Kindness

As I stepped out to go for a run last week, I was greeted with heavy rain and grey skies. I looked up to the sky and a beautiful rainbow looked right back at me. It reminded me of a quote by the late Maya Angelou ‘Be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud’. For weeks now I have been wanting to write about kindness but have been just too busy too. Seeing this magnificent rainbow was a sign ‘Write your blog already’!

Too often we go through life not realising that we are not the only ones carrying some sought of sorrow, grief, hurt or struggle despite what is portrayed on the outside. We are all wired for struggle of some sought, but it is how we deal with our struggles and who we surround ourselves with that helps us get through whatever it may be. It could be as simple as having a bad day to being stressed at home or work or losing a loved one. Receiving an act of kindness from someone can change your day, your feelings and your outlook on life.

A few months ago I went to an appointment. As I went to pay the lady she turned to me and said ‘No, not today’. I was taken aback and I responded by saying ‘There is no way I am walking out of here without paying! Why’? She simply said I am doing this because I want to show you how much I appreciate you as a friend and because you too are kind to me and you are a good friend to me.  You always listen to me and show me how much you care about me’. Until today I am grateful not for not paying but for the kind words this person said to me and how appreciated it made me feel.  I truly believe when you show kindness through words and deeds you will experience all the richness that joy and happiness offer. The more kindness you show to others the more happiness you will manifest in your life. They most definitely go hand in hand.

I am sure as I have, you all have encountered unkindness at some stage in your life. If need be, distance yourself from these people and don’t hate them. Instead try and help them, be kind to them and know that underneath the hurt and unkindness lays someone that is hurting from either their partner, parent/s or because of someone that did something hurtful to them. There are some of us that will remain unkind and mean and there are others that will grow because of past circumstances, we move on and ultimately refuse to play the victim.  Just focus on yourself and what you wish to contribute to this world. Do not ever because someone is mean or unkind to you think’I will be meaner and I will be unkind too’. It will manifest nothing but negativity and unhappiness in your own life.

At times I see people searching for happiness through books, cars, food, shoes, holidays, glamour, the amount of money in their bank account.  I have been there.  There is nothing wrong with wanting these or having these but think about why you want and need these things.  What is the end result you desire? I used to think I would find happiness in shopping but did I? Maybe for a month or so and then I would search for the next pair of shoes to make me happy.  It was a vicious cycle which left me with tons of shoes and clothes with tags still on them all in the pursuit of happiness.  We see a new car on a television ad that is marketed with a happy family or a happy couple and we think, oh if I buy a new car, I/we might be happy.  Or we see a man or woman with new shoes or trendy clothes and we think Oh if I can look like that then surely I would be happy too. How very wrong we are.

Something I remember to this day was my obsession with Christian Louboutin shoes.  I was so in love with his shoes that every time I would shop online I would go through all his shoe collection thinking I NEEDED a pair. I would see how glamorous, thin and happy these women looked in their Christian Louboutin shoes. Eventually I gathered the courage to buy a $900 pair of his shoes.  My parcel arrived and I sat down on my bedroom floor and opened it up in anticipation. Waiting for the feeling of happiness and joy to wash over me.  I remember thinking to myself  ‘I have just spent $900 on shoes, what is wrong with me’?  Two days later I returned them.  This is not to say I still wouldn’t love a pair of his shoes, but that moment made me realise the shoes I thought would make me happy most certainly did not and that I had bought them for all the wrong reasons. I read a quote about Christian Louboutin shoes that states ‘Shoes transform your language and attitude.  They lift you up physically and emotionally’. A pair of shoes can do that FOREVER?  Happiness is quiet simple.  You will find happiness by being a loving, caring, KIND, grateful and humble human being.  It is in your control.  It does not need to be bought and cannot be bought.  It just needs to be practiced through deed and truth daily.

At this point in my life, especially as I get older, I try each and every day to be a better person, to be the best human I can be whether it be as a stranger on the street, a mother, a daughter, a friend, a wife or a sister. I feel that I want to contribute to making this world a kinder place to live in. The world as it stands today has enough hate, negativity and hurt but not enough compassion, love and kindness. I want to live the kind of life that when I am no longer on this earth, people will say ‘God Bless Her. She was a good human being’.

The ways that I show kindness towards others can be by asking people how they feel when something tugs at me telling me they might not be ok today or by giving them a hug or by just listening to them vent. Kindness is when I ask my husband how his day was and if I could make him a cup of coffee. Kindness is when I share something I have made or read with a friend. Kindness is when I help those close to me wholeheartedly without wanting anything in return. True acts of kindness are not profitable but let me tell you, it will feed and satisfy your soul beyond your expectations.  Finally what I would like to leave you all with and if you do not do this already is to try the following:

– Practice at least two acts of kindness each day. Remember, kindness is not profitable but is rather food for the soul.

