Every single day we hear or read about someone dying. They become a number in the statistics and leave a hole in the hearts of people who loved them. Every single day when we hear of someone losing their lives; whether to Covid-19 or something else, our hearts break a little more. You don’t need to know the person who has died. You simply need to have a sense of humanity and compassion to know that somewhere in the world, someone is left reeling from the death of a loved one.
The entire world is sad. We feel it all around us and see it on the news, we hear it from strangers. We see it in the tear-filled eyes of our friends. Some of us live it daily. It doesn’t seem to end.
As I write this, I’m sitting in my kids’ bedroom, on the floor and the picture of my late mother is right in front of me. I moved it to their bedroom a couple of nights ago because my 6-year-old daughter wascrying in her bed. After all, she was missing her Ouma. She too, is sad, having lost her grandmother just over a year ago.
The sadness seeps into our lives, our work, creativity, our ability or lack thereof to be in social settings. It’s in our bodies and minds as we lay on the couch, watching yet another episode of a Netflix series that ends up adding to the melancholy. You might think this post is so depressing but, the truth is, we are all living in a perpetual state of sadness. Denying that will do no good to anyone. It’s okay to be sad, don’t dismiss anyone’s feelings simply because it doesn’t fit into the narrative of the day.
But just because we are sad doesn’t mean we can’t have hope.
Earlier today: It’s Saturday afternoon, the house is quiet, the wind is howling outside, keeping the sun company. It seems like a good time to reflect on the last year.
I’m braiding my hair and thinking about this time of year. Last year (2020) we lost our mother. It was a Friday and she died in a car on her way to the clinic, my then boyfriend (now husband) right next to her. A shift happened then and a shift is happening now. My husband, sick with Covid-19 and myself, also sick but I haven’t tested for Covid-19 at the time of this post but we’re treating the situation as if I am sick with Covid too. Though I feel strong enough to clean the house and make sure we have something to eat, I still don’t really feel like myself.
All these health issues have done a very good job of distracting me from what day it is. The day my mother died. I’m not feeling incredibly sad or melancholic when I think about it; I feel a sense of peace, maybe even gratitude, that we as a family have been able to make it through the last 12 months in one piece and then some. We had an addition to the family with my niece, we had a wedding and we had the birth of our company. Those are quite huge life milestones. It just goes to show that life really does go on after the death of a loved one, at least if you let it.
Still in the quiet of the house, I wonder to myself, why is it that these shifts or life-changing events seemed to have happened around the same time for the past 2 years and I can’t help but wonder will something else happen next year around this time? I also don’t really want to question why these things are happening and happening in the way they are and around the time they are. I understand that no one truly knows the inner workings of time so I simply want to breath and say, “Thank you Lord” .
Something that has really stood out for me during this time of isolation over the past several days, is the kindness of people; everyone we care about checking in on us and bringing us food. That especially has reminded me of the week when my mother died; everyone brought us food and groceries so that we didn’t still have to worry about that. I’m really grateful to all the people who have come through for us during this time.
With that said, I’d like to share 12 things I’ve learned in the last 12 months since my mother died.
It’s okay not to feel in control.
You can cry whenever and wherever you need to.
Change will always come, don’t fight it.
Nothing ever goes the way we expect or plan, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be prepared.
It’s okay to feel the ‘bad’ feelings; fear, sadness, anger, frustration ect.
You won’t always succeed at everything you take on and that’s okay.
You are allowed to want to be alone.
Grief throws you into an unending spiral of self-confrontation.
Cooking or baking is therapeutic.
Love is all there is. It will get you through your darkest nights and brightest days.
Don’t waste the time you have. You won’t get a refund.
I was looking at myself in the mirror the other day and I didn’t like what I saw. I felt miserable because my clothes didn’t fit right and I realised that I had gained weight. The truth of the matter is, I haven’t been taking care of myself lately; I haven’t been eating properly and I haven’t been giving myself well-deserved self-care.
