Ahhh, I have a new favourite song! (Well, a new favourite to add to my list of 7000 favourites)
I can buy myself flowers Write my name in the sand Talk to myself for hours Say things you don’t understand I can take myself dancing And I can hold my hand Yeah, I can love me better than you can
Miley! Miley! You’re talking my language Hannah Montana! Damn girl.
I do buy myself flowers. I’ve been taking myself on solo dates, solo hikes, solo holidays, solo everything since day dot.
Why? Well, I happen to like my own company. Just like I love me a good one-on-one date with my hot man, a book club session, moms night, and those boozy Sunday lunches with 50 of my closest family members (ha! ha!), I happen to love me a little diner pour un too.
I’ve never felt awkward about these things.
In fact, my sister Chrissy reminded me just last week of the time when I was 14 years old and took myself out to a fancy restaurant by bus, wearing my mom’s perfume – which I stole while she was at work. Yes, I know, I know! I was always a bit of an early-adopter…or what do they call them now…INFLUENCER? I sat down, surrounded by business people in their fancy suits having business lunches and ordered a Coca-Cola which I asked the waiter to pour into a wine glass. “I’ll have the…escargot” I probably said, trying to act fancy and not knowing that it was in fact snails, you know?
But you get the point.
Self-love, self-care, self-respect are not buzz words. The more you do it, the more you’ll find that what you’re looking for out there you can probably give yourself, given half a chance. And then when and IF you add other people, they’ll slot into the open spots you’ve created for them just beautifully. Right!? (Besides, another lesson I learnt age 14 is that sitting around and waiting to be taken out on a date is sooooooo last season. Beautiful sunsets wait for no man).
I always feel like laughing (I don’t!) when someone tells me I “inspire” them. It happened just yesterday.
Are you off your f$ing rocker? You really need to raise your standards, I always think. Here I am, with my overgrown under-arms, a dent in my car (shhhh, don’t tell the hubs – it literally just came back from the shop when I scratched it again) and a mountain of unopened bills. I haven’t had the time to clean out my daughter’s school bag this week and yes – you guessed it – the smell this morning led me straight to rotten pear. Yip, it was…you know….just hanging there in a little corner underneath the reading card.
We celebrated our anniversary recently, and I posted a sexy pic of us kids on a night out. “Inspired” were you? Well, I had my head buried in editing work the week leading up to that lovely picture and barely said boo to the man. So, I thought I’d surprise him with a lovely gift. When it didn’t arrive, I called to complain (in my best “Karen” voice). The tech guy’s slow “Uh…m’am” told me he knew I was grey. ‘turns out I forgot to click “check-out” and PAY! Who does that?
Someone blamed it on Mercury Retrograde. I blame it on life!
That said, I did remember to brush my teeth and to say THANK YOU this week:
Thank you for the gift of good health
Thank you that my son ate all the garnishes (read veggies) on his burger
thank you for the laughs over brekkie, the hummus, the WhatsApps of love, gossip and friendship
And most importantly, thank you because I feel loved, supported and accepted by those I share my life with.
So, I’ve decided: I’ll take the compliment the next time someone says that they are “inspired”. That’s how I will know that it’s okay to just be (messy) ME.
Perhaps you’ll do the same? I, for one, will be soooooo inspired!
P.S. My book is now available on Amazon Kindle. See the link below for more info:
My mom’s sister who died quite suddenly. It was the first week of lockdown in South Africa when she passed.
We got news of her death around 9am and all we wanted to do was rush to the family home to be with her children and her 80 something year old husband, from who she really was inseperable. They were married for 60 years or so.
I was so sad but I could park that. All I really wanted was to see my loved ones and offer support. I remember when my own mom passed, those people who just turned up on the day and DID were a Godsend. I felt I could be that kind of person in this instance.
Being the absolute nerd that I am, I managed to convince my husband that we should pop into our local police station to ask them what we needed in terms of permission in order to make our way to the family home on the otherrrrrrr side of the world. We had seen visuals on TV and social media of the army, of cyclists being arrested and I must be honest, the general air of fear and tension was palpable.
“Good Morning” I said through my mask to the two policemen at the door. They were tense too, but they listened to my story and immediately decided that yes, I should definitely jump on the highway and make my way to the bereaved. “Family” the one guy said “Family”.
“So, I dont need a permit or anything to go there for a prayer service or for the funeral?…” I tried to add, knowing that my Catholic family would want to get started on the prayer asap, particularly for a woman like my aunty who loved her faith.
Screeeeeching from the other side of a room I did not even see someone flying towards us.
