The lost years…

Jesus has some lost years. So does Shakespeare. So do you. So do I. 

While I quite fancy the idea that Jesus spent time with the Essene during his lost years and that Shakespeare did something worthwhile, like traversing the globe, most of us have years that were lost. We got lost. 

When someone asked me about my time in South Africa, I joked and said, “The past ten years are what I’d like to refer to as “the lost years.”” Things didn’t go quite as planned. In fact, sometimes things went awfully wrong. And I didn’t spend all those years in Cape Town. I was in Athens. LA. London. France. Sweden. It all blurs together to years of trying to figure things out. But and this is a huge BUT—in the next sentence I said, “They’re also the years that made me.” 

South Africa made me face some of life’s hardest realities. Sometimes I feel like I’ve become one of those old, eccentric cronies (who drink whisky and swear like sailors, even though I rarely do either), who tell others, “What the hell do you know about life? You haven’t seen all that much, have you?” 

When you face circumstances where you have to learn to swim or you drown, you build muscle. You see and experience things you’ve never seen or experienced before. Things you never even dreamed possible. And you have to deal with it. You have no fucking clue what you’re doing, but you’re learning as you go. You make mistakes. You figure things out. 

Sometimes it’s not the fantastic experiences that make us, but the ugly ones. Because if we get through them by, eventually, rising above them, we become better people. 

Perhaps that doesn’t feel like much of a consolation when everything you’ve ever had goes up in flames, but I want to put it out there that there’s a possibility to grow though adversity. To become a better person. To put the pieces of yourself back together in a better way after you break. If you never broke, you’d have stayed the same. I’m not saying you need to have a full-blown meltdown to grow, but most of us feel like we’re breaking when life ruffles our feathers, even if we’re holding it together. 

When you sail stormy seas, you learn to deal with storms. It makes you stronger. A better sailor. A better navigator. And it gives you an inner knowing that you can now navigate through rough waters. The young ones say they know how to navigate because they memorized how to from a textbook. You know how to navigate because you sailed through a hundred storms. There’s a difference. And you’re a different person because of it. 

I realize I used so many metaphors in this piece you may think it’s about whisky, tar, getting sprayed by ocean waves, and navigation instead of well, what’s it about. But then, I also think it’s about just that. The rough seas and the rough hands they bring you as you handle the ropes. The scars, the callouses, the proof you survived—and thrived.  

The lost years are what tend to attract us to people—the mystery, the learnings, and the scars and adventures those years brought them. It’s what makes a person a person. It’s what makes you.  

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Filed under Inspiration, Inspirational, life lessons, Motivation, motivational, Uplifting

Setting the bar…

There are bars where you meet interesting men for interesting conversations. Well, you’re supposed to. Usually you meet drunk men who are completely uninteresting simply because you can’t hear a damn thing they’re saying over the music. 

Then there are other kinds of bars. Like the ones horses jump over. Or the kind you set for yourself. And either jump over or run full force into. 

I don’t know about you, but I love setting bars. If someone gives me a goal, of something is just out of reach, if someone says I can’t do something… I love challenges. They’re juicy. Fun. An adventure. The problem? While I tend to nail certain goals I always have some other ones that are unattainable. 

Let’s say I decide to make $2,000 one week, so I make that money. But I think I’m a failure because by the time I’ve paid my bills, I have no money left. So I made the money, but I still feel poor. So I hit the goal of making the money, but not the goal of being rich. 

And I’m not saying that’s a real life example, but you get my drift.

It’s like the fitness freak that feels bad because they had an ice cream instead of protein smoothie. Yet, they are fitter and eat better than ninety percent of the bloody population. They feel like a failure, but are they? Hell, no! 

That’s the thing with bars—sometimes we mess ourselves up. 

When I was younger I was so obsessed with perfection, I couldn’t understand how anyone could love me if I wasn’t perfect in the areas I wanted to  be perfect in. I wanted to satisfy everyone’s every need, which is like trying to be Twiggy and Marilyn Monroe at the same time—it’s not possible. You can’t have the curves and be slender. Unless you’re Angelina Jolie, but she’s got genes that defy the laws of nature.

