Please turn that noise off !!

The Merriam Webster dictionary has three simple definitions for the word Noise.

  1. A loud or unpleasant sound.
  2. A sound that someone or something makes.
  3. Unwanted electronic signals that harm the quality of something (such as a radio, or television broadcast or a digital photograph).

When you read the full definition of the word noise the Merriam Webster dictionary emphasises noise as being unpleasant and unwanted.

Normally we don’t pay much attention to sounds. Turn a sound into something unpleasant or loud however, will guarantee a response.  Noise can be a huge distraction as much as it can send our imagination wild.

An imagination gone wild moment comes to mind for my sister and me. One day we had decided that we would sleep under a cubby house that we had built. The cubby house was a single bed with a mattress. We covered it over with bed sheets and slide under the bed. There was not much room to move around as you can imagine and instead of looking up to see stars we saw metal springs from the bed frame. These metal springs were very close to us. Our determination and excitement kept us under that small space until we actually fell asleep. All of a sudden we woke up to noise that was coming from the front porch located right next to the bedroom window. The first thought was that a burglar was trying to get in. All I can remember was a sudden surge of panic under that bed! In our distress we got our mums attention and our hair stuck in the springs. Our mum walked in on our dilemma after hearing a lot of noise and asked what was going on? After telling her what we heard she went on to say it was just the weekly soft drink delivery.  We immediately relaxed and enjoyed the rest of the day. Noise has a way of telling a story when we are not expecting it to turn up especially at night in the dark.

How about those precious moments when you need total quietness and suddenly a loud noise interrupts everything you are doing? All you can think about is the noise. That happened to me last year as I was studying for an exam. With a house full of adult children and an eight year old it is not easy to find places that are quiet at home. On that particular morning I had tried every room with an effort to find a quite space. So I caved in and went upstairs to our bedroom which I usually avoid in summer as it gets too hot. However I was desperate to get more study done. I am not kidding as soon as I put all my equipment down on the floor and began reading notes a massive noise started outside my window. That usually NEVER happens! Why now I thought? It was impossible to study quietly when all I could hear was the sounds of machinery cutting down big trees over the road.

Noise can be very disruptive. How about the noise we have in our thoughts on certain days or in certain situations? It is interesting to note that the third definition for noise is: Unwanted electronic signals that harm the quality of something. When I was younger I had too many of those unwanted signals going on in my thought life. There is nothing more frustrating than having a desire to do something with your life and all you get are distractions! Harmful signals that keep coming into your thoughts causing interference. As a young person I considered those thoughts normal. They became so familiar to me that I really didn’t know any different. Yet they were very disruptive in every single area of my life. These thoughts were attached to something deeper. Once I began dealing with hurtful situations the less frequent they became. That has allowed me to have more quality in my life and my relationships. Hurtful situations can happen anytime. I find that even after all these years of resolving issues new ones turn up. I then have a choice whether I want to deal with them or ignore them. While it is important to deal with past hurts we must not forget to deal with current ones. Hurts turn into noise which become both distracting and interfering. Let’s do a heart tune up and get a pleasant sound happening once again.

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Taking Short Cuts

When I think about short cuts the first thought that comes to mind are those moments when you are running late and need to be somewhere right now. You might be stuck in traffic that is gridlocked so in panic mode your brain switches into speed dial analysing all possible short cuts available in your current location. If by chance a short cut is possible your day is saved! You just bypassed every other commuter and were able to get to your appointment saving you the embarrassment of being late.

In life we find ourselves having to wait in many instances. We wait in queues until it is our turn. We might be waiting for the bus, a friend, or news about a job application. Mums to be wait nine long months before they get to see their baby. Waiting equals time! Our modern world has found ways to save time. You only need to think about the time saved with micro waves, clothes dryers, hair dryers, internet banking and shopping just to name a few time savers. Much of what we do today can be done from home saving time with home deliveries to doctor’s visits. We love saving time that way we can get more done. It sounds quite logical and reasonable why not save time when you can.

