Choices…

As I fell asleep last night, I was filled the most immense feeling of gratitude.  Now, this may seem like absolutely nothing to some, but to me, what happened was a huge deal.  Let me explain…

My daughters are young.  They are growing up extremely quickly – I remember the times when I was crying to my mum about the lack of sleep I was having, and how I was worried when they would cry and I couldn’t understand what they needed – and she would say, this part won’t last long, they won’t be little like this forever, they will grow up quickly.  And I didn’t believe her.  And I was angry because her wise words didn’t help me at the time.  But looking back, when they were crying in the night, or when my eldest refused to sleep, or my youngest felt so poorly but couldn’t tell me what was wrong, she just felt miserable and needed comfort from me…I’ve blinked – I have literally blinked, and we’ve time travelled, where the girls are articulate, self-sufficient and incredibly grown up, to the point now, if I’m not feeling well, they will look after me.

My eldest is now 7, at the moment she is still a part of the ‘infants’, in September, she steps into the world of the ‘juniors’.  The infants at her school always present their annual ‘Mother’s Day’ assembly, which I’ve never been able to go to before.  My youngest started school in the September just gone and was really excited about all the Mother’s Day rehearsals that were taking place.  I overheard them talking…my youngest was enthusiastically explaining to her sister that she couldn’t wait for Friday because Mummy would be coming to see the songs and poems that they had prepared.  And then I heard the expression in my eldest daughter’s voice…it was so difficult to explain.  She sounded so much older, like someone who has been through a lot of pain, can see that someone else is heading in the same direction, and decides to give them advice in order to help them through what they are about to experience.  She softened her voice, like she has heard grown-ups do, and spoke very slowly and carefully to her sister, explaining that Mummy wouldn’t be able to come because Mummy had to work.  There was a stunned silence as my youngest processed this information.  Then came the denial from my youngest.  ‘No, no! Mummy is going to come, it’s her assembly’  I couldn’t see her face, but I could tell from my eldest daughter’s voice, there was a sad, knowing smile on her face – ‘No, she can’t come, she’s working..’

Before matters got out of hand, I decided to interject and surprise them both by explaining that in actual fact, I was coming this year.  With howls of delight they both leapt on top of me, my youngest was relieved, my eldest – her eyes shining with astonishment and disbelief.  Once the news had sunk in, and the drama had subsided, we  sat around the dinner table enjoying a delicious home-cooked meal prepared by my husband.  Suddenly, my eldest turned to me said, in a very matter of fact way, ‘I never told you this Mummy, but last year when you didn’t come to the assembly, at the end of assembly I cried.  My teacher had to give me a hug.’

I turned and looked at my husband, who cautiously looked back at me, searching my face, wondering what my reaction would be.  There was a pain in my heart.  It felt like a knot in the centre of my chest.  All this time, to spare my feelings, this little girl didn’t let on how disappointed she was that I couldn’t come to her assembly because she didn’t want me to feel sad.  She was trying to prepare her sister and make her understand that Mummy wouldn’t be able to go to the assembly in order to shield her from the pain and disappointment that she would inevitably feel.

However, I also reminded myself, that as a family, we had taken steps in our life, to ensure that we had choices.  Never again, by the grace of God, would I miss a Mother’s Day assembly, or an achievement assembly, or a Sports Day, or a class assembly.

Those of you, who read my blogs frequently, or know me of old, will know that one of my most favourite mottos in life, is a couple of lines from a poem by Dylan Thomas.

‘Do not go gentle into that good night, Rage, rage against the dying of the light.’

I read these words when I was 17 years old, and they had such a profound effect on me.  Thomas wrote this to his father when his father was dying.  He didn’t want his father to pass away in a gentle, weak way that was so unlike the way that he had lived his life.  He wanted him to fight against death, die the way that he had lived – in a wild, defiant way….

Years later, those words, that sentiment remains with me.

I will not go gentle into that good night.  I will not accept being in a situation where I cannot be there for my children when they need me.  I will not let my daughters weep secret tears because I could not be there for them.  I will rage against that.  I will make choices where I can live my life according to what is acceptable to me.