A long, long time ago (about the same time I started this blog), I was sitting in a hot tub in Los Angeles wondering what hell was wrong with me. I had spent the day in Malibu and I felt nothing. I was numb. I was standing in paradise feeling nothing. And I asked the universe, God, whatever powers may be to help me figure it out. The answer that came to me as I sat staring at the moon that night in the hot tub is that my life is my own. I don’t have to do or be anything to enjoy my life. My life is MY gift. Mine. 

I had that epiphany, yet, I don’t know how many times since I’ve beaten myself up or berated myself for not nailing some goal or other. I have a few pet peeves that I’m rather frustrated about. Yet, I’ve done some incredible things, too. Really incredible. 

But it isn’t about the incredible things, either. If I choose to sit on a rock in the forest singing kumbaja, that’s fine, too. It’s my life. I don’t have to achieve anything. Living on purpose is important for most of us—we like achieving things. But the moment we put up a measuring stick, chances are we fall short. 

That night was the beginning of something healing within me. I started to understand the concept of self-love, which, till that point, had eluded me. I just felt empty inside. 

I need to remind myself of that night over and over again. Sometimes I forget. And immediately that measuring stick comes up and I start judging. And I’m a harsh judge. And I have rather big goals. 

Today, when reading something, I was reminded of that night. The night that changed everything, really. I’m grateful for that, because as of late, I’ve had measuring stick issues. I haven’t been going to bars, but I’ve certainly set them. And they’ve become the kind of bars that have locked me into a cell, instead of setting me free to reach higher.

Tomorrow is my day. Mine. My life. I can do whatever I want. It’s my gift. And I want to watch it unfold with a sense of wonder, not march forward like an admiral chasing myself to achieve things. I’ve done enough of that lately. To the point where I’m in semi-constant fight or flight mode. It’s not a particularly pleasant place to be. 

So here’s to sipping wine and enjoying life. Sunsets and sunrises. Thunderstorms that awaken the dormant forces within you. Thunder that’s so loud your heart shudders with anticipation. You feel the power. Life. Inside you and out. Lightning. And there it is. You. Light. Stardust. Life. 

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Filed under adventures in life, confessions, diary, Goals, Musings, Personal Development, self help, self love, Self-esteem, self-worth

Mysteriously magical musings…

Shakespeare. We know very little about the literary genius. Many a men have tried to interpret his plays to find his true character, but often what they’ve found jars with the facts. Other men have tried, unsuccessfully, to argue that he was someone else. What makes things even more complicated is that many of his plays were co-written with other playwrights. 

People want the bard to be an inspired poet, not an intellectual writing plays for the sake of fame and money. People want Shakespeare to be kind and enlightened—not looking for a title. But I fear to say it’s clear as day the man wanted pounds to pay for his many hounds on a large estate, isn’t that great?

So before I lose the plot entirely with my rhymes, Shakespeare was a literary genius. That doesn’t make everything about his plays great—the logic is often sorely lacking when the characters make their decisions. But some of the wisdom contained in the plays and the wording was genius. 

And while, ironically, “Romeo and Juliet” was in many ways a satire on young love, it’s become a symbol for true love. As such, we think the genius literally must have been a poetic hero. Not a money grabbing title chasing maniac. Not saying he was that, either. It’s just, it doesn’t suit our ideas if he was like that, does it? Likewise, Da Vinci must have been kind, right? But genius and heroism don’t always go hand in hand. 

Yet, it’s the mystery of these men that keep us enthralled. We keep searching so long as there’s a mystery. Once the mystery is gone, we lose interest. As long as we can analyze, probe, and put our own theories forward, we keep going. 

If you want to meet a genius, head to Silicone Valley or Hollywood. You’ll meet several. Some dull as dishwater, some depressed as hell, some mad as hatters, and some truly outstanding, witty, and wonderful. 

