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. ❤

destroying what *must* be destroyed – part II

How do you feel about destroying what must be destroyed in your life? Part II

{Follow up post from destroying what must be destroyed}

This question started me thinking about my life and what is truly not necessary in it. It made me realise something about my relationships with my friends – online and offline. It made me start to evaluate the quality of my relationships and to see if there are any that should be “destroyed”. It got me thinking…

In truth, I live a pretty quiet life and don’t often meet my friends. I’m an introvert of sorts – except when I’m in front of 200 students explaining to them about the struggles and issues that some learners face when they are learning in a second (or third, or fourth) language. Then, I’ll happily stand up and sprout “wisdom”. Aside from that, I’m an introvert and I have the best relationships with my friends online. I mean, excluding the people I live with, I would physically talk with about one or two others in a normal week. However, I have numerous conversations going online – emails, chats, Skypes, all that. I could go on Skype or Facebook and find a random friend to start talking with and nothing would be unusual about that mode of communication for us. It would definitely be weirder to pick up a phone and talk to them. Definitely.

I started looking at my Facebook “friends”; those people that I’ve connected with over the years and still share a connection, albeit sometimes tenuous. I looked at my close friends and my not-so-close friends. I also looked at my used-to-be-close friends who I distanced myself from. Yes, I’m talking about that one friend that I used to do everything with, but we grew apart when I stopped initiating interactions. They didn’t initiate interactions. Mutual decision to grow apart? Maybe. Let’s talk about that friend, “F”.

F and I went to school together – we’ve known each other most of our lives. At school, we either loved each other or hated each other. It was a boarding school; it can breed contempt easily. Aside from that, we went to the same university and when I went overseas to work, I found a job for F and F came over, too. This was F’s first experience overseas and we lived together for a while. Until I couldn’t stand it anymore; I moved out. We were still in the same town – the same group of expat friends (because we were seriously limited for choice) – but we managed to avoid each other for a while. Then F left and I stayed. Through emails (waaaay back before Facebook), we stayed in touch. When I wanted a place to chill in another country, we met again and were friends again. And so it continued – we were travel buddies and our mutual connection was a love of travel (because it has to be more than just going to school together). We continued like this for a long time and we made it a ritual: once a year, we’d travel together to a place we’d never been before. We had amazing travels – we saw many different places and countries. We made great mutual friends that we still have today. It was great.

BUT.

(There’s always a “but”.)

When we were together, I was sacrificing myself so that F could have the best experience that F could; I had to give up on what I wanted and just do what F wanted. This wasn’t good. I started to comprehend what this was doing to me but I thought better of F – I thought I was misreading the situation and F’s responses. Maybe I was weak. I thought that it was just me, not F. So, I tried again. And again. And again. Three times – three different situations – three different countries – two different years. I made an effort to try to see that F cared about me and that we were a travel team together. But, no. No. It was all about F and what F wanted and thought. So, after the third trip, I decided that I’d had enough. I was not going to be F’s friend anymore – or rather, I was not going to go out of my way to maintain our “friendship”. It was hard at first – I wanted to share things with F and to travel more together. I wanted to go back to the “good times”, the “fun times” that we had at points in our travels. I couldn’t go back. I learned that I could do it all myself, though.

As expected, F and I grew apart. Now, when it came to an important celebration for me, I had always told F that they would be the first person invited. In truth, I thought long and hard about inviting F and F’s partner. In the end, I did invite them. And they came. This actually surprised me until I realised why they came. They came to see if my life was real and if my happiness was real. They also came to get ideas for their own celebration. To work out if they could do it “better” than I did. I didn’t care – it was just interesting to see that F was up to F’s old tricks again – comparison, competition, selfishness. I thought I was vindicated in my distance. I was glad that I distanced myself from F.

Nine months later, F invited me to a celebration. It wasn’t an easy invite to accept, but I considered that F and F’s partner came to my celebration, so perhaps it was “fair” and “right” that I go to theirs. It was an ordeal to attend the celebration – extensive travel, expensive accommodation, long delays during the celebration – but it was worth going. I realised that nothing had changed and that everything was the same with F. Including that I wanted out of our “friendship” permanently. I want it destroyed. I want it over. It’s draining me, causing me undue stress and just generally unhealthy.

But underneath, I’m not sure I can be that callous. In reality, our only contact is online and it’s relatively sporadic and passive. F only contacts me when they need me, or when they want to show how much better than me they are. A very selfish, one-way friendship, if I can still use that term. I wish things were different; I wish we could be real friends. But then I remember the pain, the constant competition, the constant bettering. That’s exhausting. I don’t need that. I don’t want that. I want out.

Ergo, I shall destroy. Cut ties, remove from contacts, aim for zero connection online and offline.

DML Graphics v13 130919 Logo Square 151x1511 Desire Map for Life

______________
Inspired by Danielle Laporte and her post on Your relationship to destruction, Goddess Kali, and Fridays with desire. #DesireMap

destroying what *must* be destroyed

How do you feel about destroying what must be destroyed in your life?

I feel like it’s destroying part of me. Surely everything in my life is there for a reason. Otherwise, I would be smart and destroy it, right? Wrong. This got me thinking. I have things to destroy. So what do I need to destroy?

  • My addiction to work being my “value”.
  • My apparent inability to be happy with who I am.
  • My relationship with F. (More to come in a following post.)
  • My incessant need for absolute financial security, which is tying me to a job that I’m not sure I want.
  • My inability to let go of things.
  • My procrastination. (Tips, anyone?)
  • My time-wasting activities.

To start with, this is a small general list. It needs refinement and explicitness. I am working on it.

Danielle says that in order to create, we must first destroy some things. I agree to a certain level – and I deeply desire creation in my life right now. Ergo, I must destroy.

But first, to round up the voices in my mind that are scared of destruction. Time to go.

DML Graphics v13 130919 Logo Square 151x1511 Desire Map for Life

_____________
Inspired by Danielle Laporte and her post on Your relationship to destruction, Goddess Kali, and Fridays with desire. #DesireMap

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.

supporting you

How can I support you when you won’t listen?
How can I support you when you don’t want to know?
How can I support you when you ignore me?

I want to support you; I want to be your rock; I want to be “there” for you. I’m here – right beside you – wanting to give you what you need right now. But you don’t want it; you don’t want to hear; you don’t want to know. You’re just too angry, too upset, too annoyed. What can I do?

I can wait for you. I will be here, waiting. I am here now and I will be beside you always. I am waiting: waiting for you to come back to me – waiting for you to be available – waiting for you to calm down.

I want to hold you and tell you that it’s all a mistake. I want to whisper in your ear that life goes on. I want to hold your hand, look into your eyes, and say “It will be okay”. I want to reassure you that this happened for a reason, that it was what needed to happen so that you can grow, that it is the right option right now.

You don’t want to hear this; you only see it as a mistake, a deliberate attempt to ignore you, a perfect lie. You don’t see it from their view: you don’t know their rules, their obstacles, their ignorance. You don’t want to like them – you want to hate them.

I know you love me, but shutting me out doesn’t help. You know I won’t go away – I’ll be here.

I’m here.

Waiting.

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