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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sometimes we die. Not literally, but it’s as if our flame burns out. We’re tired. We don’t seem to have enough energy to get excited about anything.
Usually we cause this ourselves. We do this thing whereby we think thoughts that don’t serve us. We obsess about our mortgage payments, or losing our job, or failing our exams, or our daughter’s battle with drugs. Or maybe we obsess about how little our parents love us or how little our partner cares. We get lost in a cloud of despair, or hopelessness. Or maybe not even that, it’s just we waste our energy on entirely the wrong thoughts.
Then, suddenly, we have a good sleep. Or we see a man who makes us smile. Or a friend gives us a good laugh. Or something stirs our passions.
Then, then you feel it coming back. Your body starts to tingle. Your mind starts to sing. You feel desire brewing within you. The desire to do what you love. To live your passions instead of your fears. To think about what you love, instead of what you do not like.
It’s like that first cup of coffee in the morning that makes your eyes pop open and your mind become alert. Suddenly, the air is filled with opportunity. And life, life seems a brilliant journey once more.
This is your life. Your journey. Choose where you put your focus. You can do the exact same thing you’re doing now, but live a completely different reality.
There are things in life that awaken us. Make our soul take a twirl on the dance floor. Make our heart smile. Those things–those glorious things–are sometimes forgotten. A career that was at first fun turns into an all-consuming death trap. Not that it kills us, but it kills the joy in our lives. We get busy. We brush our teeth and put our kids to bed. We get tired. And somewhere we forget to stop to breathe. Not to smell the flowers–most of us stop for long enough to do that from time to time–but to seek out those things that make our soul twinkle with the joy of life. And then, sometimes, we remember. We run into a person. We see something that reminds us of, well, ourselves. Of those particles of ourselves that make up the true fabric of who we are. We stop. And then we start to sway with the music. We remember. We remember what makes our soul dance.
I just read a message in a group I’m part of. They were talking about a boy in South Africa who was attacked with a hammer by a group of boys said boy knows. They didn’t know why he was attacked. Maybe because he does sport instead of gangsterism?
A few weeks back an acquaintance of mine’s maid’s son was killed by gangsters. Stoned in front of the family. A case of mistaken identity, most probably.
These things happen here. All the time. And I was thinking today, it’s not about helping that one kid. That one family. It’s about putting systems in place to help communities at large.
Of course, we all fall in love with that one kid. That one family. And we all get personally affected when they’re affected. To think about the bigger picture at such times is not always easy. What’s more, individuals need attention too. We all stumble. We all fall. We all need people who pick us up and dust us off.
It also crossed my mind that in other places, these things would be big news. Here it’s so common that chances are it won’t make the papers.
I know a lot of people in the US have been angry recently. The elections stirred up a lot of emotions. But how about thinking about how well off we all are if we have quite a few systems in place that serve us instead? Yes, there are inequalities. Yes, things can improve. But if you don’t live in fear of gangsters breaking into your house and stoning your family, you’re still ahead of some places. If you have an educational system, even if not perfect, you’re still ahead of some places. And if you have opportunities for help when unwell, you’re ahead of many places. I know people here who have waited for an ambulance for about 12 hours. Lastly, if you’re allowed to express your opinion without anyone threatening you, you’re ahead of some places.
Random things will happen anywhere. But if you live in a fairly functional society, where there are several systems in place to support you, you’ve struck gold.
You can bicker about what you don’t agree with. You can create separation from friends and family because of politics. Or you can, together, cherish what you have that is working. Try to figure out how you can grow even better together. Agree to disagree on other factors.
COVID. I haven’t blogged since COVID turned life upside down.
I’ve had a lot of good come out of COVID. I’m not ungrateful. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve grown. I’ve changed a lot of shit around and gotten rid of some shit, too.
I’ve even managed to create some epic experiences.
From time to time though, I get bored. I start climbing the walls and want to run around screaming. I feel confined. By four walls and some rather stunning mountains.
That’s when it’s time to get naughty. Indulge your imagination. Go on a tour of your mind. A mind blowing tour. Let yourself get excited again. Remember what you love. What stirs your soul. What makes your heart beat faster. What makes smiles appear as if out of nowhere and caress your lips.
Make yourself scream from excitement.
Remember. There is passion. Even if you’re currently staring at four walls.
Are you someone who snorts horse tranquilizers? Didn’t think so. But if you’re trying to quit smoking, you may tell yourself that just one drag is OK. But you are not a smoker, just as you’re not someone who snorts horse tranquilizers. And someone who doesn’t snorts horse tranquilizers doesn’t sometimes have a whiff.
This example, from Jen Sincero, made stop in my tracks. And laugh out loud.
Ever decided to turn your phone off when driving? I have. Which means I no longer check texts at traffic lights. But do you know how many times I thought to check texts at traffic lights when I first made this decision? And do you know how frustrating it is to sit there with nothing to do?
I’m not a person who willfully causes accidents. Therefore, I’m not a person who checks my texts at traffic lights. That’s it. A decision is a decision.
What’s helped me breaking this particular habit is audiobooks. It gives me something to think about while waiting for the lights to change. And when not busy listening to audiobooks, I play a game of looking around me to see how many details I can notice. As most of us drive the same roads every day without having a clue of what we’re actually seeing, this is a good exercise in observation.
