Letter to my younger self

I know the idea is not original and I don’t claim to have thought of it but I have spent a number of days mulling over what I would say to an 18 year old me.

Eighteen feels like a long time ago… because it was!! But if I could go back and reassure my younger self, this is what I’d (gently and lovingly) like to say:

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If nothing else, know that there are some awesome experiences ahead!  You will travel far, meet an amazing diversity of people and experience much.  You will look back and know that you have much to be proud of, and many memories to enjoy.

Know that your courage will always be stronger than your fear; you will not be limited by your fear – and you can be proud of that.

Although there will be times when your feel like you’re unsure of your footing, you will always stay true to what you believe. Your behaviour may change but your beliefs remain like foundation stones. (You might ignore them but they remain firm never-the-less!)

You believe in honesty. You hold compassion in your heart. You value kindness. You desire peace. You adore joy. Your love is freely given. Connections with others are the lightning bolts of life that remind you that you are alive.

Take time for you. Take time to be. Time to rest and regenerate. There will always be another tomorrow (until there isn’t, and by then it won’t matter).

As you get older you’ll learn to pick your battles, and to not sweat the small stuff. It’s all about balance. You were taught that life was black or white but as you get older you’ll realise that life is about continuums, and the where you are on any continuum at any given point is only a snapshot in time. Few things in life are simply one thing or the other – there are so many shades of colour and you can always choose a different colour, a different shade or tone, a different style or direction or position or perspective. There are always choices.

You may spend a lot of time thinking that you weren’t good enough – but that’s not true. You are good enough. You are enough. You are so enough. You. Are. Enough.

Sometimes you will feel driven to achieve your goals, and at other times you can rest and just be. That’s how you know what’s important – most of the things you are passionate about now will stay with you for life. They will be your means of expressing your creativity, expressing essential beliefs that are intrinsic to you. (Did I tell you? You are SO enough!)

And by the way, you are beautiful – if you could please learn that now rather that later in life, you would save yourself a whole lot of time and angst. You are good enough. You are a unique being, a precious jewel, and you are beautiful.  Did you hear that? You. Are. Beautiful.  So precious. So unique. So exquisite in your own way. So worthy of being cherished and adored. And if those close to you don’t cherish you – then move on. Because you are enough. You are more than enough. You deserve not just to be loved but to be truly cherished.

And I will cherish the little girl you were and the young lady you are now. But if you could learn to cherish you, how much richer your life might be. I love you and I am proud of you and if we could do this all again – this is what I’d want you to know. Because I believe in you and that is SO important. And you are valuable, and precious and beautiful, and YOU ARE ENOUGH, and I love you.

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A lesson in graciousness

It’s been an interesting week. We were finally allowed back into our workplace after the earthquake last week. The building had been assessed by two independent engineers as being structurally safe. However the motion of the earthquakes had resulted in several burst water pipes which flooded several floors and caused significant water damage on top of the earthquake chaos. Workmen and cleaners had been in to do an initial clean up and repair damaged ceiling tiles and lighting, computers and printers etc. The carpet had been dried and most of the lights and computer equipment were restored but this week involved working without air conditioning (not that much of a big deal – just a bit warm at times) and amid the smell of ‘wet dog’ which is actually damaged carpet that I expect will be replaced at some point. It was good to get back to work and try to find a sense of our new normality.

As many of you will know, I battle with low self esteem and work in a government department that in pockets is quite distinctly unfriendly. I pretty much keep to myself but being me, I also take whatever opportunities arise to engage with people because that’s who I am. At one point this week I walked past a senior manager and we made eye contact so I said hello on my way past. He ignored me (as he usually does). Had we not made eye contact I wouldn’t have spoken but as he looked directly at me I felt it was appropriate to be polite so I spoke. He ignored me! He heard and saw me but chose to look past me and not even acknowledge my existence! As I went about my work I thought some ungracious thoughts and remained a little miffed for the next hour of so.

Later that morning I was talking to my boss on the phone. She works at a different site and I seldom see her but we communicate via phone and text. She is the best boss – so lovely, encouraging and supportive – I know what you’re thinking at this point ‘just like a boss should be’ – and you’d be right!  I  told her about my encounter and responded with “That’s so rude! Why do people behave like that?” “You’re asking me?” I said. She responded “Yeah, well don’t take it personally. You never know what’s been going on behind the scenes for him – maybe he’s got his own concerns and is just on another planet today and wasn’t really aware of your presence.” “Maybe” I said and we changed the subject. I put it behind me and moved on.

Yesterday I read the quote below:

judge-my-story

At first I thought of myself and how I want to say this to the world.

