words by nerissa

…observations, thoughts and questions

Archive for the month “September, 2013”

Lessons from a blue cup

My daughter is one of the most kind and thoughtful people I know. She’s only 8 but she is quite a sensitive, caring little soul.IMG_2065

She’s always writing me notes, drawing me pictures, giving me hugs and telling me she loves me. She’s been like that ever since I can remember.

During her first year of school, she cried every day for three months. It was heart-wrenching leaving her every morning, knowing she was so sad. Later that year, some of her classmates started crying as they began to miss their mums. She said to me: “You know, I’m sort of glad that I cried so much, because I know how they feel, and I know how to help them.”

Always looking for the best in a situation.

One thing she loves to do is pick flowers. This is something she has done since she was old enough to walk around by herself. Always picking flowers. Sometimes it was the one hyacinth that I had grown painstakingly in a pot — bulb and all. Other times it was just the flower-part of our camellia tree (not quite sure how to put that in water!). Other times, she’d scoop up all the petals under our peach and almond trees and put them on the kitchen bench because it ‘looked pretty’.

I have long given up on telling her not to pick the flowers in my garden. After all, they are there to be enjoyed.

Over the weekend she ventured out into the beautiful spring day and went picking again. After some time, she came in with this bouquet of gorgeous colours — and very short stems!

“Oh, they are gorgeous!” I exclaimed. “Thank you so much!”

“I picked them for you because I love you and I know you love flowers,” she said. “I’ll just put them in a cup.”

So off she went to the cupboard and pulled out a blue plastic cup. She filled it with water and plonked the flowers in it.

“Do you like them?” she asked.

“I love them,” I said.

Upon closer look, I found all kinds of flowers among them. Flowers from various trees, lavender, snow drops, daffodils, camellias, nasturtiums, some forget-me-nots and a few weeds.

But to her they weren’t weeds. They were vibrant, yellow flowers, perfectly complementing the arrangement she had made. And it did look beautiful.

It made me think how often we overlook beauty simply by its definition. To my daughter, the weeds were not ugly. I don’t think she even realised they were weeds. She saw their colour, their beauty and their uniqueness, and included them in my bunch of flowers.

The blue plastic cup was also a unique choice to place my flowers in. She chose it because it matched the blue flowers she had picked.

See. Thoughtful, giving and seeing only beauty and potential.

When she left the room I had a closer look at the flowers in my cup. I looked past what is deemed to be ugly and ‘not quite right’, and saw the weeds for what they were — pretty, unique and a part of life.

What about you? Can you see past labels and definitions to find the real beauty and potential that lies waiting to be discovered?

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My secret fantasies…

Fifty Shades of Grey has a lot to answer for.ultimate fantasy vacation

Firstly, let me preface by saying that this type of book does not appeal to me. However, given that it was the most talked-about book last year, I felt the need to see what the big attraction was. Being a writer means that sometimes you just have to read what is current. A bit like journalists needing to stay up-to-date with current affairs, even if the subject matter isn’t really their thing.

So I read Fifty Shades.

Let’s just say that it was time I will never get back. Poor storyline (yes, I know the storyline was not really a focus in these books!), poorly written, cardboard characters and over-rated. Pretty appalling really. The author may sell a lot of copies, but she certainly won’t be winning any literary awards for her work.

Along with the fact that it is a poorly written book, it has given our men-folk the wrong idea about what women want. Most mums I talk to do not have fantasies similar to those in Fifty Shades. Call us boring or old-fashioned, but what most of us would like is some time on our own without any responsibility!

Two weeks of school holidays start next week. But if your place is like mine, the concept of a ‘holiday’ seems to get lost. There has been a lot of talk about the various activities my children want to do — all of which involve spending lots of money and driving kids around.

But what if a holiday was all about you? You didn’t have to consider anyone else’s needs, wants or desires — only your own?

That’s the kind of fantasy I’ve been indulging in. And after a little bit of research (the kind that involves chats to other mums over coffee or wine), here are the kinds of holidays that I think most mums would be happy to have.

The Relaxing Rest

Picture a well-appointed home on an isolated cliff somewhere overlooking the sea. Or maybe it’s a secluded island with crystal clear water. Relaxing afternoons ambling over rocks, swimming or walking through the countryside. Days spent wandering through quaint little towns, looking for gourmet delights for dinner. Sitting in front of a fire at night with a book and a bottle of red and some good-quality chocolate. And then tumbling into bed with lots of soft pillows, warm cosy quilts and the whole bed to yourself.

My school holiday reality: I may get the odd hour or two to read my book — in between operating a taxi service.

