Tag Archives: Personal Development

It’s time to pull the zipper down…

There are moments in life that undress you. One moment you stand there fully clothed and the next you’re stark naked.

I always liked when people got naked. Usually it’s when they run into trouble, face their demons and crack open. Their carefully crafted coping mechanisms fail. The ego driven patterns they’re hiding their flaws behind crack. And suddenly they find themselves naked. Usually uncomfortable for them, but nice for the onlookers, who suddenly see their heart.

Maybe they need to wash off some of the crap they’ve landed themselves in, but their heart is right there. And it’s beautiful.

I had one of those moments the other day. Someone asked me something along the lines of: “Wouldn’t your gran like to have had one more experience? Like if you’d asked her before she died, wasn’t there something she wished she’d done?” And my reply was: “No, she’d just have wanted to spend more time with her family.”

When I said it I didn’t think too much about it, but when I came home it made me teary-eyed. One, because that side of the family is gone save from my sister and I. Two, because I’ve been driven by so many other things than my gran was — she was driven by family and she was happy and content, save from when people started passing over. That was her downfall — she couldn’t deal with that and let new people enter her life.

I, on the other hand, have had many incredible experiences all over the world, but it wasn’t until the past five odd years I started feeling remotely happy being me. And it wasn’t until last year I started taking my social life seriously. Because even though I knew more people than most could dream of, I was so scared of rejection I never focused on actually stitching it all together. And while this blog can attest to my many epiphanies surrounding dating over the years, I never truly thought myself capable of finding a man who loved me that I loved. Until possibly earlier this year.

I know I’m a bit of an adrenaline and experience junkie. And I get high on breaking convention. I also get a sense of fulfillment from film and Magique, as well as Little Angels, that I don’t think my gran got from her work. But I also know that as a child I filled my life with stories because I felt lonely — I was bullied and unhappy around my step-mom so I hid in books.

Yesterday I went to the doctor as I’ve caught the latest Cape Town epidemic: a stomach bug. Nothing serious, just an upset tummy, but you know after a week you start feeling a tad drained. The kind doctor put me on a fast — rehydration drinks for 24 hrs followed by bread and potatoes only for 24 hrs.

Now, I’ve done a lot of juice fasts in my day and they’re fascinating, because food is one of those feel good things. Makes you happy when you taste yummy things. Also gives you energy. When you don’t have energy you get cranky and start facing your demons. Same thing if you’re bored and alone without distraction.

Today, I realized, while tired and grumpy, just how addicted I am to food. And get me right: I’m pro a certain level of food addiction. Life should be tasty, if you ask me. But I can also see how a good book and a glass of wine, or a treat and my favorite Netflix, is a substitute for going out there and meeting people. I think good books, food and Netflix are wonderful,  it’s just using one good thing to replace another isn’t a great strategy.

Co-incidentally (if there is such a thing) I’m reading Brand’s Recovery at the moment as I always wanted an excuse to attend an AA meeting so I could learn the darn steps. Now there’s a book for that. Not that I think it can substitute what you get from the group meetings, in fact I believe if you suffer from any kind of addiction AA should be your next stop (take it from one who has known and dated enough former addicts to break the rules of probability), but for us who don’t want to turn into addicts to join AA it’s a great book. At least if you’ve lived in London and are used to foul language.

Anyway, my point, dear readers, is that I realized I have my little addictions. I already knew I had patterns. Run from loneliness by creating loneliness is one of them (sounds counter-intuitive, but hey, constantly moving round the world and being a workaholic you’re too busy to get a stabile social life so you never need feel rejected). Using food and stories to combat loneliness is an addiction though. I always said that books were my drug as a kid. If it hadn’t been for stories I thought I’d ended up committing suicide or taking drugs. I never wanted to do either, but I figured that’s because I had something that gave me hope. People always look at me with incredulity when I say those things these days, because I’m no longer the shy kid hiding in my room, petrified of my step-sisters cool friends, but I still carry that child inside me. The child that couldn’t for the life of her understand why she didn’t have friends. Couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her, but figured she was seriously flawed somehow.

The truth is, I never fully opened up. I tried. Just as I tried liking myself. And it gets better all the time. I no longer want to run into walls because I hate myself so much and the experience in hospice was the latest thing that made me feel like I cracked open. And that comment about gran’s greatest desire brought it home even more — because there are few things more important than the people in our lives. I need to open myself up to those people. Unlike gran it isn’t just about family for me. I think everyone we love is family. And there are a whole bunchload of people I really love. I’d like to be fully present with them. And spend as much time with them as physically possible.

