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To You

GOODBYE 2014 AND WELCOME TO THE NEW YEAR OF 2015!

Hello there my friends,

How are you this fine new year’s eve?  The weather here in Melbourne is somewhat overcast and moody.  Perhaps an indication of what my year was like.

I was doing some bloghopping recently and came across this lovely post by Maxabella Loves.  She asks us to answer 10 questions to say farewell to 2014 and to ring in the new year.  I thought it would be fun, and possibly helpful, to play along.  I hope you will too.

1.  What word do you think best summed up 2014?

I would have to say Challenging, especially since Mr C and I ended up in hospital no less than three times each!  I also had to come to grips with being bald, and a new wig, which whilst an amazing gift, did present its challenges.

2.  What did you do for the first time this year?

Two things: (a) I blogged about being bald, and took a photograph of myself bald for the entire world to see.  (b) In response to Edenland’s call for lip-syncing entrants to honour the memory of her brother who had committed suicide, I decided to enter.  At the last minute I decided to remove my wig.  I then posted said entry onto you tube.  I faced my vulnerability well and truly that day and is something of which I am quite proud.  You can see the entry here.

3.  What is the one thing that happened that will have a lasting consequence?

Undoubtedly it was the fact that I decided to do the Blog With Pip course.  Through this course I learned to start and run my own blog, but more important than that was the connections that I made to some incredible women who continue to inspire me every day.

Before I started the course, I didn’t really follow blogs as such but now I read a number each day which has opened up my eyes to a whole new world.

I also learned to listen to my inner intuition more and to trust the process of living.  As a recovering alcoholic this has been quite an amazing revelation, although still very much a work in progress.

4.  Was there anything you wish you had done differently?

The one thing that truly stands out for me is that I did not take control of my health this year.  Despite my body shutting down and needing two operations, I still didn’t heed the signs.  The result is that I am still obese, am tired, am tired of being tired, feel very sluggish and am struggling to get out of my depressive spiral.

Losing weight isn’t just about the aesthetics for me, it is about my body not having to lug around 35 extra kilograms, it is about feeling vital, and not waking up every day feeling like I am wading through mud.

5.  Do you have a favourite moment from this year?  What made it special?

Hands down my favourite moment is when Master J came second in his Maths exam.  The sheer sense of achievement he had brought an expansion to my heart that I have never felt before.  For the first time in his life, he did not feel behind the 8-ball, he felt ahead of the game.  It was a marvel to watch and a privilege to witness.

Autism has many deficits, but so many strengths do exist.  Unfortunately, in our society, we have a habit of focussing on a person’s deficits instead of their strengths.  We somehow have to make people feel diminutive.  That day, my son stood tall, not diminutive at all, head held high knowing that his incredible hard-fought hard work had paid off.  There is no greater joy.

6.  What lesson has 2014 taught you about yourself?  About others?

Such tricky questions!  2014 has taught me that no-one can tread my journey but me.  For too long have I stood in the shadow of my own life watching it pass me by.  By writing here in this little space I have learned to confront a lot of demons, let them go and to move forward.  This has been a challenging experience, but also a gift.  It has blown out a lot of cobwebs in the recess of my mind.

I have also learned that the same applies to others.  I cannot tread their path for them.  This has involved doing a lot of letting go – of control, of doing too much, of always saying yes, of not feeling good enough.  It isn’t my responsibility to make my adult children’s life as easy as possible.  It isn’t my responsibility to always do for others at the expense of my own peace of mind and health.  They have their own journeys and they need to find their own way to live it.  Just like I have had to learn to do with my own life.

2014 was a massive learning curve in this area of my life.  It is still very much a work in progress, but I do believe that 2015 will provide more opportunities to practice and I will rise to the challenge well.

7.  How will the lessons from this past year change the way you approach the new year?

For a start, I am taking more control of my health.  It is my intention to focus on my health and my wellbeing at the cost of all else, if necessary.  This isn’t as easy as it sounds, not for me.  I am prone to being reclusive, to be mindless in what goes into my mouth.  I have an addictive nature – I replaced alcohol with sugar – so I have another addiction to conquer this year.  But I am determined I am going to do it.

I fear death.  Not actually dying, for that is foolish – we all die, but the fear of dying before knowing what it feels like to live a fulfilled life, a life of purpose and meaning, a life of vitality and joy, a life with more peace of mind than not.

I have a plan to achieve this sense of wellbeing and over the coming weeks of 2015, I will reveal it.

8.  What do you most want to do in 2015?

I want to regain my health which in turn will feed my sense of well being and peace of mind (and there is some really good science behind this too).

9.  What do you most want to change about yourself?  The world?

Kindness.  I want to be more kind to myself by feeding my body nourishing food, by moving it more, by developing my mind.  I want to be kinder to others and to the world, reducing my footprint on it.  And I would love the world to become kinder to itself.  If I could witness that in my lifetime, that would be incredible.

