be-kind

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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 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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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.