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The outfits we wear speak volumes…

An item of clothing bought decades ago does not always qualify for the fashion of the current day. Equally relevant is the fact that what I was able to wear as a teenager decades ago does not work for me anymore. If I were to attempt to wear a short skirt I can guarantee that it would look ridiculous and out of place. As much as I would love to fit into today’s teenage fashions the reality is it just isn’t going to happen! Yes, sad I know….

Fashion changes from one year to the next, which is similar to our lives. We go from one season to another. Each season presents us with new challenges and opportunities for growth. Besides the obvious physical changes our bodies go through we also change as a person. We mature and develop emotionally and are better equipped to handle life’s responsibilities.

You will find that in my blogs I refer a lot to my teenage years. The reason being is that my teenage years were filled with so many struggles. I remember as if it were yesterday the utter frustration that I felt on most days! Most of the frustration I had revolved around my identity. My best efforts at feeling good about myself always failed before they got started. At the time I had no idea what was going on nor did I have any answers for how to navigate the season more productively.

Going back to the topic of revolving fashion there was a certain fashion that never seemed to out date itself in my life. Let’s just call this piece of fashion my negative outfit. There could of been a better choice of outfit however,  I chose  the negative outfit each day as it almost called to me.

The topic of outfits or suits puts images in my mind of super heroes.  One of my all-time super heroes when I was young was ‘wonder woman’; her outfit represented the power to save the world, she was confident and was not focused on herself.  The outfit I put on every day was the complete opposite it represented a person who was afraid to be themselves and preferred to hide.

Perhaps the only common feature between my outfit and wonder woman’s outfit was that they were indestructible!  My negative outfit was day and night wear at its best. The comfort of that outfit resembled the comfort one feels in their most favourite pair of jeans. Not only was I comfortable in the negative outfit it provided me with the idea of safety, the safety of not being hurt again.

The truth was that the outfit was quite destructive it had the power to put me in a foul mood very quickly. It also kept me trapped as my world was so small inside that suit.  In other words between me and the world the negative outfit was my protection.  In the event that a possible threat could present itself then my negative outfit was suitable for keeping enemies away.  A threat for me was anyone or any situation that had the potential to bring out my insecurities to touch those raw areas that hurt like hell when someone came too close to them.

The outfit represented the person I was; it had almost become my identity.

In high school I found myself confused and  consistently questioned myself  as to why it seemed so difficult to connect with others. Wearing that outfit kept me hidden. People didn’t really see me they saw only what I was living in.  So rather than  seeing the real me others  saw the outfit of negativity.

What does negativity look like?

The first most obvious thought here would be that being negative is the opposite of being positive. To be more specific I looked it up in the Merriam Webster Dictionary which gives the simple definition as:

  1. Harmful or bad; not wanted
  2. Thinking about the bad qualities of someone or something; thinking that a bad result will happen; not hopeful or optimistic
  3. Expressing dislike or disapproval

When I had a look at the full definition of the word negative the main one that described me or my outfit perfectly was this:

Marked by features of hostility, withdrawal, or pessimism that hinder or oppose constructive treatment or development.

While I was never someone that got into fights at school I was always on guard just in case someone had the intention of being nasty. The only exception  for the guards to come down would be for those I knew well. My approach was quite distant and defensive.  In the back of my mind I would analyse the other person’s true intentions and purpose. Almost waiting for the moment when they were going to come out with what they really wanted to say. And of course that would be something negative!

Being a positive person was definitely not natural for me. As I started dealing with my internal hurts my choices of outfits started to change. This change took place over several years and I am still on a journey.

While I would like to say that I am never negative the truth is that occasionally when life gets tough I go looking for that negative outfit and put it back on for a while. The difference between now and the past is that in the past I wore the outfit every single day for years. Today I may put it on for a short while only to realise that it is no longer comfortable to wear. There is no joy wearing that outfit. I recognise that when I wear the negative outfit it always puts the brakes on in my life. My world becomes all about me again and that is when life has no purpose.

It still requires effort from me to be positive. I have to work at it regularly as it has never been a strength of mine. In the past it would have been almost impossible to find something positive in bad situations yet these days it never takes me long to see the good among’st the bad.