Gastronomical Greed

If you are like me, you enjoy your food. And this type of holiday is the one to take someone else who appreciates their food. So Jenny, my partner in crime — this is for us! Let me preface by saying that this is a fantasy holiday, which means we won’t get fat, nor will we feel sick at any time during this trip!

This holiday will involve lots and lots of eating — all of it prepared and cleaned up by someone else. Just a few of the places that come to mind include a cooking course in Tuscany, chocolate tastings, spending a weekend following some of Victoria’s wonderful food trails, having a private foodie walking tour, eating at hatted restaurants and wineries and just enjoying some fabulous company and great food. Oh, and the odd bottle of wine!

My school holiday reality: My husband will suggest we use our free pizza voucher – despite the fact it will make me feel sick.

Adventurous Activity

I’m not a hard-core thrill seeking person, so a holiday involving bungy jumping or parachuting is not on my list of fantasies. However, a walking holiday would be great. There are a few around, but my ideal is to walk from place to place, savouring the sights, while someone else carries all your baggage, and you end up in 5-star accommodation at night with 5-star meals along the way. What a great way to adventure! I would even be prepared to take the rest of the family on this one, as long as they pestered someone else for food when they got hungry.

My school holiday reality: A quick walk around the block before coming home to cook dinner for the troops!

Stylist Spending Spree

What girl doesn’t like to shop? But the problem is usually not enough money or we don’t know what to buy. Well, this fantasy has it all — a personal stylist, private jet (to take us to places like New York, Paris, and London), and a bank account that never runs out. Hey, I’ll even throw in the personal assistant to carry all your bags and then clean out the old stuff from your wardrobe when you get home. However, this fantasy will take time, so you’ll have to invest a week or two away from home. Are you in?

My school holiday reality: No new clothes for me, but I’m sure the Build-a-Bears will be getting new outfits!

Historical Hiatus

How wonderful would it be to wander about at your leisure and look at old buildings or civilisations and imagine how life was like. This trip is not really about focussing on dates and events, but taking the time to understand lifestyles, and personal stories of people who are no longer with us. Think Pyramids, Stonehenge, Machu Pichu, Petra, Great Wall of China and even Anzac Cove. Once again this would require time and money, but this is a fantasy, so anything is possible! And the children are welcome on this one. It’s so much better to show them history than teach it.

My school holiday reality: A discussion on what I used to do in school holidays, seeing as we didn’t have electronic games back then!

Rejuvenating Retreat

Ah yes! Time on your own to rejuvenate. Spa treatments, massage, meditation, gentle exercise, lots of healthy food, and plenty of rest, sleep and reading. Of course, as this is supposed to be a retreat, there will be no housework of any kind, or taxiing kids around to various holiday activities, cooking, refereeing arguments or laundry. All meals (which you can personally order) will be brought to you. No children or husbands allowed. Interested?

My school holiday reality: If I’m lucky, I might be able to have a bath without someone coming it to clean their teeth, ask where something is, or to complain about their sibling.

So there you are girls — a list of fantasies to think upon, while you get busy these school holidays.

And for you men-folk — a few ideas on what we would REALLY like to do.

The truth about comfort zones

take at least one - chance

I’m sure all Harry Potter fans will remember when Harry stumbles upon the Mirror of Erised.

For the one or two of you who haven’t read “Harry Potter” (or at least seen the films), the Mirror of Erised (Desire spelt backwards), shows the person who is looking into it nothing more or less than the deepest, most desperate desire of their hearts.

Of course, for young Harry, who had never known his parents, he sees them standing around him. Ronald Weasley, always overshadowed by his brothers, sees himself standing alone, better than the rest of them — Head Boy and Quidditch captain, as well as holding both the House Cup and Quidditch Cup — and looking GOOD!

But as Dumbledore reminds Harry: “The happiest man on earth would be able to use the Mirror of Erised like a normal mirror, that is, he would look into it and see himself exactly as he is.” (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone)

What would you see, if you could look into the Mirror of Erised?

I’m sure very few of you would see yourself EXACTLY as you are.

Maybe you’d like to be taller? Perhaps have straight hair? Any hair!!? Maybe a little less round. Some of you might like to have more money in the bank. Some may see a version of themselves bursting with vitality. Perhaps more education under your belt. Some of you may be in an exotic location. Or perhaps married with a brood of children.

Whatever the case, very few people in the world would see themselves EXACTLY as they are.

Some of you know, I have been making some significant changes in my life over the past 12 months. Notably:

Fitness — Instead of trying on losing ‘weight’, I have been focussing on building muscle, losing fat and changing my body composition. This can be very difficult at times (particularly during some of my training sessions), but this is a choice that I have made.