And as my blood boils, and as I rage…I am also extremely grateful to God.  I thank God for giving me choices.  For being able to grab opportunities and be there when it matters before it’s too late.  I am grateful that God gave the chance to not just accept fate, and not let me simply shrug and think to myself ‘what else could I do?’  I am simply grateful to God, for everything that I have.

Amen.

PS: I went to the assembly.  I saw both of them together.  Singing their songs. Reciting their poems.  My youngest had her eyes fixed on me for the entirety of the assembly.  My eldest was the consummate professional, performing, and smiling with delight throughout it all.  I managed to give them both a hug before I left for work – and walked on air for the rest of the day.

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Memories

When I was a little girl, my dad decided to go back to college (at my mum’s insistence), in order to gain more qualifications, which would then improve his chances of being promoted at GEC, where he worked.  College was probably about 2 evenings a week, but I used to hate it when he went.  It didn’t feel the same when he wasn’t in the house.  I always felt uneasy and would wait anxiously for him to come home, but would I was always thwarted by own body clock and end up fast asleep in bed, oblivious to the fact that he had returned home.

I was thinking about this feeling last night when I was having dinner with the girls.  My husband was working late, and wouldn’t be returning until later, so we have an agreement, on these evenings I eat with the children and get them ready for bed so that their routine could continue undisturbed.  As we sat around the dinner table, we were chatting about this and that, when I decided that I would find some old Bollywood music on YouTube, and share it with the girls…just to see what they would make of it.

When I say old Bollywood – I mean songs from the black and white era – a time when Bollywood was truly innocent and magical.  I was taking a risk…the girls are merciless critics, and if they don’t like something, their young hearts have not yet learnt the artifice of putting on a poker face…but I reasoned, if they don’t like it, they don’t like it – better to know that, than live in curiosity and eternal doubt.

I chose a song that reminded me of my dad.  When I introduced it to them, I explained that it was a very old song, that my dad really liked and that I wanted them to hear it.  Immediately, my eldest adopted a stance of solemnity and reverence.  Anytime anyone refers to ‘Nana’, she becomes very serious, and very knowing.  Having never met him, and only seeing him in old photographs and hearing anecdotes from me, she feels as though she knows him of old.  That bond that you have with an ancestor – you know you came from them, their blood runs through your veins, you hear stories about them – this wisdom makes them so real to you, it’s as if you’ve always known them.

My youngest is at a different stage.  Curiosity.  Where is he?  Sometimes she will announce to me – carefully guarding her tone, to test the waters, not wanting to upset me, but trying to get the facts straight in her head – You haven’t got a Dad have you?  And I have to explain that I do have a dad – he’s just not here anymore.  This response reassures her.  But twenty more questions return in their place.  Where is he?  Is he here?  Why isn’t he here?  None of my responses really make much sense to her.  But that’s ok.  It’s just the way it is.

So I was prepared for the onslaught of hesitant and uncertain questions from my youngest, and the wise and statesmen-like dignity and gravitas from my eldest…and then I played the song.

I felt incredibly nervous.  Desperate for them to like what I was about to play.  I typed in the title of the song, sat back, waited patiently until I could ‘Skip ad’… then waited.  The opening bars of the simple melody began.  With a childlike simplicity, the first few notes, played on a glockenspiel, (I think),  I looked at their faces, and to my relief I saw the expressions on their faces soften and change from uncertainty, to curiosity and enjoyment.

I knew that they would love the voice of the singer – his voice to this day remains one of the most melodious, soothing, hot chocolate-for-the-soul voices that this world has ever produced.  Mohammed Rafi.  His voice could lift you from the unhappiest moods and make you feel joyous again, he could make you cry with the palpable pain and hurt that you felt he was experiencing, or simply soothe you as if you were a small child again.  He sang, always, always – from the soul.  Which is why, although I was nervous about the girls listening to the song – I should have had more faith, that the enchanting voice of Mohd Rafi would still be comforting to them, several generations later.

I’ve included a link to the video, which you could choose to watch, or not.  Perhaps listening to the song would make a difference, perhaps it’s not necessary – I’ve included it – just because….