As I have journeyed along in life and allowed for my inner hurts to be healed or have chosen to let go of what I can’t control the choices of outfits in my wardrobe have considerably increased and improved, you could say they are more fashionable!

Even with more options of outfits I am aware that they do not define me. It is about who I am on the inside. The more comfortable I am about myself the less I rely on anything external.

Today it doesn’t matter so much what I wear as I am content in who I am and the clothes don’t make me!

 

What is your favourite outfit?

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Knock knock, Who’s there?

As I am pondering on the best way to present this blog the images that are cluttering my mind tell a story of cupboards, wardrobes and drawers bursting with unnecessary ‘must keep for later’ items…. In fact they are so full it is impossible to identify what one may actually find in there. Unless we were all regular de-cluttering queens I would say most of us have somewhere in the house we put all of our unwanted goods to keep the home functioning in some order. The kitchen cupboard rarely if ever organised is stacked with plastic containers of all shapes and sizes. I don’t know about your kitchen cupboard but the ones in this house are quite old with doors that don’t shut tightly. Usually I just throw the empty containers in and hope it doesn’t turn into a game of mini ping pong.

Clutter, clutter and more clutter! It all has to go somewhere until we are willing to part ways. How about the collection of random items that we may find in our drawers? There is one particular drawer that I like to use for those items that have nowhere else to go. It is a drawer that ‘saves’ me by providing a place I can very quickly throw things in before visitors arrive.

Let me tell you a funny story! About two years ago our family went away for approx.  2 weeks. While we were gone the house had been broken into. All the signs indicated to us that it had occurred on the very day we returned home which was very fortunate. We did what one usually does and called the police. The police took down all the details and dusted for finger prints. They asked if we had noticed any items missing. One of my boys noticed his PS3 had vanished along with some random games. Another of my boys noticed he was missing a few smaller items from his bedroom. Overall we could not tell if anything too valuable had been taken. The police made mention of some bags filled with items that had been picked up and taken to the station that same afternoon. They had suspicions that some of the items from our house were in those bags.

To our surprise the bags did in fact belong to us. My son got his PS3 console returned with the games while the other son didn’t seem to get back what he thought was missing. Now going back to the topic of clutter, you would be amused to know that the thieves took some of our clutter!!!! Yes not joking… We and the police were amused and fascinated that thieves had taken old masking tape along with a broken belt belonging to one of the boys. The belt was completely unusable yet they took it?

In our mind it has never made sense why  thieves having gone to so much trouble to enter a house would take with them some clutter.  We will never know?

Let me present you with a few thoughts: Firstly have you noticed that any overcrowded cupboard or drawer filled with clutter becomes a permanent solution to store more clutter. Secondly, these clutter filled cupboards or drawers are so full that to even remember what is in them is impossible? You would need to be in a spring cleaning mood just to find out. Thirdly, anything valuable is not stored in those messy spaces. Generally people know that putting their expensive dress inside a cluttered wardrobe is not a good idea. There would be no room to hang anything properly and you are pretty much guaranteed anything valuable could get ruined. Oh and not to mention the silverfish and bugs having a party in those dark and crowded spaces.

You might be guessing by now where I am heading with this topic. Many of my blogs are centred on the idea of our heart condition. The reason being is that it is often the most neglected area of our lives along with those cupboards and wardrobes of course!

Seriously though we often ignore what is going on inside of us. Perhaps we are too busy to take time out for ourselves. After all as long as life continues to function despite our emotional baggage or pain, we convince ourselves it doesn’t really matter.

Maybe it doesn’t really matter but only for a while though…

Picture this scene: A person walks over to grab something out of their extremely overly filled wardrobe and as they open the door everything just falls out! It is often one of those typical amusing scenes in a movie or tv show that everyone laughs at.

Okay so now that you have that thought in mind take a moment and imagine how a person responds when their heart is too full of hurt for instance. All it takes is someone to come along and open that door and Ouch!

This is what used to happen with me. Something or someone would trigger that spot and all the hurt would come pouring out!

When our hearts are cluttered with useless items we have no room for anything new. We may have held onto items for so long that we are too comfortable to keep things the way they are, why change?

