It’s okay to BLEND In

YN5H0VTR6O

In this era of digital media, we are all pretty obsessed with our individuality. It’s not easy to create yourself, to make yourself “something different”.

The funny thing is we spend the first half of our socially-conscious years trying to fit in. At least, I think so. We are so torn between wanting to fit in and wanting to  be “original” that we end up working ourselves into quite a state. Or at least I did when I was younger.

Maybe it’s the joys of hitting my 30’s – but I have reached the wonderful, liberating realization that I don’t actually care anymore. That in fact, it’s an entirely futile pursuit.

You are always going to have something in common with someone else – it’s the law of averages in a population of how ever many billion people we are on this planet.

On the other hand your individuality will shine through no matter what you do. There are no original ideas. There are also no identical ones. Never mind  two people never doing the same thing the exact same way, you yourself can’t even do something the same way twice!

Whatever you do in this life you are always going to shine through. Your special, individual take is going to be there whether you like it or not – tough nuts!

Blending In  – The Revelation

Last year I spent a few months listening to my daughter practicing for her school choir group. She’s a descant (she has a very high voice) and as pretty as she sounds I couldn’t help but thinking that she sounded a bit thin and, well, high pitched. But attempting to be good mother , I shut my own tuneless yap and let her practice.

Then came the night of the school prize-giving, which was opened by the choir performing three numbers. Well!

I sat in the hall, with my sister at my side, with tears streaming down my silly face. My dear darling sister was blubbing too.

There were a hundred kids up there, arranged from altos to metzos to sopranos to descants. They sounded phenomenal – but the most insanely beautiful part of the whole thing was the descants angelic voices all blending together to create the kind of sound that lifts the roof, speaks directly to your soul, and leaves mothers and aunties in tears.

The sound they achieved could never have come out of one person alone. It was the result of harmony. The blending and harmonizing of individual voices into one soul moving sound. It made me realize that individuality, though both important and inevitable – isn’t the only thing worth celebrating. Unity and harmony are perhaps even more rare and more difficult to achieve.

 

 

Forever is Now – a Tribute 

kurts back

 

“Just because two people don’t wind up spending their entire lives together doesn’t mean their relationship was a failure” – Ted Michael 

I have had a lot of reason for reflection recently. There is nothing like death to slap you with the reality of your feelings. It’s something you can’t  hide from. Sometimes it ‘s surprising what you discover about yourself.
Things you thought you had dealt with and put away long ago come screaming to the surface. Other things you thought mattered to you (rational, reasonable things) don’t.
The most resounding theme though, is love. In the end, what you remember, what matters most of all – is the love.

When you truly love someone, at the end of your lives, no matter if you made it to the end as lovers, ex-lovers or old friends – the love is still there. Not the anger, not the pain, just the love.

When my ex and I were still together, we were ridiculously in love. It was the kind of love that Tolkien would write about. The kind that moved mountains. The kind of love that changes you irrevocably for ever after. The kind of love that rips you up and shatters you into a thousand sharp, glittering, faceted pieces like smashed crystal. Admittedly it makes for prettier rainbows once it’s broken.

Anyway, I digress.

I remember lying with my cheek against his chest listening to his heart beat and thinking “remember this moment – take a mental snap shot – remember everything about it because heartbeats are finite”. And somehow I did. After that I would often find myself taking mental snap shots – thinking – hold on to this moment. Remember this.

Now that he’s gone, even though a lot of things happened between us since then – I still have those moments. I still remember the feeling of the sun on my skin, the smell of his skin, the feeling of total belonging, love, home.

Remembering made me realise that I have spent my whole life looking at forever through the wrong end of a telescope (badda-bing! cheesy- cliche-moment). Forever is not the endless continuation of something, beyond the end of sight and time. Forever is not All time. Forever is the end of time. Forever is something that happens in a split second. Forever is a holy moment – a moment where you realise your own incredible luck and are filled with eternal gratitude. Forever is a moment when your soul is at home – a moment that stays with you long after it’s over.

Forever is a heartbeat. True love IS forever – even when you find yourself weeping alone on the cold hard ground. You may go through long stretches of anger and hurt and abandonment. But when all is said and done THOSE are the things that you get over. Those are the things you let go of. But you still have the love, and you still have those moments of forever.

