The Power of hitting Rock Bottom

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There are a few separate people in my life right now who are going through very difficult personal times. It can be really hard to see someone you care about in a broken state and not be able to solve their problems. Especially when you know exactly what it feels like.

What I ended up doing today was reliving all of the worst moments of my life. They are not things I want to talk about now (or ever) they are finished and I’m grateful. But the surprising thing I realised is that I really am grateful for them.

The things I fought the hardest to hang onto are all things that I am so grateful NOT to have in my life anymore. I am so happy to be free of them now.

I couldn’t see it at the time. At the time I thought my life was in turmoil, that I was a failure, a nothing, a great, big loser who had flushed her life down the toilet. And you know what? There are still some things that hurt to think about. There are some wounds that always sting. But you get over it!

And you fill your life with other things. And before you know it it’s been five years and you are a happier, stronger and completely different person for the changes you have gone through.

So what does that have to do with the power of hitting rock bottom?  Surely that is all about recovering from rock bottom, not hitting it?

The wonderful thing about hitting rock bottom is that once you are there you have nothing left to be afraid of.

You have already undergone painful changes. You have already lost the things you were hanging onto. You don’t have to worry about fucking things up, you already have. And so with that in mind you can change your life.

Rock bottom is a good place to change your life.

When you find yourself at your lowest point in life you have the opportunity to look at your life and identify the things that make you unhappy and weed them out.

If you lost a job you hated, now is the time to try a different career move. You are already unemployed so you may as well be an unemployed person who is looking for a different line of work. Or perhaps you have an entrepreneurial venture you have always wanted to try but could never take the risk before of quitting a paying job. Well bonus you! You can now try anything.

If it is a relationship you have been hanging onto tooth and nail and now you are single, well it hurts. I know. But you know what? You will get over it. You may not want to get over it. You may feel like you want to fix it, not get over it. But if it’s over, its over and pretty soon you will stop wishing to get them back, and instead of rushing to replace them you will find that you actually really enjoy your own company. You will become so protective about your personal space that you will become very selective about who you allow into it. And that is a GOOD THING!

The three most important things about rock bottom are:

  • It shows you what you are made of. Discovering your own strength and abilities is a very liberating and empowering thing. Even if it sounds corny. Without the difficulties I have been through I wouldn’t know what I am capable of. As a result I am a lot less fearful. I live my life more truthfully knowing that at the end of the day as long my family and the people I love are safe, everything will be okay.
  • You have the chance to reinvent yourself. You will discover your own preferences and dislikes from scratch and you now have the chance to do something about them. You can’t reinvent yourself when you are busy being someone else. Rock bottom is in fact the very best place to change the game, decide how you are going to do things differently, and then do them.
  • You will find out who your friends are. There is nothing like being between a rock and a hard place to help you see who the people are who stick by you and support you and who phases themselves quickly out of your life. The friends who stay with you through the shittiest of times will always hold a special place in your heart. Those are the friendships that last lifetimes.

So If you are at the bottom, rejoice! You are in a powerful position to change your life. It all comes down to what you do next. Take a minute to think about where you have been and where you want to go –then go there.

And remember the wise words of Winston Churchill, “If you are going through hell, keep going!”

Thank you for the use of your image: Deviant Art 

Make someone’s Day

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Nothing makes me happier than hearing the words “you made my day”. Usually I hear those words when I least expect them, like today, from a musician I complimented.

I have a shy side (hard to believe I know) but I do. For some reason it’s much, much easier for me to express myself via the written word than to actually speak to someone.

So I try to make a point of speaking to real life people. It can be painful, it can be embarrassing, but I do it. And you know what? Nine times out of ten the person I choose to speak to is just as insecure as I am.

So today I went up to a musician who was performing at the mall my offices are situated in. We are subjected to a lot of less than palatable music in the centre and this guy was actually blow-me-away good. I told him exactly that, expecting him to blow me off as another pesky fan. He didn’t.

He said thank you.