Have you noticed that most of the things we hold in our cupboards or wardrobes become outdated eventually! They turn into old fashioned items. They are just taking up valuable space. The same can be said of what we may keep in our hearts that should of been removed along time ago. Like perhaps a 20 yr old grudge against someone. Holding a grudge against someone for such a long time only damages your own heart and its environment. You may even reason to yourself why this grudge should stay there. “They hurt me so bad I will never let it go”. It isn’t affecting  ‘them’ its affecting YOU or better yet INFECTING you. Infections can be dangerous they need sterilising and removal or it can spread and cause so much damage.

Life is often unpredictable we never really know what will happen from one day to the next. If our hearts are too full of useless baggage or still accommodating old hurts we struggle to have clarity for the future. Our perception of people and situations can be misplaced causing more problems as we view everything through the lens of our pain and hurt.

It may feel daunting and impossible to face those areas in your heart that need attention and  you may need to ask someone for help. The relief of clearing those areas out will provide you with peace and space to receive healthier thoughts, or healthier friendships that have been waiting for a welcome.

From my own experience the relief and freedom that I have felt after getting rid of excess baggage  fuels me to keep writing these blogs!

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Our Heart Treasures

The photo featured with this blog is of special significance and value to our family. A few years ago both of our family pets died within 3 months of each other. The youngest dog called Mickey died first and the eldest dog called Missy had to be put down due to her old age. Missy was the mother of Mickey. We were never really sure of Missy’s age as she had a previous owner who was no longer able to keep her as they were moving interstate.  My husband decided to help them out and as most men do he forgot to ask about the details such as Missy’s age?  Missy came to be a part of our lives at a time in which I had just three of our young children. Missy had been with us for approximately 20 years and the vet which put her down said that she must have been about 24yrs old after he had examined her teeth. Missy had travelled with us as we moved from Canberra to Sydney and to our surprise several years later became pregnant! Not all of the puppies survived however we kept one of them which we named Mickey. Both dogs then travelled with us as we moved from Sydney to the Central Coast NSW and then eventually to Queensland.

MickeyMissy2

After both dogs had died I decided to buy the plant as a way of remembering them.  So we dug around the area where both dogs had been buried and made a home for the special plant.  It was comforting to know that I could go to the backyard and visit the plant almost sensing the dog’s presence despite their physical absence. After we found out that we had to move house I decided to buy a pot to put the plant in so that it could go with us wherever we went. When I look at the plant I think of Mickey and Missy and still miss them. I call it the Mickey and Missy tree. Sometimes I find myself talking to the plant!

While the plant is something tangible that we can look at in memory  of our dogs we also have all of the wonderful memories and feelings stored up in our hearts along with photos and videos.

It is truly amazing that as humans we experience life and have special stores of memories that are there for the rest of our lives.  

As kids we have so many memories and special moments that will always be with us till the end of time. Occasionally we are reminded of them such as for example when I smell freshly mowed lawn.  That particular smell reminds of childhood and the freedom I had to just be a kid without all of the responsibilities it takes to be an adult.

Then I have a few special memories of being with my grandad who was on my dad’s side of the family. He passed away when I was quite young yet I can remember a few specific moments which I will always cherish. On my mums side of the family I have memories that were created when I was about 25 yrs old. I had to visit Finland to see my grandmother on my mum’s side and she was the most beautiful lady. She smiled and cried when she spoke about her life. She was adorable! I hadn’t seen my grandmother since I had been 3 yrs old so it was a very significant time for me. On the same visit I also got to stay with my grandfather on my mum’s side for a week. He was a quiet man but I enjoyed sitting and talking with him so much. I will never forget the moment when he drove me to the city to go shopping. I was pregnant with my fourth child and so it took me a little longer to get out of the car. I sat in the back and was slowly making my way out of the car when he forgetting that I was there started driving away. His wife yelled out and the brakes came on! All was fine however that memory will always remain with me and give me a laugh.

Memories touch our emotions! Even as I am writing this blog and remembering it is setting me off in tears. People are so valuable. We occasionally take them for granted. However when they are gone it is too late to decide to spend time with them. The true treasures of a person’s heart are our families and friends and even our pets.

All of these treasures are valuable and worth holding onto.

What are some of the treasures we may store in our hearts that are not so good?