My youngest was just mesmerised by the melody of the song – she’s got a good ear for music and is already quite eclectic in her tastes, so I was glad to see her enjoying the song…my eldest was watching the song intently, not understanding Hindi, she was trying to make sense of what the song was about by watching what was happening in the video.  Her face was filled with horror when she saw that the lead actor was smoking away in the video.  ‘Why is he smoking? That’s not very good is it?’ she announced in a very stern and almost angry tone.

I didn’t dare tell her that that was one of the reasons why the song reminded me of my dad – because he also smoked – knew it was bad for him, but would always refer to his great-uncle, who smoked religiously and lived to a ripe old age with no ill effects whatsoever…

But I skipped that part – that was a story for another day.  I decided to explain the relevance of the smoking instead, as it was integral to the lyrics of the song.  The lyrics in Hindi are:

Main zindagi ka saath nibhata chala gaya,
Har fikar ko dhuen mein udata chala gaya

Which loosely translates to…

I kept moving along with everything that was happening in life,
Every problem I ever had, I blew away with rings of smoke

Those lyrics remind me so much of my dad – both literally and metaphorically.  That’s what he did – he faced whatever life gave him, as bravely as he could…and he would smoke, which helped him to blow away any worries that he had.  But he was also carefree like that – he would joke about and be light-hearted, even when times were tough – trying to blow away troubles – if he could.

It was lovely yesterday evening,  strolling back down Memory Lane, my girls, each holding one of my hands, tightly, accompanying me.  They made the journey, that I had made on my own many times, new and exciting; seeing songs with fresh eyes again, listening to lyrics and reliving what they meant.  Making someone who is no longer with us, come back again, if only for a few moments…

Non, je ne regrette rien!

Something came up on my Instagram feed yesterday that made me stop and think for a while.  It wasn’t anything that I hadn’t seen before, but seeing it again felt valuable.  It resonated hugely with me.

I’m sure that you’ll also have seen this, or something like this before.  You read it for 10 seconds; nod with agreement; move on to what you have to do before the day ends.

A friend I used to work with a few years, someone who I used to work with closely and confide in lots would often say to me, when things were getting tough,

“Anita, at your funeral, the person reading your eulogy won’t talk about how you always got your books marked according to the marking policy.  That won’t be a relief that you have on your own deathbed, ‘At least I got my books marked!’  You’ve got to live a life so that you have no regrets later on.”

I’ve never forgotten those words.  I’ve never forgotten her message.  On the poster I’ve shared, Number 2 and Number 5 – are especially pertinent to me and my life right now.

Recently, I’d made a life decision.  Actually, scratch that – 8 years ago, I’d made a life decision.  I wanted to have children.  I wanted to be a mother.  I was blessed, and 7 years ago my first child was born.  I know that I’ve written about this before, but that completely changed my life, in ways that I’d never considered, never imagined.  From the moment that she was born, I also opened a door to a very special part of my brain.  The door, entitled ‘constant guilt’.  Am I a good mother?  Am I doing the right things for her?  Please, please, please God, don’t let me mess things up!

To cut a long story short, for 7 years I’ve been battling with wanting to work and do a job I love successfully, along with wanting to be there for my children and be the mum that they deserve.  And for 7 years, the job won.  Was I happy about that?  No.  Did I feel like I had a choice?  No.  Did I feel that I could change things?  No.

But the more that time went on, the years rolled on, the feeling that something wasn’t right was growing stronger and stronger, until it was suffocating me from the inside.  I remember distinctly, wanting to be there for my children, but coming home exhausted from the day, and knowing that I had at least 2 more hours of work to do that evening. I’d manage to spend an hour with them, talk to them about their day, get them to bed and pray that they would sleep so that I could eat and then start my work.

My eldest, she makes me laugh.  Whilst we have all the time in the world downstairs, she won’t say anything about anything important.  It’s when I’m tucking her into bed, the lights are dimmed and I’m just about to creep out…that’s when she’ll decide to talk about what’s on her mind.  It’s important that she speaks, because she bottles everything up, and if she’s ready to talk, you bet your life I’m going to listen.  But at the back of my mind, a huge gremlin would be screaming, ‘You’d better hurry this along!  You’ve got so much work to do! You need to get to bed on time or you’ll be tired the next day!’  I would have to physically try to murder the gremlins that were shouting these hateful things at me. I’d have to scream inside my head – NOOOOO! My daughters come first!

