The see-saw of friendship.

It was just another day at the local swimming pool for our weekly lesson as part of our physical education class in Secondary School.  I wasn’t a very good swimmer, and nor was my friend ‘Kaye’.  So while the rest of our class were in the deep end of the pool practising for their Life Saving Certificate, Kaye and I weren’t allowed to go any deeper than where we could stand on the bottom of the pool with our heads still above water.

On this day Kaye and I were practising our skills at treading water and dog paddling.  Then our swimming teacher had a ‘brilliant’ idea to get us more involved.  So we were called up to the deep end of the pool, and told to stay close to the side, so we had something to hold onto if we needed to.

Everyone was paired up with a buddy, including Kaye and I . . . with each other.  While the rest of the class were practising for their certificate, our teacher felt the life-saving skill was a good one to have, and so Kaye and I would also participate in the learning process.

Then one person from each pair was sent out away from the poolside to tread water, representing the ‘drowning’ swimmer in need of being rescued.  Then the second person in each pair the ‘rescuer’ would swim out, approach the ‘drowning’ from behind (which protects the rescuer from being attacked by the drowning), embracing them across the shoulders, under the jaw with one arm, pulling them onto their back for the ‘rescuer’ to then return them both to the pool side using a side paddle stroke with their other arm.  Or something like that . . .  this was 35 years ago . . . and a skill I never did successfully acquire.

I knew I didn’t have the ability to be the ‘rescuer’ as I could barely swim for myself, let alone swim for two of us.  But I thought I could at least tread water long enough for this task, and Kaye is surely the better swimmer.   So I volunteered to be the ‘drowning’ swimmer moving out only a little way from the poolside, and I started treading water.  Then my ‘rescuer’ and best friend swam out to rescue me . . . or at least that was her plan.  But as she reached me from in front,  already tired from treading water, I grabbed hold of her  . . . and so the disaster unfolded . . .  under the water, then above the water gasping for air, before going under the water again.  Unbeknown to me in my state of panic (until after the event), Kaye and I were like a see- saw in the water.  I had hold of her shoulders, and she had hold of mine.  When I was up she was down, and when she was up I was down.  In trying to save ourselves  . . . we were drowning each other!

img_20181026_1404451866808700089124686.jpg

Eventually, our teacher realised our predicament and sent out the exemplary swimming student, who pulled us apart.  Kaye was then able to swim to the poolside, and I was rescued by the school ‘spunk’ with his newly acquired life-saving skills.  Needless to say, he was successful in achieving his certificate that day.

For many years I had a scar as a memoir.  A scar from when Kaye’s hand must have hit my chest wall, and one of her finger nails dug in and drew blood.  Thankfully this event did not drown or scar our friendship, and we went on to survive all of secondary school together . . . and for some years beyond.

And so once again . . .  I see how that experience reflects real life experiences of my own.  And maybe you can relate?  Back to friendship(s) where you were in effect unintentionally ‘drowning’ the other while trying to save yourself, or vice versa in that they were ‘drowning’ you.  Or maybe it’s a case of you ‘drowning’ yourself in order to save/promote/lift up a friend?   All of which are unhealthy foundations for a good, solid, healthy friendship.  Behaviours that are the result of brokenness and wrong self-beliefs that lead to toxic behaviours, as you search the outside world, looking to find something to fill whatever it is you feel lacking inside of you.  When you’re in over your head, not seeing the situation for what it is, and the only way out is when someone else sees the situation, and acts to separate, so as to rescue both parties from each other.

Friendships need to be balanced. Like kids of similar weight on a see-saw . . . alternating up and down.  An unbalanced see-saw is no fun . . . where the struggle to ‘see-saw’ easily is difficult due to the ‘weight’ of the person on the other end.  And so it is with friends.  While we need to support and encourage one another, making allowances for the varying seasons we all go through . . . we still need to choose our friends carefully: as they can determine the course of our life.  Sometimes without us even being aware of their influence.

The Innocent curse!
Despise not your innocence
For you know not what you have
Til it’s lost to experience
And you cant get back what you gave.

I remember as a teenager my mum at times accusing me of ‘changing’ and she’d say . . . “It’s that girl you hang out with . . . she’s a bad influence on you!”  I couldn’t see it then.  But as an adult, with hind sight on life experience, I can see some ‘stuff’ all too clearly now.  Not that it was all their fault, or all my fault . . . but that their issues meshed with my issues, bringing about behavioural changes in us both, that were like that of an unbalanced see-saw.  Not moving fluidly between the ‘ups and downs’ . . . it was dysfunctional, it was non-functional.   Choices and compromises made that once would never have been considered.  While some such friendships just naturally fizzle out, others seem to feed on the dysfunction as it serves to meet a deeper need.  And so the downward spiral begins . . .

Issues can act like a repellent,
driving each other in the opposite direction.
Or attract like a magnet,
establishing a setup for enmeshment.

I think sometimes it’s due to a deep longing for: Acceptance, Assurance, and Adequacy in who we are.  It’s the AAA (Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm) of our emotional core.   An ever increasing and weakening part of the vessel that can rupture at any moment . . . a ticking time bomb . . . that if not dealt with in time, could well be fatal.

We too can find ourselves rupturing emotionally when we seek to find Acceptance, Assurance, and Adequacy from others, instead of seeking to find it within ourselves.  So it is, we all need to deal with our own issues before the ‘time bomb’ ruptures.  Cause it will rupture, if it’s not dealt with.  It’s just a matter of time.

