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.
As a human, this doesn’t exactly make me smile. As a writer, I find it hilarious. It’s like living in a science fiction comedy where panic has turned humans into anti-bac spraying, mask wearing, toilet paper obsessed morons.
It is the year when toilet paper trumps roses as birthday gifts. Not that I ever found roses particularly interesting, unless they come delivered as a bush. You know, so you can plant them, grow them, harvest the petals and use them in cooking, baking and teas. Then, roses make sense.
Not that I object a beautiful bouquet of flowers–they’re a symbol. A beautiful symbol at that. It’s just, they don’t make my heart race, or my imagination take flight. For that, more innovative and thoughtful gifts are required.
Toilet paper, unlike a bouquet of roses, you can use. And if someone writes cute poetry on it, you may even enjoy your visits to the bathroom a little bit more.
In fact, I’d totally get behind the idea of receiving loo roll with poetry on it.
The thing is, when something like COVID comes along that has the potential of flooding hospitals with patients and kill off a small percentage of the population, not least because hospitals are struggling with resources, it’s scary.
But just as when terrorism and immigration were seen as the scariest things in the world, it’s not the scariest thing in the world.
If you Google the stats, you’ll soon figure out that cancer is a lot more frightening. However, you can protect yourself from COVID in ways you can’t from cancer. Then again, certain cancers, are caused by toxins, HPV (a sexually transmitted disease), and lifestyle choices. And those cancers you can protect yourself from, but are you?
Are you living a healthy lifestyle devoid of toxins? Do you refrain from sex with a lot of different people? Are you building up your immune system?
Even with COVID, working on your immune system is a great idea. From what I’ve learned when penning health and wellness articles, that means good sleep, time in nature, exercise, healthy meals and a life with as little negative stress as possible. Certain herbs and spices may also help you build up your immune system.
What people believe to be the scariest thing in the world, often isn’t the scariest thing in the world. But that doesn’t mean it won’t kill some people. Take precaution. But also take precaution for things that aren’t perceived as immediate dangers. Such as having a heart attack due to poor lifestyle choices. I bet overdosing on fat and sugar doesn’t scare you half as much as COVID, but it should. Statistically speaking.
Personally, with COVID, I’d rather be safe than sorry. If I can socialize two meters apart, in nature and spray everything with anti-bac, I’m quite happy with that. For now.
That, however, does not mean I’ll focus on COVID. I don’t need to listen to COVID stories all day long. I don’t need to think about toilet paper. Hey, if we run out there are magazines and leafs and this thing called washing using water.
This year has been a rollercoaster for most of us. And some have lost near and dear ones to COVID. That’s horrible. But rollercoaster rides aren’t just horrible, they’re also a thrill and can give you the giggles. If nothing else, because everything’s upside down. So let’s focus on the good stuff, not on hand sanitizer.
You can choose your own trending words for the year. Such as art, creativity, nature, family, achievement, and happiness.
When things change, you have to find opportunities in things that present themselves in the now. Such as opening a bidet business, or manufacturing your own toilet paper. Or why not create a new exercise routine at home, launch the online business of your dreams, learn to grow your own vegetables, or finally meditate daily?
You’re your own boss. Now more so than ever.
No, you might not be able to travel to the other side of the world. But there is so much to be thankful for. This isn’t the plague and we aren’t living in the 1500s. That’s a starting point.
You have a beautiful soul. No matter what filthy mess you’ve gotten yourself into. No matter what financial mess you’ve created. No matter how much you fucked up with your spouse, the kids, the parents…you have a beautiful soul. It’s still in there. So stop beating yourself up and start living from that space instead.
No matter how many hours, days, weeks, or years, you’ve wasted messing yourself and/or your life and/or the people around you up, you can live a good life. Great life. Because you’re fucking A. Your soul is brilliantly beautiful and bloody marvelous. And you know it, don’t you?
We all know it.
Our own self-perception is weird, isn’t it? I keep thinking about what a mess my life is. It doesn’t matter how high up the ladder I climb, how kind people tell me I am, how many people I’ve helped…I keep looking at certain things thinking I’m an effing mess because I should be further along, or so I tell myself. Mess is my word of choice. I’m sure you have your own.
