Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Weigh to Go

If there is one thing that amazes me about humans, then it is how quick we are to judge other people.  We call ourselves tolerant, yet, as soon as somebody does something different from the way we like to do things, or say something that differs from our way of thinking, we judge them by our own standards and rules. Judgement comes easily to us.  We observe the world and the people of the world carefully.  We place them like specimens under the microscope and judge their every word and action by our own expectations and pre-conceived ideas.  Then, when the verdict is delivered, we disregard or despise them and summarily dismiss them from our lives.  The sad fact about this is that when we judge people in this way, they seldom stand a chance.  We lose all objectivity and we miss out on the opportunity to get to know somebody for the special person he or she is.  When we sit in judgement of others, of the world or situations, we only see what we want to see, from the perspective of judgement.  We are oblivious to the beauty locked up in others, we are blind to the gifts and opportunities presented to us.
We gain very little by being judgemental.  When we are critical of everyone and everything, even ourselves, we go through life with tunnel vision and we miss out on the panoramic view that can be ours.  We miss out on joy and abundance.  We miss out on the beauty of diversity.
Maybe it is time that we choose a different route.  Maybe we must pack away our scales of justice, and start practising tolerance and acceptance.  We should change our point of view and look at life from a whole new perspective.  It is amazing what happens when we stop judging the world and the people in it.  Suddenly our eyes are wide-open and we start to see clearly all the different facets in the people around us.  We discover the treasures they have to offer, the love and friendship which our own judgements prevented us from experiencing before.  When we can look at the world free from discrimination and pre-conceived ideas we discover a whole new world which we have never seen before.  We expand our horizons and we expand our knowledge.  We discover new territories and we even discover new truths about ourselves.
Being open-minded and tolerant brings its own reward.  We become at peace with ourselves and others, a sense of serenity settles on us.  When we stop weighing everybody, including ourselves, on our often warped scales of justice, we will find that our relationships grow deeper and more meaningful, we will experience joy in the company of others and we will delight in discovering people's hidden attributes.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Unlock the Cage

Forgiveness.  A three syllable word that sits quite easily on the tongue.  Easy to say, even easy to understand.  We hear about it Sunday after Sunday.  We read articles about it in magazines and see talk shows covering it, on television.  There are even "10 Steps to Forgiveness" programs.  Forgiveness is easy to talk about, but doing it is usually extremely difficult.  I, myself battle with this concept.  One of the main reasons we find it so difficult to do, is a belief that it is something which will benefit the offender.  We feel that by forgiving we actually condone the act perpetrated against us, and, that by giving our pardon, we also give them permission to hurt us again.  Yet, that is EXACTLY what forgiveness is NOT!  Those are just the excuses we use to stay locked up in the Cage of Grudges.
In the Cage of Grudges we drink the vial of poison day after day and then wait for the offender to die.
As prisoners in this cage we constantly remind ourselves of what crimes were committed against us and we relive the pain and anguish we suffered.
Daily we eat the dish of bitterness, yet, instead of finishing it, we make sure we replenish it, in order to eat of it again tomorrow.
We keep ourselves trapped in this cage, and wear the victim's uniform.
We stay stuck in this cage, forever in limbo.
Forgiveness has very little to do with the other person, but has everything to do with ourselves.  It is a gift we give ourselves.  Forgiveness is the key which opens the Cage of Grudges.
Once we practise forgiveness, a few surprising things happen:
1. Our spirits are set free, as the shackles of resentment fall away.
2. We experience feelings of elation, and our energy levels improve.
3. Our heart rate and blood pressure improve, and our stress levels drop.
4. We are more receptive to love, and more capable to give love.
5. We are filled with feelings of peace and compassion.
6.  Our relationships with others improve, as well.

Forgiveness means "Letting Go".

On the other side of the coin.  Most of us have the need to be forgiven at some or other point in our lives.  Yet we very seldom experience real forgiveness.  It is a very scarce commodity, therefore it is important to learn to forgive ourselves.  Remember, we are all human, we all make mistakes, therefore, learn from your mistakes.  Admit that you were responsible for the mistake or offense, and be remorseful.  Try to make amends.  Then, forgive yourself.  I have recently experienced the wonder of being forgiven.  I felt humbled by the experience, and I am in awe of the forgiver.  To be truly forgiven by somebody, felt as if a weight lifted off me, as if the rainbow settled on my shoulders for a brief moment.  It made me realize that if it felt so wonderful to be forgiven by a mortal being, how truly amazing is the Lord's forgiveness!

Remember, with every mistake we make we gain knowledge, and very often getting hurt is a life lesson in disguise.

Monday, 21 September 2015

My Hero

This morning started out cool and overcast, but soon the sun peaked through and coloured the day with fresh gaiety. Today is a special day for me.  It is on this day that Spring actually starts for me, because today is my dad's birthday. 
My dad was such a special person.  I can honestly say that he truly loved his children.  Everything he did, and worked for, he did with us foremost in his mind.  My dad was the most important man in my life.
I idolized him.  I believed I would grow up to be just like him one day.  I had no use for Superman or Batman, because my dad was my hero.  With my hand in his I could stand against the world.
The wonderful thing about my mom was that she always built that image of him in our eyes.  She boosted him, and never spoke negatively about him, even at the cost of her relationship with me at times, she would sing his praises.  It was only later that I realized that he, too, was human, but by then my estimate of him was firmly set in stone.
As a mother, I followed the example my mom set, and made sure that my daughters were always aware of how much their daddy loves them, and what a special man he is.  Girls need their daddies.  Their own identity, their own self-esteem, is closely connected to the relationship they have with their fathers.  It is the first relationship they form with the opposite gender, and it impacts all the future relationships they will have with men.  A father imparts a sense of security to his daughter, they feel protected and cherished in their father's love.  Girls believe their daddies can do anything, dads can slay monsters.  The safety net of a father emboldens them to fly off confidently into the world.  The relationship a girl has with her father teaches her how a woman should be treated.  It is from him that she learns how to trust other men.  Very often girls tend to marry men who are very similar to their fathers (I know I did).   The bond between a father and a daughter forms an essential part of her self-image and her happiness.  This relationship needs to be encouraged by both parents, and cherished.  It is a very unique bond, and as important as the bond between mother and daughter.
I will always remember my dad for his selfless love, the way that he made me feel special.  I remember all his little eccentricities and the way he made us laugh.  His wisdom runs through my life like a golden thread, and I can still hear his voice as he sang "O, Lord, my God".  I am so grateful that he was my daddy!  He is still my hero!  My own daughters never got to know him, but I speak of him often, sharing all the little bits of wisdom he taught me.  They are both proud to be his granddaughters.

