Quality Street

Six years ago, I was invited to attend Friday night youth, and give ‘a talk’ for the teens. When I unpacked my ‘visual aid’ for my talk, I had the attention of each and every one of them…. especially when I proceeded to open the bags and allow the taste delights to spill out on to the table in front of me. Because, you see, I had brought with me three large bags like this :

The image comes from the Nestle website, and you’ll notice in the fine print below the ‘Choice Chocolates & Toffees’, it states that it is ‘everyone’s favourite favourite’.

Funnily enough, the pictures alongside that (the green, yellow and purple chocolates) happen to be MY favourites in the bag πŸ˜‰
Now Quality Street has always been ‘an expensive treat’, and when growing up, if our family gifted a box of chocolates, this was usually the one that was given.
We had them for ‘us’ a few times a year…. and I can remember many a battle over MY favourites, ha ha ha!
They are still one of the ‘more expensive’ boxes/packets of chocolates, and I think we probably only get them once a year now – usually around Christmas time.

One of my reasons for using them for the Youth Talk was this : Like the bag of chocolates, with it’s variety, we are all different. And we all have different things that we ‘prefer/like/favourite’ as well as different strengths and weaknesses – ‘tastes’, if you will.
But what if I said to them that they could have any chocolate from the bag, just not their favourite? Would they still choose one? Their reply was a unanimous yes.
And I used this to illustrate to them that just because someone wasn’t their favourite, or wasn’t ‘like them’, didn’t mean that that person didn’t have value. That person was still SOMEBODY’S favourite, and deserved kindness and love, just as much as they themselves did.
And that even if they felt they themselves were different, they still had worth!

And as I look around me in the world today, I see a whole lot of people with a variety of talents, and weaknesses, and strengths, and ‘differences’.
And I may not always ‘approve’ or be comfortable with their choices, or choose to spend ‘quality time’ with those people – they may not be my choice at all….
But they still deserve kindness (which is an expression of love!!!) no matter what I think or feel. Because they are still Someone’s favourite.

IN A WORLD WHERE YOU CAN BE ANYTHING, BE KIND!

(And yes, I let the teens eat the chocolates – although supervision was required to ensure that they were evenly distributed πŸ˜› )

Plea and please

The picture below is a photograph of my son and I, taken four years ago, on the evening of his final school dance. Many people have commented that he ‘looks a lot like me’. (I softly curled my hair for the occasion πŸ˜‰ )

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Although there is a resemblance in our appearance, it stops when it comes to height and body shape. He’s slouching a little in the picture, for Mom’s benefit πŸ˜› He’s just over six foot tall, and slender. I am a shorty, and rounder πŸ˜›

The similarities with us are not just physical – he seems to be very similar to me in a lot of other ways too. He has a kind and tender heart, a gentle spirit, and like his momma he can be quite sensitive. He and I are the ones who will sit and cry in a movie, or an episode of a series – not always out of sadness though. In fact, most times, if it’s heartwarming, it gets our tears πŸ˜‰ When we try to retell stories of acts of kindness, our voices wobble a little – and if it’s one of those ‘overwhelming type stories’, we’ll have to stop to try and ‘get a grip’ and prevent ourselves from crying.

We’re just too soft πŸ˜›

But I am proud of my young man, and who he has become. He may fail in some ways, and may be a bit of a slow starter in others – and yes, he still has his moments where he frustrates and irritates me, ha ha ha! BUT his good qualities FAR outweigh any bad, and I am very grateful for that!

One of the ways that he is VERY different to me though is when it comes to the social side of his personality. He’s great with the friends he has known since he was 13 – there is no struggle for him there. But he is, for the most part, shy and introverted. It takes him a while to come out of his shell around other people. (He partially struggles with self esteem.) And yet, like his mother πŸ˜‰ , heΒ doesn’t struggle to connect with his online friends. He met them through the world of online gaming, and soon they were social media friends, which means chatting and voice noting and connecting. And through all that, he has made good friends – friends he has never met in person. And I even ‘know’ a few of them – sometimes it feels like they are part of our ‘real world’ and have been to visit πŸ˜‰

SO…. why am I telling you all this?

Last night, my very precious ‘boy’ came to me, still in shock and unsure of how he felt. He had just received a message from one of his other friends to say that their ‘mutual friend’ had committed suicide on Saturday. She was only 18 – we had all ‘celebrated online’ on her 18th birthday this year.
We knew she was struggling with depression. We knew that she had started new medication earlier this year. We knew that a couple of weeks ago, things were bad for her and she was withdrawn.
But it still came as a shock.Β 
Because we also knew that we had all offered help, that she had reassured us that ‘it was okay’, that she had her meds. She never once told anyone that she wished for death.

I didn’t hug my son. He’s not one for physical affection, and I respect that.
But we talked. Briefly. And I made it clear that I am always available if he needs to chat – he can even wake me if I am sleeping.
Then I watched my young man as he left my room, shoulders stooped, heart hurting.
And I cried a little bit.