Eventually, I’d leave her room, hoping that she felt better, hoping that I’d given the right advice, hoping that I’ve given her the right amount of time.

Things went on life this for years.  I’m ashamed to say – years.  And then, the choice was taken out of my hands.  When you feel like you are being suffocated on the inside and no one else can see what you’re going through – you either continue that way until something snaps – or you do something about it.  My sense of self-preservation is quite strong.  I won’t be a martyr for anyone’s cause – so, I had to be creative and find a way to live that worked for me and my family.  The wheels were put into motion quite quickly and, with the support of my amazing husband, I was able to make a life choice that would improve the quality of life for my family.

So now, I work everyday, but am back much, much earlier.   I cook!  I actually cook at home.  And to beat it all – I’m actually quite good at it.  I’ve been flooding my Instagram account and Facebook profile with annoying pictures of some of the dishes that I’ve made.  They aren’t anything remarkable BUT it’s the satisfaction of me actually being able to make food that my family will enjoy.

I go to the gym.  Again, I’m not setting the world alight with my physical prowess, but I’m exercising and feel healthier and stronger than I did when I was 28!

I’m meeting my friends.  I’m actually making concrete plans to make people, instead of sending a non-committal reply saying ‘Yes – we should definitely meet!’ But no word of when and where.

I’m kinder to everyone around me.  I tell my girls – yes, it’s fine to make mistakes.  It’s ok – because from that mistake you’ll learn something that you didn’t know before.

This week, I was putting my eldest to bed, and she was bothered by something, but doing her best to mask it.  Not wanting to worry anyone.  Not wanting to talk about what was bothering her – in case she was wrong about it.  I stayed with her for a bit longer.  Stroked her hair.  Talked about my day and something that was bothering me.  Let her give me some advice.  Then I asked ‘Are you ok?’  Then the floodgates opened.  She was not ok.  Things were on her mind.  And I listened, and listened and listened.  My heart soared as I listened.  For the first time in my life – and hers – I was there.  Truly there and I was going to give her all the time that she needed.  No gremlins at the back of my head.  No conflicts.  Just peace.  Of course I was sad, that my daughter was sad…but I was able to be there for her and I wasn’t going until she felt better.  We talked for hours.  I didn’t care…

The next day, she had managed to resolve the problem that she was going through, and I genuinely felt like a superhero.

But most of all – I was grateful.  I had taken a brave step towards being happy.  A decision that I know, many would not have agreed with, but this is my life.  I don’t live it for the approval of others.  I live it so that I can be happy and most of all, so that I can make my loved ones as happy as they can possibly be.

You might laugh at me, but since I saw that poster, with the regrets of people who are dying, Robbie Williams’ song lyrics have been going around and around in my head…

‘No regrets.  They don’t work.  No regrets.  They only hurt.’

Okay, the context of those lyrics are totally different to what I’ve writing about…but even so… I refuse to have regrets.  I refuse to live a life where I look back and wish that I had been braver and done the things that would have made me happier…

But most of all,  I feel gratitude.  I thank God that I am able to make choices in life.  I thank God that I could be there for the ones I love.  And for giving the opportunity to have no regrets later.

Amen.

My momma

It’s a Saturday afternoon, I’ve arrived at my Mum’s house to visit her. Haven’t been to her house for weeks and weeks.

It doesn’t matter how old I get, when I come to visit Mum, her home just feels like…home. I regress back to being a little girl, revelling in her love for us, her delight in seeing us and her ability to look after me and my girls in one fell swoop. Making it look effortless. She’s 60, but her energy levels astound me. She allows me to rest and sorts my universe out for me like a supercharged whirlwind – only repairing and fixing, instead of destroying.

I am on her cosy, comfortable sofa, opposite her fire. Hypnotised, I watch the flames dance vigorously with each other, whilst I’m curled up like a privileged bona-fide fat cat!

I listen as she prepares food for the girls. They are used to her ways now – to an outsider, it would sound like she’s telling them off, but that’s just her way. Fierce and loving at the same time. Traits more commonly associated with Sicilian mothers. Demonstrative. Protective. Honest – at times brutally honest. But loving. Oh so loving. Luckily, my girls know this, and love her back. Way more cheeky to her, than my sister or brother or I would dared to have been to her at that age. She takes it – and either laughs, or gives as good as she gets, and their laughter is like music as I sit in other room, away from their bubble.