10.  What one word do you hope will sum up what you hope to achieve in 2015?

For me, it has to be HEALTH.  Without it I have nothing – no vitality, no peace of mind, no quality of life.  This year has taught me that I need to take control of my health on a physical, emotional and spiritual level.  Health has to be all encompassing, or it isn’t health at all.

I cannot give to the world in the way that I want to if I do not have my health.  I will be working very hard this year to achieve this.

So, there you have it.  My 10 questions answered.  It’s been a weird old year for sure, but one that continues to lay foundations for a better, more healthier me.  Thank you Bron for the lovely questions which gave me some real food for thought and have helped me to clarify my journey for next year.  No doubt there will be bumps along the way, but having this blue print will help.

Happy New Year everyone.  May 2015 bring you health and peace.

Much love,

SHW Signature

 

 

Categories
Advocacy

With great power comes great responsibility

With great power comes great responsibility.

Do you remember that quote in Spiderman that Uncle Ben says to Spiderman?

I don’t know why but it has always stuck with me.

We live in a time where the every day person has tremendous opportunity to wield incredible power and no more is this true than for the blogger.  Within any given niche there are those that lead the pack, who post prolifically, who have interesting things to say, who inspire us, who have gained a massive, extremely loyal following.

It is this loyal following that brands bank on and that have made some bloggers quite wealthy.

It is also the reason we need to be thinking really carefully about what it is we want to be putting out into the world, and how we want to influence the following we have.

When people listen to what we have to say, when they like us enough to follow us, en masse, we need to take great care.

No more is this true than today in the world of the troll.  A troll is a person who will comment with something negative on a blog, or social media page, that is solely aimed to aggravate and illicit a response from the person who owns the page.  They are counter culture to the blog.  They are agitators and are usually very good at what they do.

Online trolls are pervasive and prolific.  The anonymity that the internet provides means that trolls are increasing.  They are cyber bullies whose sole aim is to create mayhem.

We know this.  We are aware of this.  The best thing to do is to delete the comment, block the troll and get on with your life.  They are seeking the spotlight and the best and most effective strategy is not to give it to them.

Yet some bloggers insist on engaging them.  Which of course is their choice.

But it is what follows that worries me greatly.

The vitriol espoused by their following is nothing short of shocking.  Their behaviour is often a lot worse than the troll, calling them names, attacking their character, attacking who they are, their intelligence, their ethnicity, their appearance, their names, the list goes on.  This of course is all in support of the offended blogger, I get that.  But it doesn’t make it right.

But they deserve it, I hear you cry.

Really?

How does attacking them in the way that they attacked, not you, but a blogger you probably have never met make this situation any better?  Answer:  It doesn’t. It makes it worse.  It gives them the spotlight they crave thereby spurring them on, reaffirms the fact that they are horrible people which is probably what led them to be a troll in the first place, and more importantly it sends even more negativity out into the world that we simply do not need.  And, frankly, it doesn’t put you in a very good light at all.  Indignant or not, you have a choice to just not say anything.

Yumi Stynes said it beautifully when she was criticised recently for taking her beautiful baby, Mercy, to a red carpet event dressed only in her nappy.  Derryn Hench, a man whose sole aim is to antagonise, and agitate, and stir up toxicity, criticised her choice in a brutally cruel way.  A couple of other men chose to follow suit.  Yumi chose not to respond initially and then a few days later explained why.

If you ever feel outrage at something you see online, I suggest you look twice. You’re usually being played. And watch how far that outrage goes: sometimes the behavior of the outraged is far worse than that which provoked it.

We abhor the trolls.  We wish they weren’t there.  But they are.  Part of the human condition is that there will be people who will say and do horrible things just to get a rise out of us.  Their lives are small and this behaviour makes them feel big and important in some twisted way.  People like this have existed forever.

But as bloggers, with a following, we have a choice.  We have a choice not to give them air to breathe.  We have a choice to use our words for good rather than to whip up a frenzy of vitriol.  We have a choice to act with dignity and encourage our readers to do the same.  We have a choice to choose not to become as bad as the troll themselves.  We have a choice to offer the world kindness instead of hate.  We always have a choice.

Until next time,

SHW Signature

Categories
To Others

Generosity – what does it mean?

 

Generosity.

What does it mean to you?  Is it the same as giving?  Is it more than giving?  What exactly is it and how do we know it when it’s happening?

My grandmother was a generous person.

As a child, I remember walking to her house with my parents for Sunday lunch.  Being working class, salt of the earth type people, money was tight, but the meal was wholesome and hearty.  It usually consisted of the typical English dinner of roast meat, potato, two veg and gravy.  This would be  followed by a dessert of some kind – usually of the sponge pudding or jelly variety, served with custard.

My grandmother was a sociable woman, unlike my grandfather who was extremely introverted – give him a garden patch in solitude any day.  But my grandmother, oh how she used to love to have a good natter with a friend or two.  And so it was that it was not uncommon that just as were about to sit down for our Sunday lunch people would knock at the door for an impromptu visit.