It’s not an ‘outside job’ for others to bear.
But an ’inside job’ in need of repair.

In my own experience, at various times and in different situations, I’ve been both: the friend with toxic behaviours, and the friend of those with toxic behaviours.  Oblivious (or in denial) to my own influence and impact.  Not ever having fully dealt with my own AAA issues.   Resulting in an outcome that was never what was intended.  Dealing with guilt, shame, regret and consequential judgements.  That which cannot be explained with any amount of words, but to know in entirety, the meaning behind: “cause it hurts when you hurt somebody”   (Hurt Somebody by Noah Kahan and Julia Michaels.)

As I learnt on that day in the swimming pool, participating in the ‘learning process’ can be costly, especially when you’re in deep water over your head, unable to stand up, and unskilled to be able to manage the situation in water too deep.  It was almost a fatal learning process!

And so in the hope that by sharing this, I may prevent someone from having to go through the ‘learning process’ for themselves . . .  here’s some thoughts:

  • Don’t let your choice of friends be a fatal (or even near fatal) learning process.
  • Don’t go in over your head, where you know it’s too deep, despite what anyone says.
  • There may not always be a ‘skilled rescuer’ on site to separate you from your choices.
  • Don’t look to people as your ‘rescue’ source: they may not be as equipped as you think they are.
  • Don’t seek to be the ‘rescuer’ unless you’re in a ‘healthy, skilled’ position to do so safely.

My black leather mantra

img_20181026_214759~26372090587369504482..jpgSeveral weeks ago, while scrolling through facebook I found a leather band I really liked on an online jewellery site.  I like things with a message or a meaning attached to them, and so this black leather band with the words ‘strong and courageous’ engraved on a silver metal plate, seemed to be for me.  And yes you can ask: “Why?”

Because some time back a friend likened these words in the book of Joshua to me.  At a time when I certainly didnt ‘feel’ it, as I struggled to hold it together while everything in my world crumbled around me.  Then at another time, while listening to a message by my Pastor about stepping it out (right at the time I was contemplating a business venture) and again this was the scripture!  It struck me like a slap to the back of my head.  So while I don’t see myself as having either of these qualities . . . apparently I do.  And so I figure I should remind myself of this . . . and build on them, within myself.

I’m fighting for strength and courage.
What are you fighting for?

So when I saw this website promotion, I investigated further.  I scoured through their range and came back to this piece.  But I don’t usually wear black, I’m more of a brown colour person myself.  But in this case, the black didnt deter me, as I felt that this was more about the message it carries, than the material it is made of.  So I went ahead with the order only to discover that that black leather band was $48.  Eek!  That’s more than I would usually spend!  But sometimes it’s more about the engraved words, than it is about it’s perceived worth.  Then $16.95 for postage!  Again, sometimes it’s more about the piece, than it is about the price.  But the price is creeping up . . . and up!  Then onto the last page of the order process: the ‘Thankyou your order has been confirmed’ page.  And there it is, the disclaimer:  ‘Please note that sometimes international orders incur additional customs/import fees for which we are not responsible for.’  Ohhhh beware the ‘prickles’ that did arise that this piece of information would only appear on their page after the order has been placed, and not before.  While I understand they’re not responsible for the additional charges, I find it somewhat ‘sneaky’ to only inform the buyer of this after they make their purchase.

So then it was to wait for the deduction from my card to see what this amount would be . . . $91.92.  So that’s $26.97 in additional fees for being non American. Grrr!!!  I felt manipulated.  I felt misled.  I felt ripped off.  And now I felt trapped having placed the order, paying the price above and beyond what I thought, wondering if it was all going to be worth it or not?  I contemplated cancelling my order, but instead I went to their FB site to see what feedback was there in the comments.  Was I the most recent in a long line of ‘suckers’ to incur such ‘additional’ costs?  But then . . . not one single negative comment (and maybe the comments are configured that way) but ultimately the theme through all the comments that were there, from both ‘first time’ and ‘multiple times’ buyers was that each piece is totally worth every dollar of the expense.  EVERY dollar of the expense? I questioned.  Mannn! ! !  They must be good!  Better than I imagine maybe???  Really?  But have they paid what I paid?  Are there any Aussies amongst those comments?  So I revised my perspective: those who have paid the price and then received the piece, are extremely thankful.  I on the other hand have paid the price, and am now waiting (somewhat anxiously) to see if the piece proves to be worth the price. And so now I wait . . .

Sometimes experiences on the journey of life seem to cost more than we expected . . . we may feel manipulated, misled, ripped off, by people or even God, only to then feel trapped in the middle of the process.  And so we wish we could cancel choices, like I wanted to cancel my purchase.

Through such experiences, sometimes our message, our meaning gets lost in the material of life.  Sometimes the words that we thought were so significant, seem to no longer carry weight in their worth as we once thought.  Sometimes we perceive the price we paid in totality is not ultimately worth what it was for . . . and so we cancel the order, cut any losses, walk away, and give up, without ever seeing the process through.  Never knowing that if we had just stuck with the ‘order’ and gone through the process, to actually receive the piece, we might have come to see that it was actually all worth it in the end.

Don’t let your colour, or who you are,
your perceived worth, or the cost (expected or not),
stop you from delivering the message you carry,
that message that is engraved into your very being . . .
(said the black leather band)

So in both this jewellery order, and in life itself:

  • I hold onto the hope of those before me.   Those who have paid the price, who stuck with the ordering process to receive their piece, who now proclaim:  “It’s worth every bit of the price I paid!”
  • As for how much they paid to warrant their resulting comments, the price is different for everyone.  We each have to weigh that up for ourselves.  But we’ll never know, if we don’t see the process through to the end.