Afterwards, we all huddle on the sofa together and watch the massive flakes of snow fall outside, grateful to be indoors together, in the warmth. This idyllic moment is short lived though, because after watching for a few minutes, I make the executive decision to drive back home. The volume of the snowfall seems to be increasing. The snowflakes look bigger and more menacing than before. Sadly, I decide its best if we drive back.

Before I go though, my heart soars with how grateful I am. It’s so important to count our blessings. February, 2 years ago, my grandmother passed away. For my mum, that was a devastating blow. Both her parents have passed on. She feels it so often. The pain of them not being there. Since the age of 17, after she married my dad and then left India, she has always looked after others. Never looked after herself. I feel full of gratitude everyday knowing that she’s always close by. Ready to drop everything at the drop of a hat to help if required.

She deserves so much happiness and love – more than there is available in this world.  It goes without saying, that I love her so much.

My beautiful, beautiful, gorgeous mum.

Wicked devices?

I wonder when the rules changed?  I don’t think it happened overnight – but the rules, or goalposts – they definitely changed.  People work further and further away from home.  They leave the house by 7 in the morning, and are lucky if they are back home by 7 at night.  Families don’t tend to live close to each other anymore.   Children see less and less of their parents.  Parents compensate by buying their children devices.

People just seem to be drifting away from each other…

People don’t talk on the phone anymore – it’s a massive nuisance to receive someone’s call now.  People have conversations via WhatsApp.  Instead of listening to the nuances in people’s voices, or tonal qualities that conveyed meaning – we have emojis! An emoji to convey every possible emotion under the sun.  Very soon, we’ll be able to communicate whole sentences through those affable, inoffensive yellow smiley faces – words will become redundant…

We are becoming more and more insular.  Communicating via devices instead of making the time to see one another, share each other’s space, actually seeing each other without distractions being present.

Today I went somewhere that I’ve never been to before.  As soon as I walked in, I was struck by how peaceful and calm the place seemed.  Before I was allowed to enter, I was asked to ensure that my mobile phone was switched off – not turned to silent – but actually switched off before I entered the premises.  Although I found the request strange, of course, I respected the wishes of the establishment and walked in through the magnolia double doors.  As I walked around, the sense of peace and well-being was palpable.  No one was using devices.  No one was distracted.  Everyone was present.  There in the moment!  There was a sense of serenity and ‘being there’, that I haven’t seen in years.

Honestly, as I left the place, I felt refreshed.  It made me think – how often do I actually switch my mobile phone off?  How often do I allow myself the freedom to not be a slave to my emails, messages, texts or calls?  When did I suddenly get to the position that I am constantly ‘on call’?

My children are young at the moment – they still live each moment in reality.  I’m dreading the time, when all their friends have devices – therefore so must they.  I’m dreading the time when I have to designate ‘no device’ times throughout the day so that we can share family experiences.  I’m dreading the time when they will be lost in a world of virtual reality – messages, texts – that I have no idea about.

Everything is so convenient now – yet it feels that it’s come at a great expense.  If I want to know what a word means, I google it; I want to know how old the Queen is, I google it; population of the Earth – google.  I want to eat ice-cream at 3 o’clock in the morning, and I have none at home?  No problem – there’s a 24 hour McDonald’s, only a ten minute drive away, I can have a McFlurry in half an hour! Shops are open 24/7.  People are expected to work on Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, nothing is sacred.

I know, today’s blog seems particularly moany and old-fashioned…but I just wonder…would you be able to manage – not even a whole day, but a whole evening without your phone?  I don’t mean when you are at a party, or out – I mean sat at home – not doing anything.  Could you manage?  Would you be able to resist checking messages?  What about when you hear the seductive, shrill chime that means that you have received a message?  Could you play ‘hard to get’ and resist the temptation of opening the message? Would you be able to cope without checking your social media accounts?

If not, how do you feel about that?

I’m not judging – I’m not in a position to – I’m in this situation with you all the way.  What I’m doing is questioning is – is this right?  If it’s not – what do we do about it?  How do we gain control of our lives, instead of letting our devices dictate how we behave?