There are however areas of life that require patience which equals time. As humans we are not so good at waiting when it requires longer time. So we may become impatient and start looking for those short cuts. We might be unwilling to wait for our marriage to get better so we give up too quickly and take a short cut into another relationship before we have even given our marriage a chance at surviving. Perhaps we don’t have the patience to give ourselves time to heal after a broken heart and start a new relationship with all of the old hurts still attached. Or we may take short cuts by blaming other people for all the pain we feel yet fail to take time to recognise that we are hurting ourselves by not dealing with issues of the heart such as forgiveness, resentment, anger, disappointment, shame or guilt.

When it comes to broken body parts we are quite accepting that it is going to take time to heal. If you break an arm for example a doctor will plaster it up to restrict movement giving ample time for healing. You may feel annoyed at the inconvenience it causes yet you are aware that it needs to be done in order to have full use of your arm again.

In my life time I have had many temptations to take a short cut out when my marriage was struggling with issues. It seems that those temptations usually always appear when you are vulnerable to them. Thankfully in our case both of us were willing to sort through the hard stuff to get to a much better place which took plenty of time. In relationships you need to take time to communicate, forgive, be real and honest, talk about those tough topics, listen, give, understand and not quit on each other at the first sign of trouble.

Modern day has been very inventive in saving us time let’s however recognise those areas in our lives that need time without the short cuts. Let’s not get impatient with others or ourselves, after all relationships are valuable just as much as you are valuable.  A broken arm reaps the benefits of time inside plaster similarly your life and relationships will reap benefits when you allow more time to consider the real issues and begin working on them. If an arm were to remain broken imagine the pain and problems you would endure! Why do we do that to ourselves and others?   Don’t live broken forever as that is time lost. Gain more precious time by taking less short cuts and being courageous enough to face those issues of the heart.

Information Overload

A few decades ago……………. yes I am that old! Ok not ancient just mid-life’ing, my memories of earthly existence remind me of simplicity. We had our staple diet of bread, eggs, milk, meat, fruit and veg and it was considered healthy. As far as technology we had the radio and t.v. (with the basic few channels to choose from) or the cassette player for our music tapes. When difficulties occurred amongst families they used the basic form of communication which was face to face and found ways to forgive and sort issues out. Perhaps people persisted longer before giving up in relationships.  There was well-grounded common knowledge of right and wrong that most people adhered to. It was less of a wishy washy anything goes living! Life seemed more stable and secure.

In today’s environment the options are absolutely endless and forever changing. We are consistently marketed to with a smorgasbord of choices.  Supermarket shelves are filled with plenty of variety from processed foods to the organic or low fat options. Mobile phones and computers are outdated faster than we can keep up which makes for more options when upgrading your devices. Regular studies keep us informed of the health risks associated to certain foods or the over use of our modern technology. Perhaps you may have noticed that even that information can change from one week to the next. So while we have this endless list of options we are told that these options are not necessarily good ones or we may be told later on that the information was incorrect. Essentially there is nothing wrong with options however with so much information overload it is evident that life is not as secure or simple as it used to be. We have so much information available that making decisions tend to be over analysed and scrutinised to such a point that it can be difficult to recognise the right choice.

The internet provides information on a 24/7 basis and with social media opinions and ideas are before us consistently. There are websites for everything these days. So if you need advice you just google the answer and if that answer is not suitable you can google some more! Perhaps we have forgotten to think for ourselves with all of these options? Individuals can google their relationship problem and find out what other people did in similar situations. The trouble with all of the options and advice is that we can easily lose sight of simplicity. It is almost as if the basics of having a successful relationship have been forgotten such as forgiveness or trust.

Don’t let the worlds endless options complicate what may already be complicated enough. Follow your own heart convictions more than the popular choices available today. As not all of the popular advice is necessarily healthy! We do live in an unstable world today. I can’t even begin to imagine how difficult it must be for young people to navigate through in this environment. The heart of what I really want to say here is keep it simple and be true to who you are and what you believe. Don’t be swayed by every option that sounds good! When trouble hits look firstly at the basic areas that may be needing attention before exploring the whole world for answers. The answers are usually simpler than you think! Its time to get uncomplicated 🙂

Afraid to be lonely….