Later when I bumped into him again, pushing a trolley full of equipment, he said, “I was feeling really insecure up there. like an ornament. what you said meant a lot to me. You made my day.”

And so you see, sometimes when you get over yourself and your own shyness, you can help someone else to get over theirs too.

The vast majority of people are as self-conscious, shy and insecure as you are.

Try to set a goal of at least once a day (like your random act of kindness) saying a few words to someone you wouldn’t usually speak to. Whether it’s a child or an adult, a compliment or just a “hello” or even just a smile, you never know how it might change the way someone else is feeling.

And believe me, there is no better feeling than making someone’s day :)

(thanx stocksnap for the image)

Be nice to the grumpy

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I have found time and again that (much to the disappointment of my sadistic streak) if there is someone in your life who is just annoying the crap out of you, irritating you or out-right mean to you, and for whatever reason you can’t cut them out of your life, you should just be nice to them.

In fact, I have taken to making a point of being extra nice to that person.

That guy at work who just irritates you and you don’t know why (or maybe you do) next time he comes up to you, stop.

take a deep breath, and give him your full attention for the next 120 seconds.

Make eye contact.

Ask him how he is and really listen.

don’t argue or offer advice. Just try to see things from his perspective, for 2 minutes.

Then you can happily go back to being irritated again.

In extreme cases you can even do something thoughtful for them. If they are a total arse and don’t appreciate it (or worse, feel entitled to it) then you can go back to ignoring them.

When you are consciously kind and thoughtful towards someone who is irritating the crap out of you (without any expectation of a return) usually one or more of these things happen:

  • You start to understand them better and feel less irritated by them
  • They start to see you as less of a threat and behave better towards you
  • they are disarmed by your niceness and the wind goes out of their grumpy sails
  • You feel better as a person – even if it makes no difference to their behavior at all, even if they still suck, somehow being nice has the magical ability to make you feel better.
  • If they really can’t lighten up, they might at least be appalled enough by your niceness to leave you alone.

Sometimes, in spite of all attempts to be kind and nice and friendly, people still suck. My advice then? Don’t think about them. don’t give them any more attention than a buzzing over head light. If it’s someone you can’t cut out of your life or avoid, at least don’t let them take up space in your head.

If all else fails you can out bitch them by not giving a crap, not having dropped to their level and smiling your face off in spite of their crap.smiley

Bubblegum English

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I have been writing a lot of listicles of late for one of my online clients. They are the preferred form of article for their website and I have to admit they are quite a lot of fun to write. But I have to admit that while I was mentally mulling over my most recent listicle at the kitchen sink I did find myself breathing a tired sigh over the name “lisiticle”.

It is a real thing, you can Google it, and I suppose real things need to have names. The English language is pretty awesome in its evolutionary ability to adapt and morph with all of humanities changes. I think that is why it is the most commonly spoken language online and around the world. Because of its ability to adapt, it has survived.

But sometimes I feel tired by the constant need for millennials to invent new words. I mean, yes it’s fantastic that “Google” is now in the Oxford dictionary, but does it really need to be?

Are we going to wake up one day and suddenly be over the new-fangled naming new-word-in-the-dictionary-ftrconventions? Like when you love a new pop song, listen to it over and over again for three weeks, and then suddenly never want to hear it again. Are generations to come going to be embarrassed for us, because if how we went around making up names for things the way that we are embarrassed by our grandma’s swim suits?

I am waiting for the day that youngsters and Hipsters start speaking proper English again. I imagine it will be because they are suddenly so over inventing awesomely useful names for things, that, let’s face it, just sound made up. Will we grow up and stop playing house with the English language, or is it doomed to evolving right out of existence, along with the morals and good manners that have kept it company for so many centuries? I suppose only time will tell.

(thanks for the image communitytable.com)

Never stop learning, never give up on your dreams and just keep on keeping on

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I love learning things. I love books, I eat them for breakfast!

Although a university degree in your subject of choice is the obvious winner, Life happens, and not everyone has the opportunity to study.

But it’s not the end.

You are never too old, too broke or too busy to change your life.