So be strong and courageous!  Your answer to: “Is it worth it?” is in receiving the outcome . . . if you’ll just stick with the process all the way through to its completion.

 It’s now some weeks later . . . and I’ve received my order.

There was great anticipation as I opened the box, to find a velvet bag, out of which I removed my purchased piece . . . and to be totally honest . . . I was disappointed, as it wasnt any better than I imagined.  Yes!  It’s nice and of good quality.   Was it worth what I paid for it?  No!  Would I buy it again?  Actually, I would!  Why?  Because after wearing it for the first time, and then moreso after the second time, I realised just how much it really is more about: the message than the material, the words than the worth, the piece than the price.  “How?” I hear you ask . . . and here it is . . .  Because in the putting on of that leather band around my wrist, it’s not like any other jewellery I wear.  I cant explain it any other way, other than to say:

I feel myself literally putting on strength and courage,img_20181026_214551~26624486621674465355..jpg
that I would be ‘strong and courageous’.
I’m choosing to ‘put on’ a statement of declaration about
who I want to be, and who God encourages me to be.
And while I still dont ‘feel’ it,  I’m wearing it anyway,
that I might learn it, to know it, to one day actually be,
strong and courageous! 

Worth is about perspective!

More than just sand . . .

Last week while sitting in a cafe . . . a friend had just shared the below pic on fb …. immediately I had a few thoughts of how this parallels with us … so I screen shot the post … then I thought to google it to see if it’s actually true … before I posted my thoughts.  A few minutes later I went back in to fb to refer to the post, but I couldn’t find it.  So I checked my friend’s home page and it’s not there?  Hmm . . . seemingly it popped up just for me in that moment.  So in the event that it might encourage someone ‘out there’, as it did me . . . here’s my thoughts . . .

If we are all grains of sand:
1) We all seem to be the same on the surface, but we are not.
2) It’s when we are magnified, that the fullness of who we are, and all our unique qualities are then seen.
3) Magnified or not. Nothing has changed. It’s the difference between knowing who you are versus your perception of who you are. Same same like tiny grains of sand versus unique and different as sand truly is under magnification.

Magnification exposes our differences to be seen, identified and recognised versus the unmagnified that leaves us unseen, unidentified and unrecognised as anyone different from anyone else.  We all seek to be: seen, identified and recognised for who we are.
But even when we are unseen, unidentified and unrecognised for who we are, we still are all that we are!  And it is from the truth of knowing who we are, that we have so much more to offer regardless of what is expected, perceived or believed to be so.
So regardless of what others see or don’t see … you must choose to see all that you are (as you magnified, in all your uniqueness), in order to be the best you that you can be.

You are more significant than you think you are!

Dancing with wolves

On Monday night in the midnight hours, I found myself checking in to an emergency department with severe pain in my right lower abdomen/groin area  . . . suspecting my appendix as the cause, a grumbling appendix.

After a range of tests, a CT scan, lots of praying, and a couple of doses of a restricted drug for some much needed pain relief, the pain resolved without any explanation or evidence of its cause . . . I was released from hospital late Tuesday morning.  I believe it was the answer to my prayer: “That whatever the issue may be, that it would resolve without needing surgical intervention.”

Later that day while contemplating “Since I don’t know the cause, what if it returns?” and strangely enough, ‘it’ started to grumble again . . . I spoke to it . . . and it stopped.

On Wednesday morning on waking up . . . there was a slight ache in that same area . . . and I thought “I will not consider the possibility of your return.” . . . I spoke to it . . . and again it went.

I wonder how much of our pain
is the result of that which we entertain.
Because we don’t understand it, or know the cause
And so we fear the returning grip of its claws!

And so I began to think about life itself, of thoughts and emotions I struggle with.  Some issues that stem from childhood, and others that result from bad decisions and wrong choices, causing memories of pain and regret in my past.  There have been times when the pain has been so bad, and then in a prayerful cry for help, there’s a shift I don’t understand, and the pain is gone, without any explanation as to how.  But then I anticipate the possibility of its return.  While I don’t want it to return, I’m checking at every corner for it, because I don’t quite believe (or trust) it has really gone, and then I’m surprised when I find it again.

I think of the story told by a Cherokee elder:
There are two wolves that are always fighting
One is darkness and despair.
The other is light and hope.
The question is . . .
Which wolf wins?
The one you feed.

And so I realise my feeding practice . . . it’s in my searching for that which has resolved.  And that searching is because of my lack of understanding, and my inability to let go of my need to know how it resolved.  I have an inability to just trust that it has resolved, and that it will not return, so long as I don’t feed or entertain thoughts of it.

On Wednesday I was driving about town when the song ‘Battle Scars’ by Lupe Fiasco & Guy Sebastian came on the radio.  The words that struck me in that moment were:

These battle scars don’t look like they’re fading
Don’t look like they’re ever going away
They aint never gonna change
These battle (scars) . . .

And I’m thinking of my own battle scars in life.  Sometimes it feels like they are lifelong scars, too deeply imbedded in my memory to ever fade away.  Too much a part of me and my past to ever change, or to be truly free of.   Not just what I know and am learning about myself, but what others may know or have learnt about me also.  And so I find myself  discouraged, believing things about myself, and who I am, or who I might be, because of my feelings about things in my past, and things that aren’t changing, or maybe just aren’t changing fast enough as I would like them to.