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Image source: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/507780926729710690/

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Love is a beautiful battle…

A few weeks ago I was having a phone conversation with my best friend. I had flown to Athens to see her and was really looking forward to seeing her, so I was trying to arrange a meeting. She launched into a monologue about what her schedule looked like, that she never came into central Athens during the weekend, or evenings, when I was free, she was so busy and blah, blah, blah.

I had had a shit week, I had PMS and the one thing that kept me going was the idea of alone time, on a beach, or anywhere in nature, with my best friend. As I did have PMS I was struggling with an insane amount of thinking I was unlovable, so by the time I hung up the phone, ready to cry because somehow I had now triggered my best friend into treating me unlovingly as well, I felt like shit.

I knew I had to do two things: I had to tell my best friend she was behaving like a twat and I had to excuse myself for, most likely, trying to provoke her into behaving like a twat. Because if you feel unlovable, you provoke people into doing things to prove you right. And you have to understand, when I have PMS you can tell me I have coffee on my nose and I will think you hate me, or that you are the biggest idiot alive, the world has come to an end and we can all just prepare for doomsday.

So I wrote my best friend a funny message about PMS where I pointed out the above. As it turned out, she had turned around and just yelled at her boyfriend a few hours later and he had calmly picked up the calendar and told her she had PMS.

She had had social demands on her, for a week, so when I told her to come into Athens she lost it, because she had PMS.

I didn’t enjoy messaging my friend to sort out whatever weird “actions” (drama school language for mental as well as physical actions we have towards people) and purposes (drama school language for what our psychological gain is for doing something) we had during that conversation, but my relationship with her is a lot more valuable to me than my discomfort is discomforting.

Which brings me to the next point.

Last night I came home after a long day. I had been rockclimbing the day before (amazing!) and spent all of yesterday out with friends. You see, last week, I decided that it was time for me to do what I love in order to build my spirit and regain my strenght, so as to have strenght to work and get back to the kids after visa hick-up number four. I had an incredbile weekend, but I was physically spent. That’s when I received a message from my baby girl in Cape Town.

As some of you know I help raise a pair of ten-year-old twins and their now one-year-old baby brother in the township and I’ve fought visas and adoption rules for about four years; having known them for five. This journey is the hardest journey I’ve ever had and I’ve been on the brink of emotional collapse more than once.

Last night I got all these messages saying she loves me, the baby has taken his first steps, and then she sent me this crying emoji and I asked her why. She’s like “it’s just the baby ❤ ❤ ❤ ” and I said I wish I was there to hold him and she sent the below picture. Cue me bursting into tears. She even found an image with the right skin tones. I don’t know why that made me more emotional, but it did.

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I had just been thinking of how tired I am. I have spent you don’t want to know how much money setting up a business and going round the world on a visa mission to be with these kids and I’ve messed up my career, my social life and my life in general and I’m beyond exhausted. Sometimes I don’t know how to keep going.

At that moment, all I wanted was a hug. Not from a friend, but from a man. It’s all I’ve wanted since I started helping the kids, because I’ve wanted someone to be there for me. Support me. Not do my job for me, just be there. Just hug me. And it’s the kind of intimacy you’ll never get from a friend, because it feels different. Friends help, but a relationship is intimate on a whole other level.

Yet, a few weeks ago when I was talking to my coach and he was giving me “love goals” I was telling him I didn’t understand how to achieve them, because let’s face it: I might know a gazillion things about relationships, and I might get 800 men swiping right on Tinder in a few weeks (true story, ego hallelujah), but falling in love makes me feel so terribly uncomfortable (unlovable and not good enough) that I spend most of my time trying to become perfect (impossible) and end up giving up on the whole thing because it’s too uncomfortable feeling like I’m not perfect.

This is when my coach told me that he’s seen me with the kids for five years and no matter what life threw me, I didn’t stop. Nothing stopped me.

I remember thinking when gran got senile and I was helping her in the bathroom, that love isn’t pretty, but it is beautiful. Love isn’t easy, but it is worth it. And my childhood didn’t make it easy for me to accept love, instead I strove to be perfect feeling I wasn’t good enough. I’ve often felt my adult life has been a long fight of not giving into the demons of my childhood; a long fight of opening myself up to love and joy and letting go of depression and self-hatred.

