On my way to work this morning, the song “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield played on the radio. I’ve heard the song many times before. This morning, I really paid attention to the lyrics for the first time, and reflected upon my own goals.
Many of us feel trapped in the routine of our daily life. We’ve all said at some point that we don’t have enough time. I’ve been using this excuse for two important goals in my life: decluttering my home, and writing my novel. These are things that I know will make me feel happy and proud of having accomplished them. The truth is that none of us “have” time, we “make” time to do what we really want to do. So I must ask myself the question, “Why have I not made time for the two goals that I’d most like to accomplish?”
The clutter in my home is complicated, as much of it was inherited from my husband’s family. For that reason, I feel that my husband must make the decision regarding what to keep and what to sell. Of course, there is no excuse for me not to get rid of my own clutter!
I know that my almost pathological fear of giving things away stems from my childhood. My parents were terrible at managing our family finances, and in our house, it was feast or famine. When my parents had money, they’d literally buy champagne and caviar. When they had none, we had to make do with “mystery” tins (we had a box of tins without labels). I guess it’s the fear of being without that holds me back from doing what I should in this regard. The ultimate irony is that I usually can’t find what I need, when I need it, anyway!
This brings me to my unwritten novel, which I have dreamt of writing for as long as I can remember. A couple of years ago, I signed up to NaNoWriMo, and started to work on my goal in earnest. Then I was diagnosed with lupus and psoriasis – two severe autoimmune diseases that have since wrecked havoc on my life. I was unable to type due to numbness and pain in my arms and hands. Since then, I have abandoned my goal of writing my novel. While my health challenges are certainly a handicap, I suspect that the real obstacle isn’t lack of time or my health, it’s fear. As long as my novel remains unwritten, it can’t be rejected. I can hold on to my dream of being an author “one day”, whereas if I write it and it’s not good enough, I would have to give up on the dream.
You would think that, given the above insights, I’d be able to overcome my psychological hurdles and get on with it. I’m happy to be able to confirm that I’ve started taking baby steps in the right direction. I have given away two large bags full of clothes I no longer wear, and I’ve started writing for World Moms Network again.
To paraphrase Unwritten: each day we get a brand new chance to “begin our book.” No one else can do or say what we are meant to do and say. We’re all unique, and therefore uniquely qualified for whatever it is that we’re meant to accomplish in our lifetimes.
What goals do you have, but “don’t have time” for? If you have already published a book, do you have any advice for us aspirant authors?
This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Mama Simona from Cape Town, South Africa.
Photo credit: Caleb Roenigk / Flickr.
Change is painful. The myriad of cliches, affirmations, memes and inspirational quotes on this subject are testament that this is a widespread problem. No one knows this better than us mothers. From the moment of conception, change happens at an incredibly fast pace. Our babies go from helpless newborns to defiant toddlers in the blink of an eye. Blink again and they’ve left home to start families of their own!
Not only do our offspring change, but we do as well. At every stage we must adapt to new demands. I’m not the only mom who actually wanted her child to grow, change and reach milestones as soon as possible. What I wasn’t prepared for was the sense of loss that accompanied each change. In a strange way, it was as if I was mourning the baby that had been replaced by the toddler, the toddler replaced by the child, and so on.
My son is now 23 years old. Two years ago he moved away from home to live abroad with his girlfriend (now wife!) and her family in Germany. Thanks to Skype, we still talk often, but this change has been the toughest one for me so far. As grateful as I am for my in-laws’ generosity in giving my son the opportunity to live and study in Germany, I can’t help feeling sad that my son is now more part of their family than ours. Also, I’ve had to come to terms with the idea of not living close to (eventual) grandchildren.
Don’t get me wrong, as a mother, all I truly care about is that my son is healthy and happy (which he is). This has been a very positive change for him, and I am incredibly proud of the awesome young man he has become. I’m the one who wasn’t quite ready for this change, even though, objectively, I know it’s the best thing for him.
