What is clean?

There are so many short stories that warn us about the dangers in judging others.

I’ve been on the receiving end of being wrongfully judged more times than I can count, and sadly, I have had my moments where I have been the one to pass judgement – although as I have aged, these moments have become much less, I am relieved to say.

A friend of mine updated her Facebook status with a little story. It went like this :

A young couple moved into a new neighborhood.

The next morning while they were eating breakfast, the young woman saw her neighbor hanging the washing outside. “That laundry is not very clean; she doesn’t know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs better laundry soap.”

Her husband looked on, remaining silent.

Every time her neighbor hung her washing out to dry, the young woman made the same comments.

A month later, the woman was surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and said to her husband, “Look, she’s finally learned how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her this?”

The husband replied, “I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows.”

And so it is with life… What we see when watching others depends on the clarity of the window through which we look.

So don’t be too quick to judge others, especially if your perspective of life is clouded by anger, jealousy, negativity or unfulfilled desires.

“Judging a person does not define who they are. It defines who you are.”

~ Jonathan Kestenbaum

It immediately made me glance at my lounge windows, and I was horrified to see that they are definitely in need of a clean. I found myself then carefully considering whether or not I had unfairly judged anyone of late, and ended up lost in thought for the better part of an hour.

I thought I would share this little story with you…. just in case your windows need cleaning too. 😉

random acts of kindness

”Actions speak louder than words.”

I understand that this age old proverb is wise and valuable. But we need to be careful when and where and how we choose to apply it. To be honest, it is actually a proverb that I don’t like. Not at all. Partially because it has been ‘thrown at me’ way too many times, and in situations that actually made it meaningless. I’ll give you an example – but not from my own life. I saw someone share this proverb as an image on Facebook this morning, and while it brought back so many bad memories for me, it also made me think of an old friend of mine – probably because she shared my sentiment about the proverb itself! So here is a piece of her story, we’ll call her Jess.

Jess was bright and talented. She was a girl who was going places. She was outgoing and lively, and one of those types of people who had a very clear path mapped out for what her life was going to look like.
Towards the end of her final year at high school, at 18 years of age, Jess fell pregnant. She was not married, and not in a relationship either. She completed her high school education, and gave birth a few months later. Her baby boy was put up for adoption.
And the people who ‘knew her’… knew her personality and her plan for her life? Well, they judged accordingly.
“Being that outgoing and lively, and I guess flirtatious? Well, I am not surprised she ended up pregnant! And as for giving the baby away? Well, he didn’t exactly fall into her mapped out plan for her life, did he?”
And in some ways, their words and judgements seemed to fit.
I met Jess three years later. I heard the background from the mutual friend who first introduced us. He added, ”I don’t know how much of it is true as such, but she’s never disputed any of it, so I guess it must be.”
A few years later Jess told me ‘the story’ – her story. And it made me cry for her.
Jess had been very involved in rowing when she was in her final years of high school. There was a huge regatta, with teams from all over the country. Afterwards, there was a social function. Jess had said her goodbyes, and made her way to her car. It was dark, and the light she thought she had parked under happened to have a blown bulb. One of the guys from a visiting team, who had had too much to drink, had followed her. He raped her. And she fell pregnant.
Her parents were sickly, and poor. They left the decision up to her, but told her that they could not help with the baby. She soul searched and got counselling for months, and decided that it was best to give him up. She never had anymore children, and to be honest, I don’t think she ever quite got over giving her little one away.
After she told me her story, I asked her why she had never defended herself when the rumours began.
Her words were, ”People will believe what they want to – even when you tell them the truth. It’s their choice. And let’s face it, my actions – who I was – seemed to match up pretty well with their version. I also didn’t want everyone to know that I had been raped. Or how poor we really were. I was ashamed. So I just left it alone. But Meggy, the lesson in there for me was this : never judge another because you really don’t know the things they had to choose from. There is ALWAYS a story. There is always a reason. And unless you know it in it’s entirety, don’t listen to others, don’t judge, don’t assume.
And I can say with absolute certainty that she truly lived that lesson in her life!

Today is ”Random Acts of Kindness Day”

The story above may seem extreme, and I am sure you are wondering how it ties in to ‘the day’ we are supposed to be celebrating….

Well….

When it comes to ‘random acts of kindness’, there is often reference to ‘paying for a stranger’s coffee’, or ‘smiling at and complimenting someone you don’t know’, or ‘baking cookies for an old age home’ etc.
And these are all very valid and very beautiful things to do.