– Write down the acts of kindness people have done for you and be appreciative and grateful for it and give back in return.

If you could just try the aforementioned and if you are already on this path just keep going and watch and see how much happier you will be and what goodness kindness will manifest in your life.

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New Beginnings

11 November, 2014 is the date I shared my last blog post. Five months later and so much has happened and so much has changed and shifted within me. To give you all an update, I will briefly touch base on some of the struggles I shared with you all in November and to let you all know where I am at personally at the present moment.

BODY IMAGE:

I am feeling a lot better about myself these days. I still have a lot of work to do but I have decided that this year I will focus on self acceptance. Since I wrote last, I joined a new fitness place called Livestrong Primal Fitness. A friend encouraged me to give it a go as it is not your normal gym which was something I was looking for. Here I met two incredible people. Tanya and Andrew. To say they have changed me is an understatement. Not only have they helped me to physically achieve goals but they have helped me become a strong, powerful and liberated woman. Tanya who I see most during classes has been my inspiration since the day I met her at one of my trial sessions. She embodies what a strong woman should be and not only in the physical sense. I truly believe that you meet people in life for a reason whether it is met with a positive outcome or not. There are lessons to be learnt. Yes, I still do have my moments where I don’t like what I see but those days have decreased immensely and boy do I feel free. Body image will continue to be something that I will have to work on as it plays a significant role in self acceptance. However, I am determined and I am strong and I know I will get there.

STAY AT HOME MUM:

I have had a huge shift when it comes to being a stay at home mum. It wasn’t until Tanya asked me ‘Do you even want to work’? That I realised hang on, I have an option here. Why have I had it engraved in my mind that I have to go back to work to prove that I something or someone in this world. That same night, I asked my husband ‘Would it bother you if I didn’t work until I was ready too’? My husband turned to me and said ‘No, of course not. You can do whatever you want’. Oh ok…why hadn’t I ever spoken to him about this before? Why did I assume he would want me to go back to work as the kids got older? All of a sudden guilt gone. I have come to the realisation that I love and enjoy being a stay at home. Looking back I think the justification of being a stay at home mum was stealing the joy from it all. For the time being I am grateful and truly blessed to have had the last 5 years at home with my children. I am excited about what the future holds for me.

FRIENDSHIP:

In my last blog I wrote about wanting to confront a friend about something she said to hurt me but I was concerned it would ruin the friendship. Not long after I wrote my blog I told her how I felt and guess what? It ruined the relationship which resulted in us ending a five year friendship. The words exchanged played on my mind for months and each time I would think about it tears would well up in my eyes and the hurt felt so raw for so long. It wasn’t until recently I deleted all the messages that were exchanged that day and today I can breathe a huge sigh of relief. It was like I was holding onto the pain but for what? This experience made me learn a lot about myself and I also realised that it wasn’t just the exchange of hurtful words and comments that ended the friendship. Sometimes in life, it is not until you step away from situations/people that you realise the impact something or someone had on you. Today a shift has occurred and I feel free because of it.

This is where I am at presently and I feel good about it. Many friends have asked about my blog, why I haven’t been updating it and when my next post was going to be. Without their encouragement I would have not found the strength to start being open again due to the experiences over the last few months. So, I would like to thank all those friends for their continued support and friendship. I am grateful to be surrounded by such positive, inspiring and strong friends.

Two steps forward, one step back

Today is the first time in 4 months I have sat at my desk and logged onto my blog. I have had friends ask me why I have not written a blog post in so long. My answers have been ‘I haven’t had the time’ or ‘I haven’t had the energy’ but the real reason behind this is because I have felt myself go backwards over the last few months. I feel so frustrated with myself at the moment as I have been working on myself so hard over the past two and half years to only fall back into my previous ways of thinking and feeling.

I am feeling frustrated at situations and people in my life that I have allowed to get the better of me and that have dragged me back to a place I do not want to be. Looking at my journal and what I have written over the past 4 months some of the things I have written are as follows:

ON BODY IMAGE:

‘I woke up this morning and looked in the mirror and all I saw was fat and ugly.  What will I wear today to cover my fat butt and bulging belly? When did my thighs and butt get so big? Why the hell won’t this cellulite leave me alone?’

