Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Things We Say to Ourselves #OneBeautifulThought

Today, I saw an advert by Dove that really hit me. Before I share my thoughts, though, I thought you might want to watch the vid yourself. Even if you're a guy. It's worth thinking about so bear with me.

All done? Good. So obviously, Dove is all about making it's target audience (women) feel beautiful. But really, this message can be drawn much further than that.

It's something that crosses all boundaries of age, gender, personality, race... name it.

We talk ourselves down. I'm just a fake, pretending I can do this. I'm not a strong person. I've got so many issues that I don't know how to even start listing them. 

I'm never ever going to make it. 

The women in the video had to hear these insulting things they said to themselves just so they could realize how much they've been insulting themselves. Unfortunately, I don't have two actresses on hand to make my point, so I want you to try imagining what you'd do if you heard people tossing the insults you give yourselves at each other.

And then, if at all possible, I want you to stop.

Because when it comes to having a fulfilled, rich life, the only person who can truly stop you is:


And this, insulting yourself by telling yourself that you're weak, stupid, and powerless to do anything about yourself is precisely the way that you use to do it.

So now I'm going to say this:

You are an amazing person.
You can set out to do what you're meant to do.
You can find out what that is.
You are stronger than you imagine.
You are strong enough to overcome your obstacles. 

Now, YOU try telling yourself some nice things. 

I'd love to see them in the comments. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal

As I mentioned in my previous post, last year was a difficult one where I didn't really get a chance to live much.

The thing is, I'm sure I learned a lot, so I'm thinking that the Challenge will be a great way for me to think back on 2014 in a positive, constructive way. So that's going to be my theme:

The Life Lessons Learned in 2014

Please note, though, that there might be some Christian faith based posts in the course of the month, as to me, my faith is a big part of my life. However I will take care to warn people ahead of time. I believe in respecting every person's right to choose who he/she believes him, or to not even believe at all. I do, however expect the same courtesy and will freely delete and block any visitor to this blog who doesn't understand that. 

What about you? Are you joining this year? There's still time to sign up if you haven't yet!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Taking Charge of My Life... Again.

I'm finally back online. Actually, I have been since Friday, but in all the excitement, it wasn't easy to sit down and write this post.

Even now, while everything is relatively quiet. I'm struggling to find the words.

2014 did some serious damage, which led this blog to dwindling to almost nothing. I've written about the reasons for this before, but now I think there's another reason to it too.

See, this blog is about life in general and my life in particular. But for most of 2014, I didn't have a life. 2014 was a rapid succession of various disasters that left me reeling. And before I could recover enough to investigate/think about/write about any of it, the next disaster hit.

In other words, I didn't have a life to write about. It was all survival.

And really, there's nothing wrong with that.

Sometimes things happen in life that are completely beyond our control. Last year was a good example of it. It wasn't like I stopped trying to make things better, but instead that everything I tried made things worse.

Nowadays, it feels like there's a bit of a reprieve. I'm hoping that it's a sign that things are really settling down again. In the meantime, I'm doing all I can to recharge and regain perspective.

I'm not just staying here, though. Now's not the time to sit on my backside and bemoan my fate. I have to fix everything again. Or replace things. It won't be the exact same as before, but that's okay.

It does feel, though, as if now's the time where I have to regain the upper hand over my circumstances once more. I'll be writing about it here.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Four lessons I'm taking into 2015...

So... I'm still stuck without reliable Internet access. Which is why I've been so very quiet lately.

Still alive. Quite well. And... camping. Yep. My family of five members, three dogs, six cats and a parrot are currently living in two caravans, since we're living on a farm now where we still need to build the house.

Add to that the fact that it was silly season (not sure if it's the same up north, but in South Africa, at least, EVERYTHING except retail closes or is reduced to skeleton staff at end November.) which meant that we couldn't submit the planning permission required to start building. (Nor, for that matter, could we even have the plans drawn.)

Anyway. As I mentioned quite a few times: last year sucked. And... well... things didn't simply snap back when January 1 dawned. I'm still carrying the wounds from last year and there are still a few things (like an announcement on Facebook by someone I thought I'd unfriended, but I forgot to unlike her page) that hit me like a punch to the gut.

At the same time, though, I am feeling better.

Because... for now at least, it's all over. By the end of last year, the things that went wrong, did so spectacularly. But the fireworks are over. Now all I have to deal with is the smoldering remains. Which is quite a nice change, frankly, after so much drama and explosions.

For one thing, it's so much more... peaceful, which means that I've written almost 70 thousand words since December started and I've read a third of the amount of books I read in 2014, in the first week of January.

I'm getting a lot done at the moment, and in doing so, I'm actually doing a lot of other things as well:

1) I'm trusting God. Honestly, last year was so hard towards the end that my trust had been shaken. But now that things are calming down again, I'm able to gain some perspective on 2014. And it's something I just do know: Even if I don't understand, God's still there, and He still has my back. Now that I remember that again, I'm peaceful, which I can't honestly say is a state I've been in since mmm...  I don't know... December 2013.

2) I'm working to forgive. This one is hard. This is the one where all nature of things remind me of what went wrong, who wronged me and how they did it. Once I used to be an angry and vindictive person, and it could be so easy to get back to that, but the truth is, no matter what, the one who gets the most damage from me not forgiving is me. So what's the point? These people hurt me. Quite a few of them cut to the quick. My automatic reaction to go cut even deeper than that, but in doing so, I would lose myself. Which hurts me even more. By acting on this desire for vengeance, I'd only be hurting myself in ways that no one else ever could. It's not worth it. They aren't worth my happiness. Besides, I happen to believe that people get what they deserve. If not now, then in the afterlife. God's job is to judge. Mine is to learn, let go and move on.