In my very early teens I remember feeling so convinced and distraught that no boy would ever like me. That thought was only natural considering the depth of how much I didn’t like myself.  When I was about 15 years old I was stunned and shocked yet excited that an actual male was interested in me. This led me into my first boyfriend experience. As nice as my first boyfriend was somehow I was always dissatisfied. It was as though I didn’t know how to be content. So when we broke up I went straight into a short fling with a guy that was quite broken. In my heart I knew it was going nowhere very quickly but I kept trying to convince myself that this guy loved me. My heart knew that I was only being used yet my empty craving for affection kept me hanging on. Nothing good came of this short fling and even more brokenness accumulated in my heart. Then the cycle just kept going like a merry go round. There was always someone else around the corner that I had hoped would be the one that would take away my desperate need for love and affection.

The emptiness that I felt inside kept me hunting for someone to fill. It usually always led me to the wrong people. While I knew in my heart that something was not right my head kept telling me that the next boy would be better and more fulfilling then the last. Even as I type these thoughts down it  reminds me of how broken I was and the feeling of being lonely was unthinkable. Dare I have gone a week without some guy in my life? Emptiness can be so consuming and can make us hunt for things that are not good for us. We can get so desperate for that empty feeling to disappear that we almost sell ourselves in order to escape. While we think we are escaping we are in fact getting into more trouble and pain.

Many of you reading this blog may or may not have ever had a spiritual experience? When I was about 17 years of age I had a heavenly intervention!  So far in my blogs I have discussed some of my battles with low self esteem yet the day that heaven intervened was the day that everything in my life started to turn around for the better! My personal belief is that we are body, soul and spirit. My spirit needed healing as much as every other part of my life. The day that heaven intervened I found out that there was truly a God who not only made me but  loved me unconditionally. My journey to freedom started from that point on and has involved many steps and processes along the way. My life has been filled with some very difficult challenges yet it has shaped me for who I am today.

If someone were to sit down and tell me that they felt  empty, unsatisfied and lonely I would say to them, “I understand completely”.  Loneliness can happen to anyone perhaps even more today with the lack of genuine interaction with others. Don’t hunt for the wrong things or the wrong people to fill in the emptiness as it will leave you even emptier every single time. Find true people that you can share your story too and empty out those closets of pain and hurt that have collected in your heart for far too long. We so easily forget that just as quickly as a house gets cluttered up with useless items so does our heart! Be encouraged today that while your life may not be everything you dreamed it to be right now it has the potential to turn around….mine did!!!

Becoming Unstuck

Sometimes I have wondered how much further I would have been in life had I been content with who I was. Every stage of my life has involved a battle or a struggle. Meaning that nothing has been without a huge shift in my thinking and believing. Sometimes I would take one step forward and then find myself five steps back! As I mentioned in an earlier blog it was more comfortable to believe negatively about myself than positively.  Reverting back to what felt comfortable was my excuse every time I felt challenged inside. So in other words if I decided to take a step in some direction that was new once it started to touch those triggers inside I would QUIT. No one likes feeling pain it hurts and sometimes it can be incredibly scary. So in order to avoid pain we retreat! I retreated in so many situations.

As I have been journeying along this path of freedom each different stage has allowed me to grow more and persist in the difficult areas without quitting. When I was in high school I performed very bad in maths and was average in most other subjects. Had someone told me back then that I would take on a University course I would have laughed out loud (LOL)…. It has even taken me by surprise that I have gotten very good marks in maths and statistic units so far whilst studying Psychology. It is amazing what you can accomplish when you are desperate and willing to deal with issues of the heart. When everything is still sensitive and broken it is hard to move forward in life, the brokenness locks you into the past and keeps you there. Have you noticed how young children are so free? They usually don’t take “no” for an answer. They are happy and excited to learn and try new things without reservation. Then life happens and for some it knocks all of that enthusiasm out of them! We do live in a world filled with opportunities to be hurt. Don’t be defined by past issues take courage and believe in the real you.

Be courageous today and start thinking about what holds you back? While often I  have wondered where I could be today had I not been so broken, I realised some time ago that I can make the most of what I have experienced in an effort to bring others freedom too! That too has been another step for me in busting through mindsets that would like to say “you can’t”, to “oh yes I can and why not?”….

What time is it?

