Gratitude Again!

Yogananda said: “Don’t wait for reversals to make you grateful for what you had.”

Shoo, that one hit me in the chest guys because let’s face it, this is our nature as human beings. We stare our healthy bodies/happy kids/safety/relationships/security/financial security/good fortune in the face and it’s only when we lose one of those things that we realize what we had going. Right?  

I’ve cultivated the habit of making a daily Gratitude List. In fact, I make several a day (on paper/on my phone) and I have done this for 15+ years. Every.Single.Day.  

It’s a bit like brushing my teeth or going out for my daily walk sometimes. It’s a slog! I can come up with a million reasons I should postpone starting it or not doing it at all, but once it’s done, I’m like … “Girl!?” 

My lists are often simple and things like my housekeeper Mavis, my children’s teachers and food top my list, but just yesterday, I had over 30 items on my Gratitude list. They just flowed. 

It was a simple, shitty Monday of chores, no-Mavis and dreary weather but I had things like:

1. Old McDonald had a farm (on the piano by an 8 year old!) 

2. Spinach from the garden 

3. Take away coffee from the hubs 

4. My Dishwasher 

5. Fireplace 

6. Bookclub stash 

8. Walk with Celeste

9. Home Office 

10. Birds galore 

11. Chats with school moms 

12. Found my keys! 

13. Boy scored goal in hockey (hates hockey) 

14. Girl happy to perform in school concert (eek) 

15. Great meeting with editor  

16. Prawn rissole from heaven

….okay, I’ll stop there but you get my drift.

I didn’t have to wait until my body was too sick to walk or my garden too barren to give me spinach to appreciate the glory of these little moments. I saw them and I winked in absolute gratitude for all the many blessings. 

And I tell you, the more I do this, the more I want to. Always.

Lee 

Forgive Yourself

Forgive yourself in the shower

In the car 

In all the spaces where you cry alone, smile alone and think of all the dreams that slipped away 

Forgive yourself for all you wish you had shared when you had plenty 

All the sunsets you didn’t lift your head to notice

All those days when you tried but fell flat on your face

And buried your tears under tons of fake smiles, makeup, noise and wine 

Forgive yourself for the jealous moments 

The ugly sessions of gossip and untruths 

Forgive yourself for not finishing what you started and not doing what you promised

Forgive yourself for staying 

And going 

And waiting 

And watching days turn into months turn into years of what ifs 

Forgive yourself for not taking a chance 

And for taking too many chances 

On the same old same old people and things that could-have/should-have/would-have but didn’t 

Forgive yourself for losing hope 

For looking outside for answers

For all the opportunities to grow and stretch and break free that offered you a ride you didn’t take

Forgive yourself for the seasons that went by in a flash 

For forgetting where you come from

For comparing yourself to people whose paths appear lighter than your own

Forgive yourself 

Forgive yourself 

Forgive yourself 

Forgive yourself for not forgiving yourself sooner

…and breathe! 

xoxo Lee

~Written on a cold, Joburg morning while sitting on my kitchen floor where I saw the perfect sunny spot. I crawled up to it, grabbed a piece of paper, and let the download come in. Just like the sun!

Photo by Sigrid Abalos

Summer Solstice & The Hero’s Journey Theme

Yesterday was 21/12/2021 – the longest day of the year in the Southern Hemisphere; the day celebrated as The Summer Solstice.

I was barefoot in the garden at sunset at a beautiful venue in JoBurg to host a writing workshop and Solstice Ceremony for 50 people. I was eager to get into my role.

Stories connect humanity. Without stories, we are empty. 

We listen to stories, so we can connect with others. We tell our stories, so we can heal. 

Every day, you are telling yourself a story from the moment you wake up until you fall asleep.

We tell ourselves stories so we can unpack and process what we have been through.

Everyone is a storyteller and I stand by my previous sentiments that everyone has a story that only they can tell.

So we wrote with abandon.

We worked with the classic theme The Hero/Heroine’s Journey because let’s face it, us Heroes have been weighed down by stuff (God, we are living through a pandemic and trying to keep our shit together!) 

Our hearts have been heavy

We have become well acquainted with fear, control, anxiety, jealousy, feelings of deep darkness 

We have lost people

Seen suffering on a level that we have not seen in our lifetime 

And we have been walking with a constant threat…Is this nightmare over yet? 

…And yet, there is the part of all our stories that will tell of crossing the threshold (as the Hero/ine does in the theory) and entering a brand new chapter of our lives where we truly are victorious.

That’s really what we all want and there’s really where the energy of the Solstice was guiding us.

Always towards the Light!

After our writing, we moved on to the Fire Ceremony where we burnt the words that poured from our darkness. I said, “Watch your letter burn. Watch the paper become ashes. Watch the smoke rise from the paper. Know that the materials of the ink and the paper have returned to the basic elements and you are free!”

