The winds of change and 6 Lessons to learn about embracing change

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Change freaks me out! probably even more than speaking in public. Don’t ask me why because I will not know how to answer you. Just in the last two (going on three) years I’ve had to deal with so much drastic change in my life and for someone who gets freaked out by ONE change, it has caused major upheaval in my life.

 

Just to give you an idea of what I’m talking about so you know I’m not exaggerating and so you know I’m not being a “drama queen”.

 

  • Mom’s sudden terminal illness (last quarter of 2013) – me becoming primary caregiver while holding down a full time job and other challenges like studying part time at the same time
  • Mom’s sudden death (in spite of terminal illness we did not expect death within 14 months from date of diagnosis)
  • Dad died three months after mom
  • Loss of job (and income) after 13 years of employment (contract ended)
  • Loss of sister and her family (chose to travel to see the world beyond our borders)
  • Adjusting to a new lifestyle
  • Adjusting to the possibility of a new friendship/relationship after more than 30 years (huge change for an introvert like me)

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Change, whether good or bad causes stress. The events above are not necessarily similar, but they all require major adjustment in how I conduct my daily life. These adjustments cause stress even when they are positive. On the other hand, negative changes can yield positive results. You never know what you are going to get and that is what scares the hell out of me.

 

Why do I find change so difficult to adapt to is a question I keep asking myself. While growing up so much happened to me that I had no control over and which is probably when I decided to control that which I could to the best of my ability.

 

Over the years, I slowly defined how my world was going to work and that is, I will control those aspects of my life which I could physically control and whenever something happens in my personal world or to me personally that is inconsistent with the way I feel my world should be, I encounter resistance to the change. This is when I immediately and automatically (without thinking about it) put up a wall of resistance to protect myself against the change.

 

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Adjusting to a new lifestyle:

So what does this have to do with me adopting and adjusting to a new lifestyle? Well, I’m asking myself the following questions:

  • Where will this new road take me?
  • How long will it take for me to make the necessary changes and adjustments in my life to cope with the change?
  • Is my new path dangerous?
  • What I don’t know scares me to death and change creates a lot of uncertainty in the process – am I ready for this?

When we experience the world ourselves in a certain way for half a century, we develop core beliefs that make up our world view of how life is supposed to be.

 

We seek out people like us to avoid change: Because new information bothers our brains, we continue to seek friends where we always found them in the past to reinforce our beliefs in spite of knowing that those friendships are no longer satisfying or fulfilling. We try to stick to what we know even though it is or was never satisfying or fulfilling.

 

We hate to feel like we wasted our time and effort: When we invest ourselves in anything emotionally, it becomes harder to change because we don’t want to lose all the time and effort we have already invested in something. As a result, we have a hard time letting go of the “old life” and we become reluctant to embrace the new life even though we know the old life never worked or satisfied us in the past.

 

 

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So, what should I do to cope with all these changes in my life?

 

  1. Accept the inevitability of change and the resulting stress: I have to learn that stress is an inevitable part of the process. Changing the way I think and feel is meant to be hard, but it will get even harder if I don’t make the necessary adjustments now. I need to give myself permission to feel the change-related distress and all of the associated emotions that come with it. If I don’t process them, I will have to isolate myself from all things that represent the “distressing” change, just to be able to function.

 

  1. I need to allow myself to freak out, but should always consider the upside: I should give myself permission to freak out in my own time and then find ways to move forward positively. The psychological distress caused by some changes can make having an optimistic outlook feel like an impossible task. That’s okay. I need to do all the kicking and screaming (resisting) I need to do, then start to seek out ways to make my new lifestyle choice more acceptable to my old way of thinking.

 

The only way my fears and stress will disappear is if I calm down and embrace the unknown.

 

As much as I resisted each of the changes in my life, I’ve since learned to embrace the impermanency of my life and the changes that come my way. Here are 6 lessons life has taught me on embracing change:

 

Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart.

Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.” – Carl Jung

 

  1. Reduce expectations: In each of my life’s circumstances, I had high expectations for my family and myself. I had expected each to remain constant and to last forever, but I’ve learned that nothing lasts forever. You can have reasonable expectations of how you’d like something to turn out, but you cannot marry yourself to that result. Reducing or having no expectations about a relationship, or a situation can help you accept whatever may come from it. When you set reasonable expectations, and don’t expect or demand a particular outcome, you’re better able to manage any changes that do come your way. Unreasonable expectations of life, will more likely be met with loss, disappointment and pain.

 

“Those with little expectations in life are seldom disappointed”

 

  1. Acknowledge change: Change can happen quickly and at any point in your life. I learned this very quickly when my mom went from being healthy as a horse to dead in 14 months. I was forced to instantly realise that change can happen in the blink of an eye. I was still trying to deal with the fact that my mother who was never sick a day in her life was now suddenly terminally ill and before I even came to terms with that fact, she was dead. Today I still sometimes sit and wonder “what the hell happened?” I was forced to realise that things can and will be different from how they are at any given moment. Acknowledging change is allowing it to happen when it unfolds instead of approaching change from a place of denial and resistance.

 

  1. Accepting change: There were times when I desperately tried to stop change from happening in my life by trying to forge ahead even in futile situations. Instead of resisting, I should allow change to unfold and try to understand what is transforming and why. Circumstances will not always turn out the way you want them to, and it’s perfectly alright. Embracing the situation can help you deal with the change effectively, make the necessary shifts in your life to embrace the change, and help you move forward after the change has happened.

 

 

Bright flowers

 

  1. Learn from the experience: If you accept and embrace change, you will start looking for and finding lessons in it. When dramatic changes were happening in my life, I refused to acknowledge them at first, which left me distraught and without meaning. Once I reflected back and finally accepted the changes, the lessons I started absorbing were profound. Change becomes your greatest teacher but only if you give yourself permission to learn from it.

 

  1. Recognise you’re growing stronger: When you accept, embrace and learn from change, you inevitably grow stronger. The ability to continuously accept change allows you to become solid as a rock in the midst of violent storms all around you – even if you feel afraid.

The main lesson I learned from my mom’s sudden illness and sudden death was that I’m a lot stronger than everybody believed I was (even stronger than I thought I was myself). This was when I saw for myself that I can truly deal with anything life throws my way and I’m stronger for it in the end.

 

  1. Embrace the wisdom: The more I permitted change and impermanence in my life, the more I grew as a person. Embracing change has brought newfound strength into my life and more inner peace. When you proactively embrace change and learn to accept it as part of your life, you are filled with more calmness, peace and courage. When life fails to shake you up with its twists and turns, you realise that changes can’t break you. You will have reached a level of understanding in life that some may even call wisdom.

 

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I have by no means reached that place called “wisdom”, but I am working through my aversions to change. I now openly welcome and embrace it.

 

When we can accept change, learn from it, and become all the better for experiencing it, change is no longer our enemy, it becomes our teacher.

 

Source: http://tinybuddha.com/blog/6-life-lessons-on-embracing-change-and-impermanence/

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How we see ourselves comes from our attitude

Kintsukuroi_Ring the bells

BEHIND EVERY SCAR THERE IS A STORY . . .

Have you heard about the Japanese art form called Kintsukuroi which means to “repair with gold”. When a ceramic pot or bowl breaks or cracks, it is put together again using gold or silver to create something stronger and more beautiful than it was before.

It doesn’t hide or cover up the damage, it embraces the crack and acknowledges the history of the object while celebrating its imperfections and flaws. It is the art of understanding that the object is stronger and more beautiful because it has been broken. Instead of trying to hide the damage, Kintsukuroi illuminates it. This is done because mending is an art, because you understand there is beauty in the broken places because behind every scar is a story. We are made of stories.

Many of us at some point find ourselves traumatised or victimized, broken at some point. We got into the wrong car, or trusted the wrong person. We lost someone important, we were born into the wrong family. However it happened, we tasted brokenness at some point, and what you learn there you cannot unlearn. That knowledge becomes part of you. It’s a question of how you carry it – or allow it to carry you.

Trauma is sometimes described as the stuff you leave out of a story. You can’t speak it. You can’t even look at it. You exile it into the darkest edges of your life – but that’s exactly where it grows a story all of its own, a secret and festering history that pulls you off course and divides you inside yourself.