My grandmother would never turn anyone away.  The food would just be redistributed between the amount of people sitting at the dinner table.  Once, so many people stopped by that all that was left on our plates were three peas each.  It didn’t matter, Nanna just buttered more bread and cooked more mashed potato.  No-one ever went without.  Everyone was always welcome.

Looking back, I realise that this was my first lesson in generosity.

Giving is all well and good and giving when you have plentiful is easy.

Generosity, on the other hand, to me, is a different kettle of fish altogether.  It means giving even when you really can’t afford to give, and that can mean time instead of money.  It is also means giving without strings.

My grandmother didn’t make a song and dance about the redistribution of food.   She just got on and did it.  And she loved it.  Not only was she generous at the table, but she was generous of spirit too.

Of course, I now realise that it is by design that some of those people timed their impromptu visits to coincide with my grandmother’s roast dinner, and I am certain she knew it too.  I would also wager that Sunday meal was the only cooked meal a couple of those people got all week.

And the tradition continued.  My mom would always welcome people to the table.  I had friends’ parents who made me wait in the lounge whilst they ate their dinner (which in retrospect seems so mean now) but my mom welcomed everyone.  When people would protest, she would hush them, saying it wasn’t any trouble at all.  And for her it wasn’t.  Food and care were her love language.  It gave her life meaning.

And now, as Christmas approaches, I think of all the tables that will be filled with people, laughing and loving, but wonder how busy our lives have become that we forget those that need our love and generosity the most.

My parent’s table would often be filled with recovering alcoholics, early in their recovery, who had lost their families due to their addiction, showering them with food and love.  As a teenager, I used to resent the endless cups of tea I was forced to make for these people, ruining my Christmas day.  Now I look back and think of how lucky I was to be subjected to, to be born to, such generous parents.

I find myself thinking about City Life, an organisation that opens its doors on christmas day to the homeless so that they may eat a beautifully cooked christmas meal, only made possible by volunteers that leave their own loved ones in order to cook for and serve the homeless on the 25th of December.  This is what true generosity means.

As I sit down at my Christmas table with my friends and family, I will think of my mom and grandmother, and imagine them sitting wherever it is souls go, around a table, with many other souls, and I shall salute them.  I shall salute them for the generosity they brought to this world.  And I shall salute all those people around the world that make this a better place to live in through their kindness and generosity; who make an enormous difference to the people around them through nothing more than small gestures that warm the heart.

Generosity is something that can not be bought, or given, it just is.  It comes from a place within the soul that requires no reciprocation.  It just wants to help its fellow man, to ease his pain, to help him find joy, to help him on the journey of living.  Generosity is kindness and compassion melded with action.  It is at its heart true humanitarianism.  And thank goodness it exists.  For without it the world would not be a very nice place to be.

Until next time,

 

SHW Signature

 

 

 

 

This post was written as part of #reverb14 – a blogging initiative hosted by Kat McNally.  The month of December is a good time to reflect on the year that was and for us to contemplate the reverberations that we send out into the world.  Please do hop on over to Kat’s blog and if you feel moved to do so, please join in.  Today is Day 10 of the initiative.
Categories
To Others To You

Piece of mind vs Peace of mind

If you had the opportunity, would you go back to that one person who hurt you so badly and let them have it?  All that visceral anger that you have been harbouring, unleashed.

One of the traits of someone living with depression is that we tend to ruminate, especially on those people or incidents that left us feeling unvalued, hurt, humiliated.  We tend to play over and over in our minds the details of the offending event, imagining what it would have been like if only we had been braver, more succinct, able to think better on our feet.

Oh my how that person would suffer at the hand of our witty, but cutting, repartee.  The look of abject horror in their eyes, knowing full well that they had been non-violently beaten into submission.  We would turn on our heals and leave, their dropped jaw gleefully seared into our brains, and we would know that, finally, we had won.  Vindication would be ours.

But it never quite happens that way.  Victory is rarely won by any form of confrontation.

In humanity, there are people who delight in causing mayhem and harm to others.  They are ignorant, unaware, pigheaded.  There is no reasoning with them and whenever you are in their company they always leave you feeling less than, never valued.  Often they create drama wherever they go and they always seem to pull you into their web.  You don’t want to be there, but somehow you are powerless to avoid it.  More often than not if you were to ask them what type of person they were, they would reply that they are good, kind people who only want to bring goodness into the world, completely unaware of how their bombastic ways leave people feeling.  This is part of the human condition.  It is unavoidable.  We cannot change this.

It can all feel so disempowering.  And it is that feeling of disempowerment that leaves us with residue anger that can live with us for years.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

It doesn’t seem right, I know, but the single most liberating thing you can do is to let them go, to let the incident go, to move forward, to live free.  Free yourself of the weight of the anger, frustration, injustice.