Right next to you, however, are the people who will make you smile. Uplift you. Hold your hand through the rough times. Applaud you in the good times. They are the people who are right there, making your life worth living. And some of them probably deserve someone like Shakespeare to immortalize them, but it’s unlikely it will happen to most. 

Unless new documents come to light, we’ll continue to know very little about Shakespeare and have theses written about how Macbeth is a representation of his inner demons, while others will argue it’s about a man down the road he met at a pub (or at court) who told him something that inspired something that led to a certain take on events. 

It’s infuriating, really. To not know. But it’s even more infuriating to know that you forgot to truly look at your partner, child, parent, friend, or family today to see how they are really doing and who they really are. 

There’s greatness around you. I hope someone sees the greatness in you, and you in them. Even if it doesn’t rhyme.

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Filed under confessions, conscious lifestyle, Inspiration, Inspirational, Motivation, motivational, relationships

A beautiful perspective…

I don’t know what you tell yourself when you get upset with yourself, but I tend to call myself an idiot. I did so the other day when I lost my phone. I thought I’d left it at Little Angels while running off to another appointment, or in the car. So, while I realized I wasn’t bringing the phone, I didn’t see a problem. Only, when I returned, the phone was nowhere to be found.

The police. The cellphone store. Hours of arranging stuff. Putting out a reward. Then hearing someone found it, only to say it was with someone else, who said they didn’t have it.

I told myself that I wasn’t going to let someone get me down by keeping my phone. I’m in charge of my moods and all that. Then I told myself the South African police experience was interesting. Yet, by the end of the week I was starting to miss my phone and getting frustrated.

Then, when I was in Hangberg, someone approached me to say they did know who had it. Someone not previously mentioned. Then a long story from different parties about who really found it, who wanted to sell it, who kept it safe ensued. The SIM was missing, so clearly someone tried something, only to realize that iPhones can be locked. (I did consider putting the message “Cock blocked” on the phone, but instead put a number to call and promised a reward. I figured that would be more effective.)

I got my phone back. Yet, this week was a week filled with what seemed like obstacles, as were the last couple of months, so I started beating myself up about it. I could have prevented the phone going missing. I could have done this. I could have done that. I must still be in victim mode to set myself up for this.

Then, after I found the phone and had had some other breakthroughs someone told me, “It’s unusual to get a phone back, but then you’re a good person and good things happen to good people.” Huh. That’s one way of seeing it.

Come to think of it, rather a lot of good things happen to me. I’m just too caught up beating myself up for the bad things to notice. Not that I don’t enjoy the good things. Not that I don’t sing and dance around a lot. I certainly do–if life can be a musical, why not?! Eccentric. Perhaps. The way I like it? Absolutely. However, I still beat myself up all the time. People tell me my life should be a movie and I’m the most interesting person they ever met (that’s the most common thing I’m told). I tell myself I’m a royal F up. And as that’s what I tell msyelf, nothing else seems to penetrate. Until as of late. I’ve had a few moments.

Perspective.

The stories we tell ourselves reflect how we see our life and, thus, how we feel and act. How do you see your life? What stories are you telling yourself?

It’s not what happens to us, but what we make up about what happens to us that control our moods and reactions. It controls our experience. This experience right here called life. This gift. This tremendous thing.

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Whipped cream…

Do you have people in your life that make you feel like a million dollars? Or like a cup of hot chocolate with extra whipped cream and marshmallows?

I do. And I sure hope you do, too.

However, the trick in life is to make yourself feel that way. We all run out of steam some days (or, well, usually all days around four pm) and can do with a pick-me-up. A burst of happy energy. Like a kind word from those lovely people who have sunshine coming out of their behinds.

So what do those people do? Do they compliment us? Do they take us on magical or adventurous experiences? Do they make us sit down and breathe for a while? Take in the moment? Or chase us with a stick to ensure we live our passions? Whatever it is, it’s what we should be doing.

I am all for a cup of coffee when I run out of steam at four pm, but I need something more substantial to keep me going. I need to live my passions, go on magical (and wickedly wild) adventures, compliment myself, breathe in the moment and enjoy this thing called life.