Kintsukuroi

It’s only when you find the strength – and a safe inner space – to process those experiences, and weave them into your daylight life narrative, that you gain any real power over them. You put stories to the scars. What kind of stories you tell is up to you. You can’t change the past, and you can’t change the facts – but story is the stuff you put around the facts in order to relate them and charge them with meaning.

How we see things comes from attitude. I can choose to feel sad that my body is covered in scars, that it is broken and damaged, or I can think of myself like Kintsukoroi – I have been repaired with something precious and I’m more beautiful for it.

Kintsukuroi artisans mend the cracks with gold: gold suggests luminosity, the energy of consciousness itself. When we mend, we make meaning from the raw materials of our lives and create ourselves in lines of illumination that show where the stories are.

We take our wounds and turn them into light. That is the healing . . . and the art.

Just remember – no matter what anyone tells you . . . YOU ARE ENOUGH!

Hope is a choice

How you look bears no relevance to the type of person you are
• All good things that happen in life do not come from how you look, but from how you are
• Kindness, loyalty, caring, passion, silliness, excitement, hard work and fun are the things people love about you – they don’t care what size dress you wear
• The most wonderful power is that of self-love and when you are loving and accepting of your body, it feels pretty good
• When you feel confident and happy, it stops other people being able to hurt you
• Even though the whole world has an opinion about your body, the only opinion that matters is your own opinion, so stop worrying about what other people think of you and work on feeling the best you can about yourself.
• In years to come you will probably be a few sizes bigger than you were when you were a teenager but you will be happier, more confident and you will watch the surprise on your face when you realise this is completely true.
• Enjoy your body a lot more and stop wasting so much time worrying about how you look
• Celebrate your healthy body, enjoy that you are well and strong because you don’t know what the future holds in terms of your health
• Our bodies are a miracle and the only one we have, so we need to look after it, be respectful of it, love it.
• Your body belongs to YOU, not anyone else. You’re not as fat as you think you are and it doesn’t matter even if you ARE fat.
• Throughout our lives we worry that our peers are judging us when actually we are so busy thinking about ourselves that we rarely care what anyone else looks like. In reality people don’t care! They are thinking about their own life and their own issues.
• Wear whatever you want, whether it is “in fashion”, “suits you”, “is appropriate” or not, because in years to come you will look back on that favourite outfit with fond memories.
• Those who are very tall . . . STOP SLOUCHING!! Your height is awesome and galumphing giraffes are just as beautiful as petite sparrows.
• Be more confident in your body and be less self-conscious and stop comparing yourself to those photo-shopped celebs in magazines because they are not real.
• Stop buying stupid women’s magazines

Care less about others’ opinions, love yourself more and celebrate your uniqueness!

I also wrote this:

Being in the “don’t know” stage of life

2 orange butterflies on green plant

Has there ever been a time in your life when you have found yourself living in the “don’t know”? I am in that place right now.

This time in our lives is usually experienced when we have had significant loss in our lives where we have had to release something we strongly identified with – a relationship, a job, an image, beliefs or a way of being.

Those who follow and read my blogs regularly will know that I recently went through the traumatic experience of nursing my mom for the last fourteen months of her life until she died. I was a survivor of two traumatic motor vehicle accidents while still in the mourning/grieving process and I have recently left a job I’ve had for the last thirteen years.

I now find myself in the “don’t know” stage of my life.

Holding onto the old and what’s known can create hurt and frustration but being in the “don’t know” brings its own discomfort but it can also hold the vessel to new GROWTH.

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As we release the old and allow ourselves to be in the “don’t know” – don’t know when, don’t know how, don’t quite know what or with whom, something magical can happen – we open ourselves to the alchemy of our soul’s growth. We enter a portal of change in our soul’s journey that calls us to acknowledge a design and intelligence far greater than our own.

Being receptive to our own “don’t know” calls for courage, patience, curiosity and trust. We need to call on the support of those that love and support us and, of course, the loving wisdom of our heavenly Father.

Photographs by:

Does he love, I want to know?