It isn’t easy.  The brain tends to replay incidents in our minds.  It is a biological response, you see, to replay that incident that caused us harm.  It is a way of protecting ourselves, preparing ourselves if the incident should ever happen again.  And our body can’t differentiate between what is real or imagined.  When we ruminate, it is as if we are living in the moment of that incident.  We feel wretched, angry, hurt all over again.  We are stuck.

The only way to stop the cycle is to let it go.

In recent years I have had a couple of incidents that have left me reeling.  And I carried them with me like medals of a battle I should have won.

I was torturing myself.  Every time I was alone, it seemed, with nothing but my own thoughts to keep me company, I would replay those incidents over and over again.  A stuck record, searing a scar so deep into my brain it felt like I would never be free of the misery.

But then I realised that I am master of my own destiny.  I do have control over my thoughts.  I do have control over how they dance across my mind.

I consciously chose to sublimate those thoughts.  It isn’t easy and it can be a good few minutes of ruminating, self talking, imagining my responses before I become aware of them.  But then I close my eyes.  I breathe in and breath out.  I say the words “breathe in, breathe out.”  You see, it takes conscious effort to speak.  It diverts your mind from those ruminating negative thoughts to your voice.  “breathe in, breathe out.

Before I know it, my heart rate has lowered, my breathing has slowed and a calmness has settled over my mind.

It takes practice.  A lot of it.  Sometimes, it is a real struggle.  My mind fights with me.  It wants to be heard.  It wants to warn me of the impending danger, remind me of the pain and hurt I felt so that I can be better prepared next time.

But I have learned.  It isn’t real.  The hurt and anger is futile.  The event has passed.  Retribution isn’t coming, and it is pointless to hold onto it.  And so I consciously let the person go.  I say the words, “You can no longer hurt me, and I let you go.  Breathe in, breath out.  I let you go. Breathe in, breathe out.

I also choose never to have anything to do with them.

This seems harsh, and it wasn’t a decision taken lightly.  But I believe in my right to choose whom I have in my life.  After a lifetime of allowing people to dictate my worth, I have taken ownership of it.  And so I choose to let them go.  Not with hatred.  For they acted in response to their own demons.  And I take ownership of my part, for there are always two sides to any story, good or bad.

Still, I choose not to dance with them any longer, to not engage in their little game that seems to drive them, thrill them, control them.  That is their internal fight, not mine.  I choose to walk away.

And I feel so much better for it.

Do I wish I could yell and shout, and give them a piece of my mind?  Sometimes.  But mostly, I choose peace of mind and that makes all the difference.

Much love,

SHW Signature

 

 

 

This post was written as part of #reverb14 – a blogging initiative hosted by Kat McNally.  The month of December is a good time to reflect on the year that was and for us to contemplate the reverberations that we send out into the world.  Please do hop on over to Kat’s blog and if you feel moved to do so, please join in.  
Categories
Advocacy

I love that I have a voice

 

It’s a strange thing, isn’t it?  This notion of having a voice.  We see it bandied about so much.  “You are so lucky to have a voice.”  “Use your voice.” “I’m entitled to use my voice.” “I can use my voice to say whatever I like.

But it isn’t the fact that we have a voice that really matters.

It is what we do with it.

We have to ask ourselves, are we using it to add to the world, or to take away from it.

It’s safe to say that the likes of Hitler, Mussolini, Pol Pot had big voices, voices that reverberated across the globe.  Voices that removed the human from humanity.  They did not use their voices to add to the world.

We aren’t so much lucky to have a voice as we are lucky to have a choice.  We live in a time and place where the ability to use the voice isn’t up for debate.  It is how we choose to use that voice that causes some dissent.  We are torn between our growing Western belief that we have a right to say whatever we like versus the inner knowledge that we are born to create, to connect, to add to the world.

Become clear on what it is you want to say, what it is you want to put out into the world, how you want to make it a better place.

I choose to use my voice to highlight the ills that I see in the world, to talk about living with depression, to discuss parenting a child with autism, to try to bring a little more kindness into the world.  Those are my choices.

That is my purpose.

I received in my email today a message from Seth Godin.  I am not a business person, I have nothing to market.  He is a world famous marketer.  But he uses his considerable blogging clout to say so much more.  He chooses to encourage people and businesses (who let’s face it, are always run by people) to be better – better at humanity.  He strives to make a difference.  And he asks us to do the same.  He asks us to think about what it is we really want to send out into the world.  He asks us to contemplate how we want our customers to feel.  He asks us to question what legacy we really want to leave behind.

This very week, I was left feeling humiliated in a store by a store manager who public accused me of trying to garner a further $50 discount when I questioned the less-than-transparent pricing structure of the business.  I had already spent a considerable amount of money but when I came to collect my goods, which took over a month for them to get right, I was asked to pay a further $50.  I questioned their methodology and he chose to go on the defensive and humiliate me.  His voice reverberated across that store and at me as a person.  I will never step inside that store again.  I wonder if he reflected on how he made me feel as a customer.  I wonder if this is really what he intended.  Was this the lasting impression he wanted to leave? Probably not.