So where-ever you are in your story, no matter how you feel about that person today, be grateful for your “forevers”. If you have been lucky enough to have experienced the total agony and ridiculous high of true love at any stage during your life – it’s yours. Always and  Forever.

Bare Feet

feet2

Whenever I am comfortable in a place I take my shoes off.

When I want to experience a place fully I have to take off my shoes so that I can feel the energy of the place through the souls of my feet (I realise how airy-fairy that sounds – my inner cynic is gagging – but it’s true). Anyway, I was looking through old photos this evening and realized that at many of the happiest and most beautiful moments of my life – my feet were bare.

That got me to thinking – a random little thought – which is that either the best places are bare foot places (entirely possible), or else the state of being bare foot somehow makes life better. I suspect it’s a combination of both.

(Please understand – I love shoes as much as the next girl. I have quite particular taste and would rather walk in broken shoes which I once loved than in new ones that I don’t. My red Converse are some of my most prized possessions in this life)

However, I still always end up bare foot.

I got to wondering – why is life better when you’re bare foot? The answer hit me with such obvious and instantaneous clout that I almost fell over – luckily I was sitting down.

For me, I take off my shoes to feel connected to a place.  Just like I don’t feel as if I have really been to the beach if I didn’t go in the water, I also don’t feel like I have really been somewhere if I haven’t taken my shoes off and felt it out with my feet.

In the forest the ground is usually damp and covered in soft, wet leaves. When it’s been dry for a while the leaves don’t stick to your feet properly, instead the twigs crack under foot and the dried sticks make thorns.

At the beach you can tell the time of day by how warm the sand is. You have to get your feet in the water and feel the salt and the wet or you weren’t there.

I even take my shoes off at the office and pad around bare foot while I work because it’s easier to focus that way – even if I do look like a little fruit cake.

At home I never, ever, wear shoes.

When you are bare foot you are more “there”. In other words you are actually more present. You are focused on what you are doing, where you are and who you are with. You are less likely to be worrying about distant things. You are present. The present usually lacks worry, depression, and fear (unless you’re in danger).

That is why bare foot moments are the best. because you are right there in them.

It’s okay to worry about the future. It’s okay to feel depressed. It’s okay to feel afraid. It’s okay to feel sad. I have spent the last few weeks in a state of heart break, reliving over and over again all of the highs and lows of my adult life. It’s been that kind of time. That’s okay. I am not going to even try to fix it. Grief is a normal part of life and I know that there is a part of me that will always feel sad about some things, even though the things I feel saddest about are happy things. strangely enough.

But it’s okay.

I have my shoes off. I am present in this moment right now, and when I look at this moment  – Life is good.

May You All Have Happy Feet

feet slops

M.I.A.

X6631XT7E4

Hi Guys,

I’m sorry there haven’t been any new posts in the last little while.

Life has been happening and taking no prisoners.I have dealt with illness (my own and my children’s) and death (my ex-husband’s) in the last few weeks. There have been a great many hard lessons which I may share with you as they become less painful.

For now I can tell you just these three things:

Love doesn’t end

Even if you have been through anger, separation, forgiveness, and time. When you really, truly love someone you never give up on them and it crushes you when they pass.

Grief shows you who your people are

They are not just the ones who support you, they are also the ones your heart wants to be near when you’re in distress. You will quickly realize which friends and family you can bear to be near and which you can’t, no matter how well meaning they are.

Life is short

And nothing prepares you for it ending. It’s a cliche, yes. But for good reason. You never know when things will change forever. Make the most of the moment you’re in. Be kind. Behave as you would like to be remembered. Always say “I love you.”

 

New Work and choosing Clients

PRQVLFBST1

Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can. 

One of the scariest things for a new freelancer is the terror of no work.

You will start off by taking on anything that you can find, writing for anyone who is willing to let you. That is how you start and that’s fine.

You need those first projects to get a feel for who you as a writer. You want to find out where your strengths are, what you love and what you don’t. It is, in a word: Experience.