This change from mother to mother-in-law really is my most challenging change so far. I have a new understanding for what my late mother-in-law must have felt when my husband told her he was going to stay in Cape Town with me, instead of moving to Durban with them. Whether in a different city or on a different continent, the result is the same – it’s simply impossible to be present in the lives of your child and possible grandchildren.
It took my mother-in-law over 20 years to accept me, and I suffered a lot in that time. I vowed to never put my daughter-in-law through what I went through. Yet, if I’m being scrupulously honest, there’s a little part of me that resents the fact that my son has moved to a different continent, and that he was willing to learn German, but I never managed to get him to learn Italian, my own mother tongue.
Change is as inevitable as death and taxes. It is counter-productive to strive to keep things the way they are. It is much better to embrace each change as a new adventure. The problem is that I’ve never been adventurous!
How do you deal with the stress caused by changes in your life? Do you have any advice for me, to help me overcome my resentment?
This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Mama Simona from Cape Town, South Africa.
Photo credit: Conal Gallagher / Flickr.
Recently I started practicing Heartfulness Meditation. It is when you are trying not to think about anything that you truly realise how your brain is never quiet! No matter what we’re doing, there’s a constant commentary going on. Most of the time we’re not consciously aware of these thoughts, but they do have an impact on our mood and behaviour.
Sadly, we are often raised to be very hard on ourselves, and our “self-talk” tends to be negative and critical. We would never be as cruel as we are to ourselves towards anyone else! This begs the question, why do we think it’s okay to be so mean to ourselves?
Many point to the way women are portrayed in the media, and how we’re somehow expected to be “perfect” – totally able to be a brilliant mother and an outstanding career woman whilst keeping a husband happy to boot. The truth is that nobody is perfect, and nobody truly has the life that we imagine they do!
A while ago I read something that truly resonated with me – “Don’t compare your behind the scenes to somebody else’s show reel.” Think about this for a minute … none of us really know what goes on in another person’s life, we only know what they choose to share with us.
Obviously people tend to share whatever makes them look good, and not what they’re ashamed of. So we look at another person and think “why can’t I be as good / brave / fit / successful or whatever as this person?” without knowing that they are probably thinking the same thing about us!
The good news is that as soon as you become aware of a bad habit, you can choose to replace that habit with one that is better for you. With regard to negative self talk, there are two steps to mitigate it. The first is to become more aware of the “soundtrack” going on in your mind. The second is to refute the nasty comments.
For example, if you make a mistake and find yourself thinking “I’m SO stupid!” you should counter that statement with something like “I’m not really stupid, I made a mistake, I now know better and I’ll do better next time.”
I also think it is very beneficial to carve out a few minutes every day to try and quieten the mind completely. This is usually accomplished by means of meditation, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be anything esoteric. It’s enough to sit in a quiet and comfortable space and just focus on breathing in and out. As soon as you become aware of a thought, you just bring your attention back to your breathing. There are many variations to this, for example in Transcendental Meditation a teacher gives you a mantra that you must repeat. No matter what you choose, the aim is the same, to try and get rid of the “soundtrack” (even if it’s just for a couple of seconds) so that you can reconnect with your authentic self.
Sometimes my soundtrack is made up of snippets of songs, and that can occasionally be rather amusing. Recently I tore part of my big toenail away from the nail bed. I kept it taped up to try and prevent my nail from falling off completely. I’d only left the tape off for a short time when I snagged the same toenail again and ripped it even more! Despite the pain, all that my brain had going on in a loop was the line “Oops, I did it again.” from the Britney Spears’ song!
Did you ever notice yourself thinking about a particular song in response to what is happening to you or around you? If so, can you give us an example?
Have you ever tried any kind of Meditation? If so, did you find it beneficial?
