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To Live and not Just Exist

Choosing life, happiness, peace and joy. Oh and weight loss too

Me

Hello.
You don’t know me. Not yet anyway. I am you, 27 years on.

You turned 40 the other day. It came and it went much like any other day. There was some celebration, there was some sadness. But it passed. Much like any other day.

You worry so much about not fitting in. About not having friends. About what people think of you. About whether your mom and your dad value you. About whether your brother and your sister love you.

Stop worrying. All those nights of tears and fretting get you absolutely nowhere. Not one bit of the energy you expended ever changed anything anyone ever thought of you, did for you or meant to you.

Stop worrying Jessie. You will be ok.

I have to tell you that your dad dies soon. A massive heart attack. Norine comes, and Stephen eventually. And then they leave and it is just you and mom.

In time, you forget what he looked like. You forget what he sounded like. You forget who he was. Because you barely knew him. All that becomes important is whether or not he was or is proud of you. And it doesn’t matter one way or the other. The only person who has to be proud of you, is you. Learn this now. Learn it well. Because you will fight this demon all your life. And it will win. Every time someone doesn’t measure up to the ideals you have set for them. Every time someone leaves. Every time someone disappoints you. Somehow, you manage to turn it into something you did wrong.

Stop. Learn the lesson. Don’t take other people’s shit on as your own. And try to remember your dad as best you can, for as long as you can. Because you will miss who you think he was, who you hoped he was, who you believed him to be every day for the rest of your life.

Over time, your mother develops an unhealthy attachment to you. Your nature, and her nature, clash and crash and nothing good comes of it. It will shape you and affect you in ways that no one will ever understand. Don’t let it. So much of the heartbreak you face, comes from this one simple fact. Your mother, however unintentionally, will mould you into a soul that is very damaged. Stop. Learn the lesson. Don’t let another person’s weakness become your own. But remember always, she did her best. It may not have been good enough for you, but it was her best. Don’t turn away from her. Love her as best you can. Because she is your mom. And one day, she will be all the family you have close to you.

When you get a bit older you are going to fuck up monumentally. You will think your life has ended. You will think you will never recover. You will believe that you are done. Don’t. Stop. It makes you strong in ways that no other person will ever be strong. Although the fear of it will haunt you forever. You will recover. You will get better. You will be okay. I promise. Just keep breathing. One breath at a time. This one moment does not define who you are. You fucked up. You are not a fuck up.

Even older still and you will get sick. Some weird mystery illness that they still argue about. Stop. Don’t let any doctor who you think knows better, tell you who you are. Don’t let them pump you full of the meds that will balloon you to 170kg’s. Don’t let them. Question everything. Make sure it makes sense.

Older still, and you will realise that you are ok alone. But that being alone all the time is hard. It is hard to never have anyone to rely on. It is hard to do everything alone. But you will find a few souls that hang out in the periphery of a life. Always there. They love you. Find them. Keep them close. You will need them.

One day, you will realise that your family is made up of so many animals. People will laugh at you when you call a dog your closest. Don’t care what they say. Every single life in this life, is worth love. Love them completely. Time will come when they will become your reason for waking. Your reason for going home. Your reason to be.

So much doom and gloom. So much to face in a short life.

And I haven’t even really started.

So let me tell you this.

You are beautiful Jessie. You are compassionate and kind and generous and smart and funny. You are loyal and true.

You are beautiful.

I am proud of you.

Every little bit of you.

Every big bit of you.

Every broken bit of you.

Every whole bit of you.

Learn your lesson Jessie. You matter to the only person that matters.

Yourself.

You are exactly who you are meant to be.

And you are awesome.

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I saw Faith today.

Once upon a while ago, I am certain I saw Grace.

And today, I saw Faith.

I get into Town really early in the mornings, in part to miss the madness that is rush hour traffic in Cape Town but also so that I can do my daily exercise. I walk various routes around our beautiful city and due to the very nature of the time, I get to see allot of the homeless.

Mostly still asleep. Some just barely awake and perhaps wondering why they bothered. Some, like a rather well-known figure along Adderley Street, having a bath in the fountain.

My city could be any city. Homelessness is not unique to Africa. It is not unique to this city. It is everywhere. And it is heartbreaking.

As is the nature of humanity, we desensitize. After a while, you don’t notice the sadness or loss or pain or fear anymore. You don’t hear the voices. Worst of all, you don’t see the person anymore. They are just one more thing in a landscape of things.

That being said – I love my country. I love this place I live. Not because I have to. But because it is me, and I am it. So I try to keep my heart and my mind and my soul open to the beauty. To the hope. To the joy. But also to the faults. To the corrupt. To the bits that are broken. No one thing is ever perfect. And, as with so very many things, sometimes the bits that matter the most are the bits that can’t be seen.

Today was a good walk. I missioned along a route I don’t usually take. Past the taxi’s and the vendors.