Candlelight

You can close your eyes to the things you don’t want to see,
But you can’t close your heart to the things you don’t want to feel.
– Johnny Depp

Ever since I can remember, I have been fascinated by human behaviour i.e. why people do what they do. As an only child (until my sister came along fourteen years later), I was raised to be one of those children who were “seen and not heard”. I was the child who had to play quietly in the corner until I was spoken to and then only speak when spoken to. This was the time when I would sit and observe those around me trying to make sense of what was going on inside their heads, trying to understand why they did or said certain things.

As an adult, this fascination with human behaviour continued. I can sit in a public place for hours just observing people. In my adulthood (in the last two years), I have allowed myself to be part of certain “risky” situations – not because I’m stupid or gullible, but to see how far people will go to get the upper hand (or scam) another individual.

In the last few weeks, I have been thinking particularly about online scammers – specifically those who target w¬omen with a promise of attaining something of great personal value (like a romantic relationship).

Life_Hand releasing butterfly

Social Media and your online presence:
Have you thought about how safe or risky your online profiles might be? Maybe you are on Facebook, Instagram, Google+, online dating site or some other form of social media. Have you viewed your profile data critically as an outsider would see it? I only recently changed my relationship status on Facebook because I suddenly realised that my honesty could actually get me into a lot of trouble (I was an open target for scammers without realising it).

Facebook Privacy Tips:

The vulnerable are open targets:
For example: if your relationship status says “single”, online scammers could target you as someone “looking for love”. If your relationship status says “widow” or “widower” the scammer sees you as someone who has recently inherited loads of money making you an open target for a money scam or maybe even a romantic relationship scam. People with disabilities are also open targets because the scammer assumes you are receiving a disability grant which they could try to swindle you out of.

Telling a scammer you are unemployed does not get you sympathy, instead the scammer thinks “huge pension pay-out”, “long service award” etc. Recently lost a parent or both parents? The scammer thinks “inheritance”.

Scammers set up profiles of themselves pretending to also be widowed, divorced, lost a parent(s)/sibling etc to gain the trust of their potential victim. Due to the anonymity of the internet, you cannot be sure of the real name, age, marital status, nationality or even gender of the person. Most times the scammer turns out to be a fake persona created solely for the purpose of luring you to send money. They create male and female personas and entice the same sex as well as opposite sex. When conversations move quickly to expressions of romantic interest or discussion of intimate matters, you are usually dealing with a scammer. Naturally, a request for money is a sure sign of a scam.

Online scammers are very sneaky – especially those who promise a romantic relationship. They ask very innocent questions like “what did you do today?” Looking for signs that you have a job, have enough money not to work etc. “Do you use public transport?” another innocent question but if you say “I have my own car” will give an indication that you are of reasonable financial means. By asking various “innocent” questions, the scammer is actually building a profile of you and will share certain personal details about himself (usually a made up story) to gauge how sympathetic you will be to whatever story he is going to use to scam you. Scammers are usually also emotionally manipulative. They know just how to play with your mind and your emotions to get your sympathy. Their ego is easily bruised leaving you feeling like you’ve not been sympathetic enough/have not cared enough etc.

Door opening with butterfly border

Romantic Scams:
These usually start through meeting online (dating website, e-mail chat room (like WeChat, Google Hangouts), Facebook etc). The pick-up line is usually something like: “I like your profile picture and would like to get to know you better” or “I like your profile picture and would like us to be friends” or something along these lines. Once you respond to the initial pick up line, they will quickly try to move the conversation to an Instant Messaging system like Google Hangouts or WhatsApp very quickly so they can continue the conversation with you without others in your circles picking up on the scam.

The scammer would then claim to be a native born citizen of a particular country (e.g. US Citizen currently working in the UK, Afghanistan or some war torn country), but has a thick accent and/or uses grammar indicating that they are not a native English speaker. The grammatical errors can also be picked up in e-mails and text messages.

After communicating with you for a few weeks (while secretly and very seductively getting personal information out of you), they suddenly proclaim their undying love for you and have this urgent need to meet you face-to-face because they simply cannot imagine living another day without you. They will even go as far as expressing an interest in marrying you. They then take another few days or weeks building up the anticipation of meeting face-to-face waiting for your response to see how eager you are for this face-to-face encounter to take place. The more eager you are to meet them, the easier it will be for them to scam you.