If your life lacks luster…just add whipped cream…
See yourself as others do. For more of my poetry, check Instagram @themagiqueboutique

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Prayer…

A man walked up to me yesterday. A parking attendant at the beach. Told me he knew me.

“You taught me at the drug rehab center some years back,” he said. “You’re Maria.”

We chatted briefly–I asked him if he was still attending classes, but he said they charged now and he couldn’t afford it. It looked to me like he had relapsed. I had the child I raise with me, so I didn’t stay for long to chat–we were at the beach to run about and chase the sunset.

As we made our way back to the car, we met him again. And as I left, he stood staring after me.

This is not the first time, nor the last time this will happen. People know me. People have come up to me to ask me if I can take their children and raise them, if I can hire them, if I can sort out their husband who has taken their child from them, if I could please make way for a foster child, if I can get them off drugs, if I can get someone to help them with a child they raise… And yet, the requests I get are sporadic. The requests Liezl gets are non-stop.

Liezl runs the not-for-profit educare center I’ve been involved with for eight years now. The place where I met the kids I ended up helping to raise. The place that changed my life.

Sometimes, these requests warm my heart. Sometimes they break it.

We’re always fighting. Fighting for funds for a safe house for women. Fighting for funds to look after more children. Fighting for the right to build a larger center. Fighting to get me the right visa so I can stay forever with the kids. Fighting for awareness. Fighting for change. Fighting to help.

Often, we’re fighting for our own survival, too. We’ve been on so many journeys, ups and downs and roundabouts. We’ve made mistakes, we’ve failed people, we’ve cried, we’ve been too broke to mention…

And, today, I was thinking that maybe it’s time to stop fighting and start praying. You cannot help everyone. You cannot sink your own life to the ground trying to do so. But you can pray. You can have faith that things will come right and that you will thrive in the end. And that you will help those who are meant to receive it. You have to let go of the rest. You have to realize that you are not responsible for anyone, but you can become a vessel that helps when there’s a way to do so. And I believe, if you open yourself up to that, then you will indeed become a vessel of good, instead of one that’s constantly fighting the waves on a stormy sea–only just about avoiding becoming a shipwreck.

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Winter…

The earth rose to greet her no matter the season. Today the air smelled of winter. It had that unmistakably clean tinge to it and was cold and crisp like an apple. It was almost as if though you could take a bite and it would crack like the skin of an apple, or a piece of ice. Frost was only a breath away.

Dreams clouded the sky–it was so heavy with them, she just about expected them to fall down and powder the earth with a fine layer of snow. Because in winter, people dreamed. Cooped up in their houses huddling by their fireplaces, they dreamed. They dreamed of long days and summer nights spent out in the wilderness catching fish, or kissing their latest lover, high on the essence of summer. And as people dreamed, the sky got clouded with their desires until they fell down like snow–sprinkling the earth with seeds that would blossom once summer arrived. At least if they were nurtured.

Snow. All she could think of was roses captured in Turkish delight. Smooth like ice. Cold. Dusted with powdered sugar, just as the earth would soon be dusted with snow.

People did not associate roses with winter, but today she felt sure roses were just what she needed and what should go on the menu tomorrow. Some light pink Turkish delight to match the soft grays of the clouded sky. And if combined with something made with mint, it would be cool, too.

Roses were soft and sweet and people needed that on days like these when the grayness of the world threatened to swallow them. Yet, there was an edge to all the gray. A sharpness–a bite in the air that turned your cheeks into roses in their own right. As much as your senses were dulled by the gray color scheme, they were awakened by the cold. It was impossible not to get a thrill when walking briskly in this weather.

So that’s what she did–Violette went for a brisk walk through the sleeping little town. The streets winded around sand colored houses. Walking along those streets, Violette felt comforted knowing that she knew every turn. Every step was familiar to her.