Work — I have recently started a freelance writing business. Yes, certain things acted as a catalyst for that decision, but once again, it was a choice to go out on my own.

Eating — Earlier this year (after months of investigation) I was diagnosed as wheat and fructose intolerant. That means that if I want to feel well, energetic and healthy, then I need to limit or cut out certain foods in my diet. Once again, certain factors have contributed to this, but it is a choice of mine to feel well.

All of these changes have involved me doing things that I have found uncomfortable. Some have been exciting changes, others pretty scary, and some unpleasant! Some have also been extremely difficult and have been made over a long period of time, with some hard lessons learned. However, by doing things that I was initially uncomfortable with, I have achieved some great things. I am also closer to achieving some of my other goals, and overall, in a happier, healthier place.

The other good news is that the ‘uncomfortable’ has become ‘comfortable’.

Now you may be thinking you couldn’t possibly move out of your comfort zone, to make the changes you want.

What if I told you there was no such thing as a comfort zone? It doesn’t actually exist.

Think back to your mirror. What is it you see? If you can’t see yourself EXACTLY as you are now, then you are already uncomfortable.

Yesterday, I was feeling a bit out of sorts. I happened to walk past Baker’s Delight. Mmmm mmmm. Even to someone who is wheat intolerant, it still looks and smells very appealing. The thought even popped into my head: “How nice would it be to get a fresh, soft bun and take it home to have with my cup of tea?” It was quite a comforting thought.

But then I realised that eating a bun was not really going to make me feel comfortable. Within 20 minutes, I’d feel bloated, sick and I’d have a stomach ache for the rest of the day. Not to mention that the food wasn’t going to help me reach the goals that I had set myself, and I’d have a terrible case of guilt and regret.

It dawned on me that the past way of behaving wasn’t going to make me feel comfortable.

I realised that if I’m working towards certain goals, then there is a level of ‘uncomfortableness’ about my present.

I also realised, that to achieve my goals, I’ll have to continue do things that are uncomfortable.

So, past, present and future — all uncomfortable for one reason or another.

Which means — NO COMFORT ZONE!

Just varying degrees of discomfort.

So the question is not whether you are prepared to move out of your comfort zone; it is: If you are going to feel uncomfortable anyway, then why not do the things that will bring you closer to your dreams?

So that’s what I am trying to do —  embracing all those things that will take me closer to my goals — no matter how uncomfortable they may be.

And knowing there is no real comfort zone anywhere, makes it a little easier to step out into the unfamiliar.

How about you? Are you making the most of being uncomfortable?

Take a look at yourself

During our life, we are often pigeon-holed.

Kids in the playground tell us we are not good at this, can’t ever do that. Other people make comments about our weight, our height, our nose. People put us down for our beliefs, our cultural backgrounds or simply because we live in a certain place.

But the saddest thing is that long after these words have been said, we are keeping up the conversation with ourselves. Telling ourselves we can’t do this, we don’t have that, we’re not smart enough, or confident enough, or rich enough…..or whatever.

This week I saw a video that I saw a few years ago. It’s by a remarkable and inspiring Australian called Nick Vuijicic. Some of you may have seen his story. He was born without arms or legs. Yet he has achieved more than what most of us would even dare dream.

Why? Because he is grateful. Grateful for what he does have. Grateful for what he can do.

And boy, can he do a lot!

He also has an unshakeable belief in the power of God.

In this video he states: “It’s a lie to think that you’re not good enough. It’s a lie to think that you’re not worth anything”.

In this very consumer-driven, materialistic world, it is easy to think the opposite. Advertisers tell us we need the latest car to look cool, or a certain brand of shoes to be popular, or to style our hair a certain way, or we’ll be ‘out of the loop’.

It’s lies. All lies.

As a Christian, I believe that we are all created by God. We are all created differently. We have different gifts (talents or skills, if you like). We all look different. We sound different. We live in different places. We believe different things. All of us are different. Different is not bad. Being different is not wrong.

We were created by a God who does not make mistakes. You are the way you are, for a reason. So to think that there is something wrong with you is a lie.

As a parent, I am teaching my children to know how very special and individual they are. That they have real gifts and treasures, bestowed upon them by God, and He wants them to use them and shine in this world — not to be like everyone else. That they are good enough as they are. They don’t need to impress anyone else or be like anyone else. The only thing they have to be is who they are meant to be.

So my challenge to you is to watch the video below — it will only take 4 minutes — and look inside you, to see what you can bring to this world. What can you do? What do you have that can make a difference?

Take a look at yourself.

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words by nerissa

...observations, thoughts and questions