Waterfall

Scammers usually have the worst luck imaginable (car/plane crashes, they get arrested, mugged, beaten or even hospitalised for some very serious or critical illness or injury). Sometimes the scammer will even claim to have an accompanying child overseas who is very sick or who has been in an accident and needs urgent medical attention. The money requested will usually be for hospital bills, Visa fees or legal expenses or for a close family member (usually a child or teenager who needs urgent medical treatment or surgery). You may even be contacted by a “doctor” requesting money to be sent on behalf of a patient.
This doctor, Lawyer or Police Officer is likely to be part of the scam.

The scammers “bad luck” will usually happen when they are on the way to the airport to fly out to meet you. They like to build the anticipation of their victims (“honey, I’m rushing to the airport now for my flight which leaves at XYZ”). Once you are excited about the chance to finally meet them in person, that’s when something critical happens to prevent them from making the trip. (“honey, I’m sorry I can’t make it because . . . “). They count on your excitement to finally meet them as an extra incentive to send money to help them out of their predicament. As soon as you send money, however, another situation occurs, which requires you to send more money (“honey, you will not believe what just happened . . .”).

The scammer will ask for a certain amount of money in a particular currency to get out of the so-called “bad” situation. You need to be aware, however, that because scammers prey on your good intentions, some of them will not actually ASK you for money. They will rather share their heart-breaking story with you in the hopes that you will willingly send money to help them. When you don’t offer, that’s when they will ask.

The scammer will usually claim that he has no choice but to ask you for help because you are the only one who can help (seeing as he is in a foreign country). The scammer will claim that the Embassy or Consulate office would not or could not help. Most likely, they have never tried to get help from the Embassy or Consulate office because they are not actually citizens of the country they claim to be from.

Scammers will usually not give you banking details to transfer money into. They will request that you send a Moneygram (through Money Gram International or Western Union) and the “excuse” is usually because paying money into an account takes days to clear whereas a Money Gram is accessible within ten minutes of the deposit being made. People in the USA and UK can process Moneygrams online using their credit cards whereas in South Africa, you have to physically go to your bank or Money Gram Agent to process the transaction.

Photo by: Tami Magnin @rumtumtiggs

Photo by: Tami Magnin @rumtumtiggs

All you need for a Money Gram is the receivers full name, city and country they will be collecting the money in. Your bank or Money Gram Agent will give you a reference number which you need to give to the recipient. The recipient of the Money Gram then needs to provide proof of identity, the reference number and answer a security question and they are able to draw they money immediately.

Some scammers will even send you a copy of their passport to “prove” to you that they are, indeed, a citizen of the country they claim to be coming from. This copy of the passport will look computerised and will include an attractive photograph that looks like it was taken by a professional photographer. This is not a typical passport photo.

How to protect yourself:
• A request for money is usually a sure sign of a scam. Never send money to someone you have not met face-to-face without verifying their identity, and be wary of sending Money Grams to people you have never met before.
• Telephone numbers starting with +4470 are usually scams from Nigeria and +233 are usually scams from Ghana.
• Anybody who quickly moves to expressions of romantic interest or discussion of intimate matters within a few weeks, are usually scammers. Ask the person “how can you be in love with me after only talking to me for X amount of time and without ever meeting me?” and be very wary of their answer.
• Do not disclose personal information over the phone or online – even in your profile on social networking sites. For example: have a look at your marital status, sharing too much information about your “wheels” or your house. Scammers thrive on information like this. Having your own house or car indicates a certain level of prosperity.
• Refer all individuals who claim to be in distress to their local Embassy or Consulate. Assisting citizens overseas is the Embassy or Consulate’s top priority. All citizens will be assisted – no one will be turned away. Consulate offices are available 24/7 for emergencies.
• Contact the State Department’s Office of Overseas Citizens to verify whether the situation is legitimate or a scam.
• A citizen with legitimate emergency financial needs overseas should contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate office for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate will contact family or friends on the citizen’s behalf and under certain conditions will provide a loan.
DO NOT SEND MONEY TO PERSONS YOU DON’T KNOW, WHO CALL YOU FROM ABROAD, ASKING FOR MONEY!