The tricky thing is not starting out. The tricky thing is moving to the next stage. You will eventually find yourself in a place where you have to choose between clients, and maybe even let some of them go. “Firing” a client is a strange kind of terrifying. You know, logically, that you have to let them go to free your time up for the more satisfying, better paid work. But you can’t help worrying that you are making a mistake.

The truth is – you might be. You have to take risks sometimes to get ahead. You have to let things go to make space for new things. Yes, it’s scary. No, there are no guarantees.

Living to live, not to survive

One thing I have observed repeatedly is that the people with the biggest success stories are the people who live their passion. There work is meaningful to them. Your work should be meaningful to you.

Regardless of what it is you do – you should be doing something that gives you a sense of satisfaction. As long you keep moving towards the work that leaves you satisfied you are moving in the right direction.

You don’t have to be film star, a famous author or famous artist for your work to be meaningful. If we all derived joy and meaning from the same work we would be pretty screwed. You can be an accountant, a nurse, a domestic worker cleaning and caring for people, it doesn’t matter. Whatever you do you can be happy – as long as your work leaves you feeling satisfied.

Choosing your day (or night) job

–  and being happy doing it.

There are some basic guidelines to being happy in your job. They are not my original ideas, they all come from different places. I have spent a lifetime reading up on how to be happy and these are some of recurring themes that I have noticed:

Be Present

wherever you are, even if it’s not where you want to be, be there, 100% ,in the moment. Give your full attention to what’s going on around you. You are there now so may as well make the most of it. Another way of saying it is “start where you are”.

Have a Back Up Plan

I would never quit a job or fire a client without a working back up. It’s not a romantic notion, but it is common sense. Don’t get too bold and proud and quit your day job just because you don’t like it. That’s just stupid. Make sure you have something else working in the background to keep you afloat.

Make Someone’s Day

Maya Angelou said, “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

To do something kind for someone else is so satisfying. It’s good for you. It’s good for them too. Sometimes the kind thing can be as simple as listening to them with your full attention for a few minutes. So few people actually try to understand each other.

Choose the clients who’s work you love to do

You deserve to be happy. I don’t know you but I do know this. You should be happy. So as soon as you are able, choose work that makes you feel good. This is your inner voice’s way of saying that you are heading towards the life you envisaged for yourself.Contrary to popular belief – you are allowed to love your job and be happy.

Choose Your attitude

Shit is always going to happen.  You have to choose to be happy anyway. This is probably the single hardest thing that anyone ever has to learn to do. And you will have to relearn it every single day of your life. Choosing to be happy. Choosing to find a positive spin on things, and realizing that you HAVE A CHOICE! Many people don’t want the responsibility of their own happiness. It’s a scary thing, having to be responsible for your own inner state. I try and fail often. But then I try again.

Choose to work for people who value your work

Yes that means the people who pay you well. If someone values your work they are willing to pay for it. A client who values you (or a boss) is going to make a commitment to you financially. He doesn’t want to loose you. If they don’t pay well you can be guaranteed that you are disposable to them. Needless to say this does not go for Non-Profits and works of charity and love.

Work for Free

You don’t have to go out looking for a cause. Usually the things that are meaningful to you will present themselves in your life. When you see the chance to take on something that is within your abilities and will make a difference to someone or something that you care about – do it. The inkling will be that you actually want to do it. It’s called “Paying it Forward” and it is a huge privilege to be able to do it. Do it!

One word of caution though – set up boundaries. If you can commit to an hour a week then that is it. Don’t let yourself be taken advantage of either. You should be able to see quite clearly where the boundaries should be.

Be Brave

The worst that can happen is that you stuff up. As long as you have your back ups you should be okay. When you come to the point that you are compromising good clients because you are too scared to let go of your old clients “just in case” then it’s time to let them go. choose the good client. But…

Honor your Contracts

No body likes an arrogant know-it-all. You never know when you will need a reference. Also just don’t be an A-hole. Being an A-hole will not make you happy, and no-one will  think you are clever. So make sure you give ample notice, help get projects finished off properly before you leave, and behave as you would like to be treated.

 

So get out there and love the crap out of your life. It already is beautiful.

