement. It is very much appreciated at all times, please know that.

Up until a few months ago, I wasn’t aware that I could be reached at my private email address through WordPress. This isn’t a problem for me at all – as you all know, I love to communicate and make new friends – and of course I am always there for support and encouragement. I’d like to thank one lovely lady in particular for emailing me – I won’t mention her name but she knows who she is – your continued encouragement and outpouring of love and prayers touches my heart deeply. 

I did receive another email though, from someone that I wasn’t even aware was reading my blog. The irony of this email is that it’s from an ex-South African, now living overseas, who only returns to SA every few years for a week or two on holiday. I haven’t responded… I guess I’ll do so a little later… or maybe I’ll just leave this here :

I am well aware that yesterdays post was rather negative, and reveals that I have ‘that side’ to me. Unfortunately, living with, working with, seeing and being emotionally involved with the atrocities that are occurring here daily, it sometimes does affect me in a negative way. My heart is not made of steel. While I have the ability to practice ‘tough love’ in situations where it is called for, this does not mean that I do not shed tears when I am alone, and that it doesn’t affect me in any way.

So in a round about kind of way, this post is actually about vulnerability.

I am an extremely vulnerable person. And no matter how you try to convince me otherwise, I will never see this as a weakness. 
I AM an open book. You can pretty much ask me anything, and I will answer you. But I won’t just give you facts. I will share in a way that exposes my emotions and will ultimately open me up to the possibility of getting hurt. How else will I connect with you?

And you see, that’s the thing…. I truly believe that I am designed for the purpose of connecting – not just with God, but with other people. In order to achieve that purpose, unfortunately, I need to make myself vulnerable. 

And yes, it means I get ’emotionally hurt’ sometimes. (Other times it is the most rewarding thing for me!) But through all those experiences, the rewarding ones and the hurtful ones, I learn life’s greatest lessons, and the crucial skills that I need to continue with living this life.

Raw truth is necessary to connect. But it has another function too. If I am not prepared to be vulnerable and share the truth of my experiences and failings, then how will anyone ever be able to walk away from me knowing hope, kindness, goodness, grace and joy? 

I am about to make a statement that many are going to possibly attack me for :
I understand and a part of me has to agree with Ghandi : ”I’d be a Christian if it wasn’t for Christians.”

Except I AM a Christian. And now you’re as confused as a chameleon in a bag of skittles.

So I’ll explain it like this : I grew up in the church. And there were some who didn’t preach God, but showed me who He was. But from a little girl, through various stages in my life, I was emotionally, physically and sexually abused by people in the church who were in positions of leadership. I left in my late teens. I have returned many times, to different places, and found much of the same, sadly – except now it has added judgment for some of the bends in the road of my life.
It has been preached to me on numerous occasions that I am a dying ember – because to be a burning light, I need to be with the coals in the fire – a church. While I understand what they are saying, and agree that it is an amazing thing to worship with a group, I remain a dying ember. I guess? Well, in the churches opinion (and the opinion of most of my family members too). That’s where it all gets confusing, even for me…and we’re talking about me… so confusion reigns! 😛

It has taken me a very long time to fully appreciate the statement that ‘God is God, and I am not.’ In the same way, all those people seated in church, as well as all their leaders, are also not God. Which means that like me, they also suffer from sin – hidden or exposed, their choice. They choose to wear masks, instead of being vulnerable enough to admit to their failings. And this means that they never learn anything, and can never be helped. It discredits any good that those who know their secret sins could ever glean from their words or their seemingly perfect lives. By not making themselves vulnerable, they have prevented growth, not just in themselves but in their ‘victims’, because many of those ‘victims’ have turned their backs on God as a result.

I am no longer angry about the abuse I suffered personally. It’s been a long and very difficult road to get to that place. The circumstances surrounding those different types of abuse affected the options that were open to me – and while I could have made different choices, at those times the circumstances affected me negatively and I made a long list of bad choices.

In the past few years, I have grown. And here’s what I know :

I will never come into contact with someone who isn’t loved – I need to be kind always.

I have learned NOT to judge – because I don’t know what choices you actually had. And here’s an additional thing to add to that – take time to find the person they are at that very moment, and not who they were yesterday or last week – based on fact or rumors. Change takes time, but the choice to change takes a minute. By judging and making it known, you may just undo that choice.

Don’t preach it – be it. At the end of the day, my words are meaningless if I can’t show you.

Unconditional love. The hardest of all. So important though because it sums up all of the above, and so much more. I struggle with this particular one a lot. It is hard to love others, especially those who have hurt us. It’s a journey all on its own. 
I love my children dearly – but they know when they disappoint or upset or anger me – a statement often used in my house is this : I love you, but I don’t like you right now because…..
And my children have free reign to use it on me. And they have. I have learnt from those moments – sometimes I am unreasonable, and sometimes I have worded things in a hurtful way. If they did not have the opportunity to tell me, “Mom, I love you but I don’t like you right now because…”, we would all live in a war zone in our own home right now. Being able to say this, and then walk away, leaves time for what has been said to sink in. When the initial anger and hurt has passed, there has always been apologies, calm discussions and resolution. And the freedom to continue loving and liking one another.

So yes, I am vulnerable, even with my kids. How else do I teach them that not everyone is right all the time, and that even parents/adults fail?

Vulnerability HURTS sometimes! It opens me up to judgment and criticism, and nastiness and negativity. But it also grows, helps and heals.
There may be ten people judging me, attacking me, and hurting me when I am vulnerable enough with admissions of guilt and failings. But there may be ONE person who is listening…. and hurting…. who connects with me and experiences hope in their seemingly hopeless situation; who somehow finds healing in a broken piece of their heart; or feels a kindness that no one else has ever shown them and sparks a ‘kindness seed’ that they in turn sow themselves. 

Vulnerability is also sometimes VERY REWARDING! I would not make the beautiful connections and friends that I do along the way if I wasn’t. And many of them patch up broken pieces of my heart in their own way.

And that, for every person who is reading this, is MY purpose in life.

Words and actions WILL hurt me. I WILL spend time crying and experiencing a form of brokenness. I WILL wish that I had a steel heart. And I will have my moments where I fight being ‘good’. I have tried being bitter and angry – I even think nasty thoughts. I have the potential to be all those things – and I’d probably be very good at it. In my head, I do great…for about twenty minutes.

But I WON’T change. And I have come to accept that. I am, and always will be, vulnerable. 

(there’s green light on the modem, so I’m hitting publish! 😛 😉 )