It’s down to you. Yip, really. there comes a time when you have to stop blaming your poor family, bad teachers and shitty circumstances for your current state. Yes they play a contributing factor. Yes, it is hard to start from scratch. Yes, it’s hard to study when you are older, working, supporting a family. It’s hard, but it’s not impossible.

With the wonderful cyber world more or less accessible to many of us these days, all you actually need to learn something new is the ability to read and the desire to learn.

There are numerous options for self instruction in cyber space:

  • Online courses – these are great. you actually get something to show for it at the end too, depending on what course you do and which institution you choose. I studied through SA Writers College. Courses are certified but you do have to pay upfront for each one. Support is via E-Mail, so you do need regular E-Mail access.
  • Lynda.com – has a variety of great tutorials available for anyone who is willing to learn. Mostly video content you so will need to be able to at least download videos to watch later if you can’t watch online. You need to open an account with them, but most employers will be very willing to help with this.
  • Bookboon.com – This is a wonderful resource with hundreds of free educational E-Books. As long as you can download a PDF you can take these babies with you.

There are many, many more online sites available to those who want to learn. You can find most of them with this magical tool called… google. Whats more is that when people start to see you taking an interest in yourself academically, they start to look at you differently.

I started in advertising with a Pre-school teachers qualification (WTF, right?) But I discovered my astounding love for Copy writing. I had always loved reading, it just took me a while to realize that I wanted to write.  So what did I do? I found every available free resource and I used it. Eventually my employers realized that I am serious about this, and you know what? They paid for my course! Because that is how the universe rolls. When you put in all you have with 100% undiluted enthusiasm and you expect to succeed, you do.

Don’t give up on your dreams. Invest in your self. often the biggest investment is time. Move your series addiction up by an hour a night, and spend an hour a night reading mind enlarging goodness.

A year from now you will be glad that you started today.

Could Gratitude change the world?

Today is my birthday.

That is something that for many people would automatically mean it is a happy day. For me it doesn’t come so easily. The long sob story of why I generally dislike my birthday does not make for inspiring reading though.

Instead, let me tell you how incredibly blessed and lucky I am to have had this birthday.

Aside from all of the cake, the unexpected gifts from friends and colleagues and the swarm of good wishes that came my way today (in fact for the last three days) I feel loved. I feel like for a moment the world stopped and remembered how much I care about you all and I feel really appreciated. Feeling appreciated is an incredible thing. It changes how you see yourself as a person. It actually makes you a better person, and want to be a better person, when someone sees the good in you.

I can’t help thinking, if feeling this loved and appreciated can alter my outlook on life so much, how much would it change the world we lived in if every positive thing we did was recognized and appreciated?

How could it affect the government, our businesses and out home relationships if every person felt that the good they do is appreciated?

It definitely bears thinking about.

Most of all though I am grateful to feel grateful. Or should I say, I am grateful for what I am grateful for, but I am also glad that I can see the value in those things while I still have them.

For example: I can’t think of anything luckier than having my mom cook dinner for me on my birthday. I am so incredibly grateful to have a loving, doting mom who still cooks me my favourite foods (even if I am a vegetarian) she slaved away all day so that I could bring my family over, sit on my bum, and eat her awesome cooking!

I am so grateful to have her in my life.

I am also so grateful to be able to appreciate her to the extent that I do while she is still around. All too often we realise how lucky we were to have something when it’s gone. I think a big part of being a grown up (nearly there) is to be able to recognize how lucky you are to have something while you have it. I think it’s a big part of being happy and feeling good about your life.

I have been similarly blessed to have a vast and colourful array of amazing people in my life. Too many to mention them all here, but every one of them special and beautiful in their own random way. The good wishes today were felt. I feel as if I have bathed in good energy, love and light.

Today I truly feel as if it is my birthday.

And I think I know why. Because aside from the fact that a crazy number of people wished me a whole lot of joy – I also really appreciated those people.

When I started to feel gratitude and appreciation for the good things people were saying I was forced to accept that the things they were saying are true. How else can you feel gratitude for something if you don’t believe it’s sincere?