Recently I sat at our favourite ice cream shop in the city observing all the various groups of people and thinking about what they might be celebrating or what they may be going through in their lives. It has sort of evolved into a bit of a habit for me now that even my kids can tell when I am in that mode and ask me what I am looking at? Happily enjoying my ice cream I spotted a group of young females and males and noticed how attractive they all were and really well dressed.

Then my brain suddenly had a flash back of what it used to be like when I needed to get ready to go out somewhere.   I remembered the utter frustration I would feel at trying to look good.  It was the wonderful 80’s and you just had to have bigger hair basically anything that resembled a bird’s nest! For me that was my fringe. I would tease that thing till it was knotted up and then spray it with plenty of hairspray just to make sure my signature hairdo would not fall apart.

 

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My 80’s Teased Hair

 

It was completely unthinkable to have a straight fringe let alone walk out of the house with one. After I had spent a considerable amount of time deciding what I should wear I would carefully select the ear rings that had to always match my outfits.  I guess you would think I was a bit of a perfectionist. There was nothing wrong with making an effort to look good except it didn’t matter how long I took it didn’t change how I felt about myself. Even if I had professionals doing my hair and makeup I would still have felt undone.

The worst part about taking so long to get ready was the horrible mood that took over which made going out so undesirable.  When you are going out there is of course the significant other who is also waiting and guys usually don’t like to be kept for two hours.  Obviously if one was going out on a special occasion it may require more time to get ready yet for me it was just the everyday trips to the mall. Arrrrgh it was such a prison!!!   I am most certain that even if by some chance I would have had all the latest and greatest clothes of that time I still would have been miserable with myself. Low self-esteem ruled me.

To deal with low self-esteem it requires firstly the desire to be free. Once you realise that you have a serious problem and it is ruling your life and your relationships then you can start looking at the areas in your heart that need healing in order to move forward from that place. It was not a one day process for me. It actually has been years of journeying through and dealing with issues on a regular basis. I can say today with a confident heart that as I started dealing with issues my inside life began to turn around. The lies that I had believed about myself were starting to lose their power over me. Hurts can take years to build up when they are not dealt with so the reality is it will take some time to work through them to let them go. Don’t beat yourself up if you can only manage one step forward. The very first step and the most important one I needed to take was  one of ‘forgiveness’.  

It Hurts to Hate Yourself

Does it really matter if you hate yourself?

During my younger days battling with low self -esteem I had no idea how damaging it was to hate myself. I was my own worst nightmare. Deep down I desperately wanted to be free but at the same time it was more comfortable and natural to live as damaged goods.  I was not free in myself or with other people.   Even one look by a complete stranger could set me off into complete self- consciousness and assumption that the reason they are looking at me is there is something wrong with me? While the truth was more likely that the person didn’t even see me they were possibly in their own world and happened to glance in my direction. Common sense flies out the window and everything negative has permission to stay.  Your whole world gets wrapped up in how much you don’t like yourself and how much the world is out to get you because you are no good.

Hating yourself can damage your relationships or put you into damaging relationships. Recently I had a look into a diary that I had written around the age of 15 to 17 yrs. Such a pattern emerged page by page. The topic of boys was common and complete boredom with life. It was interesting reading through and seeing how much I relied on boys to feel satisfied however it only brought heartache. While there were the few boyfriends that were genuine they did not last.  Then there were the random boys that came onto the scene who had no intention of anything more than what they were after and the sad part is I gave that to them as I had no self- worth or value in myself as a person. When you have no value as a person then your expectations are lowered opening the door for being used by boys that have no value in you either.  Heart ache is strewn all over the pages of my diary!

When you hate yourself you are so consumed about yourself that life has no meaning. The boredom that was communicated in my diary on a daily basis was the lack of purpose I had in my life. Nothing satisfied me. As most other teenagers I did go to the movies, ice skating, friends places etc., yet nothing was truly satisfying. Outwardly I functioned like everyone else yet inwardly I was a complete disaster. There was no freedom in my heart and I was constantly dictated to by my beliefs.

When you think the worst about yourself you tend to think the worst about others. In the same way others pick up on your body language and read your self- hate and tend to stay away.  Now that I am not ruled to live that way anymore it has given me so much more purpose. It has improved my ability to relate with others and even if there happens to be someone that does not like me I no longer take that on board and let it consume my every moment. Not everyone is going to like you and that’s OK as long as YOU LIKE YOU!!!