But I do think this is what the wolf of ‘darkness and despair’ would have us believe.  It’s far easier to feed the wolf that has the loudest voice.  And because the pain is real, we have evidence that there is a problem, and so the fear about that problem is like an ever sounding alarm bell in our mind, stirring up fear because of the issue causing the pain.

But instead we need to speak to that wolf to silence him, and then feed the other wolf. Because honestly, the only time I’ve had pain (since that initial pain that took me to the E.D.) is when I’ve contemplated it.  And then I’ve listened for the grumble, and pondered its return.

Don’t listen for the ‘grumble’ of your pain.  Don’t entertain its return.  The resolution was provided for you, just as you asked.  Accept that and receive it.  Believe in it and trust it whole heartedly.

When all the tests show no evidence of a cause, why do I allow that ‘grumble’ to trouble me.  “What if they missed something?”  But I don’t believe God heals us, to then tease us, but I do believe He allows us to be tested.  And so it’s up to me to pass the test, to stand strong in my faith and belief. That the wolf of ‘light and hope’ would conquer the wolf of ‘darkness and despair.’  Not just in regards to the ‘grumble’ in my abdomen/groin, but also the grumble in my thoughts and emotions.

Looking forward, not looking back.  I’ve heard it said so many times before:
screenshot_20181006-101149~2-15182569703947057671..jpg

Why then do we still pick it up, that call from the past, when we already know who is calling, because of its caller ID?
Let it go to voicemail and eventually, that which you ignore will stop calling.
Don’t foster a relationship with that which is doing you no good.

How powerful will we be when we learn which wolf to feed?   I’m sure both wolves know this and that’s why the battle is so loud.  Because one wolf is about overcoming us, while the other wolf is about us as the overcomer.

Referring back to a line in the ‘Battle Scars’ song:

“they aint never gonna change”

Can you see it?  I didn’t either at first.  But for all the times I’ve sung it, I’ve never actually heard the truth in this one line.  That was until I wrote it down and saw it in its written form, instead of just hearing it in its verbal form.  The written form enabled me to see something that caused a change in my perspective.  It’s a double negative!  Which makes it a positive!  And suddenly that battle scar that ‘aint never gonna change’ is totally capable of change, and will change!  Because: “they are not never gonna change” . . . if we just feed the right wolf.

The song then goes on to sing:

“Never let a wound ruin me.
But I feel like ruin’s wooing me.”

We empower the wounds of our past to ruin us . . .
when we listen to feelings promoted by the wolf of ‘darkness and despair.’
When we follow our feelings to believe
that the scars of our battles will never fade.
BUT
When we can see the truth revealed in the words of our song.
Then we can see how we’ve interpreted it all so very wrong.

Choose to dance with the wolf of light and hope!

Revealings of a road trip . . .

Middle of Nowhere

When Google maps tells you: “You’ve arrived at your destination.” but you’re on a country road, in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by paddocks.  Only to learn that you actually drove through the ‘town centre’ a few minutes earlier, it just wasn’t what you expected, so you didn’t recognise it.

Sometimes we arrive at a destination that isn’t what we expected.
But it’s not always about the place we find ourselves in.
Sometimes it’s about the space we create,
in that place we find ourselves in.

I found a rustic looking cafe, with an unusual name.
But it was loud and noisy, pizza’s and burgers, not a cosy, quiet cafe.
Not the atmosphere I was looking for, but I was hungry for food.
So I looked at the menu, not taking a seat, while asessing my mood.
Brekky looked good, but without a suitable drink it wasn’t for me.
This lil town had less than I thought, but where else could I eat?
Am I asking too much, should I just settle for this?

Sometimes we settle for less than we want.
Sometimes we settle cos we’re scared.
Scared of not finding that which we hope for.
Scared of not seeing the right door.

Making the choice not to settle, I left and walked to the end of the road.  I was standing at the crossroad, wondering which way I should go,  when I remembered the ‘Folk Alley Cafe’ up on the hill.  I had seen it on my way back from the ‘middle of nowhere’ after Google maps had over shot my location.

Sometimes we don’t ‘see’ any other options,
until first we say “No!”
to the ones that we already know are not quite right for us.
AND
Sometimes the best discoveries are on the way back from that place

where we found ourselves ‘in the middle of nowhere’ . . .

st-andrews-cafe.png

So I walked up the hill . . . around the back of the general store . . . where an old woman was watering plants in an outdoor cafe area.  Unsure (by the style of the door) as to   if I was walking into a private residence . . . she instructed me to go on in.  It was quaint, with cushions on bench seats, and chairs around tables.  The music was contemporary and at a suitable level to hold a conversation, albeit I’m all by myself.  With a full menu, real chai, and almond milk, it was everything I wanted and needed, and had hoped to find for my day.  To think that if I had settled for the ‘pizza burger place’ I wouldn’t have gone on to find the ‘Folk Alley Cafe.’

When you don’t settle for less . . .
you’ll find the more that you hoped for,
as you venture on around the corner,
further along on the road,
up the hill.

The ABC’s of Frank and me . . .