And then I thought of him – the man that was rude to me. And it was a good reminder, like my boss had said, who knows what’s going on in someone else’s life. It’s time to be gracious and give him the benefit of the doubt. I might steer clear and give him a wider berth next week but he’s been through earthquakes and floods too. He may have things happening in his life I have no knowledge of, and while he is responsible for his choices and reactions, he deserves the same lack of judgement I wish for myself.

 

 

 

Gratitude Journal: 21 Nov 2016

Yesterday (Sunday) was the most beautiful day. It’s still spring and has been quite wet but yesterday felt like the beginning of summer. I took the dog for a walk through our usual summer track through the forest. It’s been several months since I’ve walked this track -it gets pretty muddy and slippery and is steep in parts so not somewhere I walk in the wetter months. Because it had been a while since I’d walked it, I was blown away by how green it was, by the beauty and majesty, the peace and serenity, as if I was seeing it all for the first time (again!). Dog got a little frustrated as I kept stopping to take photos but she was grateful for the exercise and so excited to be back in what I’m sure she considers to be ‘her backyard’.

The feelings from Saturday (Abandoned Mine & Introspection) have dissipated and it was good to sit and cry and release the pent up emotion. Both the emotion and the sense of feeling lost have passed.

While I’ve shown you photos before from this track, these are some I took yesterday. I just hope you’ll get a sense of the absolute beauty of this place – just down the road from my home.

For this walk, for the opportunity to be out there enjoying it, for the sunshine, for my favourite canine companion, and for the beauty I witnessed, I am grateful.

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Introspection: 19 Nov 2016

I think it’s time for an introspection update – it probably won’t be pretty but needs to be an honest look inside.

I sent a text to someone this morning to ask how he was doing, and as I did I realised my own issues are just beneath the surface and I try not to focus on them. But maybe it’s more healthy and certainly more honest just to come out and say:

  • I have times when my self esteem is really low …. and I don’t really know why.
  • I feel like I’m a bit of a hermit these days (see Abandoned Mine) – and I don’t know if that’s a lie I’m telling myself or if it’s how I really am.
  • I feel quite disconnected from my family and some of my friends; some days I wonder if they even like me.
  • When I wrote Abandoned Mine I didn’t want to explore what the dangers were that lay beneath the surface; or why my life used to feel like a hive of activity but now feels like an abandoned mine; what is it I’m shutting myself off from?
  • I’m currently feeling a little bit lost and I’m not sure why. I could blame the turbulence of this past week (a massive earthquake, multitude aftershocks, not being able to go to work in the building I usually work in because of water damage due to burst pipes, heavy rain and flooding, constantly feeling tired etc) but I don’t know if that’s just an excuse.
  • I want to go back to bed and lie there and weep. Given it’s a quiet Saturday morning I could do just that.
  • I feel disappointed in myself for my lack of activity this past few weeks – I don’t want to do things. I don’t want to exercise. I want to live in a lovely clean and tidy environment but don’t have the motivation to do much in the way of housework. But then, does it really matter?
  • Maybe I just feel a bit sad and a little bit lost.
  • I do feel a bit sad and a little bit lost.

And it feels like a relief to be honest. And I know I won’t always feel this way. And I could go and do other things to distract myself – but it feels good to face the truth.

At least I’m weeping honest tears.

 

Abandoned Mine

dangerous-mine-entrance

I thought I was a ‘people person’

Maybe I was

These days I tend to spend more time alone

Not unhappily

Just without desire to connect.

And I’m tired.

 

This morning I thought –  I’m like an old underground mine

Once operational, teeming with activity

now sealed off

No access to the mine shaft

To avoid the dangers that lurk beneath

*Photo courtesy of envatomarket

A Gentle Reminder

The following is a gentle reminder to anyone who has suffered from depression or other mental health issues. It’s a reminder that we do indeed have the power to make decisions about our lives – regardless of whether those decisions are big or small – we have the power to make our own choices.

There have been times when I have felt like I haven’t had a choice; that life’s decisions have been taken out of my hands; that I was no longer in control. But this is a gentle reminder that that’s a lie. It might be a good lie, a tempting lie but it is NOT the truth.

Because we do have choices.

And at any given point, I can make a choice about my life. I can change the direction I’m heading in, or the look, the colours or the tone of my story. I have a choice.

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It never rains but it … blows

So in Wellington this week we have had a significant earthquake, followed by something in the vicinity of 1600 aftershocks. While this brought about mayhem in the central business district due to damage, this was followed by a LOT of rain and consequently flooding and more aftershocks.  This morning is bright and sunny (yay!) but unfortunately not supposed to last as another weather event is on it’s way, currently hitting the middle of the South Island and due to reach us this afternoon/evening bringing heavy rain and southerly gale-force winds with a severe weather watch having been issued for much of the central South Island through to central North Island.