‘I am disappointed in myself today.  I ate everything in sight and now I feel depressed and angry at myself for not being stronger.  Why did I give in?  It is going to be a bad day as I won’t be able to exercise and burn off everything I just ate’

‘I hope my husband doesn’t hug or come near me today.  I hope he doesn’t notice how much weight I have put on or how fat my thighs are getting’

ON PARENTING: 

‘I have so much housework to do today but it is such a nice day I should take the kids out to the park or do something with them.  How can I do all of it and remain sane?’

‘I yelled at the kids today and it wasn’t even their fault.  I am just angry and unhappy with myself that I took it out on the kids.  I am angry that my husband is coming home late from work which means another long day for me’.

ON FRIENDSHIPS: 

‘A good friend hurt me but I can’t say anything as I don’t want to ruin a relationship.  Maybe I am just looking into things too much’

‘I want to stay home today, not see anyone and just have some down time.  What excuse do I tell a friend that wants to catch up? If I tell the truth they may think less of me or they won’t understand’

ON BEING A STAY AT HOME MUM:

‘I am feeling guilty being a stay at home mum.  How can I justify the fact that I am at home but not sitting down all day long or going out for coffee dates and lunch dates all the time’.

‘How do I explain to my children that I am more then just a mother who stays at home.  How do I explain to them that I have a university degree, that I began work at the age of 17 and didn’t stop working until I had children at 31’.

‘How do I stop feeling bad that my husband is supporting me and my children.  How do I make him feel and know that I appreciate it so much.  How can I stop justifying myself for wanting to be a stay at home…it is not forever.  Just for now.  I just want to enjoy my children.  How do I let go of the guilt and shame and ignore judgement?’

‘Today I WANT TO SCREAM. I want to book myself a one way ticket to some deserted Island. My goodness the pressure is intense today’

The above are just some of the excerpts from my journal.  The last 4 months I have tried to convince myself I know the answers.  I tell myself who cares about your body.  Body image is not everything.  You are fit, you are healthy, your husband has never loved you as much as he does now.  Your kids adore you so why worry if your butt and thighs are too big and are they really big? What is big anyway? Argh!!

I tell myself you are doing the best you can with your children.  All they want is love.  That is what you are giving them so quit stressing about the house being spotless or if you stayed home for one day.  They still love you just the same.

I tell myself I do not need to make excuses.  If I want to be somewhere I simply say yes.  If I do not want to be somewhere then I simply say no.  There is no need for excuses.  It is my life, my time and I do not need to justify anything to anyone.  I tell myself to have no expectations from anyone to avoid disappointment but when you give wholeheartedly and by wholeheartedly I mean you do things for people with your whole heart, with no need for anything in return, with compassion and with love.

I try to convince myself that there is plenty of time for me to work or study.  And there is!  Why not embrace and just be grateful for the fact that I can stay at home with my children and just enjoy and embrace each and every moment.

So this where I am at the present moment.  I am a mixture of emotions.  I know I will get back on track and I know by sitting here today and writing my thoughts and feelings is a step forward again to being a better me and a happier mother, wife, daughter, sister and friend.

Joy

Joy: ‘a feeling of great pleasure and happiness’.

Devastation: ’causes (someone) severe and overwhelming shock or grief’.

Do you ever find yourself staring over your children when you tuck them into bed at night and think to yourself ‘God, I love you so much’. Then as soon as you think that thought, you think to yourself how devastated you would feel if anything were to happen to your child.

Has your flight ever been delayed at the airport due to ‘maintenance issues’ on the aeroplane that you automatically think to yourself ‘Lucky we were delayed. Something horrible could have happened to me or my partner or my family’.

Have you ever gotten into your car after a gym session at night and thought someone was following you or that somebody has been watching you and might intentionally harm you?

Have you ever been late to an appointment and then later on that night you see on the news that there was an accident on the road that you were meant to be on and think to yourself ‘That could have been me in that accident’.

Well these are some of the thoughts that I have had over the last few years. The minute I start to feel joy or feel that life is good, my thoughts are automatically over shadowed by grief or negative thoughts.

As humans we naturally tend to numb joy. The reason why we numb joy is because we do not like to feel vulnerable as individuals. If you are anything like me, I hate the feeling of vulnerability. It makes me feel weak as a person and I always assume if I show people how vulnerable I am they will also think I am weak or they may take advantage of me in my weakest moment.

Over the last two years I have been working extremely hard on myself to allow myself to feel vulnerable. Vulnerability is not weakness. Vulnerability is about embracing the joy and good in your life and not selectivity numbing the joy you feel by letting grief take over that positive emotion. When I have tried to numb negative feelings, I have also numbed the positive ones too. In order to experience the joys in my life I have had to re visit and work hard on practicing gratitude which I have blogged about previously.