FrankWhen I think about the impact of essential oils in my life, this is just one instance of how they have helped me.
In 2016 having been diagnosed with severe depression, and my faith all but lost, I knew what I needed to do, but I didn’t know how to do it.  I didn’t know how to get from here to there. “Just believe!” they said.  But I didn’t have the capacity to believe . . . for anything!  And so I felt like I was missing the critical link, an essential component to get me from here to there.  And so this was a time in my life where I felt:
Abandoned, my Being was Consumed by Depression and Everything was Falling to the Ground!
Then one morning while reflecting on some of those situations in my world, I asked what is the purpose in each of these? And so I learnt this . . .
Aim: Building Capacity Drives Everything Forward for the Greater good.
Aim: find what is the purpose in my pain.
Build: I knew I had to build myself up. In fact I felt like I was a demolition site, and so I had to rebuild.  Rebuild who I am from scratch.  Let all the rubble of trouble go, and start again.
Capacity: but that was the link that I lacked.  The capacity to rebuild.  It was in that diminished (almost deleted) capacity of faith, that I discovered Essential Oils.  And “Hello Frank(incense)!”  It was that drop of Frank in my bottle of water every day, that one little drop that helped me get from the stage of knowing I needed to build capacity, to the stage of being able to do that, to then . . .  drive everything forward.
Drive Everything Forward: with Frank ‘on board’ I was able to ‘drive’ in the direction I needed to go.  Frank (the Guru of oils for better mental health) was my ‘missing link’, providing the bridge for me to cross from here to there.  Infusing me with a level of capacity to be able to rebuild, and giving me a sense of direction as to how to get there, I began to see my way out of feeling abandoned. This led me to start seeing … the greater good.
Greater good: was what I learnt in those areas of growth, and so my faith was slowly but surely being restored.  As my faith grew … I gained greater capacity to believe.  As my capacity to rebuild and my faith to believe both continued to grow, I saw less and less reliance on Frank … and more and more reliance on God.
Now some might question my ability to believe in Essential Oils over God and faith, but for me that’s not an issue.  Why?  Because I had a glitch in my relationship with God, but He knew where I was at.  We both knew that that relationship needed to be rebuilt from ground up, just as much as I needed to be rebuilt from ground up.  He knew the missing link was an ‘essential’ (pun not intended but it works) component to my recovery and so he reconnected me with a friend from many years ago, who introduced me to Essential Oils which has proven to be that missing link I was looking for.  That essential (hehe) component was in His plant creation, which I had enough faith for (albeit as small as a mustard seed), as a place to start from.

For so long I was stuck in:
the A (of Abandonment.)
the B (of Being me.)
the C (of my being Consumed by)
the DEFG altogether like a boulder coming down a hill, picking up speed
(Depression Everything Falling to the Ground.)

And so now here I am, having shifted from:
Abandoned to Aiming
Being to Building
Consumed to Capacity
Depressed Everything Falling to Driving Everything Forward.
Ground zero to the Greater good.
And maybe a little corny (but that’s me) this all makes for a:
Healthier Happier Helen.

So be encouraged …
The purpose of trials is in:
the Aim of Building you up,
by increasing Capacity in you,
that would then Drive Everything forward
for you to encounter better, that would then
serve the Greater good in growing you into a stronger version of yourself ..

The more I write about the diagnosis of depression, the more I see progress forward out of it.  I have read that ‘depression can be your friend’ and at the time I thought that was the most ridiculous thing I’d ever heard.  Especially given it nearly took me out.  But now I’m learning just how much of a friend she is:

She is my warning for when something is not right.
She is my warning to check my head space, my heart space, my whole space around me.
She encourages me to stand up for myself, to stand strong, and to have my own back.
She pushes me to check my boundaries, and to not give in.
She is about me, prioritising my being, over that of everyone else.
She has my back!
She is my back bone!
So long as I listen to her, she keeps me safe.

Unusual and a little bit different.

Where do I start?  Do you ever feel like your head is full with a story, thoughts and words all coming through at once, like a traffic jam.  But as soon as you sit down to type and let it all out, it’s like all that traffic has reached a bottle neck, and now nothing can get through?  Maybe not?  Probably not!  But that’s how it is for me today . . .

So here we go . . .  today I received a belated birthday gift.  I’ve been waiting and anticipating it for 6 weeks or so, but I knew it was coming, I just didn’t know when.  I knew my friend was anxious about whether I’d like it or not, perceiving one aspect of it as me, but then she wasn’t sure about it overall.  I had previously tried to reassure her, that given I’m on my own journey of self-discovery and working out who I am, whatever the gift is, the aspect she is not sure about . . . may well turn out to be something that I’m already contemplating, or maybe I need to explore.

And so today when my friend approached holding the gift, declaring it as “unusual, and a little bit different” I was feeling somewhat pressured (in myself) to ensure an appropriate response, so as not to disappoint her, but at the same time knowing I am terrible at pulling off a poker face.  It’s for this reason that I don’t particularly like receiving gifts.  But for all of the same reasons as my friend, while I like to give gifts, I hate being in the position as the gift giver, because like her, I want to give the perfect gift.  And so I know all about wanting the supportive evidence of this, in the recipient’s response.