Preteens, Teens, Young Adults, Grown Ups – please hear the cry from my heart today :

Depression sometimes has a way of ‘creeping up on us’. In society today, it’s ‘common’ – and yet in some cases, there still seems to be a stigma attached to it.
If you think you may be suffering from it, or know that you are, please DO NOT BE ASHAMEDno matter who has tried to shame you for it.Β 
Please reach out and try to ask for help.
I know that sometimes we get to a place where we just can’t ask.
Please force yourself. And if you need to, then please force yourself to accept help.
Your life IS worth something.
YOU ARE WORTH SOMETHING!

one step at a time

Last night there was an off sounding violin in my room (a mosquito)! It clearly came from the era of Greek mythology and had my gender completely confused. It mistook me for the greatest, handsomest and bravest warrior of that time, and branded me as such.

It only bit me twice, from what I can tell, for the itches are isolated to those two areas. Both heels – where my ‘Achilles’ tendon begins πŸ˜› πŸ˜› πŸ˜›

As I sit here typing, I realise that I have been AWOL for a few days again – where has the time gone?

Do you ever sit and think about all the things you feel you need to do – ‘and the necessity to get up and go’ – and then you suddenly notice how much time has passed and realise you need to get going, and so you stand up…. and the wave of knowledge crashes over you : your ‘get up and go’ has already ‘got up and went’. πŸ˜› πŸ˜‰

I have accomplished and fulfilled the commitments of the last few days, even though some have been difficult. But there have been other things that I committed to in my mind and would really like to have got done. They’re still waiting. Today is a new day though, and I can always see how far I can get πŸ˜‰
I DO, however, have a lunchtime commitment that will be a bit exhausting… but I am determined to come home and try and tackle at least one of the things I ‘need’ to do.

Because that is life. There is MUCH to be done. And it can be overwhelming when we take into account the amount of tasks and goals and dreams that come with being alive.

As a woman, and a mother, there is an incredible ability instilled in me to multi task. However, I have had to learn that sometimes that in itself can lead to feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Sometimes, even when everything on the list seems to be urgent and a priority, it still helps to focus on only one at a time. Because in order to do it well, it needs your full attention!

This is a battle/lesson in growth that remains on the surface of my brain. I cannot do it all – and if I want to do things to the best of my ability, then I need to give each one its own space and time and attention.

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One more thought before I go : being like a child.
Yesterday I attended a children’s birthday party. It was the party of the boys who live across from me in our townhouse complex (cluster of houses within the boundaries of fencing almost like a gated community).
These boys are adopted. The oldest arrived at about 8 months old. The youngest was only 4 months when he moved in. I immediately bonded with the youngest because I was called on on his first day home to help. The new mom was uncertain and didn’t know quite what to do with this little baby who wouldn’t stop crying. I’ve had a lot of experience, and I also seem to have the ‘baby touch’, so off I went to help. As he has grown, the catch phrase has always been that he is ‘Aunty Meg’s Baby/Child’.

Yesterday we celebrated the oldest being 7, and ‘my baby’ being 6. Time has flown!
As I sat for two hours and watched the fifteen odd children running and playing and swimming and laughing, I was reminded of the joy and pleasure of youth. And the excitement of something as simple as a birthday, which a lot of us try and hide from as we grow older.

And I remembered my own childlike amazement and wonder, and laughter and excitement, when I had the opportunity of exploring the UK with my dad. Even with regards to simple things that others who live there get to see and experience every day.
Yes, everyone could tell I was a tourist in a way – but I also think that some looked at me and saw a child in an adult’s body – my awe and laughter was akin to that!

Of course you know where this path of thought is taking me, right?

Life is really serious when you are an adult. There is a lot of responsibility that comes with being a grown up. Especially when you have children who rely on you.
But you still need to find the moments where you can think like a child – the serious considerations are to not see colour, or status; to withhold judgments and just be kind and see THE PERSON as opposed to everything else.

The not so serious considerations? To remember that there are simple things that can elicit laughter and a happy euphoria.

Today, I shall throw caution to the wind (diet out the window πŸ˜› ) and eat ice cream with my ‘not-so-much kids anymore’ and I might even search out my copy of Enid BlytonThe Enchanted Wood‘, and reconnect with Silky, Moonface and the dear old Saucepan Man. πŸ˜‰
I wish I still had my Victoria Plum book collection, and duvet/comforter set πŸ™‚

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 notΒ 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 πŸ˜› 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.
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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! πŸ˜› πŸ˜‰

Perhaps I was striving for genius status – since we learn from our mistakes? πŸ˜›

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 πŸ˜› 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 πŸ˜› (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 πŸ˜› )

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.Β 
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.Β 

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 πŸ˜›

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 :

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‘Nuff said!