We may fall into the trap of seeking out earthly treasures such as money and material possessions.  While there is nothing wrong with having wealth and possessions if it takes first place in our heart then it has the potential to rob us of our time and desire to spend with family. It can turn into a chase for wealth or even social status. Equally we may even treasure the desire to be someone who is noticed so much so that we spend too much time chasing that ‘something’ which could put us on top of the social status list. We may even jeopardise the success of others just so that we don’t lose out.

Have you heard of this saying: That when someone is on their death bed they are not thinking about all of their possessions nor their achievements, they are thinking about the people that are in their lives. They may regret those that they failed to spend time with or had trouble forgiving and in that moment would wish to go back in time and live differently.

There is another saying that comes to mind which talks about two areas that will most certainly happen for everyone which is taxes and death. We will all eventually one day pass from this life into eternity. No earthly treasures will be able to come with us however our memory of those we love and who love us will continue and live on.

Let’s not be swallowed up into the often shallow and empty promises that the world offers.

Learn to recognise what is truly valuable and worth treasuring in your life. We can never go back in time so let’s not waste it and let’s make memories with family and friends that will live on forever.

♥♥♥♥♥

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Sparks or no sparks on Valentines Day..

♥♥♥Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. It is a special day of romance in which couples indulge in chocolates and cuddly teddy bears adorned with hearts. The evening sets the scene for an intimate candlelit dinner for two with menus that have been tweaked a little to inspire and savour that sweet moment of love. Shops everywhere accommodate for this love fest selling anything with hearts on them. Bouquets of flowers are crafted with the finest of nature’s beauty in preparation for the arrival of Romeo who wishes to melt the heart of his special Juliet. Lovers find themselves carefully selecting from hundreds of Valentine ’s Day cards to declare  their unending love.  The choices of cards are endless catering to the simple messages of “I will love you forever”, to the more poetic Shakespeare inspired love notes.

Valentine’s Day is celebrated by many couples at different stages of their relationships. There will be the first timers experiencing the joy of butterflies and long lingering eye contact whilst frozen in a moment of togetherness oblivious to the existence of others outside their cocoon of love♥.

There will be the newlyweds reminiscing about their wedding day and engaging in tender conversation about the future they dream of making together♥.

Couples with children have made special arrangements with sitters to take the time out and enjoy the quietness of just the two of them♥.  Sighing in relief that they can now eat a gorgeous meal with no interruptions or parental demands placed upon them for just that short while.

The midlifer’s have enjoyed many Valentines Days in times past♥. As they sit together surrounded by all of the different couples celebrating Valentine’s Day they may find it challenging to have a conversation. One of the partners may be consumed with thoughts of worry and concern over their adult children whilst the other may be contemplating what the future holds for them in terms of financial security and work. When a partner has struggled with health issues amongst all of the other possible pressures it is easy to understand the temptation at that point to question where the special spark has gone that had once been present. Frustration and emptiness knocks on the door and introduces themselves to the midlife couple.  There may be deep hurt to process as life has taken its toll and the sense of drive and focus that they once both shared has vanished somewhere into the past! As both partners experience a variety of emotional and physical challenges it almost seems unfair that an enormous amount of commitment is now required in order to connect.  They are faced with what seems like a mountain of rubble and stress that has impacted their relationship.

Being in a marriage or long term relationship certainly can test the commitment when life’s trials and difficulties  pound on each partner like huge uncontrollable waves.

Last year as I was studying a particular unit in Psychology I came across some information that I thought to share with others who may be wondering where their spark or passion has gone in their relationship.

The information or research I found was titled Classifying Love. In an effort to classify love researchers have found that there are two different types of love. The first type of love which is usually experienced at the start of a relationship is called “passionate love”, the other is companionate love. Companionate love refers to deep affection, friendship and emotional intimacy. At the beginning of a relationship “passionate love” is at the top of the list and then overtime it begins to diminish. Passionate love is discussed as a wildly emotional condition with intense physiological arousal and absorption in another person. Researchers state that “passionate love” tends to make a comeback on occasions throughout the relationship.  Companionate love is at its lowest in the beginning yet it tends to grow over time and is the glue that holds a relationship together (Burton, Westen & Kowalski 2012, p. 740). Companionate love overtakes passionate love.

In Midlife it takes commitment to grow in a love that is based on deep affection, friendship and emotional intimacy♥. At certain times the commitment can be stretched outrageously and may show signs of failure.