You can just live. This moment is all you have. And it’s your gift from up yonder. Yet, most of us have a measuring stick we are looking to, to check if we’re using this moment as we should. But what we really should is see it as a gift and live it as we want.
Maybe it’s just the other perfectionists and I who have that measuring stick. It’s natural that you know what’s good for your life and bad for your life. If you’re spending this moment robbing someone…well, it’s not going to serve you, or them. But if you are simply sitting there wondering if you achieved enough today, was good enough today, created enough today…then it’s time to shut up and start living instead of worrying. Enjoy yourself for F’s sake. Make use of this godly gift called life.
You know that one person who truly cares for your–the friend who loves you, the lover who treasured you, the child who adores you, the person who can’t wait to work with you again–maybe you should start seeing yourself through their eyes. Instead of thinking you aren’t worthy of their love and appreciation, act as a person who are. Accept that they see greatness in you, start seeing greatness in yourself and start acting as a person who is great.
And now I’m going to stop sulking about feeling behind in schedule and have a dose of I-love-myself-coffee. And possibly an Oreo cookie.
Have you ever listened to someone’s logic and found it completely illogical? I have. Many times. Just enter my mind and you’ll have the most logically proven illogical ideas floating about.
You see, as humans, we support our own logic based on anecdotal stories, beliefs, opinions, experience…you name it. What seems logical to us, is, in fact, completely and utterly illogical.
Here, let’s do an example.
I have two people in my life who don’t like seatbelts. Both claim it’s because they grew up in Africa and they love the freedom of driving without a seatbelt. Plus, they believe when your time is come, your time is come. So why bother with a seatbelt in the first place?
Let’s imagine these two going bungee jumping. They have a choice between two companies offering bungee jumps. One has a sign reading:
Bungee Jumps Offered Daily. 5 Out of 100 People Die as Ropes Sometimes Break. 10 Out of 100 Get Injured Due to Bad Quality Ropes.
Bungee Jumps Offered Daily. 100% Secure. No Deaths. No Injuries Caused by Equipment.
Now, what company do you think they’d choose?
It’s the same thing as wearing, or not wearing a seatbelt. Every day there are accidents on the road. Every day someone dies, or get injured. If you wear a seatbelt, chances of death and injury are less. If you’re in an accident wearing a seatbelt, you may end up with whiplash. Without it, you may end up with severe brain damage. Your choice.
Our subjective realities constantly blind us to logic.
Another favorite of mine: I drive better when I’m drunk. The proof? I’ve only had accidents when sober.
If we drive better when drunk, then science would long ago have proven that our ability to react is much better when drunk. On the contrary, it’s proven the opposite.
It’s like saying: I have only had accidents after eating peanut butter sandwiches, therefore, peanut butter sandwiches cause accidents. Sure enough, if you believe it, you may start driving more erratically after eating them… But it isn’t the truth. It only become true if you let your mind act on the belief.
The real truth is, we all have these things we believe to be true because we have stories and beliefs backing them up. And as is the case with drunk driving, some examples are pretty extreme. You’re willing to risk your own and other people’s lives because you believe in your own story.
Similarly, look at the story about “who you are.” Look at me. As a kid my mom died and I felt she rejected me before she died. Then I had to move classes a few years later due to circumstance and I was put in a class where I got picked on. I went from popular to nerd over night. Then I got a step-mom who emotionally abused me.
Now, that added up to me thinking there was something wrong with me. I thought that was a logical conclusion. I was rejected, therefore there was something wrong with me. Logical, right?! Is that the truth though? No. It’s not the truth. But I believed it, so I acted on it and my way of dealing with it was hiding away. I became shy. Very shy. Wouldn’t speak unless spoken to.
Being shy was a protection mechanism. I literally remember thinking I wasn’t going to let them see my real self, therefore they couldn’t reject the real me. If I just disappeared, they couldn’t judge me. And moving forward, I became the person who didn’t speak. Therefore, I became rejected. That meant that I could hold onto the belief that there was something wrong with me.