OK, so it’s been an interesting week so far… but as I previously said, we have so much to be grateful for and things could have been so much worse than they were. Feeling positive and optimistic, I’ll leave you with some happy photos from around my city.

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The Animals Closest to my Heart

I recently shared a post called My Small Companion  about our dog.Recently I’ve been learning about editing my photos – altering colours, using filters etc and have been playing with a number of my existing photos.  Today I want to share some photos I’ve been playing around with of our 2 pets: a cat called Scout, and a dog called Fido. I hope you’ll enjoy these as much as I do 🙂

Earthquake!

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I awoke to the bed shaking – quite gently at first and then the shaking became stronger  and more violent, and it kept going – on and on. I heard the house creaking, the sounds of things moving around and some things falling off a bookcase. It kept going – a rolling motion. And then it stopped. I waited. I heard a few electronic beaps – indicating something but I had no idea what. I waited. And then a smaller after shock, the first of many.  My first thought during the earthquake’s movement was “there will be damage from this one.”

I grew up in Wellington and so have encountered earthquakes intermittently through out my life – but this was significant and it seemed to last for a long time (for an earthquake!) In general I’m not unduly worried about earthquakes – I live in Wellington and they happen here – that’s how it is. We are taught to prepare for ‘the big one’ and had taken the usual precautions: making sure the water cylinders are fixed in place; making sure bookcases and other large pieces of furniture are secured to the walls so they can’t fall and injure someone; using blu-tack on the bottom of any valuables on display so that they don’t fall and break. (I have a lovely hand blown blue & green glass vase which always has blu-tack attached to it so it’s effectively stuck to the bookcase where it is on display. It was fine!)

I got up to check where the electronic beaping had come from – the power was still on but the internet connection was down. Helpful that the beap let me know! I discovered a framed photo and a book on the floor in the lounge but everything else had remained in place.

Then the alarms sounded – the call for the volunteer fire brigade which assists locally in the valley I live in. My husband is a volunteer and he got up, dressed and left. Initially I thought I’d try to go back to sleep but then I realised that the trains would be unlikely to operate and probably all multi-storey buildings in the central business district would need to be assessed for structural safety before we’d be allowed back to work. It’s standard when there’s been a significant earthquake – Civil Defence in conjunction with the city and regional councils have plans in place for such a time as this.

I made myself a cup of tea and went to the garage to find my husband’s transistor radio. It was then I realised the magnitude of the quake – initially thought to be 6.6 but later upgraded to a 7.5. When you live in New Zealand (sometimes referred to as The Shaky Isles), you learn about the depth, magnitude and severity of earthquakes and the numbers help give people a sense of the scale.

The original earthquake hit just after midnight at 12.02 am. It was felt throughout the South Island and in much of the North Island (particularly the lower half). There were some other not quite so large quakes and a multitude of smaller ones.  It’s now some ten hours later as I write. I haven’t slept since. My husband has come home and gone again several times as the fire brigade deal with calls regarding power lines being down, or damage to homes or roads. There was a continuous sounding of the siren not long after the earthquake to warn of an possible tsunami along the east coast of both islands and people by and large self-evacuated from low lying coastal areas where necessary here in Wellington and around the country.

I was unable to go to work this morning due to the trains and buses not operating (while roads and train tracks are checked to ensure their safety). We were advised to stay home if we worked in central Wellington due to the damage to some multi-storey buildings and broken glass on the streets downtown.

There are reports of 2 fatalities due to the earthquake – if the earthquake had struck during business hours rather than at midnight, the results would have been SO much worse. There are reports of significant building and road damage around Kaikoura (towards the top of the South Island on the east coast) and roads throughout north Canterbury have been effected. Many hundreds of people have had to evacuate their homes due to the tsunami threat. Many homes around the country were (and likely some still are) without electricity and/or telecommunications.

My home has not been damaged. My husband and our animals are safe. To the best of my knowledge my neighbours, friends and family are all ok and accounted for. There has not been a major loss of life nor the devastation and damage that occurred during the Christchurch earthquakes of late 2010 and early 2011. Where there are pockets of damage, those who have been evacuated or those who are afraid, local communities pull together. It’s in times like this you will hear people say “Kia Kaha” – stay strong.

It may be early days – only a few hours really, and I do not know the full impact of this morning’s earthquakes. But what I do know is this: that things could have been so much worse. And we have much to be grateful for.