So with friends standing by, watching me unwrap my gift, my anxieties were already amplified.  All the more so when the wrapping was off and the box was revealed and my mind was not able to comprehend what my eyes were seeing.  And there goes my moment of opportunity . . . to give the supportive evidence in the ultimate response to the perfect gift.  In pulling it out of the box, I first thought I was looking at some sort of artistic tool for drawing or painting or cutting or something . . . and my mind dashed back to my own words of “… it may well turn out to be something that I need to explore.“ and in that moment more fear gripped me, as I had no idea what it was, for me to explore, much more fearing “What would this lead me to explore?”  But then my friend graciously explained it’s a pen that is actually a multi-functional tool. So it was confirmed, it’s not just a ballpoint pen!  It’s so much more!!! It’s a ruler.  It’s a spirit level. It’s a stylet for my phone.  And as I unscrewed it at each end, to expose its inner most parts, there’s the ink cartridge (of course) and a screw driver (for both Phillips and Flat head).  Hellooo McGyver!  Now I just need some gum.  Or maybe more Maxwell Smart . . . lol!

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Then on my way home from church this afternoon, I remembered some thoughts I had had during the week, in some moments of feeling a little overwhelmed.  Overwhelmed, as I try to perfect the art of managing my full time job, writing for 2 blogs (this being one of them), working at my new business venture in essential oils, keeping up with the administration of life and the domestic duties of maintaining my home, maintaining a healthy lifestyle which includes going to the gym, and then to still have a social life.  “Have I taken on too much?  How do I do it all?”

Then this afternoon I felt like this pen had something to say about that.  And if any pen can talk, then this would be the pen that could:

“A pen that is just a regular pen is built just for that purpose of being a pen.  But look at me!  I was not built as a regular pen, but as a multi functional tool, with capacity far greater than that of ‘just’ a pen.  My external capacity that you can see is not the sum total of my whole capacity.  The capacity you can’t see, the internal parts you did not know about until you opened up to see inside of me, holds more equipment.  Equipment put there by the one who made me, to be used for the purpose ‘he’ designed it for.  Relax in knowing that while all my functions are there ready to use at any time, I am not utilising all my functions at all times.  But each function is called on as needed, for its purpose in that moment of time.” 

At this point I had a little mental picture of my new multi functional tool trying to pull off all of its functions at once, which of course is impossible, as it cannot use the pen and the stylet at the same time as they are at opposite ends.  Likewise the pen and the screw driver (inside the stylet) are at opposite ends.  But I did have a humorous moment imagining what Pixar would and could do with this short comic.

Then I got to thinking . . . we are all just like that gift.  On the outside we may look like ‘a pen.’  But we are not ‘just’ a pen.  We may even already know that we are more than that ‘a pen, with a ruler, a spirit level, and a stylet.’ But do we stop it there?  What else is on the inside?  Because there is still more, if we will just open up to expose our inner most parts, to see what is revealed, that can be put to use for the purpose it was designed for.

Here’s a few thoughts:

  • We’re all a little unusual, a little bit different. But that’s what makes us unique.
  • We all have anxieties about opening up ‘gifts and abilities’ that we are unsure about. Is it really me?  Is it not me?  Well, sometimes we won’t know until we explore them.
  • We put pressure on ourselves because we don’t want to disappoint, or be disappointed. And we expect to ‘know’ from the start, but sometimes the ‘knowing’ doesn’t come until later as a result of exploring the ‘gift or ability’ further and learning how to use it.
  • The initial response is not always a reliable one, but how the ‘gift or ability’ functions in it outworking, is a much better reference point.

And one final hilariously stretching thought . . . while my multi functional tool currently holds 5 functions, the box actually reads: ‘one touch stylus 9 function tool pen’ which means it still has the potential for even more capacity than what it currently holds.  These additional four functions are in the purchasing of additional pieces to become an inkball pen, a fountain pen, or a pencil with an eraser.

So with all this in built capacity for growth and expansion . . .  in the midst of my humorous Pixar imagination, I did feel the subtle punchline blow of what does need to be dealt with:

“While it may be a juggling act as you move between functions, that’s all the more reason to maximise the effective use of your time, and let procrastination go.”   BOOM! 

 

The logo of life . . .

A few weeks back I registered a new business and so with that now comes the deciding on a logo and business cards.  So I outsourced this task to a graphic designer.  I’m told the first step is to decide on a logo.  And once that is finalised, then go on to design a business card.  So after explaining what my business is and my style of taste, the graphic designer sent me three concepts to consider.

Initially I struggled (with fear) to even open up the attachments to see what she had designed.  What if I didn’t like any of them?  Could I be bold enough to say so?  Or would I end up settling for something less than I was happy with?

Then after opening the file . . . while I liked certain aspects of each of the three concepts (each for different reasons), none of them really grabbed me.  Why?  Because I had to choose one!  And I could see that in my choosing, each logo design would limit (because of its design), the design of the business card.  How?  Because I have to choose a colour theme, which then rules out other colour options.  I have to choose a style, but which style?  I don’t want the business card to be overcrowded, but then how do I decide if it is or not?  If the logo is detailed then maybe the design of the business card should be simple?  Or should I make the logo simple and the business card detailed?  And yet ultimately, I just want my business to be known for what it’s about, so that it draws the right people to me.  I had just three logo concepts to choose from, but it felt as if each concept held a hundred different possibilities of business card designs.  How do I make a decision on the hundreds I can’t see, with the three that I can see.  I found myself wanting to know what the final result of the business card might look like for each logo, before I could decide on any one particular logo.  I did not want my choice of one logo to rule out the other possibilities of a business card I might have had, if I had chosen a different logo.  I know that in choosing one logo, the other two logos would be put aside, and work on the business card for the logo I had chosen would begin.  But I didn’t want to rule out what might have been, even though I had no idea of what could have been, or would have been, if I had chosen one of the other logos.  Couldn’t I choose the logo based on the business card?  I might fall in love with any one of the logos, if I know what it looks like on the business card as a finished product?