In short, I was the person believing peanut butter sandwiches cause accidents and therefore driving erratically.
I also had coping mechanisms. Like reading stories and escaping into another world and I practiced my skills to receive praise, so even if I couldn’t be loved, I could be admired. Fleeing into imaginary worlds and receiving admiration became my drugs. That then fell apart when I didn’t go onto becoming a world famous director straight out of school, but had to work odd jobs. I ended up depressed as hell, reached rock bottom and learned that actually, I didn’t have to achieve anything to love and accept myself, or be loved and accepted. All I had to do was open up.
That was the first time in years I started to feel like I didn’t have a gaping hole inside myself. The first time since my mother died, I suppose.
The thing is, not everyone change their story. They just keep doing things to back it up. Keep proving to themselves they’re right.
I was having an argument with an addict recently. My argument? Get help. Their argument? “I’m not ready, I’m waiting for “my moment,” plus right now I prefer being an addict. It makes me feel good for now. But it’s OK. I’ll be OK in the end. Because I wasn’t born an addict so I won’t die an addict.”
If you have ever been around addicts or read literature on it, you know that addicts use stories to support their addiction. And those stories are controlled by the addiction, not their real selves. Just like my actions used to be controlled by a story I made up about myself, not my real self. I was shy, because I believed in that story. I became rejected because I was shy, which proved my story to be true. I sought to achieve massive things in life to relieve the pain of that story. That was my addiction. And I sacrificed a ton of things for that addiction.
Usually addicts sacrifice a lot. They give up on doing everything they love or do significantly less of it, they’re neglecting relationships, they stop caring for their own health, they no longer hold themselves to the same moral standards they used to and they either isolate themselves, or surround themselves with people who enable their habit. In short, they’re slowly ruining all areas of their life (sometimes they manage to keep one area decently clean, depending on importance, such as a job that enables them to buy drugs is far more important than friends, for example) and putting the drug of choice in center stage. The drug slowly becomes more important than anything else.
I’ve spoken to people in recovery about this. How the drug is always right. If getting the drug means not seeing your child, then you don’t see your child. If getting the drug means stealing, then you steal. If getting the drug means lying, then you lie. Whatever it takes to get the drug/get high, is justified. It becomes the new logic. Because it’s the only thing that makes them feel good.
From the outside, it’s lunacy. For them, it’s totally logical. They feel good. They’re fine. Their bodies are shutting down. They’re living in squalor. They’re fine. Because they have their drug.
Of course, they have moments of clarity, but it’s fine. It’s all fine, because they’re in control. When they want to get well again they will. They can handle it.
Their logic is completely fucked. And they can’t see it. Because there’s always an excuse, or an argument backing up their story.
Hopefully, one day they break a hard limit. They do something that make them wake the fuck up. Like you know, the religious person stealing from a church to buy drugs. Or, like me, they hit rock bottom emotionally. The turning point. The place where they know they’ve sunk so low the only way is up. But some people, sadly, never stumble across such a thing.
The thing is, we all have addictions, or if you so like, do things because they’re supported by stories we tell ourselves. Like me hiding away in a corner, which was supported by the story that I had something wrong with me and couldn’t be liked/loved. And by hiding away in a corner, I got reject, which provided my story to be true. But I also had a story that I could be admired for my skills and hard work and, to some degree, my acquired personality. That was my drug — I used work as a coping mechanism. To me achievement was my drug.
My life fell apart when I thought I couldn’t be admired. When my drug of choice was removed as I was outside the school system, where I’d always been admired. That’s when I faced my truth. That’s when I realized I could be happy without achievement.
The thing with any kind of addiction, or coping mechanism, is that it’s us acting on our emotions. Like I feel unloved and believe I can’t be loved which hurts, let’s do something to get admired which feels good. Temporarily. Once the high is over, you’ll end up feeling empty again. Same thing if you use sex as a coping mechanism (a drug) when wanting love. And by doing it, you only prove to yourself that you can’t be loved. That you can only be admired, or only get sex, so you feel even worse. But as you still hold onto the idea you can’t be loved, what are you going to do? Have more of your drug, of course!