 

 

Kia Kaha

kia-kaha

Kia Kaha is a Maori phrase used in New Zealand and it means “be strong” or “stay strong”. It is used as an affirmation, as a term of comfort or solace (an equivalent of be strong – my thoughts are with you) and is sometimes used as a valediction at the end of messages.  It became popular through it’s use by the 28th Maori Battalion during World War II. You’ll find it in books and songs, in poetry and used as a motto.

This is purely my opinion, but it seems to me that in the past twenty-five to thirty years, we New Zealanders have become more aware of our history, our nation, the beauty that we have here, and as our sense of belonging and identity has grown, so has our sense of national pride. As such kia kaha is a term that is often used to encourage those representing New Zealand to the world. My interpretation is that it has come to mean this:

        ‘stay strong, your brothers and sisters in New Zealand are here with you;                                                 you have our support, and we have your back’

I think it’s fair to say that when we see our national rugby team, the All Blacks perform the  haka (traditionally a Maori war cry or challenge) we have a sense of identity, of pride, of something at an emotional level that says “this is part of my homeland, this is part of my identity” even though I am a New Zealander but not of Maori heritage. Such is the sense that “this is part of who I am” that it can, and often does, evoke an emotional response when a New Zealander abroad is confronted with a haka (often performed as an honour towards the person/team/group for whom it is given).

From my perspective this is a wonderful thing – it’s not a nasty overt sense of pride (like a desire to dominate the world), it’s simply an acknowledgement that ‘this is from my homeland; it relates to my sense of belonging; my place in the world’ regardless of where I am currently living.

I am proud to be a kiwi (a New Zealander) and I am proud of my country – it’s identity, it’s beauty, it’s belief in itself – we were the first country to give women the vote, and in the 1980’s we stood up to the world and said no to nuclear ships entering our waters. We are small but we know our mind. We have a sense of honour and value and respect for our country and it’s history and it’s peoples, regardless of where they are from.

To my online friends I offer these words: kia kaha – be strong.

 

Freedom

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lone seagull marks the passage of distance and time

as one day stretches – fluidly – into another

transparent transition

on the arbitrary continuum we call time

 

the seagull knows no minutes, no miles,

only endless space

infinite seclusion in life’s magnificent wilderness

this latitude – his very own portion of eternity

isolated, calm, content, at ease

continuous forward motion

the thrill of the avian arrow

joyous solitude, alive and purposeful

living the aspiration we call

freedom

Violets

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Violets always remind me of my mother. She would pick them and place them in a tiny vase on the table next to my bed when I was coming to visit. It was a simple act of love.

My mother was a kind, gentle and gracious woman. She and my dad raised six children – I was the last and the only girl. She was hard working and spent many hours washing clothes and cooking meals, ironing and darning. When I was young she spent two days every week baking to keep the biscuit tins full for her husband and children.

She spent her last years in a rest home and finally entered the hospital wing of the rest home after strokes and dementia robbed her of her mobility and much of her mind. But in her final years, after she’d been stripped of so much, she was still a kind and gentle woman.

I watched her change – which caused me to change too. She had been the parent and I the child, and then all of a sudden our roles reversed.

My mother was one of the rest home carers’ favourite residents. She never complained, she was quiet and cheerful, compliant and she smiled often, even if she didn’t talk much. She became their friend and they appreciated how easy it was to be with her. Not so for many who came to visit her – as time went by she become quiet and somewhat non-communicative, and as such, her visitors had to make all the conversation themselves. Their numbers dwindled but I don’t think she minded. She just didn’t have anything to say – until she did (which wasn’t often). I used to tell her about what was happening in my world; I’d tell her what different family members were doing, tell her stories about people she’d known, or would discuss what was happening in the world – not much of a discussion, more a soliloquy. I used to sit with her and hold her hand, and if I felt chatty I chatted to her. If I didn’t feel like talking, we simply sat together and stared out the window and watched cars drive by or watch the clouds change, watch planes about to land or those who’d just taken off. Sometimes we just watched a little television.

I became comfortable with her silences because sometimes I was silent too. I was happy just to sit with her.  I believe she appreciated my presence, and I like to think that she knew that she didn’t have to speak unless she wanted to. I felt that there was a ‘comfortableness’ in our being together in her later years, and I’ll always be grateful for that.

Towards the end she didn’t recognise me. It wasn’t her fault and I wasn’t offended, just sad. But I visited anyway. I didn’t stay long – she became less comfortable with me – she didn’t know me, so it made sense really.

My mother passed away three years ago last week. The violets in my garden are a tribute to her and remind me of her kindness and her gentleness; a hardworking woman and her simple acts of love.