Neither are easy, but both are doable. It starts with a few prayers for help. It continues with listening to that soft, gentle voice inside. It finishes with taking the right actions. Like unfollowing/unliking someone rather than leaving a nasty comment. Like knowing that at least I can continue living my life without having compromised on who I am. And...

3) I'm being grateful. Sometimes, this is all the perspective we need. Because throughout all the bad stuff that went wrong in 2014, there is much to be grateful for. Like... we're all healthy and alive. And we found the perfect place to stay (the fact that there's no house aside.).


4) I've regained hope. At some stage, I've given up hope that things would ever be okay again, but they are. And they will get better. I just need to keep going.

How was your year in 2014? Any lessons you're taking into 2015?

Friday, November 7, 2014

Looking for myself. Again...

I've come to a humbling realization recently. One that I think will be a difficult thing to write about (and a bit long, sorry!). At the same time, I feel I must.

The truth is, I feel like I haven't been an honest blogger.

It's a terrible thing for me to admit, because from the first day I wrote my first blog post back in 2010, I based the idea on basically two foundational pillars:

The first was honesty. The second was being interesting.

It was a good system. When it came to my writing blog, it meant that I had to keep writing in order to find interesting things to blog about.

Later, I started this blog, which was about me going after my dreams and sharing some of the lessons I learned from experience along the way.

Honestly, I think that for the first two years, this was a great blog.

It was honest.

It was interesting.

And truly, it was something positive. Living breathing proof that things do go well for people who go after their dreams.

Then came 2014.

I can safely say that I completely and utterly lost my mojo this year. Which really, isn't a bad thing, per se. Except that I lied by omission.

When stuff went wrong with my publishing deal, I wrote about how determined I was to bounce back. I did not write about how soul crushing it was to have this happening while my business, my only source of income, was failing.

It wasn't the failure of the business, really. Businesses fail. It happens. And honestly, by the time the critical break came, neither me, nor my mother (with whom I owned the business) were happy in it.

The real crush was that we put what we had left into the farm. Which for a while was a source of hope. Except, it took all of our savings and produced not a cent in return.

To give you an idea of sheer hell: All this was February. If you click the link, you'll see me mentioning that I was a "bit blue." It was me practically crying myself to sleep because my first publishing experience had all but turned into my worst nightmare. And it was only the start.

My family put all of our time, energy and money into making the farm work. Which meant that activities I'd always loved like singing, dancing, fencing, even painting got put aside to "when things are better."

I focused on my writing, more determined than ever to make that gig work. But with every passing day, the strain of having to put a happy/determined/brave face on it all when really, stuff sucked... It just wore me down to the point where I no longer felt like writing. And really. I didn't feel like blogging here either.

Because the truth is that I didn't want to admit that things were bad. This was the HAPPY!!! blog. The one where I encourage others and myself to go after dreams! To dare more! To dream more! To remember exactly how much we have to be thankful for.

And yes. I realize that I have a LOT to be thankful for. Through everything, I still had my amazing family right there with me. And I still do. We are all still healthy and together. (Except for me getting a bout of what I suspect to be Strep, and my brother getting tick bite fever last weekend.)

But there remains one point:

Being positive when everything you've accomplished in recent days goes to hell around you is actually a lot more soul-destroying than your life all but imploding in the first place. 

But keep a determinedly brave face on it all I did. But that's the thing I didn't realize at the time. I thought: It's just for a bit. Things will turn around. No one will ever notice. 

But when I started filtering my experiences for public consumption... I sanitized my life right out of a blog... about my life. 

Which meant I wrote less and less and less. And when I did write, it came through this fake, bland filter, which made everything I wrote seem like the worst ever case of sitting with strangers and discussing the weather because there's nothing else to discuss. And this blog all but died. 

And really, it deserved to. I lied. I. Lied. After taking it on myself to show people of how awesome things could be when things go as planned, I didn't give this shitty year the same treatment. 

Which I feel terribly enough. Although I think that subjecting you to the downward spiral that was my life this year wouldn't have been good, I do believe that if I had stuck with being honest, I could at least have made things interesting. 

I might have made things easier on myself too. Maybe, if I'd admitted that yes, my life sucked ass for the past eleven months, I wouldn't have gotten dragged so deep under towards the last few months. 

Full disclosure: No... I don't think I sank into depression yet. But the shoe business really started at the exact right moment.

Even with it, though, I'm fighting to get back to the place I was in December 2013. Full of optimism and full of belief that the year had unlimited potential. 

We're building back up, and today, we got a string of great news that's giving me hope that things are turning back around at last. 

But with this turnaround, there came a sense that I needed to take stock. That I needed to learn my lessons before I can move on. 

But it's good, I guess, because I can share my lessons and, who knows? Maybe help someone else. I guess that means that I'll have quite a bit to write about as I take stock. 

For now, I'm taking the blog feed off twitter and Facebook. Because really, I think I don't need the added pressure of trying to attract readers while I'm trying to find me, my life and my voice again. So if you're here for the upswing in the ride that's my life, I thank you. 

And if you are, and you pray, please do pray that the upswing keeps going. My family and I can really use the break. 

How are you doing, really?