And so it is,

Lee

If you would like to book me for your own Write & Burn Ceremony or any other Writing Workshops, my calendar for 2022 is now open!

Coronavirus, Anxiety & Thanksgiving

I was driving to my son’s Christmas market yesterday having just received notice from school about a Grade 1 pupil with Covid-19. My nerves were in a twist.

Since last Thanksgiving, about 5million people have died, South Africa is headed for a “fourth wave” and a new variant of the Corona virus (Omicron?) seems to be our next big threat. No wonder, I thought, No bloody wonder scientists have had to coin a new term. “Covid-19 Anxiety Syndrome” says it all. This pandemic has messed with our heads and we will have scars for many years to come.

Before we walked into the market, I spent some time alone to get grounded and centered. When I felt ready, I headed straight to the bar. That’s when I bumped into someone I haven’t seen for about 2 years. The first thing we spoke about was her cancer. “I heard you were ill,” I said, “How are you feeling?”

She generously took me through her journey, right from the lump she found in her breast and later her armpit to the double mastectomy, chemo and long road home. As she walked away with her two young children, something really stayed with me. She was so GRATEFUL! She told me that not only was she grateful to be alive but she was sooooooo touched people! Naturally, her friends and family were there to support her but it was the random meal drop-offs, help with the kids, kind words, flowers and support from people in her neighborhood that touched her big time.

The sense of gratitude helped to shift her focus from poor me to blessed-me! This despite the sadness, fear and trauma she is still working through.

Happy Thanksgiving Photo by Olenka Sergienko on Pexels.com

As the sun set, the sound of happy children, smell of boerie rolls, champagne glasses clanking and the odd glow in the dark toy lit me up inside. I was grateful for my good health, grateful for the wonderful night sky, my amazing mom friends and my tall, handsome boy who I watched laughing in the distance. But, like my old friend, it was the people that gave me the feels. Our community of love.

I wonder if scientists are going to coin a term called Covid-19 Gratitude Syndrome because just everything seems a little more special at this point in the game.

Lee

Public Service Announcement: The world needs YOUR story

We are all storytellers

Whether you write in secret without any plans of sharing or whether you write for an audience

The words you spill onto your screen (or paper if you’re old school like me) are special. 

You matter,

Your experiences matter,

You have a story that only YOU can tell. 

I’ve been looking back on my journals and poetry over the years and I am astounded by some of the content. Writing has quite literally helped me to process my pain and unpack some complex emotional blockages rooted in fear and trauma at times when I felt no one would understand. 

Once I gave myself permission to write, I began to transcend my circumstances and allow the feelings to move through me. 

And you can do it too!  

The words may trickle at first. Let them. Mine trickle slowly when I am anxious or worried about something. So I wait as if to say “Come on baby, you’re safe.”   

Whether your stories are about the fear you feel about this crazy world, your anxiety about the future, feelings of old heartache, loss, betrayal, or your experiences on the other side of that spectrum of all things magical, beautiful, mystical, and awe-inspiring…just write.

Give yourself permission to write like the incredible storyteller that you are. 

I see you,

Lee 

COME WRITE WITH ME? I will be teaching a couple of WRITING WORKSHOPS in the coming days and I’d love you to join me. Whether you need some guidance on how to structure/edit your current writing or if you’re just curious about what it may feel like to surrender to the call to interrogate your deepest feelings, I’d love to have you! I’ll be in touch soon. xoxo

Have you stopped asking WHY?

As humans, we were born to ask WHY.

We were born to open things up, look inside and dig a little deeper. That’s how we learn and grow.

No wonder so many adults feel stuck and uninspired. We’ve stopped asking WHY.

I made the decision to change that and began to start asking WHY again some years back.

Photo by Ithalu Dominguez

Why is the sky pink, this morning? Ah, let me see how many shades of pink I can identify. Oh yes, now I want to know the names of clouds. Wow, so many! Yes, that bunch of clouds looks just like Candy Floss. Let me see if I can find someone to teach me to make some. But first let me write a little poem!

Just that one simple WHY can set off a chain reaction, presenting both an opportunity to learn (there are around 50 shades of pink according to Dr Google) and open my heart. The more I chose to tap into my sense of AWE about everything around me even on the darkest of days, the more I was presented with adventure-filled paths down which to go. And boy did I charge!

It’s my addiction now: Wandering this planet with a pocket full of WHYs and banking all the benefits.

Perhaps I could convince you to try it too?  My bet is that after just a couple of weeks, we will meet on the superhighway headed to all things CREATIVE, INSPIRED, FULL OF VITALITY & ENERGY.  

If you ever get stuck, go out into Nature. She always knows the way. Why, you ask? Well, aren’t we a fast learner!?

Grateful always,

Lee

Would you hop on the Virtual PAY-AS-YOU-FEEL train?

When I lived in Amsterdam I used to go to a cafe called “Pay as you Feel”.

