Reflecting on the past 12 months…

So, this post is inspired a little by Estrella’s post on her top five moments of 2013 and a little on today being my birthday. It’s a good day to have a birthday, I think. I like the timing and the day of the year. It really suits me and I enjoy it a lot~ It also means that my Christmas and birthday are over pretty quick and I don’t really have to leave the festive mood once the new year begins…instead, I continue the celebration through to my birthday. One big, long celebration!

Anyway, the point of this post – my top five things in my something-something-th year of life. Here goes:

  1. I lived in Egypt for five months – wow and just WOW!!!!
  2. I travelled to Romania, met Estrella, made a lifelong friend, and was amazed by the country. It is a serious “must go now!” country. Really. I swear I’m not biased. Not a little. (Well, maybe just a *little* teeny bit…)
  3. I was able to seriously indulge in my reading addiction.
  4. I spent some amazing times with my other half. He’s amazing. Truly.
  5. I reconnected with my mother on such a deeper level. So good – so supportive – so beautiful.

It was difficult for me to pinpoint these moments, but they were there among many more moments. As I get older, I realise the value of my relationships and the value of experiences such as travel. I really do. Of course, when I was younger I had many amazing experiences but they were often tainted by following the crowd and not being sure of who I was. Every day I learn a little more about myself and I love myself a little more {in a deeply, honourably good way}. I surprise myself, too – both good and bad surprises. But it’s all part of what makes me who I am. And I love that.

Birthday roses

While this may not be the best photo, it is one full of meaning. Fresh roses picked from the garden at early-o’clock this morning especially for me. They smell divine and have been keeping me company all day while I work. ❤

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pretending

I found myself surrounded by a group of pretenders. Pretending to be who they thought everyone else wanted them to be. No, these weren’t the social clichés of hipsters or rappers or emos or anything like that. These were a group of women in their late 20s and early 30s – mostly single, professional, “stable” women – and they were pretending to be who they weren’t. They were hiding their own truth in order to fit in with each other. Seeing them interact with each other made me quite uncomfortable because I didn’t want to be like them and just try to “fit in” with their discussions. There was nothing really wrong with their discussions or their topics for discussion, just they weren’t being true to themselves and true to each other. I could feel this, see this, hear this, know this. It was like they were speaking in a false code that helped them identify as a social group that was different. Listening to their words but watching their actions (and hearing about their actions) was difficult – I wanted to scream at them to “be real!”, but it just wouldn’t happen. I felt very outside of conversation and outside of the little group they had created despite having been invited to join them.

Just being there and feeling their lies made me wonder what this world has come to in order for these beautiful young women to distrust themselves so much that they lie to each other just to fit in. I sat there wondering how I could contribute to the discussion and when I realised that I had nothing to contribute because I couldn’t lie like that: I just watched and listened. There were some blatantly obvious lies, as well; not about little things like how much they spent on something or what they ate for lunch (which they were not truthful about), but about big “life” issues – children, marriage, commitment…

For example, one woman was ten weeks pregnant and was telling the others to never get pregnant – it’s the worst thing ever – and that she never wanted to be pregnant. At all. Ever. Five minutes later, she mentioned that she had maternity leave written into her work contract four years ago. Four. It was something that she actively decided to do and that she planned to do because her boss was “impossible at best”, so she had to get it written into the contract. In another discussion a little while later, she talked about how easy it was to give up drinking, smoking, caffeine, processed meat, soft cheeses, long distance travel, and whatever else. She said she had no side effects, no bad moods, no cravings. This was coming from a woman who had been the typical “life of the party” girl who was never seen without a cigarette or a drink in her hand; someone who lived from coffee to coffee and cigarette break to cigarette break. Yet, as soon as she realised she was pregnant, *poof* she’s given up everything. So many people cannot give up just one of these things, let alone all of them. (Even if they really want to; even if they have strong motivation like creating another life inside them; even if it was a life-and-death situation.) If she didn’t care about her unborn child and if she didn’t want to be pregnant, why would she give all of this up? I’ve known others who did everything that they could to end their pregnancy early because they didn’t want to be pregnant. Here, a woman who claims to not want children, to hate being pregnant, to be dreading the next eighteen or twenty years of her life, she is doing her best to provide the safest and healthiest home for her unborn child. Is this not a contradiction between her actions and her words?

The list of blatant lies told in this conversation goes on – it really does. I spent most of those two hours just sitting in shock and wondering how this group of women would react if I told them exactly what I was thinking. Or if I told them that they were basing their friendship and conversations on lies. If they truly looked at themselves and truly allowed themselves to be who they are, then they would be shocked – more shocked than I was when I was listening to them. Really.

I wonder how we have gotten to this place – to a place where being honest with ourselves, and one another, is regarded as being a social taboo.

feeding the fire

Image

Donghaksa Temple, Daejeon, South Korea

It was a wintry day; the sky was full of clouds filled with snow just waiting to float down to earth. We walked along the path leading up to the ancient Buddhist temple. You took my hand in yours and shared your warmth, and your heart. As cold as it was around us, between us there was a fire – an eternal fire. Years before, we took a little spark and have been feeding it with love, trust, and experience. Our little spark has grown into a roaring fire and we continue to feed it, not wanting it to die out. Every day we feed more love and trust into our fire, and our experiences – both shared and independent – also give it more fuel to feed from. Our passion ignites us both, even on our tired and “bad” days. We could have melted all the snow around us and started a bushfire on this day, but we chose not to: it was too beautiful so we enjoyed the moments and treasure our memories.

I want to make pretty things…

That’s what I want to do. I want to make pretty things. Pretty things like beautiful prose, lovely jewellery, and cute teddy bears to warm people’s hearts. I used to be so creative with my life – making things, designing rooms, painting pictures – but I’ve lost myself in the “corporate” world where there is only pressure to perform, to get to the next level, to do even better than before. I’m lost because I lost time to be creative and if I had the time, I had lost the energy to let my mind be creative. I love my “corporate” work, but I miss being creative. I miss making pretty things – I want to make pretty things again.

This year I have a chance to change my life; I have a chance to make pretty things. If I make pretty things and I work out how I can make it part of my life, I think this year is a win. But I haven’t made progress just yet; I have pretty things to be made – I just have lost my time a little with the rush and urgency of surviving here. I want to reclaim time to make pretty things and stop “wasting” time doing those things that suck my time and energy but don’t produce what I want them to produce.

I guess this is kind of a reorienting idea; I want to do my life differently and change what I do. If I want to leave the “corporate” world, then I need to make this year count and I need to use my time more wisely. I want to reinvigorate my passion for creation and for making pretty things. I want to reclaim what my soul is and what it desires to be. I want to become more of me.

Cluj Botanic Gardens: Pretty things