The question maybe I should ask myself is this: if my kids and best friend are worth me overcoming my demons, my fears and my discomfort, maybe my own happiness (a.k.a being loved by a man I truly have a connection with) would be worth the same? It’s a question of will.

I’m not perfect. My best friend isn’t perfect. My gran wasn’t perfect. My kids aren’t perfect. But we are all perfectly lovable. And it is perfectly possible to create great relationships. You just wade through the discomfort, is all. Because it is worth it.

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The milk and cookies rebound…

We’ve all had one right? A rebound. The restoration shag, or date, or…just about anything goes so long as it’s not Him or Her. It’s like milk and cookies when having a bad day: it restores your mind and heart by giving you a rush. You’re no longer down in the dumps, you’re functioning again. You might even see the rainbow after the rain.

For that reason, I am all pro rebounds. You went from being down in the dumps to functional. Realized there were more people to date than your ex. Marvelous. Or if you were onto the milk and cookies rebound, you found some energy and realized the world wasn’t half as bad as you thought half an hour ago. Again: marvelous.

Restoration shags/dates/cookies, if you so like, are one way of getting out of the dumps and back into the world of the living. The problem (you knew that was coming, didn’t you?)? The problem is that if you’re constantly living your life in reaction to events, you are no longer the captain of your ship (mind and body).

You had a bad day, so you call your friend to go for drinks, to take your mind off the day. That means you aren’t going there to enjoy the company of your friend and the bar; you’re going there to get away from your thoughts about the day. Which means you aren’t likely solving whatever problem is bugging you either.

In other words, what’s your end result for the evening? Moping about your problems, running away from them, or having fun with your friend?

That’s not to say that venting, getting love and encouragement from a friend, or taking your mind off things, isn’t a good idea. It can be a great idea. If that’s what you want to create. If that’s what your heart desires.

The thing is, we do all sorts of shit just because of how we are feeling in the moment. We try to release whatever tension we’re holding around something by doing something else. If what you truly want is to create a relationship with your soulmate, going to a bar to find someone to shag is not going to get you any closer, unless intuitively you know that going to that bar that night will take you closer to your goal.

Rebound techniques are similar to simply unleashing our frustration. Like, you know, wanting to create an amazing relationship with someone, only to yell at them when they say, or do something that hurts you. Do you really think you’ll create what you’d love (an amazing relationship), by trying to hurt them because you feel hurt?

Whether you’re feeling frazzled, or happy, stop. Ask yourself what you’d love to create right now. What would you truly love to create? Then take obvious action.

If you’re feeling lonely one night, then curling up on the couch with a movie and a bucket of ice cream might make you feel better, but what becomes obvious is that you should find something to do where you meet people. Possibly not that night, but for the future. Open Google and do some work on that, then you can have the ice cream and the movie.

Quick fixes are sometimes brilliant solutions as they get you in the right frame of mind for creating what you’d love, but remember that if you want to create long term highs, you need to ask yourself what you’d truly love to create, not just resolve the psychological tension around whatever’s bugging you at the moment.

Aniston and Butler in a photo shoot for W Magazine. Unfortunately there are no cookies in there, but see, I found at least one sexy picture with milk… 

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Life’s a bitch and then you have an orgasm…

Do you ever complain about life? I do. Life can be a bitch sometimes. Seriously. And there are times when you despair. You’ve banged your head against the same wall for what seems like an eternity. Every door that opened got slammed in your face, or led to a dead end. Your thoughts start circling in a negative downspiral and life starts feeling like it sucks.

This year I decided to pull my head out of the gutter. However, there have been a few slamming doors this year too and after walking head first into a door rather recently I started despairing. I thought I’d be stuck in the same situation forever. And as one thing was tied to another, that was tied to another, that was tied to another, I felt trapped. Like I’d never find a way out. The kids I help raise are in Cape Town, so I need to get back. For that reason I can’t change jobs, can’t do this, can’t do that, am financially strapped…and I have felt very stuck for a very long time.

Have I felt like a victim and pitied myself? Oh you have no idea. Have I gotten angry and wanted to punch a number of government officials? Hell to the yes. Have I panicked and felt like the lousiest extra parent in the world and hated myself for it? Gosh, you have no idea what a terrible person I am and how much I can possibly hate myself. Have I awoken in a state of panic from dreams of the kids, screaming, hyper ventilating, or crying? Way too many times to count. Sometimes I’m scared of sleeping.