Free Yourself to Be Yourself

Are you satisfied with who you truly are and what personality you have been gifted with? Most of us if we are honest with ourselves would wish to be someone different. I wanted to be Kylie Minogue. She’s gorgeous, confident and people crowd around her in awe. The true reason I wanted to be like her was because she has an outgoing personality. Whereas I am by nature an introvert.

For instance in school, particularly high school the need for acceptance took on another level of importance and priority. Suddenly you find yourself surrounded by teenagers searching for an identity within the various groups. We’ve all watched mean girls hehe and we can recognise the different cliques, the popular and not so popular, the athletic and the straight A’s and our worst nightmare, the rebels. Throughout high school I tended to fit into the not so popular group.

With poor self-esteem hanging on my back I was always described as the shy and quiet girl in all of my reports. When other kids poked fun at me I just withdrew into my shell in an attempt to hide. Being the center of attention was possibly the worst thing that could ever happen to me. Whenever I started comparing myself to the popular girls I felt even more defeated. These loud girls  would monopolise all the attractive boys attention and seemed to emanate confidence. It was as though nothing bothered them and life was perfect. While that may have been the case with some of them it didn’t occur to me until I got older that even loud and seemingly confident people can be insecure.

When I was living through insecurity I was unable to be myself. The insecurity squashed my personality on a regular basis. I dealt with it  by retreating inwardly with the purpose of keeping myself safe. This meant that I would shy away when asked to participate in class or group situations requiring me to speak in front of others. It also ensured that I would not go to the graduation as there was too much possibility of looking like the odd one out. Even though I am not the same person as I was when I was younger I am still a fairly quiet person. Being more on the quiet side is who I am and I don’t think I could ever be a loud person even if I tried. It would be exhausting for me! It took me years to figure out that it was OK to be a quiet personality type. If we were all loud imagine how noisy the world would be and if we were all quiet it would be too quiet.

If being accepted by others requires  you to  have to change who you truly are then it is not worth the friendship. Find friends that give you room to be yourself and most importantly embrace who you are! You were made with a purpose in mind that no one else can fulfill but you, so why would you want to be someone you are not. Focus on the strengths that you have instead of the weaknesses, and those strengths will develop to such a point that you won’t be so consumed by the areas that trip you up. Everyone has a place in this world 🙂

A Life of Rehearsals

When I think about rehearsals the first thing that comes to mind is dance performances. As a kid I remember spending hours and hours in the backyard pretending to be a dancer. Even though I had never had dancing lessons it didn’t stop me from pretending,  it was so much fun!  When it comes to the new seasons of dancing or singing shows on t.v., I enjoy watching the dancing over the singing any day.  I imagine how many hours and how much effort it must take to practice and put something like that together so that the performance is a success.

Individuals involved in the entertainment world know how much practice is needed to rehearse lines or dance moves.  Individuals who play in a sports team have practice sessions weekly to improve their ability. As a child starts school they spend a lot of time practicing drawing and writing. When you really start to think about it we do a lot of rehearsing. There are wedding rehearsals, concert rehearsals and the list is endless… Rehearsing something over and over helps to perfect what you are learning. You get better at something over time. You may lack the skills in a particular area however after practicing you improve. Not everything is a positive rehearsal. So what happens when you begin rehearsing thoughts over and over in your mind about something negative? You get better at it! You may even start living that negative rehearsal out in your daily life. It becomes second nature and eventually you do not even have to think to be able to think it. It becomes automatic like driving a car.

As a teenager I had morning rehearsals every day when I was getting ready. I would stand in front of the mirror and say to myself ‘You are so Ugly’…… ‘No one likes you’….. It became automatic and believable over time. If anyone happened to pay me a compliment it was quickly ignored as all I believed was what I had rehearsed for so many years each and every single day. At the time I had no idea how destructive those rehearsal sessions were. It became such a part of my daily life that I did not recognise its damaging effects.

What do you rehearse each day? Is it positive or negative? Let me encourage you today to  take some time to think about what you are thinking about. So that your life does not take on something destructive which essentially robs you of the freedom to be yourself and the freedom to enjoy the life that you have been given. Life is  valuable and precious and so are you!