Past the station and the folks slowly making their way to work.

Past the doormen and street sweepers.

To the most amazing sight I have seen in a while. Another one of those moments when time stops a bit. Reality becomes thick and amplified and loud.

Many of the homeless get a meal from one of the many shelters or soup kitchens around town. It is usually a styrofoam bowl of maize and a jam sarmie. I have even on occasion seen them munching happily on a bowl of rice.

Today was a happy walk. Singing under my breath to Katy Perry’s Dark Horse. Happily smiling and appreciating the weather. Greeting the folk that crossed my path.

Only to walk past an obviously homeless man with the most magnificent grey and silver beard.

Saying his Grace before tucking into his breakfast.

We may lose our way. We may lose our family, our joy, our jobs. We may lose ourselves.

Never lose your Faith.

Because where there is Faith, there is Hope. And Hope is where God lives. Hope for something better. Hope for peace. Hope for love. Hope for another meal.

Hope for that silver bearded homeless man who still found space in his Soul for Faith.

He will never know how much he Blessed me. I will most likely never see him again. But he showed more Faith and Hope in one moment than many people have in their entire lives.

Sometimes the bits that matter the most really are the bits that can’t be seen.

It is not what you own in this life.

It is how you conduct yourself in this life.

That man, that homeless soul.

He was Beautiful.

He was Gods perfect creation.

For all things, there is a time…

This is by far one of the most beautiful verses in the Bible.

At various times in my life I have gone back to it and reflected on the pain, loss, joy, hope that is inherent in it.

Today is one such day. A time for goodbyes. A time to leave. A time of loss. A time of hope. A time for new things and new beginnings.

A time to let go.

A Time for Everything

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3

 

So I shall let go. Look up. Look to the light. Wipe the tears. And find my new way of being. A new way of strong. A new kind of family. A new place to be me.

I shall look up. And look to the Light.

Because the Light has ever carried me.

The Lesson

This year has been a time of lessons. Hard lessons. Lessons in leaving. Lessons in what it means to be a family. Lessons in loss. Lessons in strength.

And a lesson in anger and mourning and heartbreak, again.

One more down,  one more to go.

As the clock ticks ever onward to another loss, another leaving – my heart breaks all over again. I don’t know how to bear this.

I don’t know how to forgive this. This being the one left behind. This loss of an entirety. This complete responsibility for another.

I don’t know how to be this.

And I don’t think I can ever forgive this.

Not that it matters. Life goes on. Life moves on. Stuck here in this pain, or there, in that joy.

I do not wish this on my worst enemy.

This loss. This profound emptiness. This raw hurt.

This abandonment.

I don’t know how to heal from this.

And I really hope I can forgive this. Not for them. They are gone. Whether I can bear that or not. They are all gone, or going.

For me. Because this hurts more than I can ever tell anyone. Because of who I am. And what they are to me.

Another one down, one more to go.

And then we will see.

That Time I Shut Up

This is sublime. And a lesson everyone should learn ASAP.

Missyspublicjunk

“The world is filled with people who, no matter what you do, will point blank not like you. But it is also filled with those who will love you fiercely. They are your people. You are not for everyone and that’s ok. Talk to the people who can hear you. Don’t waste your precious time and gifts trying to convince them of your value, they won’t ever want what you’re selling. Don’t convince them to walk alongside you. You’ll be wasting both your time and theirs and will likely inflict unnecessary wounds, which will take precious time to heal. You are not for them and they are not for you; politely wave them on, and continue along your way. Sharing your path with someone is a sacred gift; don’t cheapen this gift by rolling yours in the wrong direction. Keep facing your true north.”
– Rebecca Campbell, from her book, Light is…

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Reflections

This last year has been a journey into the vast unknown for me. This is what I learnt:

I am not the black sheep I always thought I was. Yes, I once was a black sheep, but I have finally stopped letting that one moment of stupid define me. Mostly. Work in progress.

I am not the younger, weaker, less reliable sibling. Yes, in my life I have probably chosen or been manipulating into being that one, one too many times. That is not who I am. I have picked up a load that I would not have chosen for myself, and I have carried it rather well.

I empathize too easily. Far, far too easily. Sometimes, you have to let people deal with their own shit. Regardless of how much easier if would be if you did it for them.

I have more, and better, friends than I thought I did. Friends that take a mommy chicken when I can’t. Friends that bring me pretzels because I asked for them.  Friends that encourage and motivate and sometimes, just listen. Friends that go out of their way to be friends.

Making new friends is hard. So value the ones you have.

I need to sleep 8 hours minimum a night. If I don’t, the emotions in my head get too big for me. There is no fault in that, it runs in our family. Ensuring I get 8 hours plus a night, most nights, is me prioritizing me.

Losing a family is harder than I can ever tell anyone. But it is ok too. Loving someone means wanting what is best for them. Even if it doesn’t suit me.