Have I wanted to give up? Yes. I’ve felt like there is no strenght left in me. Like I’ll never win this fight. Like there’s no joy left in life. Like there is no way out of this blooming visa-adoption-career nightmare.

This year I decided to choose art. Choose poetry. Choose magical moments. Choose to believe that what I can do for the kids is a blessing, not that what I can’t do is a curse. In general, do what I can to enjoy what I can. When a door closes a window opens. It is all about that window. About the moment. About what you can do.

Some times are harder than others. It’s inevitable…and sometimes we invite it by doing something utterly stupid. We need to forgive ourselves. Give ourselves the gift of allowing ourselves to enjoy the moment. Give that joy to others. And slowly change our life and that of those around us simply by growing flowers in the mud. As the story goes, I prefer satin and Egyptian cotton sheets, but there’s nothing saying you can’t have an orgasm on whatever you picked up at Ikea. And I’m talking about the sheets you pick up there, not the men. Should Ikea come up with an invention for “easy-to-put-together-Scandinavian-men” that included the perfect user manual maybe I’d consider it, but Scandinavian men are generally not my type. I prefer the more exotic version…

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Poem No. 69: Desire of Life. Writing poetry for Magique is one of the things that’s resurrected my spirits this year. Poetry, to me, is like growing flowers in the mud when you focus on the beauty of life. This poem was written today. More poetry can be found here

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Brave heart…

this is my heart

It’s easy to be wise – it’s harder to convince your emotions just how wise you are. It takes years of practice not to run with every ridiculous impulse you have and yet years to learn to run with the true impulses, those that come from your spirit, your heart. It take year of practice to learn to listen to your thoughts; to really hear what’s going on within and be able to disregard the thoughts that count not and listen to the ones that do. To make a decision to act from the place you truly want to act from, rather than acting from a place of fear, of over the top excitement, of disappointment, or grief. It takes pratice to be true to you.

It takes bravery to follow your passions – to dare to lose that which you desire the most. To dare to give up what you do not desire at all and some things you really like, so as to reach what you truly love. We can’t have it all, but we can have this moment. It is within it we need to live and choose, choose every step of our journey now. It is in the now we practice to be whom we must to reach to where we want and at the same time be here, be now. Live. Breathe. Fully explore our hearts. Listen. Feel. Really be present to who we are; what we need. Fully enjoy the miracle of life in all its pain and pleasure.

And may I ask you this: if you had no fear, what would you do now? If you relaxed and instead of trying to do something, just did it, how would life feel? If you followed your heart, where would you end up? Those are the questions I ask myself and patiently await an answer…

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Beautiful you…

I love flowers

Dare to stick your neck out...into the flower field...

Knock, knock, who’s in there? Will you come out? Will you show me the beautiful you? Will you share your love and laughter with the world today? Hiding in the shadows doesn’t bring much light to your eyes. Walking in the sunshine makes your skin sparkle and your eyes twinkle with delight.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been a master at hiding. Since age nine, or so, I remember walking in roundabout ways to avoid people I thought would rather not see me. I remember locking myself into my room to avoid my step family. I remember looking down when a cute guy passed my path in fear of rejection. I remember feeling like a burden; an unwanted piece of something, that was better off hiding so as not to disturb others.

To this day I sometimes still retract; hide in a corner. Frightened that my company is unwanted; a burden on someone else. I don’t dare to open up and show the beauty that is me. I don’t dare to give.

If you aren’t sharing the light that is truly you. If you aren’t showing off your talents, your smile, your gorgeous, gorgeous laughter, you are doing the world, not to mention yourself, a disfavor.

The world is not here to judge you – the world is here to love you.  The world is not here to put you down – the world is here to enjoy you. The world is not here to punch you in the face – the world is here to fall in love with you. You see though, the tricky thing is for the world to enjoy you, they have to see you. For the world to receive your gifts, you have to give them. For the world to laugh at your jokes, you have to tell them. For the world to hear your stories, you have to share them. For the world to fall in love with you, you have to fall in love with the world.