I have been trying to focus on the joys in my life like the good health of me and my family, the fact that I have a roof over my head, food on the table, the fact that I have been able to stay home with my children over the last 5 years instead of feeling guilty for being a stay at home mum. I am grateful for my travelling experiences, I am grateful for my siblings, my friends and for the gift of life.

I have thought about why (besides disliking feeling vulnerable) I numb joy and a lot also has to do with external influences such as friends, social media, media, media images. How do the aforementioned make us numb joy? They makes us numb joy because the media, sometimes friends portray to us what an extraordinary life should be….we must have a nice house, drive a nice car, wear nice things and what happens to us? We end up addicted to debt, addicted to food, addicted to work, addicted to medication and addicted to drugs and alcohol. Why? Because we are trying to live an extraordinary life. What happened to a simple life? What is wrong with having less things, what happened to the basics of life? Why must I drive the latest car or buy and do things I simply cannot afford? Why numb the good in my life with the external and materialistic objects or activities when I already have been blessed with the important things in life. The news will tell us about how female joggers are being attacked so of course I stop going for my runs. The news shows us young children being abused and murdered and of course I think that might happen to my child. These negative thoughts numb the joys I should be feeling and experiencing.

As I continue to work on truly living a joyful life I ask that you don’t busy yourself with competing with others or compare your life to what media images portray. Be grateful in life, be vulnerable and give with a true open heart. Try as I have been to not focus on media and or social media as much. I barely watch the news and I don’t allow social media to dictate whether I am thin enough, pretty enough, am eating ‘clean’ enough or exercising enough. I don’t buy into materialistic objects and I will live where and how I want and I will buy and do things that I can afford. I will be proud of living a simple life that is stress free.

The last thing I ask is that you share your joy. Share it with family, friends, partners, work collegaues or even somebody serving you at restaurant or where you buy your regular coffee from. Joy is circular. Give joy and practice gratitude everyday and you will receive it back. Give with an open heart whether you baked a cake, whether you read and inspirational book or read some good advice. Show people who you are, be vulnerable and just do what is right for you. Be the best human being you can be everyday for yourself not because of what others dictate. We are all human. We all have emotions. We all have struggles. Why make life tougher then it already is. Be the best person you can be starting right this second.

Spirituality

Well it has been a while since I last posted a blog. For some reason I have been feeling a bit down the last month. I cannot pinpoint why and nothing has really happened out of the ordinary that has triggered this feeling. It feels quiet odd actually. Part of me feels fulfilled but not exactly complete. I am grateful for what I have. My children are healthy. I am in a happy and healthy relationship and I am surrounded by loving friends. Yet I still feel a sense of sadness within me.

The other night as the kids were asleep and I was up watching TV with my husband, he asked if I was ok. I turned and said ‘no, not really. I am feeling quiet empty, overwhelmed and lost’. He asked me why and I couldn’t answer his question. That is just how I felt and I could not explain why! It was like something was missing. Almost like the guidance from a greater force then myself that I normally felt was no longer there.

It wasn’t until tonight when I came across a poem that made me realise that the reason why I feel the way I do is because I have lost the connection with my spirituality. You don’t have to be religious to be spiritual. Spirituality can be a connection with a greater force other then yourself but for me, my spirituality is derived from Christianity and God.

The last month I have exercised more then usual thinking I would feel less stressed if I did so. I have eaten so many comfort foods thinking maybe I just needed a break and I should just enjoy my chocolate and chips. I have bought my fair share in material objects thinking they would fulfil the emptiness I have been feeling. But no, I have just been left feeling exhausted, sluggish and guilty and yes, still empty!

Where do you go when you need guidance?

Who do you turn to other then family and/or friends?

Where or what do you find solace in when you feel lost and down?

I know my purpose in life. I know I want to help others. I know I want to make a difference in my family, in my community and in the world. I am not perfect. I have made decisions I am not proud of. But God still loves me. I know I can and will achieve my purpose in life with gods grace and guidance.

If it’s not your story, don’t tell it – IV

‘Gossip is when you have a malice of intent or mindless, third party conversation to someone about someone, something you haven’t said to that someone’ -Iyalna Vanzant

Growing up, my brothers and I were always told by our mother that our tummies fit a lot of food so it would also fit a lot of talk, so never gossip about anyone and if anybody tells you a secret, you keep it. We were told what the outcome of gossiping would be and we definitely didn’t want to be the cause of any trouble or hurt anyone’s feelings. Mum and dad taught us to love and respect all those around us. If family or friends ever came into our home and started to gossip dad would stop them in their tracks and say ‘not under my roof’. Looking back I am proud that my parents taught us this powerful lesson. I think that may be why I have never been betrayed by true friends and vice versa. I can honestly say when it comes to gossip, my life has been drama free.