This is an original blog post for World Moms Blog written by Mamma Simona from Cape Town, South Africa. Photo credit: Kirsten Doyle
I recently read a very thought-provoking post by a fellow #WorldMom with the title of My Frame World. In it, she wrote,
The manageable reality is my reference, a framework to enable me to keep functioning. It enables me to get up at a quarter past seven to cut some pieces of imported mango for my precious children. To sigh when looking at overflowing laundry baskets. To nag about an energy-devouring meeting that took longer than expected. It’s the framework that’s keeping me whole. The Frame World.
She ended her post with the question: “How do you deal with the discrepancy between your own private life and the tragedies around it? Does your Frame World help keeping you sane or is it rather keeping you from acting?”
I’ve been sitting with the abovementioned questions for a while, because they deserve a serious answer. It made me think about how we’re all first and foremost mothers. As such, our first duty is to protect our own children to the best of our ability, and to raise them to become contributing members of our society . My late grandfather always said; “Charity begins at home”.
I was born in Rome, Italy. My family emigrated to Cape Town, South Africa, when I was 8 years old. My husband’s family emigrated here when he was 5 years old. Both of our families were thinking that Italy was doomed, and that South Africa was the “Promised Land”. We grew up here, met and married here, and raised our children in “The Mother City”.
I love this country and this city, but lately the tragedies have hit very close to home. South Africa is currently in turmoil.
Municipal elections will be held this year and (like every other election year) the violent protests have become so commonplace that they’re not even really considered “newsworthy” any more, which is sad. The violence makes many people afraid to speak out. From my experience, caucasians are afraid to speak out against the ethnic majority, when it comes to any government issue, in fear of being labeled racist.
The wounds of Apartheid are still very raw in our country, and inequality still exists. Even though the ethnic majority and ruling party have been in power for over 20 years, the road to repair the wrongs of the past is long and winding, and the ride is bumpy. We are experiencing the growing pains of bringing South Africa to a true equality. The weight of a pendulum swings from side to side until it achieves equilibrium. I can’t help but feel that South Africa is still a swinging pendulum as it seeks equality for all of its people.
So how do I deal with the discrepancy between my own private life and the tragedies around it? The same way that a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.
I have learnt that I need to pace myself because if I burn myself out, it doesn’t help anyone. There’s a reason why air hostesses always say that you need to secure your own oxygen mask first, before trying to assist anyone else!
I also make constant use of The Serenity Prayer (God, please grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the Courage to change the things I can and the Wisdom to know the difference). I’m not always wise, but I know that I am doing the best that I can, and that must be enough, because nobody can do more than their best!
Mother Teresa has been quoted as saying; “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
That is how I deal with the fact that the needs of the world are so immense, that they can become completely overwhelming, if you let them. Like the little boy throwing starfish back into the ocean – he made a difference to that one, and that is good enough.
So I pick small things that I can do with great love, and I do that. I also decided to concentrate all my fundraising efforts to one charity that is very close to my heart: www.cupcakesofhope.org. We raise awareness of the early warning signs of childhood cancer. The money raised is used to help the families affected by childhood cancer with whatever they might need.
In the end, though, I survive the turmoil by being grateful.
Grateful to be part of this amazing community of World Moms, who have become my Soul Sisters around the world. Grateful for my 19 year old daughter and 23 year old son who make me so proud. Grateful for my husband of over 25 years who takes such good care of me and our family when I’m not able to, due to my health issues. Grateful that I have a roof over my head and food to spare. Grateful for every “good day” that follows a “bad pain day.” I could go on and on. You see, I’ve learnt that nothing can make you feel better than feeling grateful for even the smallest thing.
When you start noticing how many things you actually have to be grateful for, it gives you the strength to deal with anything life throws at you!
What are you grateful for? What helps you deal with turmoil in your life?
This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Mamma Simona from Cape Town, South Africa.
Photo credits: Image of inked thumb courtesy of Darryn van der Walt / Flickr. Image of Nelson Mandela statue courtesy of Everyman Films / Flickr. Image of Cape Town via David Stanley / Flickr. Image of South African flag courtesy of flowcomm / Flickr.