When the emotional brain takes over, we fuck up. We become illogical. We rationalize behavior that’s completely and utterly illogical.
When we act on our feelings we end up fucking ourselves over five ways to Friday.
If you’re feeling unloved, the logical thing is to deal with the root cause of it and realize it isn’t true, instead of chasing an Oscar (that would be me). That’s why people who win Oscars become depressed — they realize they still don’t feel loved. They’re still empty. All they did was relieve their tension by getting admiration. The real problem is still there.
If you’re feeling stressed, the logical thing is to deal with the cause of the stress (such as a heavy workload), not watch Netflix (and the next day have an even heavier workload).
If you’re feeling sad, the logical thing to do is to deal with the cause of your sadness and fill your life with happiness and genuine connection, not have a drink and the next day still have the sadness, plus the reality of having wasted a night drinking.
When you feel things — impulses to do certain things — it’s a good idea to ask yourself a) is this part of a pattern of mine and if so, has that pattern led to me achieving great things? b) will this really lead to the end result I desire? c) what place am I acting from? Principle or feeling? If it’s principle, you’re acting from a place of integrity — doing the right thing. If it’s feeling, you’re likely trying to resolve your tension, unless the feeling is coming from your heart. If you can’t hear your heart, act from principle. Your heart would tell you to do right by yourself and others. So does principle.
Another test is this: will this lead to genuine happiness? Will this serve my health? Will this serve my soul? Will this serve other people? Coping mechanisms will make you feel good while destroying your life. Genuinely good things will make you feel good while making your life better.
Will you be held hostage by your own emotions, or will you create the life you’d truly love to live?
In short, sometimes, not giving a fuck about your own emotions is a very good idea.
I just tried to Google duck recipes, but ended up with dick instead of duck. Just the way to start a Monday morning. Oh, and the toddler got out of bed to pee in the toilet, but peed standing on the floor next to the bed instead.
Frankly, I’ve had a wonderful morning. These are just little funny events. The sun is shining, Cape Town looks glorious and people have been nice to me this morning.
I was thinking about this the other day. People being nice. I was feeling a bit sad and angry because of something. Like I’d imagined this perfect day that just wasn’t happening. And instead of making the moment great, I just felt disappointed. Just then I ended up talking to one friend of mine that showed me kindness. Simply by helping me with some car issues. Just hearing his voice I calmed down, because I knew I have people in my life who care about me.
And it hit me how much kindness matters. Yesterday my business partner went on a rant about how as long as I don’t have a stable boyfriend in my life, he is going to make sure I’m OK with the things that, in his opinion, a man should handle because clearly I have to multitask too much. It was really sweet.
My kid’s homeschooling teacher this morning asked me how I was doing. Left me a message asking questions. That perked me up as well. Just knowing people care.
I think it’s important to acknowledge the people in your life who are showing up for you by showing up for them (as mentioned in a previous blog, it doesn’t come natural for me to check in on people, I’m learning to do that) and sometimes, by giving them a gift or something else to show you care. I don’t always take time for this, and sometimes I’m too shy to do it, but I must start doing it. Because it’s who I want to be.
Also, remember focus. When I was upset I was focusing on something in my life that wasn’t working as I wanted it too. When I spoke to my friend, I started focusing on things in my life that were working, such as beautiful friendships. That shifted my mood.
The thing is, we often get stuck thinking about how to figure out what’s not working. How to solve problems. Or simply reveling in the problems. When we do, we feel like shit. I could have been very upset about the peeing episode this morning. I wasn’t. Because I didn’t waste any time thinking about it. It took three minutes to clean up. Big deal. But when we’re frustrated, or sad, any thing is a big deal. When, on the other hand, we think about what’s working, such as living in gloriously beautiful Cape Town, having amazing people in your life and making more money an hour than some make a week here, we see these small events as funny. OK, I was temporarily frustrated as I didn’t understand the logic of peeing by the bedside, but it didn’t take long to see the humor.