Who would argue against a passionate love relationship 24/7. That concept is not realistic despite the mixed messages we may receive watching a romantic movie. Romantic movies portray love passionately. We can get confused about relationships if we measure or compare it to the 90 mins of passion and love on a t.v. or movie screen.

True love is not based on feelings alone as we would like it to be. Yes we recognise that the feelings are the strongest at the beginning of a relationship however feelings change when pressure and stress enter through the door uninvited and as it progresses to a long term relationship.

This Valentine’s Day if you find yourself questioning the absence of sparks don’t see it as  failure. Consider the season you may be in at the moment. While it may require more of you in terms of commitment than you have energy for,  I trust that what I have shared with you today will inspire you!

Don’t be too hard on yourself or your relationship if you are struggling to hold it together in a difficult season.

The absence of sparks is not the sign of a bad relationship it is a sign that you are in a different place  requiring more effort and work which  will include rewards along the way♥.

Happy Valentine’s Day ♥♥

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To Turn the Tables

You may be wondering what this blog is about when you initially come across the title.  My hope is that you find yourself super inspired and are able to relate it to your experience in life. The inspiration to this topic is born out of my own frustration of expectations that don’t play out the way you…. Ahh…. well…expected. The subject of expectations could take us on a worldwide tour in some cases, especially once you have lived long enough to experience let downs.

What am I talking about here?

Alright so here goes my best effort to explain. One of my biggest frustrations in life has been expectations gone wrong! As humans we do have expectations of certain people in our lives. Countless times I have found myself feeling disappointed when it seemed that someone I looked up to did not share the same idea.  It may initially be going somewhere within the interaction yet the tendency is that it generally falls short  and one realises that the other party was not on the same page or they may have had a different agenda.  These expectations may be as simple as someone walking past and saying “hello”. It may extend a little further with a generous minute of conversation with them. If by chance that precious minute extends to a genuine conversation whereby you sense that the other party is truly interested in knowing you, then that turns into a bonus!

Life is busy! No doubt I may have unintentionally walked past someone and failed to acknowledge them. It does take effort to step out of your comfort zone and talk with someone you may never have had a conversation with. Let’s face it we do all like our comfort zones, right? However,

We all crave connection.

So where does ‘turning the tables’ come into this conversation? Having heard this reference spoken of in conversation, I decided to look it up for a clearer understanding of what it means:  Turning the tables as cited in: http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/turn+the+tables

“To change a situation so that someone’s position is the opposite of what it was”

In my case I made a decision to do the opposite of what I had been doing. To challenge myself to another level of thinking and perspective! Rather than having expectations on others I decided a while ago to turn the tables! My heart told me that if I felt the same disappointment in a social situation or with a particular person then there had to be others who felt the same. This moved me into a zone of “others” rather than “self”. As the saying goes, you “put yourself in another person’s shoes” so to speak. It gives you an inside story to how you can meet the needs of others. With intention I decided that it was time to do my best to offer others that which I had been seeking for myself.  This change in perspective has opened up a whole new world for me.

 It has been such a revelation to realise that in fact others experience the same let downs that I have.

It is so much more rewarding when you decide to be to others what you would have always wanted for yourself! When we are hang up on waiting for what we are expecting to receive from others we can become sorely disappointed. In the disappointment we tend to do the same to those people in our circle. We can be so focused on people that are unreachable that we end up doing the same to people who may want to connect with us. It is quite the cycle.

The truth is humans do disappointment! We all fall short on many occasions, whether it is intentional or not.

My guess is most of us crave the same things, we all desire true connections with genuinely interested persons. In some instances we do lose our focus and perhaps fall into the trap of idolising another person at the expense of not seeing who may be there waiting in our circle.

As I made the choice to ‘turn the tables’ of this disappointing cycle of let downs it has opened my eyes and heart to those around me. To those that do want to have a conversation. It has helped me to connect with others better. It has allowed me to fill in the gaps of another person’s life and in turn it has filled in mine.

It’s all about perspective! When we ‘turn the tables’ off our own interest onto others it gives back to you everything that you thought you were missing out on. In other words it becomes a WIN WIN situation for everyone involved.

Let’s turn those tables and start winning, excuse the pun but Winners are Grinners!!!!

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