Awakenings

‘Leonard Lowe : We’ve got to tell everybody. We’ve got to remind them. We’ve got to remind them how good it is.

Dr. Sayer : How good what is, Leonard?

Leonard Lowe : Read the newspaper. What does it say? All bad. It’s all bad. People have forgotten what life is all about. They’ve forgotten what it is to be alive. They need to be reminded. They need to be reminded of what they have and what they can lose. What I feel is the joy of life, the gift of life, the freedom of life, the wonderment of life!

and……

β€œThe human spirit is more powerful than any drug, and that is what needs to be nourished: with work, play, friendship, family. These are the things that matter. This is what we’d forgotten, the simplest things.”
ROBIN WILLIAMS – Dr. Malcolm Sayer

The above are two quotes from the 1990 movie, Awakenings”.

I was a pre-teen when this movie came out (yes, I am old πŸ˜› ) and the day of my cousin’s wedding, we all headed to the movies afterwards to watch it. (all the cousins, except the one who had just got married, of course!) I didn’t fully understand the movie back then, but it still made me cry. And I was teased relentlessly for months afterwards because I was the only one in our group of 9 who did so.

In my twenties, I still remembered that early evening at the movies. I found that I could no longer recall the movie itself, or why it had me cry, and so I sought it out to watch it again. Yip! I cried again! I think it’s impact on me changed somewhat though, because I was more mature and able to understand better.

What made me think of, or reminded me of, this movie?

On Friday evening, I had a brief conversation with my neighbour. We’ve been living opposite each other in our housing complex for almost ten years now. And after a few years, we became friends. Even though we live so close, our schedules don’t always allow for social time, and so every now and then you’ll find us having ‘driveway conversations’ in passing. Once or twice, her husband has even brought us cups of coffee while we’re doing so πŸ˜› (And the best husband award goes to…. πŸ˜› )
Friday evening was a ‘scheduled driveway conversation’. Because we sometimes do that too! πŸ˜›
I had asked her to let me know when she came home and had time for a quick chat – yes, I can see when she comes home πŸ˜› But she has two young boys, so I prefer not to stop her on her way in to the house, but instead allow her time to say hello etc. She messaged me when she was free and we met on her driveway. I asked my question, she told me what she thought, and we moved on to a general quick catch up. We parted ways about thirty minutes later, and her parting comment to me was, ”I just don’t know how you do it… but I’ll say this : in all of it, you’re changing. In a really good way. Yes, you’re softer… but in ways that count… and it’s not a bad thing. Keep going, because it’s actually a strength.”

Those words have been a running loop in my brain ever since.

We all know that the world, and sometimes people closest to us, will tell us ‘you’re too this, or too that’- you’re too much, or not enough. We all know that sometimes that truly hurts us, or angers us, and bitterness momentarily creeps in.

And yet we are so quick to do the same to others!

I am definitely going through a ‘time of awakening’. There is no doubt in my mind of that! I can’t tell you exactly when it started but I know it is happening. I know because I am experiencing it daily.
I am just beginning to SEE things differently, in every way. And it has become a whole new journey on its own! It has its own rewards, but it is also probably one of the most difficult journey’s I have ever had to make. It is NOT easy, and I’d be lying if I said there were not times that I wish I could just go back. Especially since all of a sudden, daily, troubles are abounding – and not of the small variety either!

And having the very nature of my soul softening even more than what it has ever been, means that I am now open to being hurt more easily, as well as feeling more hurt on an even deeper level. It is increasing my levels of compassion and kindness and making me even more patient and tolerant than what I ever thought I could be. Even my reasoning is changing : a small example?
In the past, in a particular situation, I was known to ‘tolerate’ because if I didn’t, then xyz would happen and it would affect me – for all intents and purposes, giving that person a semblance of control over me; allowing them to use me because of the ‘carrot they could dangle in front of me’.
Now, I find myself tolerating even more than before, being more understanding, responding a little more gently because lashing out at them, saying my piece to purposely hurt them (because I really could), rebelling and excusing it as standing up for myself? NONE of those things would be a reflection of good character. None of those things would benefit the situation in any way, other than to make it worse. And it would disrupt my peace and joy entirely!

Please don’t get me wrong. I understand the concepts of ‘telling it like it is; not wasting time beating around the bush; brutal honesty is sometimes a necessity’. I know that there are many times in life that call for all those things. And if those things, delivered as is, bring you peace, cause you to grow in a positive way, help you move forward in life, and bring you an explainable joy even in times of trouble? Then that is YOUR journey and what works for YOU!

But I have begun to realise that in MY journey – those things don’t work for me. They disrupt my inner peace and attempt to steal my joy. They stunt my growth and stop me in my tracks.
Delivering what possibly needs to be said with brutal honesty/just telling like it is, knowing that I am deeply hurting someone else (especially when it’s under the guise of ‘I say it/do it because I love you’) is not the time for ME to have the attitude of ‘sorry not sorry’.