“Back home!” she spat. “What do you think this is? A party? Do you know what lockdown means? There is no travelling! No partying. No walking around and shopping….”
Everyone was stunned by the absurdity of the statements.
The two policemen looked down. I thought I was dreaming.
“Umm, no mam, I have just lost my aunt…literally a few hours ago and I am her next of kin, so I was asking about what I needed to…”
“I don’t care!” she said “No means no”
“L O C K D O W NNNNNNNN she said mockingly. “It means you go noooooooowhere, my dear”.
Now my tears were beginning to come. The floodgates really opened when I made eye contact with the two policeman. They were looking down and shaking their heads. I only realised then that they reported to her. She was their boss and they were not going to be able to do anything for me.
I was sobbing. I could not believe that another human being was speaking to me like that. In a room full of other people. When I had just been shot in the heart with grief.
My husband, who had said nothing up to this point had the look. I know it well. Gentle Giant was giving her the who the fck do you think you are talking to look, narrowing his eyes and tilting his head slightly. That look only comes out once every like 12 years.
“Umm, tell me something…” he said, towering at least 100m above her head. “Did you hear the part where my wife said she had just lost her mother?” (In his culture, my aunt WAS my mother. No lies there).
“I don’t care what story she has” the woman said.
“Ummm sorry, mam? We are just here to …”
“Wait, love” he said. It was a firm and gentle, but gosh it was full of conviction.
My husband looked at the two men. Heads bowed in shame. He looked at me. Put his hands on his hips.
There was a long silence.
“Are you feeling okay?” My husband said, looking the woman directly in the eye.
Two more officers arrived. The air changed from an emotional one to something that my intuition told me could easily escalate into something ugly, where we were perhaps thrown in a holding cell and handcuffed, or worse.
That’s when one of the two officers became human again and said to my husband “I think it’s better if you guys go, my brother…”
He didn’t mean that we should GO to the highway and GO to the funeral home and GO be with our loved ones (which is just what we did, masks and all). He was firing a warning shot to us, to say that if we did not get out of there, there would be trouble. I took my husband by the hand and pulled hard.
Heartbroken, disgusted and defeated we arrived at the funeral home. That’s when something magical happened. As I entered, I felt this incredible Light. I walked into the funeral home filled with a Spirit of compassion, love, strength, empathy and support.
That strength did not come from ME, and that’s really what this long story is about.
Friends tell me that strength is The Peace that Passes All Understanding. In my culture, the Holy Spirit. In yours, your Higher Self/God, perhaps?
Trust me it will come when you need it leaving you, the spiritual being here on earth to have a human experience, in awe. And, in my case filled with so much GRATITUDE.
These are the moments, friends. These are the moments!
Here’s a fun fact for. you: I could not smell or taste for 2 years. Two whole years.
I wanted to write about this again, on this gorgeous self-care Saturday because I’ve been meeting so many people over the last few weeks who are feeling absolutely distraught about their loss of smell because of Covid19.
The first time I said it, I knew it was a lie. So, I let it go.
The next time I said “Don’t worry, I have a very THICK SKIN”, it felt easier to say. Familiarity is a warm place.
Then, it just became habit.
What the heck does it even mean? Thick skin? Well, it is supposed to mean that you are :
Not overly sensitive
Don’t take things personally
Most importantly, it is supposed to mean that you are someone who can handle their feelings maturely in the face of criticism or conflict.
I guess the last sentence is the reason I allowed this phrase to creep into my vocabulary. Afterall, I believe that being able to efficiently process feedback is a great trait.
But what happens when someone questions your credibility or trivialises your abilities? How about when someone gossips about you and you hear about it? Or excludes you socially? Or a loved one says something hurtful? Or wait, how about when someone dismisses your opinion in a meeting? Strong, centered people react, right? They set the record straight. They understand that in effect, we teach people how to treat us.
Well, some strong, centered people also develop bad habits. Some strong, centered people start telling other people “Don’t worry! I have a very THICK SKIN”. It is supposed to serve two purposes:
Make the rude person feel better about themselves
Diffuse further conflict
But what it really does is :
Turn the strong, centered person into a victim
Give the rude person licence to say/do it again
So, I stopped. I stopped lying.
I am NOT thick skinned. I may be resilient and mature BUT I AM sensitive, I DO take things personally and I reckon learning to cancel this ghastly phrase from my dictionary is a pretty mature way to manage my feelings.
Are there any words YOU use to describe yourself that are not true but have become a habit?
Today’s a good day to STOP.
Aluta Continua, my friends. The road is long (for me)