Then she stopped. In front of her was a red parcel. Neatly wrapped and sealed with wax, it stood on the pavement like a stop sign. A tag was attached to the parcel with a piece of twine and suddenly the tag moved with an unexpected gust of wind that seemed to have come out of nowhere. It was a still morning. The morning before frost. The morning before snow. The air was practically heavy with it. Heavy and still.

As the tag moved, Violette took a step closer. The tag was black and her name was written on it in purple. Purple paint. As she leaned down to take a closer look, the scent of violets greeted her nostrils. Spooked she took an involuntary step back. Her grandma had always done that–scented her gifts with violets–but she’d been gone for many years now. Violette ran her bakery. Lived in her house. Cared for her plants and her customers alike. So who was this parcel from and why was it standing in the middle of the pavement?

The sun had only just grazed the sky with that kind of bright yet muted yellow light that signifies a winter morning. It mixed together with the gray to create that perfect winter sky. The fact that it was a Sunday and the sun had just risen explained why no one else had found the package. This was peoples’ day off. A time to sleep and mend old socks and friendships, not a time for getting out of bed at the crack of dawn. Though, admittedly, many people did. They just didn’t set about walking through the village unless they had a very urgent errand. All shops were closed–even her bakery.

Violette felt a shiver move through her. She took a step closer toward the parcel again. This time, she touched it. It felt good. Warm somehow, even though it was cold to the touch.

She turned the tag around.

“My dear Violette, when you receive this I will be long gone, but your dreams will still be alive. Your heart beating in your chest, your keen eyes always studying and learning, and your mind stirring with questions and answers. You’re a seeker, yet someone who is content to stay mostly in one place. You love your home, but would like to see the world for short periods of time. I have no doubt you will undertake many short journeys. Maybe even a grand one, one day. However, in the meantime, I give you this gift. I told Xe to drop it off when passing through town next. He might come see you, he might not. He’s a curious fellow with a brilliant mind, not unlike yours. You’ll enjoy his company if he does pop by. I told him to leave you the gift where you’ll find it. Given it’s Xe, it might be at an unexpected place. I may not be able to hug you, but I will always love you, Gran.”

Violette stared at the tag, that, by now, felt burning hot on her skin. It was a note from her gran from beyond the grave. Tears rose to her eyes. On the darkest day of the year, her gran had given her a gift.

It was a miracle. Only, of course, it wasn’t. It was just her gran thinking ahead and planning a lovely surprise for her. But then miracles are often like that–small things that are exactly what we need.

As of late, Violette had felt restless. Like she had to go some place, only she didn’t know where yet. She was not so patiently waiting for it to reveal itself. The place she was meant to go, that is. And how she was meant to get there also needed to become clear. She knew the day would come when she’d know, but in the meantime, she’d taken to pacing her kitchen at night and drinking way too much lemon balm and mint tea to soothe her restless mind.

Violette scooped up the gift, and turned around to return to the bakery. She couldn’t wait to unwrap the gift and make her Turkish delight and mint…mint caramels, she decided. Some would be crushed and sprinkled over the Turkish delight. Soothing. They’d be soothing. She needed that now. Just as she needed to open the burning hot gift resting in her arms.

This week we’ve been celebrating the winter solstice here in the southernmost tip of Africa. I’ve been listening to First Frost (again), drunk mulled wine, baked apple pie, lit several fires and candles (a candle is currently burning bright next to me and a fire is blazing downstairs), baked french bread, eaten popcorn with chipotle sauce and butter, collected pine cones and chased shy rays of sunshine. As the weekend approached, this came to me. Well snippets of this came to me. Something about Turkish delight, the scent of winter rising from the earth, and dreams snowing from the sky. The rest I penned now. It’s part of my collection of short stories that will, possibly, add up to a book one day. A book, possibly, called The Jester. There’s a lot of possibly in there. You will find the other chapters/stories here.

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Filed under Magical Realism, Winter, Writing

The Superwoman crisis…

Do you ever feel like you’re fighting the snot wars? I do. All the time.

It’s winter in Africa and the little one I raise has had three colds in five weeks. Of course, I’ve had most of those colds too. Single parenthood, toppled with colds and oh, winter holidays. Because crèche here closes for three weeks?! And parents are meant to…pay even more for childcare? During COVID?