For me? I reserve the right to use ‘sorry not sorry’ in this way :
I will continue to try and be kind, and grateful, and understanding, even towards those who have hurt me, and are not deserving of my compassion in any way. (It is so difficult!!!) I will continue to be respectful and considerate of them for the most part. I will deliver things that do have to be said gently, without intention to hurt. This does not mean that their behaviour is being excused, or that I am ‘allowing’ them to treat me badly because I am ‘broken/a sucker for punishment/a victim of abuse/a doormat/unable to win at life’.
It just means that I want MY character to reflect something different to theirs.
It just means that I want to continue to grow IN MYSELF, in a positive way, spreading goodness and love and mercy – being this way is what brings me inner peace and joy in ways that I cannot explain.

And neither way is wrong. Because how we choose to be is what works for us, as INDIVIDUALS!

Which one are you? Which way do you choose to be? (Rhetorical questions!)
Parting thought on this post : a new week lies ahead and my note to self for it is this :

Dearest Meg, respect ‘the journey’. And not just your own!

And just keep being who you are, growing in the ways that bring you joy, peace, gratitude and appreciation for all the simple and beautiful things in life that YOU WANT! The things that matter to YOU! Stop letting other people’s opinions about your journey weigh so heavily on you! Don’t be distracted, or stand in judgement, of someone else’s journey. You’ve got your own ride πŸ˜‰


Follow up post – matters!

I started writing this post yesterday. And then, due to a chain of events beyond my control, I had to stop. By the time 7pm rolled around, I was just too exhausted to ‘be present’, and so here I am…. editing as I go…. finishing what I started πŸ˜‰

On Wednesday morning, I wrote and published this post.
By lunchtime, in my mind, there was so much that could be added to it, so much more that needed explaining properly, the realisation that I had probably not expressed myself correctly.
And as I lay in bed in the dark, trying to still my mind and drift off to the place where all my dreams come true, ( gee, I wonder why πŸ˜› ) I concluded that the post should probably be deleted, for a multitude of reasons.

It wasn’t written properly – my posts are very seldom what could be called well-researched though : most of the time, I just speak from my heart.
It would probably be misunderstood because it may have come across as a contradiction to the other things I say.
It probably wasn’t ‘clear enough’ in general – no one would relate in any way, and the lack of clarity (and seeming contradictions) would probably unleash quiet judgements and disappointments in me/my character.

I woke in the morning, determined to log on and delete the post – hoping that those who had already read it would still visit my blog again sometime.
But first, I needed coffee. And I needed to attend to the ‘Mom’ side of life – so I got my daughter going, got myself ready, took the girls to school (my daughter and her friend), put a load of washing on and gave the dogs their breakfast.

I logged on to WordPress, and found a comment on my post that had me reeling, in a good way. From a regular reader whose blog can be found here.
Read. Love. Livethe above is why your words meant so very much to me.
AND…
Your words reminded me of something that has become so very special to me in the last few months – words from another dear friend and blogger :
If you helped one person from their brokenness and despair to the place where they realise their potential your life would be a life well lived.”
(I actually have this printed out and stuck on my bedside cabinet so that it is the last thing I see at night, and the first thing I see in the morning.)
Those words have come to mean so much more to me though than just ‘brokenness and despair”.

They are a constant reminder to me that I cannot change ‘the world’ for everyone, but I might be able to help make it a little easier for at least one person!
That I may not be able to make a difference to a multitude, but I can make a difference to someone, and that matters!

And so my post remained, because Read. Love. Live commented – and the real shocker for me was that they found it the most relatable post thus far!
I probably could have deleted it… because I had my ONE person. But I decided to let it stay, just in case there was someone else… and there was. And then I thought, ”Well, who knows… maybe in a few months someone else will stumble upon it and need it, so I’ll just leave it right where it is.”

Some feedback on all the ”perhaps” parts of the original post :

I reached out to two of my ‘close circle’ – who both live about twenty minutes away from me, but I don’t get to see them very often because our schedules seldom coincide. Ha ha ha! (And of course, there’s currently a pandemic!)

But I reached out to them realistically.
I knew neither one could actually practically help me. I also knew that they probably couldn’t help offer solutions simply because the things I have going on have not been a part of their own personal life experiences.
So there was no expectation that if they responded, things would magically disappear or change.
And I also didn’t expect ‘proper’ responses – because I understand ‘life happens’, being busy with commitments happens and has no reflection on whether or not they are ‘making time for me and love me’.

These two friends are a mother and daughter. They have been in my life for 24 years now. And yes, we have that friendship where we can go a month without talking, and you’d never say it when we do get together, or get to chat – other than the amount of time we spend together because hey, a lot happens in a month! πŸ˜›

The ‘mother’ friend is in her early sixties. She’s been like a mother to me, but most of all, like a friend. She’s young for her age πŸ˜‰ In fact, I often ‘forget’ how old she really is, until things happen with her health, or in the case of the pandemic, and someone has to remind me that it’s ‘because she is older now, you know’. On the odd occasion when we get to catch up, she’ll leave her house at 10am, telling her husband she is coming to me… and he’ll ask, ”What is there for supper, because I KNOW you won’t be home in time!” HA HA HA! And he’s right…. she usually leaves at about 8pm that night!
I sent her a message asking if she was free for a call, and she ended up calling me instead of replying. We spoke for just under two hours. We were apparently both on downhills, and we were both cross with each other for not letting the other one know πŸ˜› Neither of us could help each other with the issues at hand in any way, other than this : genuine sadness about each other’s situations, and then a brief trip down memory lane with a good few giggles.
And the agreement at the end of our chat was that we both felt like we had just had a great big hug.