Have you ever contemplated that you don’t even notice most of your life?
But back to audiobooks.
In general, audiobooks are helping me break a lot of habits. By filling my head with personal development books, I don’t have time to walk around thinking negative thoughts. I seriously recommend it for anyone prone to depression, or thoughts that don’t serve them in general. You can’t be depressed if you fill your head with thoughts that aren’t depressing and you can’t get stuck in unhealthy habits if you fill your head with healthy thoughts. And by infusing my brain with things such as how to make decisions that stick, I am implementing processes for a whole other life.
When you make a decision to break a habit/enforce a new habit, think of it as you would snorting horse tranquilizers. If you don’t snort horse tranquilizers, you don’t sometimes do it, because, well, you’re not a horse tranquilizer snorter. And if you decide you’re a gym goer, or entrepreneur, or generally awesome person, then you do what they would do. As a gym goer, you go to the gym. That’s it. There’s no room for negotiation.
Decide who you are. Then act as that person.
I decided I’m an entrepreneur and filmmaker.
That’s why, last week I launched Magique on Etsy. After seven years of running around the globe, trying to “figure it out” I decided it was time to put one product on the market. Not all the product types I wanted to, but one. I don’t even have all the digital products I want on the market. That won’t happen till, well, I’ve had the time to create them all. For now, it’s mainly poetry prints. And I’m freaking out about it. Because OMG it’s not all the things Magique stands for. It doesn’t feel like a full representation of the brand. And OMG I’ve been working till midnight every night and I’m not making money from it RIGHT NOW. But what do you think derailed me from launching for seven years? The idea of perfection and needing cash right now, amongst other things.
I developed an entire product line (a physical one) that got massive praise and that I spent, literally, hundreds of hours developing together with a brand I spent another couple of hundreds of hours sweating over as I couldn’t pay for graphic designers to do it all. And the website. Another hundred hours (then I forgot to pay the damn domain fees and lost it all and now have to start from scratch. I learned WordPress for that site and let me tell you it’s not as easy as it sounds).
But did I launch? No. Just before doing it I always stopped. I didn’t have money to produce the physical products. I didn’t know how to operate the company with all the moving parts. If I broke it down, I didn’t know what product to start with. I traveled too much as I didn’t have a visa. All the stuff with the kids got in the way. I needed to make money RIGHT NOW. There was always something. And they were very valid somethings at times. They sounded like the perfect excuses. Anyone can understand that while you’re raising a kid with autism who’s smashing the furniture and trying to support golly know how many kids from a township while applying for visas you don’t have time to figure your business out. But I got my act together enough to start an Instagram account where I posted poetry related to the brand, as all our products come enchanted by words. And then I had this idea for digital products. And eventually I got the fuck on the fuck and launched the company on a full moon on Friday the 13th 2019. With six products.
Then I kept working.
Now there are more products.
I launched my business. Because I’m an entrepreneur.
And this morning, when wanting to go to the Cheesecake Factory and thinking about how long it will take till I get ot America…I decided to go to the local coffeeshop and buy cheesecake. Because I’m not someone who lives for delayed gratification. I’m someone who enjoys life.
Decide who you are. Then act on it.
I highly recommend: You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero. If you want to be a badass that is. If you want to sit on the couch/behind your office desk, bemoaning your life, then I highly recommend you do nothing.
In need of a last minute Christmas pressie? Or feel like buying one of my products and leave a review to support me on this journey of badassery? I’d appreciate it. I’d actually love it. So I’m giving everyone 65% off last minute Christmas gifts from Magique. As they’re digital downloads you can buy the download and print it at home, or at the local printers. If you buy something, send me a note so I can thank you for it.
It doesn’t interest me what you’ve done wrong. What your sins, or twisted thoughts are. I don’t care if you’ve been to jail, or been involved with a gang. We’ve all made mistakes. All desired the wrong things. All fucked up miserably. At some point, we’ve all failed. Simply because we walked into life backwards somehow. Got the wrong end of the dick stick. Were conditioned to do things that didn’t serve ourselves and others. We were turned sour by life.
And it doesn’t interest me what drugs you’ve taken to cope with it, or how much sex you’ve had to get through it. I don’t care if you’ve tried killing yourself, or ate till you couldn’t move. I don’t give a damn. So you weren’t given an instruction manual for life. None of us were. We all tried coping in different ways; some more successful than others.
No, what interests me is what’s inside your soul. What makes you smile, even when no one is watching. What makes your heart come alive with wonder and your eyes widen in amazement. I want to know what turns you on in life; what quickens your heartbeat and sends shivers down your spine.
I want to know your capacity for loving; how much love you have for your favorite passions and how much love you can give to another human. I want to see your willingness to serve another soul.
I want to know how much you’re willing to sacrifice to do the right thing. But I also want to know you don’t sacrifice so much you’re left wounded.
I want to see your soul, naked and beautiful.
I want to hear your heart beating with love.
I want to know that the passion within you is still there. And I want to see it awaken, like a spark turning into a fire. I want to see you set ablaze. I want to see you burn with the beauty of all that you are.
P.S. This post was inspired by Oriah Mountain Dreamer’s The Invitation (as seen to the left on this page…while I don’t agree with all of it, most of that poem is brilliant), just as For my lover: an invitation… was.