Then I saw what all this indecision and confusion was about?
Life!  And how do I trust my choices? 

“How is this about life?” you might ask.  Well, let me explain.  If the ‘logo’ is who we are, and the resulting life that we live is the ‘business card’ . . .  in thinking about the ‘logo of you’ and your ‘business card of life’, you decide if you can relate.

I can’t recall what other ‘logos of me’ I had that I didn’t choose, but the ‘logo’ that stood out to me in my early 20’s, that I did choose was the Africa logo.  To be a missionary, a volunteer in Africa, working with orphaned children.  That was my heart beat!  I didn’t struggle with making that choice at all!  I jumped in at every step that the door was opened to me, and went with it.  A couple of times doors closed and I had to walk away, other times they opened (or reopened) and I stepped on through.  I never thought, or even perceived that the Africa logo had limitations on it, because I fully believed it was the one to run with.  I saw colour, style, what it was about, and the people I would connect with.  But in hindsight, if I had seen the whole story, known the resulting ‘business card of life’ that would come (in my perception) as a result of choosing the ‘Africa logo’, I have often wondered if I should have chosen a different logo for me.  If I could have chosen the beginning, based on knowing the end result. To have been able to make my decisions back then, based on what it looked like in the future, which is now.

But then would that have truly been the ‘logo of me’ . . . the choice that I make based on the outcome that I like or want. Rather than the choice that I make based on who I am, not knowing what the outcome would be?  What’s to say that any other ‘logo of me’ would have turned out with a better outcome, than the outcome that I got, with the logo I chose?  There’s no guarantee, only that which I perceive.

It’s about perception and ‘what we know we got with our choice’ compared to ‘what we think we would have got with another choice.’

But then it’s also about (and more importantly so) choosing who you are, over what you do. To be true to oneself, is more important than what you do, even if within that choice, you’re not doing what you hoped to be doing.  To be true to oneself regardless of the outcome, because that is who you are.  And because you stood up in who you are, you stand out in that space that is yours.

So choose your logo first, and your business card second.  Your logo tells of who you are, and your business card then compliments that logo, advertising more of what you do, with details of how to find you.  Just as I’m putting my business cards out in places and spaces where they can reach and connect me with those I’m meant to reach, I believe that when we know the ‘logo of who we are’, our ‘business card of life’ compliments and advertises that, drawing the right people around us that we’re meant to reach.  While your logo may be adjusted as you grow and expand, it should still be the logo that tells of who you are.  Your business card (regardless of what it looks like) then continues to compliment and advertise your logo, connecting others to you.

The ‘business card of life’
It doesnt limit you in the ‘logo of who you are’,
But it does define for others the ‘logo of who you are’.

Is your ‘business card of life’
complimenting and advertising
the ‘logo of who you are?’

So let go of what you perceive would have been, or might have been, and hold on tight to who you are, what you choose, and who you want to be through growth and expansion, because within that, is who you were made to be. Choose the ‘logo of you’ that is your heartbeat. Trust The Master of Graphic Designers, and see the resulting ‘business card’ of life that compliments and advertises you, because of who you are.

Choosing your logo first,
then guides the direction of your business card.
Just as
Knowing who you are first,
then gives direction to what you do.

And there’s a flip side!  In the midst of all these decisions about which logo to choose, I sought the advice of a friend on my dilemma, and she pointed out the fact that a business card has two sides (which we all know).  And so I realised the logo could be on one side, and the flip side could be all the details.  Likewise in life.  The logo is what it is . . . a statement in itself of who we are . . . and then on the flip side we get to define the details of what that looks like . . . thereafter is the unknown of how far we will reach . . . and who we will reach.

And so without knowing the end result that I wanted to know . . . the logo I’ve chosen is better than I could have imagined.  And the business card as a whole with the details being on the flip side is not limited by design, but rather it is in line with the logo, as it reflects what the logo is about.  Thereafter is the unknown . . . but let’s see how that unfolds, and how far it reaches out . . .

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Choose the logo that is you!
That you may then
Live the life that reflects you!
And if it’s not what you expected?
Adjust accordingly so that
The ‘logo of you’ is still being reflected!

Blind insight

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When I moved in to my current home some 18 months ago, I was setting everything up just as I would like it to be, part of which was to organise the cords on my window blinds.  I can’t have cords hanging freely, twisting and tangling at their own will.  So in order to have those cords hang neatly, I attached plastic cord brackets to each of the window frames, running the cord through the bracket to create a pulley system.  Now I needed ‘something’ to remind me which way was up and which way was down . . . a saying or some such ‘line’ or rhyme?  And then it came to me:  Front up! Back down!  It really needs no explanation, but just in case . . . the cord in front is up, and the cord behind (back) is down.  The most awesome solution!  Then it occurred to me. . . not just for handling my blinds, but also for handling my life.

Sometimes there are situations in life, circumstances that we don’t know how to handle, or maybe we are trying too hard at, to sort out, or repair.  Those on the receiving end of our ‘approach’ may feel as though we are more of a ‘front up and bowl down’ approach, which is then perceived and received as confronting and/or overwhelming, achieving the opposite result we were hoping for in trying to sort out that situation.  And so the solution may well be to: ‘front up’ (show up) to that environment we want (or need) to attend, but to ‘back down’ in our approach to the situation within that environment.

Here’s another angle . . .