Growing up, I know we are told not to focus too much on our outer appearance. We are taught that “it’s what inside that counts” I teach my kids the same thing but I’m learning a very important lesson now as an adult that we sometimes forget that it’s what we put inside our bodies that affect our outer appearance. I don’t want to look in the mirror and not like what I see.
I’ve been going through the motions; work, home life, kids and school, working on being a good wife and mother ,and all my other responsibilities but in all of that I’ve neglected myself. I find myself eating more than usual, drinking ample amounts of coffee ,and reaching for chocolate or cake for no reason other than comfort. Feeling sick, nauseous ,and weak has become the norm and my headaches are relentless. The worst part is, I am always and I mean always, tired.
I think the last time I had a proper self-care day was three months ago for our wedding and that wasn’t something I did for myself. Other people did it for me.
Self-care should be something we prioritise often. It should be a part of our lifestyle.
Self care can come in many different ways:
Getting your hair and nails done
Going shopping and buying yourself something that you’ve wanted for some time
Taking a break from work
Going on a short holiday away from your usual surroundings
Taking a break from social media
Spending time by yourself
Spending time in prayer or meditation
All these things can help bring you back toward yourself. We can’t take care of others if we’re not taking care of ourselves. You can’t give from an empty cup.
You’re scraping from the bottom of the barrel and giving yourself and your loved ones, your work ,and your business less than what they deserve. Less than what you deserve.
It’s okay to step back and reflect on your life. You can say no to another project or event. It’s okay to put yourself first. Sometimes, it’s required.
When I was standing before the mirror the other day, I looked around me and the house was a mess. I felt completely overwhelmed by everything that I burst into tears. It was tears of exhaustion. I hardly have the energy to take care of myself let alone the house but somehow I still find myself cleaning and cooking but I’m doing it from an empty cup. I’m scraping from the bottom of the barrel.
Reflecting on all of this has felt like a very honest conversation I’ve had to have with myself about how I’m treating myself and my body, my mind ,and spirit. I want to experience holistic healthand the truth is, the mind, body ,and spirit are all connected. Don’t get me wrong, I love my life. My family and career and all my responsibilities keep my life full and exciting. I see the growth in all the areas of my life, the problem is, I can’t seem to keep up with it.
If I don’t take care of the one, all the others will be out of sync. My family, career ,and business cannot thrive if I am not at my best.
MAKING THE EFFORT
As I said before, self-care has to become a part of my life. It is a daily habit that has to belearned through repetition. I now have to learn to take care of my body and my overall health. I understand now that self-care is simply doing things that will improve my mental state, everything else will flow from there. Below is a great list of how topractice self-care.
You step differently when you walk in your purpose. You feel stronger and more confident. You know that when you have challenges, you are ready to face them and you don’t let it get you down because you know it is all part of the plan.
Your spirit is calm and your soul is at peace because you know and believe that where you are is all part of God’s calling for your life.
You become kinder and more compassionate. You are filled with understanding and you are not led by your feelings but by your spirit. You don’t go where the world goes. You understand the importance of being patient and walking your road alone with God as your only companion.
I love this feeling that I am experiencing; I am confident in the grace and glory that God has placed over me. It took me a long time to get here and I know I am only in the beginning stages but I am trusting the process. I am not trying to be in control, I am letting God work and the weight that it takes off my shoulders is magnificent.
When I look back on my life, I am grateful that I submitted and surrendered.
I smile now and my smile is genuine. When I feel tired, I know where to turn. When I feel lost and confused, I turn to the Word.
I am walking in my purpose and I know what is coming next will be more challenging and it will test me but I am ready because I walk with God.
That glow that you see is not good skin or good health. That glow is the light of God that shines in me and through me.
Tall and strong my soul Is firmly planted in the soil On which you stand. Green and lush my leaves Dance to Mother Nature’s lullaby As I feed the meagre creature that Scurries on the surface of the earth, While you produce pulp and paper for Your fiction. Speak to me! I live! As I give you the very breath of life You breathe. Lavender and lilies and olives and willows Placed here by Him who reigns Higher than my majestic reach. And even when the winds blow and the Seas are rampant I know that my soul in the soil Is evergreen. Evergreen. Evergreen.