Did you like this post? Feel free to make a donation to help me keep writing…

 

 

Big Mouth

shut mouth

(I only open my mouth to change feet)

 

I have an unwitting ability to cause trouble (mostly for myself) with my great big gabbing mouth.

The painful part is that I never actually intend to cause trouble of any kind, for anyone. I just do.

I remember clearly the first time it ever happened. I was seven years old. It was the first day of grade two (we used to call it Sub B back then) and I had just joined the “big” school that my sister attended.

The whole frigging school was gathered in the hall while the prefects sorted us out into houses or something. I don’t really remember. I just remember that the hall was crowded with kids.

My sister, who was in standard six (grade eight) had a terrible crush on one of the older boys. His name was scrawled all over her note book. I knew that she was painfully besotted and she wouldn’t so much as talk to him out of shyness.

I loved my older sister and wanted very much for her to be happy. She was perfect in my eyes and I couldn’t imagine that anyone would ever reject her, if they only knew she liked them.

But on this fateful day I saw him, in the hall. I was so excited, so enthusiastic about her upcoming jubilation that I ran up to him and said “My sister is in love with you!” or something equally horrifying. He asked me who my sister was and I told him. I couldn’t understand why his friends started laughing. Never had I imagined that a matric boy might not want to have a grade 8 in love with him.

My sister was devastated, humiliated and furious with me.

I remember the cold, sinking feeling that I had in the middle of my chest as I realised that I had not only made a fool of her, but that she was furious with me. I had stuffed up. Badly. In my over flowing enthusiasm for my sister I had caused her trouble when I was trying to help.

I wish I could say that that was it, lesson learned, and I never put a foot wrong again.

Alas that was only the beginning of a lifetime of stupid things I was to say to people.

If I was less empathetic, if I cared less and wasn’t always so worried about the feelings of those around me – I probably wouldn’t give a crap. I wouldn’t be haunted by my stuff ups. But I do and I am.

Over the years I have unwittingly caused more trouble than I’m worth.

As I said before, the most painful (and I feel it like a physical pain) part, is that It is usually when I try to be good. It’s when I take it into my head to do something out of love or kindness or compassion for someone else that I end up putting my foot in mouth. I suffer from terrible “foot-in-mouth” disease.

Sometimes I am trying to be funny and I say the wrong thing. Sometimes I am trying to be helpful. Sometimes I am just straight up not thinking past the end of my nose.

One thing that is always true is that it’s never intentional. I never mean any harm.

Anyway. I am getting better. I am learning to fight my instincts when it comes to opening my mouth and JUST SHUT UP! Most of the time I am pretty good about it and the world thinks I have nothing going on inside my head at all. Ha! If only they knew.

Unfortunately I do slip up occasionally. I am truly terribly sorry to anyone who I have offended.

I am hoping that there are others of you out there who share my affliction, that I am not alone in this particular stupidity.

We can only hope that the people who truly matter to us will learn that we mean them no harm, and learn to love us for our good intentions rather than loath us for out short comings.

I am not sure what the lesson is to this post – or if there even is one.  Maybe it is simply that we all need to learn not to think with our mouths open – me most of all.

Now I am going to just shut up.

 

 

 

Did you like this post? help me keep writing…

 

Preparing my soul for a new Year

2016soul

I had to unearth myself from the rubble of 2015

Being on leave has been essential these last two weeks. I was burned out, exhausted and had pretty much lost contact with who I am. I hardly recognized myself as a person at the end of last year.

Now as I look at the last three leave days that are ahead of me and try to decide between using the time to finish editing the damn book, do as much paid-per-hour online work as I can to pay for everything, or write a short story and enter every available competition.

Obviously what I really need is another three weeks off, not another three days. But anyway.

I am starting to slowly feel like myself again. I have remembered how to listen to my kids when they speak. I have remembered how to leave the dishes undone and go for a swim in the river instead. I have remembered what the sea smells like and how to over-eat without even thinking about the consequences.

I remembered how to smile.

I even cut my own fringe and dyed my own eyebrows, a sure sign that I am back to my experimental old self!

The WTF of 2015

That may sound a little melodramatic – but I actually really mean it.