For the New Year weekend I was on call from Friday night through to Tuesday morning.  So what do you do when you can’t make any definite plans with friends in case you have to abandon that ‘space’ for a surgical emergency?  You plan a project!  And so I planned for ‘Project Balcony Renovation’. With my phone in my pocket, I visited my local hardware store for synthetic turf, a new outdoor setting, some pots, lanterns, and a small water feature.  I already had some succulents, and a friend had given me some additional cuttings from her garden.  I also had a packet of seeds from a Woman’s Conference I had attended some time back.  Potting and repotting, succulents and seeds, as I was watering those seeds . . . I wasn’t sure how much to water . . . and there was no water appearing in the tray below . . . so assuming I hadn’t given enough, I kept watering . . . then suddenly I had water over flowing everywhere . . . I was trying too hard, I was impatient, which resulted in me giving too much water, which was more than the pot and the tray could handle.

Sometimes our approach to those situations in life, those circumstances that we don’t know how to handle, or maybe we are trying too hard at to repair, does more damage than good.  In our efforts, we try too hard, too fast, and it becomes too much to handle.  But as it was with my watering, because we don’t see any return for our effort, we think we must need to give more, and so we do, but then we learn it was all too much, and what was needed was actually time.  Time for the initial watering to soak in to the soil, to nourish the seeds sown, and any excess water would show in the tray below, and be taken up later.   And so I’m learning: to ‘front up’ to water those seeds on my balcony, but to ‘back down’ on how much water I give.  And in the right time . . . hoping that in my new approach, I will see a return for my efforts.

So how do we action this in real life? 

Well maybe there’s a situation in your workplace (or some other space)?  You can’t just not go to work.  You could possibly take leave, or find another workplace, but does either of those really solve anything? Not usually.  So in this case, the analogy goes like this: continue to ‘front up’ to work, to do work . . . but when at work ‘back down’ in terms of your approach to whatever the situation that is causing confrontation or overwhelm.  Don’t buy into the ‘behaviours’ of your peers and colleagues, but instead pay kindness for rudeness, as you ‘back down’ in your overall approach and your ‘need’ to make things right.  Ultimately, people are who they are, believing what they want to believe, be it true or not.  But in time, things will turn around.  And in the mean time . . . keep on ‘fronting up, and backing down.’

So whether it be in life or with your blinds,

When you don’t know which way is up, and which way is down,

The approach to remember is to:

Front up and back down!

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On this journey that is my life, I think two of the hardest aspects are: changing my thinking, and believing God (again).

Changing one’s total self-perception from what you’ve always believed, is like trying to remove a footprint made long ago in wet cement. But I know that learning to recognise the negative banter in my head, to stop that before it gets on a roll, and changing it for positive truth, is the key to my recovery.

Believing and trusting God . . . well I don’t even know where to begin with that one, other than to keep reminding Him (well, myself really), that I’m trusting Him, believing He knows and has the best for me, so PLEASE don’t mess me up any more than I already have done so myself.

It’s now Sunday evening and while writing this, I’ve been cooking cauliflower and onion soup on the stove ready for Monday and Tuesday night dinners at work.  Having given it adequate time to cool, I got up to put it through the bullet.  Seemingly, God can even use my cooking for his analogy:

“You feel like this cauliflower and onion.  Started out whole (seemingly), chopped up, pan fried, boiled in broth, allowed to rest while cooling (which was actually the preparation time), to then be pulverised in to liquid mush!” AWESOME ! ! !  Not funny God !  And in the same way those vegetables will never be whole again, you wonder if this also applies to you?” 

Hmmm . . . This would be true! And knowing how my soup usually turns out, served reheated with a dash of tahini . . . it’s adequate for me, but probably not adequate for anyone else.  Which reminds me of a line from ‘Pitch Perfect 3’ which I rented just last night:“You were always good enough for me.  The problem is that you were never good enough for yourself.”  Hmmm . . . this also rings true.  Do you ever feel set up by God???

And so the piece that follows came to me this morning (Sunday) on waking up.  I had bought the wooden BELIEVE over a year ago, and sat it on my television stand as a constant visual of encouragement from my couch.   Then several months ago now, one night while staring at it (as if fixating on it, would somehow engrave it in my head), I saw my ‘pull a part interpretation’ of the word, which gave me a different perspective, but I didn’t know what to do with it at that time.  A conversation with a friend a couple of nights ago encouraged me to explore it further, and Voila! . . .

Believing for better
Is to
Leave behind the latter.

Believing:
For a healthier view
Of a better you!

Believing:
For a better financial state
And for a life time mate.

But believing God
Is not the same as
Believing in God.

It’s a relational must
With the One in who you believe.
To have a foundation of trust,
For that which you hope to receive.

But don’t believe
the
 . . lie . .
of
. . . . eve
That is:
“By the serpent I was deceived!”
For which he was relieved!
As he
relie . . d
on
    . . . . eve .
to perceive the
. . lie . . .
as truth.

To fall in his trap of deception.
Choosing her own self destruction.
Distorting both: self and world perception.
Fulfilling the plan of his evil construction.

But as did Eve, you DO have a choice!
To take a stand, and declare with your voice!

“I REFUSE to believe your lies anymore!
STOP! dragging me down, making my heart sore.
I will not be deceived
Leading to my own self destruction
The thoughts once perceived
Are under re-construction.
I’m the Builder’s delight
With a better me in sight!”

If you’re on a journey that requires it, then be encouraged

TO  STAND  and  DECLARE !