The ‘daughter’ friend is in her late twenties now – I met her when she was just five years old! Now she’s married, and has a little three year old boy of her own, who my teenage daughter adores. The ‘daughter’ friend is like the sister I never had – and like me, has two much older brothers and so she feels the same way about me. She’s my baby sister, and I am her big sister – I don’t think I ever fully appreciated my role in that until a month ago when she phoned me for advice, and I gave her my honest opinion based on personal experience, and she replied with, ”Well then that just confirms for me what I already knew – thank you. You are someone whose opinion I really value, and I know I can trust what you are saying. It’s so nice having a big sister to talk to!”
I had NOT reached out to her, because she was at work. Her mom got to her first, and that evening I got a surprise voice note from her! It made me laugh out loud :
”If Blake wasn’t sick at the moment, I’d have stopped at your house on my way home and slapped you upside the head! WHY haven’t you told me everything that has been going on? Mom filled me in, and I know I can’t help with the issues, but what CAN I do?”
A few voice notes later, reminding me of things from the past that had ‘worked out’, and made me a better person, and how hope truly never leaves this silly old heart of mine which is something she admires, and well? It helped me get off my butt on that downhill so that at least I was standing! ❀

And those conversations were exactly what I needed for yesterday’s chain of events when I got knocked down – because I just got straight back up again πŸ˜‰
(In my mind there is a medley right now…. ”I get knocked down; I’m still standing; I will survive) πŸ˜› πŸ˜‰

Interestingly enough, the song I Will Survive was originally released a couple of months after I was born πŸ˜‰ And I just copied the link and the last three letters in it are my short version for MY name! meg! (I’m still processing that little titbit! πŸ˜› )

I’ll end with these words that I have read a few times in the last few days, by a lady named Rachel Martin :

”Your day doesn’t have to be perfect to have meaning!
Showing up matters
Giving matters
Trying matters
Loving matters
Being there matters
Perfection doesn’t matter
YOU MATTER.”

What do you say to yourself?

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

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

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

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

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

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

And I laugh at myself. Every time.

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

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

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

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

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

Flourish

go

I saw this picture a couple of days ago, and it made me giggle. My teenage daughter has a tendency to ‘take her time’, and I find myself saying, ‘Oh my gosh! Are we on a go slow here?’ quite a bit!

Her most recent ‘phase’ has me rather amused though. I am not sure how she does it (probably an app or something) because the words are not distorted at all, but she now listens to ‘slowed down’ songs. So she will take one of her hip hop numbers for dancing, and listen to it as a ballad. Her theory is that she has discovered that so many of them are ‘prettier’ when they’re slower.

On Friday, when I went to collect our bottled water for the next few days, the lady who owns the ‘water shop’ gave me a small gift. We have built a friendship of sorts over the past year, and every now and then we give something small for encouragement. So on Friday, she gave me a Kit Kat.
The Kit Kat slogan is ‘have a break, have a Kit Kat’.
(Although these days I feel more like a Bar One – for a 25 hour day πŸ˜› )
Her comment to me, when she handed it over, was ‘Don’t forget to have a break this weekend’.

And my thought process was this : Sometimes, having a break and just slowing down is necessary. It makes us ‘prettier’. I’ve even heard it said that slowing down sometimes can make you that much more successful in the long run.Β 
Because sometimes when we take the time to slow down, we’re also allowing ourselves the opportunity to ‘just be’, and maybe even ‘just think and ponder’. This can benefit us in so many ways – helping us get clarity in certain situations that we might find ourselves in; helping us not only get in touch with our emotions, but perhaps granting us the time to identify the ones that need to be dealt with and let go of; and ultimately helping us to make better decisions. Because if my mind isn’t racing, then I guess I am giving it time to absorb and assess and process.

I also can’t do anything I need to or want to, if I’m dead. (Now I know that I cannot control when that day will come – but I also need to be careful about contributing to bringing it about by NOT taking care of me.) Slowing down for a period of time every day gives my mind, soul AND body time to rejuvenate. I am here for a purpose, and I have many things that I still want to and need to do. But if I run myself ragged and forget to ‘slow down and rest’, then eventually it will start affecting my health. And what good will I be then?

There was a time where my attitude was, ‘there isn’t time for ‘me’. Slowing down is not an option’. I’ve had to learn that taking time for me is NOT a luxury, but a necessity.Β 

After all… I can’t pour from an empty cup.

So yesterday, when the wind dropped for a few hours and the sun was warm, I headed for my small garden. I do not have a green thumb, or a brown one… in fact, I am questioning whether or not I have a thumb at all when it comes to my garden. And yet I find it very therapeutic to be out there, in the dirt, pottering around. And I remembered something else while I was out there – I don’t remember who said it though – but here’s a reminder for the start of the new week for all of you :

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Photo credit : juliestuckey.com