We always have a choice.  No matter how crappy our day, no matter how bad things seem, a simple voice of respect, dignity, gentility is always always possible.  Going that extra mile is always possible.  We don’t always feel like it, I know.  Lord knows, I have bad days.  But I am trying to be better.  I am trying to use my voice to send out better things into the world.

Goodness knows the world needs it.

I love that I have a voice.  I love that I have this platform on which to use my voice.  I love that I have a choice on how I am able to use that voice.

Today, with only 28 days until Christmas and all the frantic running around that tends to bring, I am going to try to do better, to be better, to choose to use my voice for better.  How about you?

Until next time,

SHW Signature

 

 

 

This post was written as part of #reverb14 – a blogging initiative hosted by Kat McNally.  The month of December is a good time to reflect on the year that was and for us to contemplate the reverberations that we send out into the world.  Please do hop on over to Kat’s blog and if you feel moved to do so, please join in.  
Categories
To You

Time to let go, time to release

 

Frantic is the only word to describe my life at the moment.

The silly season is upon us and I am the proverbial chicken without a head, trying desperately to get it all done before the big day.

It isn’t going to happen.  I have to let some things go.

I have lost my christmas mojo.

I don’t like to admit it, but I have.

Partly, it is the seasonal grief that the loss of my mom brings.  Grief is a funny beast and the silly season is one of those times when, for me, it manages to find me and cling to me like sand brought home from the beach.

But I also think it is the notion that I have to have a perfect christmas, full of feast and festivities.  And because I suffer from depression, with my list ever growing, I find that my motivation is ever waning.

I am tired.

It has been a difficult year.  A year of growth, yes, but we only grow when we are prepared to confront those painful aspects of our lives and let them go.  I have done an awful lot of letting go.

Writing has been therapy for me.  Toxic, ugly therapy.  Therapy is not meant to be rainbows and unicorns.  And I’ve grown.  But with any growth there has to be a period of rest.  To recharge, to gain strength.  I am finding my body desperately wanting to rest, my mind begging me to stop.

But I can’t, I tell myself.  I have so much to do.

What is it that drives us to do so much?  To aim for perfection?  A perfection that is a moving target since it means different things to so many different people.  For each of the 12 people that will sit at my christmas table, perfection will mean something different.  I am chasing an illusion.

I have to release this notion of perfection.  I have release this notion that unless I can achieve perfection, I will be viewed as not good enough.

I am enough.

Done is better than perfect.

Done is better than perfect.

Be kind to yourself.

Let some of it go.

The greatest gift we can give to ourselves is the permission to let stuff go, to put things out into the wider world that show imperfections, that are less than, but more than enough.

My to-do list is enormous.

If I don’t get it all done by the time Santa arrives, that is okay.

The world will not come to end.

Life will not stop.

Deep breaths.  In. Out.  In.  Out.

Let.  It.  All.  Go.

Dear Universe, I really wanted to get this shit load of stuff done by the 25th, but I am simply not going to manage it.  I am releasing those less important things to you.  Chances are no-one will notice.  I will notice, but that is okay, I am handing them over to you.  I am a fallible human, and at this time, in this moment, I just simply cannot do it all.  I am choosing my mental health over home made christmas bon bons, hand crafted gift bags and a number of other homestead-y type things.  I know you will  understand.

Much love,

SHW Signature

 

 

 

 This post was written as part of #reverb14 – a blogging initiative hosted by Kat McNally.  The month of December is a good time to reflect on the year that was and for us to contemplate the reverberations that we send out into the world.  Please do hop on over to Kat’s blog and if you feel moved to do so, please join in.  
Categories
To Others

What I can say with certainty is that kindness matters!

 

Today is Monday, and it is also the 1st December.  The first day of summer for those of us in Australia.  The first day of the advent calendar countdown for Christmas.

It is a good day to begin the process of contemplation.  Contemplating the year that was.  Contemplating the year that might be.

On Friday, our family came over for BBQ.  It is a fortnightly thing.  The entire family comes over after work and we eat and talk and laugh and connect.  It is my most favourite time.  We don’t put in much effort – it is very much a “just rock up and have whatever is going” affair.

Kindness matters

My mother-in-law has Alzheimers Disease.  I have known her for nearly 20 years and she is a shadow of the person I once knew.  If you ask her directly about people, places and events, her recollection is very hit and miss.  But she can still hold a conversation as long as the topic isn’t too specific.

On Friday, she noticed that I was looking a bit sad.  I told her that Christmas has lost some of its sparkle for me since my mom died four years ago.  When she passed, I broke down and I guess, whilst I have glued the pieces pretty much back together, it isn’t the same.  And at this time of year a kind of melancholy, uninvited, unwanted, seems to settle on my shoulders.