Little one, From the womb whence you came, Only to be discarded on the side of the road. Oh, baby! Wrapped in plastic, Near the stench of a filthy rubbish bin. Accompanied not by warm hands and inviting smiles, Instead, you’re surrounded by Rotten food and hungry wolves.
Oh, baby! Your cries drown out the screams As she forces you out, Two months premature. She doesn’t want to remember the day that you were created in a night of heated passion. Your sweet face and soft skin Make her skin crawl.
Oh, baby! She blames you for the loss of his love And punishes you, Gets rid of you, Like yesterday’s trash. A one night stand, Mistaken for a love of a lifetime, Resulting in 9 months of responsibility. A lifetime responsibility.
Oh, baby! Your little body; hands and feet, Blue in the cold night, Unaware of the love that awaits you From a barren mother who craves you Who wishes for you, Prays for you. Your sweet scent, Your ten fingers and Ten toes. Oh, sweetheart Covered in blood, The only tie to your previous life, Is the cord that binds itself around your tiny Neck.
Oh, baby! Please hold on! Someone is coming. Oh, baby! You are wanted and needed. You are a source of joy and laughter. Your precious life is a gift from the heavens. Oh, baby! Please hold on! That yellowed grass patch might be your beginning But It is certainly not your end.
I need to create and leave something behind that will live long after I’m gone.
I don’t want to lie on my deathbed one day and have so many regrets that I can be buried underneath it.
My purpose is to create something out of nothing,
To fill blank pages with my sorrows, worries, and fears and turn them into something beautiful to share with others.
In this way, I connect with others.
This is why I create, why I need to write. It is why my life needs to be an open book.
There is a need to build a bridge between my fears and another’s loneliness,
To leave breadcrumbs in the form of poetry and stories so that someone else can find their way and their voice.
Sharing my life gives another person the courage to be brave enough to share their own story.
This is my calling.
FULLFILLING MY PURPOSE
Every day that passes that I do not write, express or create, feels truly wasted. On those days I feel as if I’ve betrayed my calling. I feel as if I have wasted an entire day not living as I truly should be living.
I feel as if I did not live at all.
Even when I’ve tried to avoid it or ignore it or tell myself that it wasn’t important, there is always this nagging feeling inside of me, tugging at me, pushing me in a direction.
It is a futile feat trying to turn my back on it; I am an artist. I am creative.
You may not always understand what I create, you may not always enjoy what I share and you may even mock me and laugh at me, but that will only encourage me more.
This is not just a calling but it is also a responsibility.
Writing is an art; the blank page is my canvas, words are my paint and the world and this life is my muse.
What you finally see before you; is my work of art.
I came across this term last year, I think. If I’m honest, I’ve never heard of it before coming across the post that referenced it and I just ignored it. I then saw someone on Twitter explaining how imposter syndrome has kept them back from fulfilling their potential and I started to do some research.
Turns out, I have had my fair share of imposter syndrome.
WHAT IS IMPOSTER SYNDROME?
Imposter syndrome is defined as not believing you are as competent / able as others believe or perceive you to be. Its basically an internal belief that you have about yourself that tells you, you are not good enough. Imposter syndrome relates to your intelligence, achievements, perfectionism and social context.
One definition defines IS as you feeling like a fraud within a certain context you find yourself in; whether it be in your job or social circle.
MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
When I read these various definitions and explanations about IS, I realized that this is something that I have been struggling with. It seems the reason for my lack of content of late could be attributed to me feeling as if my writing is not good enough. I always see other bloggers and I see their content and always ask myself, “What am I doing?”
I always hesitate when I am writing or when I get to the point where I have to hit publish because I don’t feel as if I deserve to be published or I don’t deserve that my work be read. Many people have complimented my work and have told me how they have been inspired by what I write and even though I’ve been published on several platforms, I still don’t believe I am good enough.
There are so many times when I thought to myself that I am a fraud or a phony when it comes to being a writer. This thought or belief I’ve had and sometimes still have about myself has held me back for so long and caused me to miss so many opportunities. I realised recently that because of this fear or belief I have that I am not good enough, I have been slacking on my writing and my ability to push out content has wavered.