If there’s a problem, deal with it. Man up to it. Take charge. Don’t get stuck thinking about it. Take action. Any action. Start moving beyond it. If one thing doesn’t work, try another until you find a solution. Just don’t bury yourself in the problem. Everyone goes through shit. It’s how you deal with it that determines if it sinks you or you conquer.
I can write you a long list of problems I have and that Cape Town has, but I live in a city filled with sunshine and star shine, glorious beaches and tall mountains, incredible city scapes and natural wonders, tasty foods and delicious treats, roaring fireplaces and beautiful gardens, laughing people and shining intelligence… I live in paradise. If only I choose to see it that way. It’s my choice. Mine alone. My choice to see the wonders in my life and my city. My choice.
Funnily, when you start seeing the things in life that shine, you start to shine. You start to sparkle. You become a star in other people’s night sky.
Last week I was listening to an audiobook mentioning a quote from Le Petit Prince. It made me think. It made me think about how wrong I am sometimes. Most of the time. Because I don’t view life through my heart, but through my rational brain. Which, surprisingly, often is quite irrational.
“It’s only with the heart that one can see rightly: what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
It sounds beautiful doesn’t it? But as beautiful as it sounds it’s a difficult thing to do. To look with the heart. To see the world through the heart. Or maybe it’s not so much that it’s difficult as the fact that we’re unused to doing it.
If you receive an angry message, what’s your first reaction? Do you calmly view the message through your heart, disengaging from what the person on the other end clearly is trying to make you feel? Are you feeling what’s beyond their anger, or are you focusing on your own sense of having been unjustly treated? Are you more intent on being right, or being angry, than letting go and viewing the situation through your heart?
When you get stuck in traffic, do you look upon the situation using your heart? Blessing the fact that you have a car, you’re safe, you’ll get there in the end? Or do you focus all your anger on the frustration of being stuck in traffic? Do you get lost in your own anger? When you could focus your mind on things worth thinking about?
When was the last time you replied to an email from your boss viewing the email through the heart? Typing a reply coming from the heart? Seeing them as a person rather than focusing on the petty problems of everyday work?
When was the last time you dated someone, looking at them through the heart, not with fear for what they may do, or hope for how things will pan out?
When was the last time you looked upon yourself, seeing yourself through your heart? Instead of judging yourself, or reasoning with yourself using knowledge, when was the last time you simply looked upon yourself using your heart?
When was the last time you woke up looking at the world through your heart? Because it’s actually the only way of viewing the world that will truly assist you in living a happy and healthy life. Your so-called rational brain is focused on things that don’t serve you in the least. Such as being angry with the traffic. Holding onto grudges. Reliving the past. Stressing about the present. Getting annoyed with details that don’t matter. Creating a fantasy world that you think is real filled with all those things. A fantasy that’s nothing but a trap.
In short, I swear your brain is up to no good…unless it’s engaged in sex fantasies. That, at least, will make you feel better…but not as good as looking upon the world through your heart.
So, as the uncrowned queen of innuendo I should really play around with this getting lucky thing, right?! Right.
Well, I got lucky. But let’s skip the innuendo for a while. I got lucky, because I was out driving with my baby girl and my car stopped. I called my insurance and the car was towed to the nearest overnight place to be taken to the dealer in the morning and my girl and I were taken home. This was the day before the car was going in for repairs. And, of course, the dealership took a week before they were even able to look at it, because they were busy. My neighbor’s car had a flat wheel that for some reason took days to fix and my nanny’s car needed repairs, so we were all stranded and ubering about on a week when we were running the houses on a generator and in constant need of petrol. Naturally, the dealership charged an hourly rate twice that of any normal mechanic as well.
It sounds pretty bad, but let me tell you — I got lucky.
I met a guy where my car stopped. A guy with bright blue eyes, a few missing teeth and a desire to help us. He was homeless, crashing at a nearby shelter. Told me he was a mechanic, but he couldn’t work because he had a brain tumor that caused epilepsy. His wife was pregnant. He was trying to collect money for the shelter for the two of them for that night.