We’re no longer bored are we?  When I was little, if I ever said to my mum that I was bored – she’d tell me to find something to do – only boring people are bored.  So, I was never bored.  Never, never bored.  Perhaps we need to go back to that state again – perhaps we need our mothers to tell us, ‘only boring people play on their phones and check their messages constantly instead of living in the real world’.

Or…perhaps I’m making it all up and there’s no problem at all.  My gut tells me that there something isn’t right though….and we all know, our gut instincts are never wrong…

 

 

 

My girl

Today is the eve of my eldest daughter’s 7th birthday.  Although logically I know 7 years have passed – I can hardly believe it.

I’m trying to write without being nauseatingly sentimental and sugary – I will probably fail at that though.  Do I care? Not really.

She is like a mini-adult right now – with all the good bits – none of the complicated, embittered, cynical parts.  Her outlook on life makes me want to be a better human being.  We were in the car earlier today, just her and I, getting some bits and pieces for her birthday tomorrow.  Whilst chatting away, she announced that yesterday and today had been the best days of her life!  The reason being, yesterday we had made pizzas and had been cooking all day and today she had a special moment with just me, shopping for last minute things for her birthday the next day.  I felt as though a vice had gripped my heart.  Such simple things had made her feel like she had had the best days ever.  How long will she stay like that, I wonder?  Hopefully, forever!

She was born with a wise head on her shoulders, constantly curious, wanting to know what was going on around her.  She hated sleeping – I knew it was because she was sad about missing out on anything.  I watch back videos of her as a toddler, at the time, I was always amazed by how much she was able to communicate with me, she always just seemed to ‘get it’.  A very practical, problem solver – I guess that came from her being so observant all the time.  Watching those videos back, my heart aches – she was still such a baby.  I never treated her like one though.

Even now, she asks me how I am, when I’m sad, rubs my back, offers to bring me things that she thinks might make me better.  When I get home from work, feeling tired from the day, my youngest wants to jump on me straight away – whereas my eldest will try to reason with her and explain, ‘Just let Mummy relax, she’s just come back from work, ok?  Mummy, do you want me to make you a cup of tea?’  I’ve never let her make me a cup of tea – but I know she knows how to make one, and if I asked her, she would.  Reluctantly, my youngest will give me some space, and my eldest keeps a sharp eye on her sister to make sure that she does the right thing.

My husband and I often reminisce about the moment that she was born.  She didn’t cry.  She wasn’t angry or sleepy, (unlike my youngest), she was simply bemused.  The midwife confirmed that she was indeed a little girl, let my husband cut the umbilical cord and placed her straight onto my chest.  Tired, overwhelmed and excited, I gazed into the biggest, most beautiful brown eyes that I had ever seen, a little doll, with a mass of black hair covering her head.  A miracle.  She looked straight back at me, probably mirroring the amazement that was in my eyes too.  My husband said that she won’t be able to see properly yet, new-born babies don’t have great vision when they are born…but this little baby, her eyes seemed to see right into me, and I couldn’t believe that she was finally here.

So fiercely independent, yet not in an angry, aggressive way.  She listens to reason – then makes up her own mind.  I remember when she had thrown up in the past, or wet the bed – and tried to clear up her own mess, or change her own bedsheets, without disturbing anyone.  It’s just because she feels that she knows how to do it – so why ask anyone for help?  The number of mornings that she and her sister have woken up, and she’s organised breakfast for them – because she doesn’t want to wake Mummy and Daddy.  An independent problem solver who looks after her sister, as well as herself.

For the first few years of her life, she was a complete Daddy’s girl.  Her father was her universe.  She wanted to spend every waking moment with her Daddy.  Suddenly though, over the past few months…she’s growing closer to me too.   Particularly over this Christmas period, she’s been wanting to spend more and more time with me, which I have revelled in.

Her little sister absolutely reveres her.  She follows everything that she does, and consults her for every decision.  They do have their spats – but make up with each other as quickly as they fall out.

What I love about her, and I learn from her each day, is how positive she is about life.  How she makes the best of each situation – even when things are not going her way.  She finds something else to focus on and won’t let things bring her down.