People would pop in, have a cup of coffee or something to eat and pay whatever they felt moved to. The kitchen was run by volunteers — often people with social/emotional hiccups — who needed to DO something. Their love language? Service, of course.

The cafe was on a busy high street with lots of tourists. I kept going back. At first because I’m a voyeur (don’t judge) and the cafe was a good spot to people-watch. Then I went back for another reason. It was the sense of satisfaction I got from giving. I mean, it’s cool to buy a cup of coffee (almost anyone can do that) but knowing that I was making a difference was something else entirely.

I’d cycle across to the other side of this icy canal to get to my little happiness cafe

The memory of the cafe popped up again this week when I received a lovely surprise. I’ve been working with a client on rebranding after a long hiatus of being home and uninspired. We came up with a fresh marketing strategy, she launched her brand and set off – quite excited to start doing her thing. She also wanted some advice on starting a blog and I agreed to help her get started. It was my pleasure to help her do that. (I remember when I first got started. There weren’t that many people willing to help me. I always said I would be different) Helping her made ME feel good. That was payment enough but she was not convinced. So, early one morning, I saw a ping on my phone with a payment.

“But why?” I texted her.

“Think of it as a virtual Pay as you Feel Cafe, Lee.” (She remembered my story!)

My only thing left to do this week is to find a way to pay it forward. Why, you ask? Well, because I FEEL like it.

Perhaps you FEEL like joining me?

Lee

The Little Things this week

My children made a card for my best friend’s mother this week. They picked flowers from the garden which we slipped inside a handmade card and sealed with a crooked bit of tape. I bundled their contribution into my pretty gift bag and sent it off, together with the rest of her gift.

She sent us a thank you video some hours later. Do you know what she treasured most? The random, mismatched flowers and words up and down a page stained by dirty fingers.

Pretty little blooms for a special lady

I was moved to tears.

It had been a hard week for us. The kids are back to doing online school, South Africa is back in Level 4 lockdown and many friends are down with Covid. Touch wood, we have been safe, happy and healthy but still, it hasn’t been easy hearing about other people losing loved ones and battling to save their businesses etc.

So, being able to make someone smile made me smile and once again I can say with absolute conviction that I am GRATEFUL for

  • the gift of life
  • the gift of good health
  • my happy, healthy, creative, funny, kind, intuitive little people
  • friends that feel like family
  • flowers, birdies, sunshine, bugs and the whole ecosystem that gives and gives
  • the sense that the more I appreciate THE LITTLE THINGS, the more they turn up.

How about you?

Can you vibe with that?

Lee

Gratitude Lists as part of your Self-Care

You know what guys? I’m sad about what’s happening in Israel and Palestine. I’m sad about the millions of people dying in India as the Corona virus continues to wreak havoc. I’m sad about the many divorces, suicides, mental health issues, drug addictions around me. I’m sad about the way people are struggling to eat, feed their families and survive. Their pain is everyone’s pain.

And yet, in the last couple of weeks,

  • My dad got his vaccine, my niece got married, the kids set a mouse-trap and my daughter wore hot pink shorts for a new dance class
  • I picked chillies from the garden and turned it into a home made peri-peri sauce which I bottled for some friends
  • My neighbour put a bottle of silver shampoo at the gate for me to try (without saying a word)
  • My favourite client launched her new website
  • I cut my hair, made rum and raisin ice-cream and ate it in bed with my hubs when the lights went out
  • I ran a little further, finished editing a 70,000 word manuscript for a client and I received the sweetest hand-written thank you note and some Turkish delight from a little boy.

Looking out for these moments and documenting them is part of my self-care.

It’s not so much about creating a false sense of happiness but rather choosing to note the little things.

These are the moments that help to lift my mood, change my focus and improve my overall feelings of health and wellbeing. The more I do it, the more I see little things to take note of.

So, I wanna know. What’s on YOUR list of things to be grateful for this week? If all you did was brush your teeth, that’s okay too. We are in the middle of a global pandemic. I say snap those pearlies and be grateful you still have them.

Grateful Always,

Lee

Shock-Horror! Ghosts can Write

“What, Mama?” *insert shock-horror on the cutest faces you can imagine here* “So YOU write the stories…and they take the credit?”  (“Do you at least get money?”)


I don’t know how it came about that I even brought GHOSTWRITING up with them. Or why…

Perhaps it was on that morning I was nearly bust being the Tooth Fairy and I grabbed a book in a lame ass attempt to show them something more “interesting”. 


I’ve been a GHOST WRITER for many years – taking ideas and rough drafts, weaving and channeling my ideas around them and then handing them back to authors to publish.

I’ve never thought about the credit bit. I guess that’s not why I write.  I write because it gives ME pleasure!


Have YOU figured out how to turn something you love doing into a business?  I’d start with what brings you JOY.


That’s always the way. 


xoxo

Lee

For more stories like these and a list of my services, please visit www.leemayimele.com