Today I wish I could put my arms around his neck once more, and say, "Happy Birthday, Papa".
Maybe you can give YOUR dad a hug today.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Free to Fly

I love looking at kites flying high in the sky.  I remember the first kite I ever had was a butterfly kite my dad bought for me one beach holiday.  I loved it, although it was not a good flier.  I could not wait to hold the string all by myself, and begged my dad to let me try it on my own.  In my young mind I thought it would fly better if I were to let go of the string, but although it took off with a great "whoosh", it soon tumbled from the sky and got tangled in the undergrowth.  Painstakingly my dad untangled it and we tried again.

From a very young age we have been raised to do things for ourselves.  Almost from the moment our children are born we encourage them to become independent,  we are ecstatic when they start sitting up by themselves,  we applaud them when they can hold onto their own bottle and we are ready with the camera to record their first unaided, wobbly steps.  Day by day we marvel at how their independence grows.  Of course there is nothing wrong with that, it is the natural way of life.  However, the problem comes in when we become so independent, so self-sufficient, that we start believing  we need nobody else, we can do it all, we are an island.
This type of thinking will lead you on a bitter and lonely road.  "Needing people" is seen by fiercely independent people as a weakness.  They believe that they have to be a Superhero, strong, undefeatable, self-sufficient, powerful.  They never ask for help, never admit defeat and never open up to anybody.  They even experience God as an entity outside of their lives, remote from their lives. To accept and receive anything is foreign to their whole being.  Very often they not only distance themselves from other people, but they even distance themselves from their own feelings.
People need people.  We have to connect with others, learn from others, inspire others and in turn be inspired by them. Independence that is out of control is actually just a mask to hide behind.  Behind the mask often lurks fear, pride and low self-esteem.  It is a way to protect ourselves from disappointment, hurt or rejection.

Looking up at the sky, watching the kites ducking and diving in the breeze, I relate it to the way life is.  Although the kite is tethered by the string, it sails through the air and rides the wind with such freedom, such abandon that it leaves me breathless with excitement.  As my dad explained that day on the beach, it is the very fact that it is held by the string that it can fly so high and so gracefully.  The minute my little hands let go of the string, my kite's future was lost and all it could do was to tumble down and crash.  It needs that connection, that guiding hand to fly.  The same way we need to be connected to God, to interact with others as it is in that connection and that interaction that we find our true strength, new inspiration and freedom.  

I leave you with a quote from a song by Barbra Streisand : "People who need people are the luckiest people in the world!"

If you flutter by here and would like to share your thoughts  please feel free to do so.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Cave of Memories

This morning at 01:00 I woke up to the soft drizzle of rain on the roof.  Beautiful, precious and gentle.  The scent of the rain drifting into our bedroom on the nighttime breeze brought back so many memories.  It reminded me of the smell of rain mingling with the scent of my mom's Nasturtiums. She had planted them in the rockery below my window.  I remember the rain that fell on the dusty footpath in the field next to our house.  The first drops smelled heavy from the warm dust mixing with the rain.  Then it started raining heavier and soon the rain poured down. turning the dust into large puddles of mud.  When the rain stopped later that afternoon, the fields were full of the neighbourhood children slipping and sliding in the mud, laughing with glee while turning into little mud monsters.

Memories.  We all have them.  They are precious.  Memories remind us where we come from, they join the past and the future together.  Memories guide us, and they teach us.  We are indeed fortunate to have memories.  Memories fill us with joy and comfort, yet sometimes memories can hinder us. I love walking through my cave of memories.  In some chambers I tend to linger a little bit longer while others I hasten through.

Usually, most memories are special and worth cherishing.  They lift our spirits and encourage us.  Yet, some memories can keep us captive.  They prevent us from moving on.  These are normally our less pleasant experiences.  I call these memories "parasitic memories".  They attach themselves to our fears and worries.  They hitch a ride on the backs of bad experiences and fuel our insecurities.  These memories drain us of joy, and they strangle the beauty out of all our good memories.  The chambers, where these memories lurk, are filled with doom and gloom.  These memories remind us why we cannot believe or hope for something better,  they remind us of all the horrible lessons we have learned and they convince us that these bad experiences are the absolute and only truth about life.  This knowledge of past experiences keeps us captive.  It is then that we need the dragon slayer to come to our rescue.

The dragon slayer is Wisdom.  Wisdom understands how to use the knowledge gained.  Wisdom knows that everything in Life is a choice.  It understands how important it is to forgive the injustices and forget the pain of past experiences, but realizes how essential it is to remember the lessons learned.  Wisdom distinguishes between what memories to hold onto and what memories to let go of.  Wisdom helps us to make peace with the past.

As you walk through your cave of memories, take stock.  Treasure the good ones and share them with others.  Evaluate the painful ones.  Learn from them, and move on.  Above all, go out and make more memories!!! What a wonderful adventure Life is!!!