I’ve written in posts before about how many people in the Asian community thought it was a shame that I had given birth to girls – not just once, but twice!  I laugh at those people.  Openly, laugh at the ignorance of those people.  My daughters, both of them, are my blessings, my saviours.  I learn from them, probably more than they learn from me.

On this day, the eve of her 7th birthday, I’m reflective, but excited again.  Yes, I gave birth to this little one.  Yes, I’m bringing her up, hopefully giving her everything she needs.  But in my mind, I know this little warrior will carve out her own future.  She will do whatever she wants in life, with that same positive attitude.  And I’m excited…excited to watch her grow up and rule the world – watch her make this world a better place.

Resolution

The year 2017 is coming to an end.  We – I mean people in general – let’s say ‘society’, we’re driven by goals and deadlines in general, aren’t we?

You MUST buy the best presents for friends and family, even if it financially cripples you.

You MUST have the best Christmas dinner and have as much fun as possible.

You MUST partake in the sales that start the very next day after Christmas.

You MUST have the perfect attire and be in the perfect place and have so much fun for New Year’s Eve.

You MUST have some resolutions for the new year.

One of the new year’s resolutions must be about losing weight – whether that involves eating better, exercising more etc, etc, etc!

I want to offer an alternative view.  I don’t want to sound preachy – forgive me if I do, but come on, we know that life isn’t about money, presents, socialising and losing weight.  There is so much more to life…so much more…

Here’s what I think…

  1. Value the people who love you love a bit more.  I don’t necessarily mean your spouse, or your girlfriend or boyfriend  – no. I mean the annoying people that gave birth to you, who tell you what to do constantly, who tell you how to live your life, constantly offering unwanted advice, passing judgement.  Those people who love you unconditionally…..your parents.  Spend a bit of time with them.   They won’t be around forever.  Take their calls more frequently.  Answer their texts.  Go to dinner when they invite you.  Eat the food that they cook for you.  Savour those tastes and smells.  They won’t be around forever.  You see, the problem is – no matter how much they annoy you with their ‘I’m just checking up on you’ calls, texts, messages etc – no one else in the world will care for you in the way that they do.  No one else will tolerate your tantrums and frustrations and outbursts like they will.  No one else will forgive you and give as many chances as they do.  Once they’re gone, they’re gone.  So – spend time with them.  Make time for them.  You will only have regrets if you don’t.

2)  Stop hating yourself.  Yes, strive for self-improvement, there’s nothing wrong with that.  But stop hating your body, hating the way you look, hating things about yourself.  Love yourself.  Spend time doing things that you love, with people that you love.  Focus on that.  Yes – stop yourself from bingeing – you love yourself too much for that; yes – don’t sleep with every Tom, Dick or Harry that gives you a bit of attention – you love yourself wayyyy too much for that; yes – exercise because you love the way you feel afterwards – you love yourself – that’s why the aches and pains are worth it.  But don’t do things out of hatred for who you are and what you look like.  Love yourself.

3)  Detox – by this I mean, get rid of those people who are toxic and create too much drama in your life.  Those people who put pressure on you to dress, act, speak or even think in a way that doesn’t sit well with you.  We have approximately 7.6 billion people on planet Earth right now.  You don’t have to be a people pleaser.  You don’t have to have anyone in your life that you don’t want.  And yes, that might mean that you are lonely for a period of time.  But surely it’s better to be lonely alone – instead of lonely with a group of people who are just bad for you?

4) Finally – dream.  Find one place that you want to go to. One dish that you want to cook.  One experience that you wish you had, but haven’t done yet.  Write that dream down.  Think about how you will make that dream come true.  Make it come true.

Life isn’t about money.  It’s about who you are.  Your experiences.  Who you surround yourself with – and having no regrets.  No one will care that you were a size 8.  No one will care which clique you were a part of.  No one will care how much money you spent on shoes.

What people will remember is – how much you smiled; how they felt when you were around; how much they enjoyed being in your company; what they learnt from you.

And if you have to make a resolution – promise yourself that you will love yourself; and forgive yourself when you do things wrong; and that you will try to make amends to make things right.

Don’t spend money unnecessarily; don’t put yourself under pressure to do things that make you unhappy – be brave and say no!

As always – the universe has got you baby.  Remember that!