And if you want for someone else to open, you have to love them open. Like a flower opens to the sun, humans open to love. That doesn’t mean there can’t be boundaries and discipline and telling someone right from wrong, that too is love, but without love all is empty. Without love we all close up. And so, you also have to love yourself open, so that you can see the beautiful you. So that the world gets a chance to enjoy you and you get a chance to enjoy the world.

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The Dalai Lama…

Gendun Drup, 1st Dalai Lama

Image via Wikipedia

“We can live without religion and meditation, but we cannot survive without human affection.” – Dalai Lama. I think the man has a point (no, really? The Dalai Lama???…) We grow our businesses, we grow our social networks, we grow our bank accounts…but do we grow our affection for friends, family and lovers? Do we sit down to think about how we can build our relationships? How we need to be loved? How we can love more?

“I believe that the very purpose of life is to be happy. From the very core of our being, we desire contentment. In my own limited experience I have found that the more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being. Cultivating a close, warmhearted feeling for others automatically puts the mind at ease. It helps remove whatever fears or insecurities we may have and gives us the strength to cope with any obstacles we encounter. It is the principal source of success in life. Since we are not solely material creatures, it is a mistake to place all our hopes for happiness on external development alone. The key is to develop inner peace.” I have said this before, but when our focus shifts from what people think about us, what we want from them, to what we can give them our own fear of judgment (ego) subsides and we experience the person and relationship in a new light. There is also a lot of fulfillment in the act of giving. I keep wondering: if we were all brought up to save the world, rather than to think about the “perks” we want…our own personal success…what would the world look like? Where would our focus be? On peace, on material wealth for all, on great health, on solutions… Now it’s a lot about Porsches…about “look at what I achieved for me.”

“In the practice of tolerance, one’s enemy is the best teacher.” “This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.” To bear this in mind when we are angry, sad, frustrated, upset…who is it we want to be? Never mind the other person – WHO ARE WE? How do you want to see yourself? How do you act FROM THAT PLACE??? And how do you look after YOUR TEMPLE?

“As human beings we all want to be happy and free from misery… we have learned that the key to happiness is inner peace. The greatest obstacles to inner peace are disturbing emotions such as anger, attachment, fear and suspicion, while love and compassion and a sense of universal responsibility are the sources of peace and happiness.” What do you do every day to feel peace and happiness? And how do you change all other emotions to peace and happiness? Do you allow yourself to go off on tangents just because you get an adrenaline/testosterone kick, or do you bring yourself back to peace and happiness asap?

“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” What actions do you take on a daily basis that make you happy? Which actions would you love to take?

“We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.” When we blame, when we yell and scream at others…where does it come from?

“Where ignorance is our master, there is no possibility of real peace.” What small pains, annoyances and disturbances are you ignoring? What little thorns do you need to deal with to make you happy? To make your relationships happy? To make your business/career thrive?

“If you have fear of some pain or suffering, you should examine whether there is anything you can do about it. If you can, there is no need to worry about it; if you cannot do anything, then there is also no need to worry.” I realized this one day when I was thinking of my fear of illness and death (my mom died from cancer in her thirties) – whatever happens I will live through it…so I might as well just be happy in the process! Where you put your focus determines you happiness to a large extent. For example: the other day I got upset about my knee. I can’t really go running that often anymore and as soon as I stand up for days in a row, it goes wonky. So I started despairing, because I wanted to go running and in my head a I saw a scenario of not being able to go jogging for forever. But either I can think of that, or about all the blessings in my life. After all, I can still run. I can still walk. I can still dance!!!!!!!!!! I live a blessed life.

“If you don’t love yourself, you cannot love others. You will not be able to love others. If you have no compassion for yourself then you are not able of developing compassion for others.” “With realization of one’s own potential and self-confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world.” So many times you meet people who want to have many things in life only to prove they are worth something, instead of finding their inherent worth. Whether they need to have a new hottie by their side every day, or win a prize for their abilities…the path becomes about proof of worthiness rather than love.

“To be aware of a single shortcoming within oneself is more useful than to be aware of a thousand in somebody else. Rather than speaking badly about people and in ways that will produce friction and unrest in their lives, we should practice a purer perception of them, and when we speak of others, speak of their good qualities.” We all need to analyze and understand things at times and we may speak of our process, but one needs to remember that whatever one says it will color other people’s perception of the world. To say you want a happy relationship, or a happy career…I believe you have to understand that first you need to find the love in you, the love for others and the love for the path you now choose to walk.

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