I have no idea if his story was true. All I know is that he was a guy with bright blue eyes and a few missing teeth. But during a couple of days when everything seemed to be going wrong — from having no electricity, to the nanny being off and the car breaking down, he helped me realize how lucky I was.
I was alive. My baby girl was alive. The car stopped, but we didn’t crash. I had insurance. Sure, I was tired and I was worried about finances as it had been a rough week, but I was alive, I have an hourly salary most people can only dream of and all I needed was time (and electricity) to work again. There had been some hickups with the boy I’m raising and the visa and…I was worried. I was really worried some days. But did I need to worry? Or did I need to focus on what was working and creating more of that?
Life is a perspective you’re living day-to-day. Today I woke up alive, getting cuddles from the toddler in the family. The neighbor took two kids to school; the other is staying with his nanny close to his school. I had homemade apple and pear crumble. I drank coffee. I worked. I got compliments from clients. I cleaned — getting one step closer to actualy sorting this place out. I’m alive. And I have a pretty epic life.
So, before I start cracking some joke about getting lucky, I’m just gonna focus on being lucky.
I’ve been quiet for a while because, frankly, I hardly have time to sleep, much less blog. But sometimes words find me, pour out of me and end up of a paper (or digital version of such). Being back in SA’s forests poetry also seep out of me at random moments when my heart comes alive with wonder.
Lately, I’ve been trying to focus on what’s good in my life…what’s great and wonderful and amazing. Sometimes it’s hard — we’re all faced with obstacles, some harder than others. But there’s so much to be thankful for; so much beauty and warmth and love to indulge in.
Yesterday, when someone looked at me and said there should be more people like me in the world, I felt thankful. Not everyone take the time to stop and say that to someone.
Yesterday, I was also thankful being able to ask my neighbor to get me out of my boot. You see, the zip broke. And I was stuck in a boot that we needed to get a pliers to get me out of. Don’t say I didn’t say I’m blonde. I have a feeling I’ll get to hear about this one for a while…
Sometimes I get super frustrated with my neighbors slash landlords. They’re completely disorganized and currently I have a generator instead of electricity in the entire house and I haven’t had hot water for months. It’s being fixed, but it’s taking time. A lot of time. But whenever I need them, they’re there to take my kids out, or, well, get me out of a boot.
I struggle with the kids I raise as they’ve been through abuse and one of them has special needs and is very aggressive, etc. at times. He’s been diagnosed with ODD. And sometimes I just sit there wishing I could come home knowing no one will have a tantrum, no one will swear, no one will go bananas for nothing. I get tired and run down and want to punch the nearest wall (or kid, but naturally, I don’t do that), but if I look at where we were at a year ago and where we are today, it’s world’s apart. My kid with special needs is in school now. Sure, there are difficulties, but he’s got this brilliant teacher who has spent hours trying to help me. She’s offering to take him out this weekend. Just like that. Because he needs it and I need a break.
Last year, I couldn’t get him into any school because of his problems and how far behind he was with schoolwork — now this. I have to keep building my positive energy until it transform him. It take a lot of discipline and energy on my behalf, but it is possible and I’m getting help now.
Today I have to attend a prom in a township and I felt a bit reluctant about this. I don’t know everyone, I don’t know what to expect, my coat is with the dry cleaners, I don’t have the right clothes… But I’m so happy this young man’s family want me there and I have an opportunity to have a look into a way of life that’s not my own. And that’s where my focus should be, not my insecurities about showing up and being the odd one out.
Someone today told me I’m the kind of person people make movies about. They’ve said that before. And it made me think, because in the past I used to want to scream: “Do you know what it feels like being the kind of person people make movies about? Because it probably isn’t something you want to experience. Because it’s hard.” Today I was thinking that maybe I’ll make it. Maybe I’ll get to the other side. To the happily ever after. That it’s possible to win the battles I chose to fight. Not over night, but step-by-step. And look at how far I’ve come. Look at the successes I’ve had and the person I’m learning to be.
I’m sure there are hurdles ahead, but I’m thankful. Thankful for the many wonders and wonderful people in my life. Thankful for the roof over my head and the frog song in the woods. Thankful for being me and on this journey of life.