CHARACTERISTICS OF IMPOSTER SYNDROME
An article by Arlin Cuncic on verywellmind.com lists the following traits of IS:
– An inability to assess your competence or skills
– Attributing your success to outside factors eg luck
– Berating your performance
– Fearing that you won’t live up to expectations
– Sabotaging your own success
– Setting difficult and challenging goals and feeling disappointed when you don’t achieve it
Imposter syndrome is such a deep poison within in your thought patterns that you start believing you can’t do the things you are certainly capable of doing. Things that you are actually an expert in. You start doubting yourself so much that you block yourself from even trying. You end up doing the bare minimum because you tell yourself, “Why should I even try if I’m going to fail anyway?”
Imposter syndrome is an internalized fear that you cannot do what you are skilled and qualified to do.
WAYS TO GET OUT OF IMPOSTER SYNDROME
Talk about what you’re feeling to someone you trust.
Understand the difference between feelings and fact.
Work on emphasizing the positives.
Develop a healthy way to deal with failure.
Visualise your success
Speak more positively to yourself.
Be kind to yourself.
Understand that you can’t be perfect.
Say yes to opportunities.
If you want more practical ways of getting over imposter syndrome, check out the TEDTalk by Valerie Youngbelow:
God’s love is sacrifice. The most obvious and clear example of that sacrificial love is God giving His only son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for our sins. Jesus was God’s ultimate sacrifice, and still today Jesus continues to be a sacrifice for us because He continues to take our sins upon himself. That is how much Jesus loves us. He thinks of us first before he considers himself.
In Philippians 2 vs 3 Paul says the following:
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves”
I love this verse because it makes things clear; don’t do anything out of selfish desires and humble yourself by thinking of others more important or significant than yourself.
Think of others first. Put others first. Don’t be selfish or do anything out of selfish motives.
That is how God loves us, and that is how we should love one another.
Marriage and love is putting another person’s needs before your own.
“One reason so many couples turn in their rings (get divorced) is because they view marriage as a contract. A contract is a conditional agreement between two or more persons signifying that all parties will do something. Contracts get made for limited periods of time and are based on “if, then” statements. “If they do this, then I’ll do that” People enter into contracts because of what they’ll get out of them.”
MARRIAGE IS A COVENANT
What I’ve learned over the past 2 months of being married is that marriage is not a contract. It is a covenant. The same covenant you enter into when you choose God as your Lord and saviour is the same covenant you enter into when you choose your partner for life. We say vows when we get married and we say them before God.
The author of the plan says:
“A covenant is a divinely created bond meaning it is permanent. It has rules, responsibilities and benefits. Covenants are intimate relationships initiated for the benefit of the other person. In it, the good of the relationship takes precedence over the needs of the individual. This is why covenants make unconditional promises. Basically, it’s where God makes something official in the spiritual realm to be lived out in the physical world. After all, the wedding vows are made “before God” and therefore with God as well as the spouse. To break the covenant with your spouse is to break it with God. “
When you and your spouse are both going into the marriage with the mindset of “I will put you first” both of you will benefit. Marriage cannot and should not be a selfish act.
I love my husband, knowing and understanding that he is God’s child. I love him in a way that’s not suffocating but that gives him the freedom to grow as a man, husband, and father, in all areas of his life. Wanting him to succeed is one of the many reasons I pray for him all the time, more than I do for myself. I truly want to make him happy. I know he wants the same for me. The reason I know this is because we talk about it all the time. Both of us want to make the other happy and that makes us happy and brings us joy. I know when Jared is happy, I feel happy, and I know it’s the same for him.
Jared’s love for me is sacrificial because he always puts my needs before his own, but as his wife, I also need to understand when I have to give more than I take, and that can make all the difference in a marriage.
GOD IS LOVE.
To close, I want to remind you that love is from God. God is love. Loving God means loving people. Loving and accepting your spouse means loving and accepting Jesus.
Let God’s love be the anchor which holds your marriage down.