But what if, inwardly, instead of judging or being irritated by the tramp, the alcoholic, the drug addict, the prostitute, we stop for a moment and actually see them? What if we do ourselves a kindness by opening that box in our hearts that contains compassion and understanding? What if, instead of only seeing the action, we choose to see that perhaps something truly terrible may have happened to them in their youth, or at whatever stage in their lives, that has actually caused the action we are seeing now?

Some people may never actually tell their story. But most times, there will be something in their actions/behaviour that will confirm that there is definitely a story to be told, and that it isn’t pretty.

Not judging others, even in small ways, is difficult to do. It is something I have wrestled with many times. Especially when their actions are hurtful to me personally. As I have got older though, I have carried the words Jess said to me in my heart, and find myself more easily able to refer to them and practice them. Especially now that so many parts of my own story tie in with it.

On this day (and every day, really) I will not only find ways to be kind to others….
I will also be kind to myself…
By acknowledging how unfair and hurtful it is when others judge my actions or behaviour and shun me, without knowing my story, or even caring to ask my why…
And not doing the same to the people I encounter in my life.

a little love

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

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

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

I’d appreciate it if you’d take the time to read it.

“I feel like I should go.”
“Whenever you’re ready.”
“Not yet. I think I’ll have some more juice first.”

She smiled and filled his glass, and then plopped into the chair next to him, sighing deeply. He smiled, raised his glass to her, and said,
            “Here’s to us.”
She winked and gave him the biggest smile she could. Then she giggled,
“Happy Valentine’s Day.”

He rolled his eyes and they laughed together. They’d been together for ten years and had never yet ‘properly’ celebrated a Valentine’s Day together.

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

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

He reached for her hand, and stroked it gently, asking,
            “Do you think they’ll ever get it?”
She shrugged and replied solemnly,
            “Some do, and that counts.”

He nodded thoughtfully, and then said,
            “I broke our rule a bit…I got you something for Valentine’s Day. It’s in the cupboard.”
Raising an eyebrow, she retrieved a large, flat box from its hiding place.
As she slowly lifted the lid with a frown, he grinned,
            “Don’t be too mad. It’s for the baby.”

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

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

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

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

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

~~ Written by Meg ~~

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

Men living in my house

In my house, Mr Nobody resides. Because apparently, nobody forgot to take their plate to the kitchen, and nobody missed the dustbin when they threw a paper away and it landed on the floor, and nobody spilled water on my bathroom floor…. to mention just a few 😛

But there is also a Mr Not Mine. He appears when I walk through and ask, ”Please can you bring that glass to the sink while I am doing dishes?”

”But Mom, it’s not mine!”

Sigh. The joys of parenthood… sometimes… 😉

It always reminds me of this story though :

”There once was a king who decided to do a little experiment. He had a giant boulder put right in the middle of the street. He then hid near the boulder to see who, if anyone, would try to move it out of the way.

First, some wealthy merchants walked by. They walked around the boulder, complaining that the king hasn’t been maintaining the roads very well.

Next, a peasant walked by, heading home with his arms full of food for his family. When he noticed the boulder, he put his groceries down and attempted to move it out of everyone’s way. It took him a while to move it, but he eventually succeeded.

After the peasant gathered up his groceries to carry on home, he noticed a bag lying in the middle of the road, just where the boulder once was. He opened the bag to find that it was stuffed full of gold coins, along with a letter from the king saying that the bag’s gold was a reward for the peasant to keep because he had taken the time and energy to move the boulder out of the road for the convenience of others who would be travelling the road in the future.”

There are actually two morals in this story – the first being the ‘obvious’….

Every obstacle we face offers us an opportunity to improve, thus providing us with a form of reward. If we are able to just push through, we will probably end up better off than what we were.

But the other moral is the one that my children remind me of 😛

Personal responsibility. Sometimes, we need to do the job/task, even if it’s not ours to do. If we see something, and we can do something about it? Then why not just do it, in order to help the next person (or in my case, help Mom 😛 )
(And yes, this is not always applicable to every situation or circumstance in life… but it’s good to bear it in mind for the times that we could be applying it 😉 )

And yes, I had a good giggle about these Mr’s that are living in my house, because I am supposed to be single 😛 😉

Here’s hoping your challenges are few, but your rewards are great! ❤