However, growing up in the community I am from, I see lots of people, particularly women hurting each other. Whether you gossip to a friend or whether you shamefully bash someone on social media it is unnecessary bitchiness and what I believe is a reflection of ones self. Regardless of whether you are male or female (although women seem to betray each other more so).

When I catch up with friends I always feel great afterwards. I feel like we were able to discuss life issues, we were able to vent our stresses to one another and generally I just feel good. I will admit, there have been times were a topic will come up and I find myself gossiping. I know when something has turned into gossip because I get an ill feeling. A guilty feeling and a shameful one at that. I feel like I have betrayed the person I just gossiped about. So I stop. It is very important to me that I am mindful of it. I want to lead a life by example for my mother, father, my brothers, my children, my nieces and nephews and for my community.

We as humans gossip to try and divert attention away from our own lives because we are unhappy with an aspect of our lives. We try and seek validation from others because we are insecure about something within ourselves. We become mean when we hear something we don’t want to hear because some of us are envious or feel threatened by the person we just gossiped about. We gossip because we don’t value relationships and most importantly we gossip because we don’t value ourselves.

So I would like you to ask yourself if you gossip. If yes, why? How do you feel when you gossip? Do you feel empowered or ashamed? Furthermore, ask yourself when you find yourself gossiping or you are in a situation where gossip is occurring:

– Are you honouring yourself by gossiping?

– Are you honouring your relationship with the person being gossiped about?

– Are you envious or do you feel threatened by this person you are gossiping about?

– Are you making gossiping acceptable by being apart of it?

– Are you diverting attention away from your own issues by gossiping?

– Are you lying or shifting information around?

– Are you aware of the damage that spoken words can have?

If you have been or are guilty of gossiping, it is never too late to change. Try and focus on yourself, on your own life. Surround yourself with like-minded people and don’t compare yourself to anyone. You are your own person and only you can decide what you allow or don’t allow in your life.

If you have ever been betrayed by family or a friend, remember that whatever happened is a reflection of the person who betrayed you, not a reflection of yourself. Learn from the experience, accept the situation, forgive and let go. From here on learn to trust yourself, learn who you can really trust even if it is just one person. Share your story with people who have earned your time or who deserve your time. Think of who has really earned the right to listen. Make your life a gossip free zone.

Gratitude

Gratitude is something that has been on my mind of late. In the past few weeks it has come up in conversation with a good friend and most recently with my family. So it’s only fitting that my blog post be about gratitude.

For the last few months I have been taking time out each morning to write down in my journal what I am grateful for in my life. The following are the most prevalent;

~ my children
~ my health
~ a roof over my head
~ food on the table
~ having my parents here with me
~ being loved
~ gift of life
~having genuine people/relationships in my life

I feel like in this day and age we forget how lucky we are to have what we have. Life is busy in general. I understand that. Add into that mix media, social media and consumerism and we begin to stop to appreciate and be thankful for all that we have been blessed with.

One thing I have been trying to work on is teaching my son gratitude. I know I want to nurture him in a way to appreciate what he has and to learn that life is not all about receiving but also about giving. This week I happened to have found a plastic bag in the mail from a charity foundation asking for books, toys and clothes. Together with my son, we chose some toys and books he no longer plays with and some clothes he had outgrown. We placed them in the bag and I explained to him that there are children who are not as lucky as he is and that passing his toys, books and clothes onto them will make them very happy. I think if we want generations to come to be grateful we need to start now. What will you do or what do you do already that reminds you and/or your family about being grateful?

Prior to making a decision to write down what I am grateful for in life, I would often look at experiences in my life and either feel sorry for myself or I would think that I was being punished by God for something wrong I had done in my life. I now realise that life is a blessing and our experiences whether good or bad make us stronger in some way. We all have some struggle we are going through in life but we need to focus on the positives and look at what good has or will come out of it.

Things that I am trying to master nowadays to live are life filled with gratitude are as follows:

~ Try to focus on what I do have not what I wish I had
~ Instead of asking for things, I thank God for what he has already given me
~ Surround myself with people who appreciate me as I not only believe in giving but also in receiving
~ Focus on the good in my life, not my struggles
~ Continue writing in my journal and to also get my husband and son on board

What I would like to ask of you all is that each day remind yourself of the basics you have been blessed with. We have all been blessed with the air that we breathe. We have all been given the gift of life and that in itself is the biggest blessing. Look at yourself in the mirror each morning and be grateful for having your eyes to see the world you live in, the ears you have to hear with, the mouth you have to eat and taste with, the arms you can touch with and the legs you have been given to walk with. Be grateful.