She looked at me, telling me how she understood.  She used to love Christmas, she said.

Christmas was such a special time.  We were never allowed into the front room, ever.  That room was for Best.  But at Christmas, oh we were allowed into that room then.  I remember all of us being in that room.  The christmas tree, the presents.  I don’t know how mum did it, but it was always a special time.”

As she spoke, my mother-in-law’s eyes lit up.  She clasped her hands together, savouring that moment, that bygone era.  As I looked at her, I imagined a young girl in the 1950s, warm fire going, with her parents and three sisters.  Times were tough for people after the war and it is times like those Christmases that people allowed themselves to relax, to enjoy, to savour life.

Those Christmases were special.  After that it all changed.  My one sister found a new family and we have never heard from her since.  And my other sister didn’t have time for us, her working class family.”

Neither of these statements are really true.  Her one sister married and moved to Australia with her new family.  We have since moved to Australia ourselves and she has seen her sister at least twice since being here.  Her other sister remains in good contact and is in fact quite concerned about the mental health of my mother in law.

But in that moment, in that statement, in our conversation, I realised something.  I realised that what I can say with certainty right now is that it doesn’t matter what we do, where we go, or how we act, it is the feeling we leave behind that is the most important.

Moving to Australia in the 1950s was a big undertaking and communication would have been scant at best.  I realised that mother-in-law, as the youngest child, felt abandoned by her sister, probably not understanding the situation.  Even as an adult, knowing full well that her sister emigrated, that original feeling of abandonment never left her and now she doesn’t remember the emigration, just that she “never heard from her again.”

My mother-in-law cannot remember specific details.  She was asked how many children she had and their names recently in yet another assessment.  She became agitated because she could not remember them, despite two of them sitting in the room with her.

But if you listen to her talk about her children, she remembers them by how they made her feel.

Oh Mr A always sends me flowers on Mother’s day.

Ms M always used to go shopping with me.”

Mr D was always so helpful, never gave me any trouble.

If you asked her what shops she went to with her daughter, or what flowers were her favourite, or what things she used to do with Mr C, she could not tell you.  Those memories are long gone.

But what is left, what is indelibly marked onto the neurones of our brains, and is so evident in my mother-in-law, is how a person makes us feel.

And that bares thinking about, don’t you think?

So often we say and do things without really thinking.  We live in a culture that says our needs and wants should come before all others.  We plunder along, believing in our right to treat others as we see fit, because, well,l it’s important our voice is heard and by god, we are going to make sure it is.  We do this without consequence, without thinking how our words and deeds might make others feel.

We don’t think it is important, but it is.  It is so very important.  So very very important.

Kindness Matters!

When all is said and done, when we have lost our minds and our memories, all we have are our feelings.  All we have is how people that we knew made us feel.  They are our last bastion, those feelings.  They determine the quality of our final years.  Are we left all warm and fuzzy, or cold and stark?

Kindness and consideration costs nothing.  But the impression left will last a lifetime.  A simple letter to let loved ones know how you are doing, a simple phone call, even a simple smile.  All of these things add to the feelings we create in that other person.

I know that as I go about my business this coming silly season, rather than snap at my children or my husband because I am feeling sad at the loss of my own mom, or tired with all the work this time of year brings, I am going to practice more patience, more gentility in my words, simply more kindness.  Because I know for certain that, when their memories of me as a person might be gone, I want them to feel warmth when they think of me.  That is the feeling I want to leave behind.

Have a wonderful Monday lovely.

Until next time,

SHW Signature

 

 

 

This post was written as part of #reverb14 – a blogging initiative hosted by Kat McNally.  The month of December is a good time to reflect on the year that was and for us to contemplate the reverberations that we send out into the world.  Please do hop on over to Kat’s blog and if you feel moved to do so, please join in.  
Categories
To Others

Customer Service 101 – Go the extra mile

Gosh, what a day it has been, and it is only 2pm.  Thank goodness it is Friday, right?

We are renovating our bedroom.  It’s not so much as renovating as decorating, but either way it needed a serious upgrade so when Mr C got a bit of a bonus, we knew immediately where the money was going.

I’ve been thinking about our bedroom for a while now (as you will know from this post) and I really wanted to go all out.  The problem was that we were on a budget and we couldn’t really deviate from that.

So, I set about trying to recreate the look on the limited funds I had.

I managed to snag some bargains, and was lucky enough to walk into a store on the one day they were having a 30% off sale on some quite large ticket items.  It takes work to decorate on a budget, but it can be done.  I will certainly give you a tour once we are done, but this isn’t the point of my post today.

We decided to buy our bedside tables from what one could call a mid-low end store.  The look of the tables was exactly what I was looking for and because they are bedroom tables, in our bedroom, they didn’t have to be as durable as say a living room item.  Our budget just simply wouldn’t stretch to the high end look so we went ahead and purchased them.