When you are a kind person who is also intelligent, a giver, lets call it, it’s dangerously easy to destroy yourself in the corporate world. The problem is that we see everyone as people. Even the irritating people, even the users. We recognize their humanity and we want to do what ever we can to be kind. We can’t stand the idea of not being helpful.

We convince ourselves that we have what it takes to give everything to everyone – to please everyone all the time – and that we can handle it.

We’re wrong. So  maybe, even though we’re clever – we’re actually stupid. In fact – we definitely are. Or I am, at least.

You see in my attempt to please everyone last year I ended up moving further away from my professional goals than ever. Not only that but to my horror I also started slipping up in the work I was doing – because I was trying to do too much. I found myself entirely incapable of saying “No” to anyone who asked me to do anything.

I stretched myself so thin I had to stop blogging. Being overworked not only left me without a time to write, it robbed me of something far more pertinent to Make My Day: it robbed me of the strength to be positive. I literally lost my defining feature. I lost muchness, as the mad hatter would say.

But in all reality how do I stop this from happening again?

How can we protect our muchness in 2016?

Well. I don’t really know yet – but here is what I have decided on so far, feel free to try it with me:

Take big, fat, in-your-face chances.

Be brave folks. One thing I have discovered without fail is that if you don’t chase something you won’t get it. It’s not enough to mention what you want to the person who has the power to help you get it and then hope they will give it. They wont. SO  be as relentless as a mosquito in mid-summer (in a swamp, in the heat, without spray or a net). PUSH yourself right up in their faces and take the damn chances you want – don’t wait to have them handed over.

Say NO and Prioritize

That’s right. I will not be killing myself to get to everything. I will do the most important things first and if I don’t get to the rest it’s too damn bad.

Be YOU

(and I shall be me)

Because let’s face it, I am never going to succeed at being anyone else. Neither are you. I am actually pretty cool. If you don’t think you are actually pretty cool then try this one thing: be kind.

You have to learn to love yourself and then let yourself be. There is just no time to be anyone else’s version of you.

I embrace my own contradictions

(and my own messed-up-ness) I am a complex and multi dimensional creature and I reserve the right to change my mind – frequently. I also reserve the right to hold conflicting opinions simultaneously. So there.

I don’t think we should have to be so set in stone about everything. We spend so much energy trying to stick to some preordained set of rules. The crazy thing is usually we set those rules up for ourselves! I say screw it – believe in what helps you – because that will make it true.

If Stops working for you: Stop working for it

I am a big old perfectionist at heart. I am also really vain and I want to rise to the top of every situation. Anyone else feeling me in this? You don’t want to quit because that will look like you are a fader, like you don’t have what it takes to stick it out to the end, blah blah blah.

I am loyal, I am hard working and I am committed. However – I’m trying to give it up.

In the immortal words of someone or another “You’re not a tree, if you don’t like where you are: move!”

Don’t be stupid about it  – but at the end of the day isn’t it better to take a risk and maybe be happy than to change nothing and, well, change nothing?

Do Nice things

yup. ground breaking stuff, I know. But I really mean it.

Do things for you. Eat as well as you can afford to. SMILE.

When children speak to you LISTEN. They grow up horribly fast and there is nothing more important, at the end of the day, than creating nice people for the future. After all they will be managing the old age homes we will sit in.

Try to say YES to things that are exciting for you. Say YES to gifts. Say YES to adventures and friendship and love.

Say NO to people who abuse your kindness. Say NO to people who don’t appreciate you. They will milk you for everything they can get. Don’t let them get the best of you.

Do what makes you happy. Pet Fuzzy animals and talk to them in a funny, lovey baby voice. It makes you feel good.

Walk barefoot on the raw ground and get 15 minutes of direct sunlight every day.

Howl at the full moon. You can only do it 12 times a year but it’s ridiculously fun. You have to really feel it though – a full bodied gut howl.

Take time to rest. Take time to be still.

My greatest wish for you all for 2016 is that you will find small ways (and big ways) to remember who you really are, every single day.

(and don’t forget to do your squats and sun salutes)

 

Did you enjoy this post? Help me stay awake to write another…