When I started to believe in the sincerity of the good wishes I was forced to accept that the nice things that people were saying, the kind wishes of love and joy and good fortune, must be deserved by me.

Being appreciated and feeling that you deserve the kindness you receive is a wonderful thing. It does wonderful things to your outlook on life. It does wonderful things to who you are and who you strive to be.

I think we should all try a lot more appreciation and recognition. I think we might just end up living in a nicer world, if we all just showed our appreciation more easily.

You never know, the world may surprise you. I still believe that someday kindness will change the world.

Rare Day Off

Having a passion for something that is not (yet) your primary income means that you have to burn the candle at both ends a lot.

The only way to work a full time day job, be a single parent and develop yourself in your chosen creative field is to work nights. A lot of nights. Every night. And weekends. It’s not a matter of dedicating every spare moment, it’s creating spare moments that don’t otherwise exist.

You have to make time for what is important to you, because if you wait until you have enough time, you will never get anything done. So weather it’s studying, free-lancing, writing your book, painting your master piece or playing that guitar, it all comes down to you. It all comes down to never stopping.

That has been my modus operandi for a while now. Progress has been slow, but there is progress. Things are happening. And they are happening because I am making them happen, in those long, late hours.

Rod Judkins said, in his book, Change your Mind, “The creative never take a holiday”.

And he is right. When you have a project that inspires you, that burns you up, you are always thinking about it. You can’t stop. You constantly find yourself seeing “usable content” in everything around you. And you will find that you have an extra reserve of energy for working into the night on something that calls to your sense of purpose.

The problem is getting up in the morning to go to work, and trying to carry the same energy and enthusiasm with you through the day that has been come to be expected of you. I find the more late nights I work the harder it is to be subservient. Conforming to the “lowest rung” status in the corporate world is harder when there is so much more to who you are than just who they allow you to be.

The bottom line is, weather you mean to or not, your internal auto-pilot starts to prioritize your energy reserves and allot them accordingly. You don’t deal well with crap, in other words, and you cease to mince your words.

Now this may lead some of you to say “Bravo”! We are constantly hearing about how important it is to express ourselves and all that, and it’s true to some extent. But to me there is another important thing: Class.

It’s important to me that I conduct myself in an honourable, well mannered and kind natured fashion. Not because I am a walk over, quite the opposite, being a bitch is easy!

No I maintain a certain level of civility, even when I am in a disagreement, because I can. Because it’s part of whom I am. To be considerate, conscientious and tactful are part of how I was raised. Having a quick wit and dry humour, notwithstanding. Although the latter are a bonus, the prior three are non-negotiable.

But I realized that I can’t maintain it all, all the time. I can’t work all hours, exercise, study and still be the kind of person and mother I want to be on four hours sleep a night, seven days a week.

So today I did a wonderful thing.

It’s Sunday. It’s raining. And instead of sending the kids to church with my mum by 9:00 so that I can get in a run, shower and an hours work, I decided to SLEEP IN!

I woke in a daze at about 9:00 am with Felix sitting in my bed watching a movie on my PC (Yes my four year old son can totally turn on the PC and find his movie folder on his own) and demanding cocoa.

I got up, made cocoa for the kids and my coffee, and then, wait for it, I got BACK INTO BED!

I dazed to the sound of “How to Train Your Dragon” for a while, and then, Faith climbed into bed with me too, and we watched a movie! In the daytime! I think we eventually all got out of bed at about noon. I don’t even feel guilty.

I made us a great big lunch and then we all went and hung out at my Mom’s place for the evening, still in our pajamas. We didn’t change until it was time to bath to get into clean pajamas.

As sad as it sounds, it was the best day I have had in ages. To decide that I am just going to chill with my kids, no demands, not even getting dressed, just hanging and watching movies and eating too much.

I think it may well have been one of the healthiest things I have done for myself in a while.

This evening I am ready to sit and work for a few hours. I don’t feel like I have to force my eyes open. I actually want to, hey, I’m even finding the time to write to all of you!