It doesn’t matter how good you are, how loyal or true or kind or generous or understanding. Sometimes, because of the space that others find themselves in, you have to close a door and leave someone behind. Mourn the loss, forgive the hurt, remember the laughs. And move on.

Sometimes the load you carry feels like it will crush you into the ground. It rarely does. Unless you let it. Beyond all else, this year has taught me that actually, I am pretty damn fabulous.

Stronger than I thought.

Smarter and funnier than I believed.

Truer to my nature than others would have me believe.

Fat, fabulous, in control.

I think that sums it.

My weight is still an issue. Because I let it be. Because of massive doses of medication. Because I never learnt how to control it. But I keep trying. And despite what others say – trying matters. None of us are perfect.

Fabulous because I am me. And those that know me, will attest to that.

In control. Because what else is there?

Picture by Ann Gadd – http://artforewe.co.za/ and http://dogmaticart.co.za/

Fanatics – the quickest way to get me to leave the venue….

If there is one thing in this world that I believe in, it is that every single person has a right to be exactly who they are. Part of that is also a belief that each of us has a right to our beliefs.

Fanatics and extremists per se don’t really bother me. At various times of our lives, each of us needs to believe in various things, to various degrees. Sometimes to get us through the day, sometimes to get us through an event, sometimes just so that we can keep breathing.

I have some hard core beliefs of my own.

There is a responsibility that comes with fanatical beliefs, though. The responsibility to allow others the same freedom you afford to yourself. Tolerance. Patience. Love. They should always trump judgement.

I met one such soul today. And I couldn’t run fast enough. Their beliefs trump all else. Family, friends, government, God. Even reason and logic. Even love and affection. Granted. Believe what you chose. However, you do not have a right to tell me or anyone else who to be, who to be friends with, who I am, and what I should or shouldn’t do.

You do not have a right to discard people like things, because your absolute logic supposedly trumps every single thing that they are. Every single bit of themselves.

You do not have a right to force your belief onto others, in the egotistical belief that your way is the only way.

Yes, you do have a right to not chose me.

But doors swing both ways.

While you are so busy being completely right and righteous, you forget that I also have a right.

A right to surround myself with people who love me and enjoy me and care for me above and beyond what they might think I should be or become. People who accept me. Even if I am flawed. Even if I am wrong. More importantly, who love me even when they think they know better.

I have a right to run. From your intolerance. Your discard. Your opinion.

Some people are not good for you. And you are not good for them.

Circular logic.

Are either of us right? Are both of us wrong? Does it matter?

I chose not to be around someone who cannot fathom who I am.

You have a right not to be around someone that you believe doesn’t measure up.

Neither of us are less than because of the choice. Maybe we are better off.

I met a fanatic today. It did not matter what the belief was. All that mattered was the intolerance.

A fanatic met me today. It did not matter who I was. All that mattered was that I did not measure up.

Doors swing both ways. Always.

And being right, absolutely right, to the nth degree? Damn that must be lonely.

Goodbye

Today is hard.

Today is another step closer to gone.

Today is tears.

Today is my mind messing with the bits of me that are strong.

Today is another brick in a wall of finality, between here and there.

Today is a mother and grandmother in a mess and children and grandchildren who can’t yet see value in time spent.

Today is an old and weary soul that misses what she never had.

Tomorrow is telling her that the time has come for leaving.

We will stay behind. Her and I. And then eventually just I.

But it will pass. I have found a few souls that love me. A few that tolerate me. A few that left me. They fill up the space left behind.

And maybe some of them will become family.

Today is about choices. A door always swings both ways.

Today is, for my very own sanity, good luck and goodbye.

Today is so unbelievably  hard.

I hope you never know just how hard.

I hope you never see this kind of loss in the face of someone you love.

I hope you never cry these tears.

Today is hard.

I love you.

All of you.

Good luck.

I hope your new world treats you well.

Goodbye.

Stand

image

Stand tall and stand brave.          
Allow no one to steal your Grace.

Stand not swayed by rhetoric or prejudice.                   
Opinion is only as powerful as education.
                                    
Stand not bowed by condemnation or judgement.            
Your right to be is immutable.

Stand strong in courage and acceptance.               
Life is too short and boring otherwise.     
                
Stand unique in your own beauty.            
We are all a canvas.

Stand powerful in your nature.  
It is completely as it should be.

Stand gracious in your oddity.   
God favours the interesting.  
    
Stand lightly on the shoulders of friends.
They will keep you afloat.

Stand clear of the judgement of others.             
Inevitably the high ground they inhabit is theirs alone. 

Stand wise in your experience.
Life is one long lesson.

Stand in awe of your Self.
Know that your true being is precious.
          
Stand tall and free and bold.
Allow no one to hold your past against you.                

Stand your truth.

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