At the same time, we also purchased from the same store a chaise lounge sofa for our spare lounge, which our 16 year old son uses.  It was not massively expensive, but not cheap either.

Both the tables and the sofa were delivered today.

Two things happened.

Firstly, the delivery guys refused to unwrap the items and take away the packaging.  Apparently, it is this store’s new policy not to do that as it “takes too much time”.

Secondly, whilst the sofa is too large for me to unwrap on my own, I decided to unbox the side tables.  Our new bed is also arriving today so I was keen to get them unboxed so that I could start putting the room together.

Imagine my dismay when not one, but both tables had nicks in them.  These nicks had clearly happened before the painting process, as they had been painted over.  This was obviously a quality control issue.

I phoned the store immediately who informed me that I had two options – I could either keep the damaged goods and a $40 refund per table would be given to me, or I could replace them with new ones which would take 3 weeks as they no longer had them in stock.

Neither of those choices suited me particularly but I plumbed for the second one.  I refuse to live with damaged furniture.

Shortly after this, our new king size bed arrived.  We have been so excited to get this puppy.  We spent the majority of our budget on it.  Mr C recently had spinal surgery and we were advised that whilst many people don’t think of it, a good bed is really vital for back health.

Again, despite the fact that what we paid for that thing could easily have paid for a good second hand car, the delivery men just dropped it off without unpacking it.  “We don’t do that,” they said as they carted off the old mattress, for which we had to pay a further fee.

I recently read a quote by Roger Staubach who said that “there are no traffic jams along the extra mile”.

Seth Godin, a highly regarded marketer, constantly talks about how a business can add value to the customer experience, highlighting that it is through this added value that customers become loyal to you and your brand (think Apple here).

Is it that hard to go the extra mile these days?  Is it that hard for a business, no matter how small, to ask “How can we make it easier for the customer to buy from us.  How can we make them want to buy from us?”  Is this not a fundamental thing businesses should be asking themselves?

These are big ticket items which makes it very difficult to dispose of the packaging.  We can’t just pop it in our waste.  We have to take it down to the dump for which there is another $40 fee, after having already paid a $90 delivery fee.  This inconvenience has certainly taken the shine off the purchase, not least because I can’t do anything with the furniture since I am not able to unpack it on my own.  It was just unceremoniously dumped in my house.  And I am not happy.

Where has the customer service gone?  Why is it okay to take hard earned money off people, but not leave them with the feeling that they made a good purchase full of value for money.  All of these items came from a spread of stores so it isn’t unique to just the cheaper items.

Why is that?

Is it that we need more competition, forcing businesses to go the extra mile to satisfy their customers?

Is it any wonder that people are turning more and more to online purchases, where the price is cheaper and often times, the service is better.

Retailers, I think it is time you woke up to the fact that competition is fierce and that simple things, like removing packaging for those really big ticket items, can make all the difference.

This may seem like a “first world problem”, a term I absolutely abhor, but I am living in a first world country, spending hard earned money that helps keep the economy in this first world country ticking over.  A little bit extra for that I don’t think is a lot to ask.  There are companies that do offer the “unpack and remove” service, as it was done with our lounge suite a couple of years ago, which is probably where my expectation of this service began.

Rant over.  I’m off now to make a cup of tea and wait for Master J to get home, so he can help me get all the packaging off!

Until next time,

SHW Signature

 

 

Categories
To Others

Hello! Let’s just talk

 

Okay, so here’s the thing.  The new format isn’t really working for me.  Is it working for you?  No?  Good.

I just cannot be pigeonholed into a routine.  I just can’t.  I know that is what creates a community – regular postings on certain things – because, you know, us humans do like routine, but honestly it is just too freaking hard.  Not only that, it stifles my own creativity.  The words just don’t seem to flow if I HAVE to write something.

So how about we just talk?  And I might throw in a card and scrapbook page every now and again.    Let’s just see how it rolls okay?

I would love to hear from you, you know.  Do feel free to leave a comment below.

So let’s get down to it.

Today is Remembrance day.  We don’t get a holiday here in Australia, but we do mention it, and I know of a few people that honour the two minutes’ silence at 11am.

I can never remember frankly.  It’s not that I am not grateful for all those men and women that gave up their life so that I may have the freedom I enjoy now, it is just, well, life is so very busy.  Which I know is the point.  You should slow down, close your eyes and remember.  I know.  Maybe next year.  I’ll try to remember it next year.

What I did think of, though is my grandfather.  He fought in the second world war in Africa and Italy until he was injured in Rome.  He never spoke about the war, but when he hit his nineties he got dementia and then he would think he was back in the war.  He would make his bed like he was back in the army barracks and there was shouting about saving a child whilst he held a blanket in his arms as if he was holding a baby.

War totally and utterly sucks, especially for those that have to live and fight in it.

I hate war.

I hate the capacity of humanity to turn on each other and do the atrocious things we do.

It saddens me and feeds my already spiralling depression.

So let’s not talk about that.