So you work from home, while blowing the little one’s nose. Over and over again.

The other night, I had the pleasure of being awoken in the middle of the night and then peed down. Literally. I was peed down. Ever tried to night potty train? Oh yeah, that.

In the middle of the night, I swore. I said a long line of unsuitable words only a Londoner would know. Then, of course, I felt ashamed of myself. So I swore at myself instead.

Some days, I feel like we’re fighting poverty, world hunger, the education crisis (on a micro scale) and a few other things at Little Angels. Some days, I feel like my movies will entertain, enlighten and make the world a better place. Some days, I feel like all the work I do in the personal development field is turning me into the next Dale Carnegie. And some days, I’m fighting the snot wars and learning how not to swear at midnight.

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Filed under diary, Humor, Musings, Parenthood, Parenting, Uncategorized

The incredible dream…

As we get older, heck, even in our twenties, we often realize there are some things we do over and over again. Some of those things are great. We are always on time. We always manage to pay our bills. We always date kind guys. Other times, they aren’t so great. We’re never on time. We only just manage to pay the bills. We always date emotionally unavailable guys. We fuck up in the same way over and over again. It’s our dysfunctional pattern, whatever it may be.

Sometimes, it’s more subtle. We’ve lived in a similar manner for years. What was once exciting has now grown stagnant. It’s no longer putting a smile on our face; no longer fulfilling us.

And change…how do you create it? At times, it seems pretty damn impossible, doesn’t it? How are you going to create something you’ve never had?

There are two ways around this.

The first is structure. If you’ve always been bad at managing accounts, hire an accountant. If you’re bad at exercising, hire a personal trainer. Alternatively, read some books on the topic you want to get better at, then set up a plan. A structure. To stick to the new structure, get an accountability partner.

The second, is to dare to dream. If you’ve never brought in the millions it seems incredible to do so, doesn’t it? Yet your neighbor, has never earned less than 200k a year and, by now, sit on plenty of millions thanks to wise investments. How does your neighbor think? What’s normal to them? What’s a small amount of money to them? What’s a large amount of money to them? For them, not bringing in the millions is as unthinkable as it is for you to bring them in.

When something becomes possible, it suddenly becomes attainable. Not in a foggy dreamlike sort of way, but in a real, practical kind of way. It’s incredible what opportunities come along once you dare to dream up a new possibility. A new way of life. The life of your neighbor.

It’s time to imagine having some fun. Some real life fucking magic. Because it’s possible. Just as if by magic.

You can find my poetry on Insta: @TheMagiqueBoutique

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Filed under Inspiration, Inspirational, Motivation, Poem, poetry

Alight…

Sometimes a kind of glory lights up a man…

Sometimes it does. Sometimes we stumble upon those events that light us up like firework. Other times we don’t.

Truth be told, life can be hard. So hard. And we’re all looking to achieve different things, walking up staircases that, at times, seem endless. We feel drained. Our muscles need oxygen. We may resort to coping mechanisms ranging from binge watching Netflix to binge drinking alcohol to get through. But that only drains us further.

It’s at those times we need to remember that we don’t have to wait for the magic. The magic is already within us.

As we walk up those steps, we can turn on that magic. The song that makes us dance. The melody that makes us remember something out of this world. The clothes that make us believe we rule. The food that makes our heart sing. The friends who make us smile. The little treats that make our life worth living.

And the funny thing is, once we do that a kind of glory lights us up from within. We start to skip up the steps. And the magic we so craved, but could find nowhere, suddenly returns. Those magical events we thought had deserted us come back in abundance. And so magic comes from within and without.

It’s true what Steinbeck said–that sometimes we encounter people and events that light us up. But it’s also true that we are the light in our own life. And from time to time, we are the light that fuels someone else’s glow. We are the event that sets the night sky on fire.

Yours truly,

Dizzy Blonde

My poetic musings on Insta. @TheMagiqueBoutique

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