Let’s talk about goodness, and kindness, and a world worth living in.

Let’s talk about how despite our capacity to annihilate ourselves and each other, we haven’t done that yet which must mean, on balance, there is way more good in then world than bad.  Right?

Let’s talk about all the beautiful, amazing, wondrous things there are in the world. (Here, here and here)

Let’s talk about at the incredible things that happen that just take our breath away.

Or we can talk about what you had for dinner.

Me, salmon and baked beans.

I know, right?  What’s with salmon and baked beans.  Well, I shall tell you.  I was meant to be making the vegetables that were to go with said salmon, except I got distracted (and this happens A LOT), so Mr C just opened a tin of baked beans instead.  It was in fact quite delicious.  One might even call it a winning combination, although probably not on Jamie Oliver’s list.  No photo I’m afraid, because, let’s face it, who really wants to look at other peoples’ dinners.  Not me.

Good chat.

Until next time,

SHW Signature

 

 

Categories
Mental Illness To You

An ode to the rainbow and the uniqueness of its colours

I’m going to struggle to find the words.  I know I am.  The words to describe the warmth I feel right now.  The words to describe that despite still feeling dark in places, the light is beginning to find its way through.  The words to describe what it feels like to find a group of women who have enveloped me, hugged me so hard that indeed it seems my broken bits are being mended back together.  The words to describe having hope, and the strength to work toward, a future full of life, love and living.

But I am going to try.

After 8 or so years of being clinically depressed and having gone through a number of psychologists, I had given up hope of ever finding light with any regularity in my life.  I had simply resigned myself to a life of existence.  No living.

My sister, God bless her, suggested I try an art therapist.  I baulked at the idea.  I am no artist.  But she encouraged me, saying it wasn’t about the art, it was about being creative and the toxicity that gets released through that creative process.  I took her advice.

After a few sessions it became evident that I love, well live, to write but fear with a capital F had stopped me from ever letting anyone see my work, bar a couple of blogs that I never told anyone about.

She suggested a blogging course, where I would be ‘published’ through a guided, supportive environment, with very little risk to my self esteem.  I chose the Blog with Pip course at her suggestion.

I enrolled on this course with trepidation.  I had no niche, no craft, no particular skill.  Immediately I didn’t feel like I fit in.  But I persevered.  I started off with this blog, realised it didn’t fit me and so started Sarah’s Heart Writes.  Without realising it at the time, I just kept showing up.  I re-evaluated and adjusted, and I just kept going.

However, my lack of belonging dogged me.  I wanted to belong so much, to be part of a tribe.  All across cyberland, you will find tribes.  It is the beauty of it.  No matter what you are into there will be someone out there who is into the same thing too.  And no doubt a few others too.

You know that here I write about my life mostly battling depression, recovering from alcoholism, being bald, being a grandmother, parenting a child on the autistic spectrum.  I couldn’t narrow it down.  I am a whole person and so I write about the whole of me {and please, dear friend, you do the same}.  My tribe seemed impossible to find.

But without realising it, I was looking in the wrong places.  Without realising it, I didn’t need to look at all.  Without realising it, I needed to be found.

You see, I met a group of women who just seem to get me.  They accept me for who I am.  They don’t care that I am melancholic, prone to more bad days than good, am extremely overweight, live a pretty boring existence, struggle to see my own value in a world that seems to have no place for me.  What they care about is that I show up as their friend as much as they are mine.  This is because they value what I have to offer and they remind me constantly what it is that I do have to offer.  This is such an incredible gift.

A gift that is in itself a lesson.

I was looking for someone just like me.  Someone whom I could hold up to the light to say “Look, they are just like me and they made it, so can I.”  What I didn’t consider is my uniqueness.  By virtue of everything about me – my upbringing, my life experiences, my genetic make up – I am unique.  As are you.  I had never really come to grips with that.  My uniqueness felt so isolating somehow.  I needed a tribe.

But then I found this group of women, and they found me, and together, we expect nothing more of each other than to show up with our uniqueness.  We celebrate our uniqueness with zest and love.  We champion it like knights on steeds carrying banners for all the world to see.  We are each individual colours of a rainbow, coming together to encourage each other to shine.  Yes, I have found my tribe, but it is based on something completely different than I ever imagined my tribe would be.  It is based on acceptance and love.  Nothing more, nothing less.  They don’t expect me to be something different.  They expect me to be, well, me.

We need more of this in the world.  We need more women championing each other, not tearing each other down. We need more women encouraging the uniqueness of others, celebrating them for it, not trying to pigeonhole them into something they are not.  Mass media makes its living out of trying to get us to do just that, and we conform, doing their job for them, tearing others down.

Albert Einstein apparently once famously said that if you try to get a fish to climb a tree, it will always feel stupid.

Don’t be a tree climbing fish.  Be a unique colour of the rainbow.  Own your truth and I promise you, your tribe will find you.  I will find you.

Much love,

SHW Signature