Laptop 2 Skin

Military Romance Scams:
Be aware of the fact that Military Romance Scams are very prevalent worldwide, where you have individuals claiming to be soldiers in the United States Army (for example), using pictures of real soldiers which they have stolen off the internet for the sole purposes of scamming you out of your hard earned money.

For example: General Mark A Welsh III (Airforce Chief of Staff) has been the victim of Identity Theft and photographs of the General are being used by many scam artists under various names on social media platforms and online dating sites.

Read more here:
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III

FAKE-ACCOUNTS WITH STOLEN IMAGES FROM GEN. MARK A. WELSH III PART I

2) More fake accounts with stolen images from General Mark A Welsh III:

Always remember: Real soldiers DON’T NEED:
• A satellite phone, calling card or permission to call
• Access to your bank account
• Money shipped by Western Union or Money Gram
• Permission from a fiancé to go on leave or retire
• An “agent” to ship a box
• Anyone to pay for medical expenses (for themselves or their family)
• Money for food
• Anyone to pay for a plane ticket to go home or on leave

Also read: Military Romance Scams (Facebook Group)

NEED MORE INFORMATION?
For information on financial scams, please contact the Office of Overseas Citizens Services at 1-888-407-4747

If you feel you’ve been a victim of an internet scam, please send all reports of internet fraud directly to the Internet Crime Complaints Centre (IC3): default.aspx
A partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Centre was established to receive internet related criminal complaints and to research, develop and refer complaints to federal, state, local or international law enforcement if appropriate.

For more information:
International Financial Scams:
Male Scammers:

Be thankful for the bad things in life,
for they opened your eyes to the good things
you weren’t paying attention to before!

Reflections on a year that’s passed . . .

New Year 2016

The soul always knows what to do to heal itself.
The challenge is to silence the mind.

The new year . . . a time for introspection and re-evaluating our priorities in life.

I’ve learned a lot this year . . . I’ve learned that:

• Things don’t always turn out the way you planned, or the way you think they should
• Things that go wrong, don’t always get fixed or get put back together the way they were before
• Some broken things stay broken
• You can go through bad times and keep looking for better ones, as long as you have people who love you
• Do not expect anything in return, do not expect your efforts to be appreciated, your genius to be discovered or your love to be understood
• I need to stop turning on my emotional television to watch the same programme over and over again, the one that shows how much I have suffered from a certain loss: this only poisons you – nothing else
• Nothing is more dangerous than accepting love relationships that are broken off, work that is promised but there is no starting date, decisions that are always put off waiting for the “ideal moment”
• Before a new chapter is begun, the old one has to be finished: I need to tell myself that what has passed will never come back
• I need to remember the time when I could live without that one thing or that one person – nothing is irreplaceable, a habit is not a need
• I need to remember to close cycles – not because of pride, incapacity or arrogance but simply because it no longer fits my life. I need to shut the door, change the record, clean the house, shake off the dust. I need to stop being who I was, and change into who I am.

Change is a process

As 2015 draws to a close and I reflect on what’s happened in my life and the lessons learned there was good mixed with the bad, but through it all I’ve been blessed. What I’ve learned in 2015 was . . .

The mourning/grieving journey has a lifespan of its own. There is no set time-frame, there is no way of knowing how and when it will manifest itself and you have no way of knowing how you will deal with the emotions attached to it until it happens. Then you will find the strength within yourself, given to you by God, to deal with it in your own way and in your own time.
I mourned the loss of a 30-year friendship that seems to just have died a natural death. I failed to see how one-sided this friendship was all these years until I stopped making contact. I’m waiting to see how long it’s going to take for this friendship to be revived and who will be doing the reviving (for now, it will not be me). The lesson learned that relationships need to be worked on from both sides and that sometimes we need to let go of certain people in order to let new people in.
People unexpectedly come into your life, add to the emotional rollercoaster you are on and you have no way of knowing where the new path will lead. Do you trust your gut and “go with the flow” or do you let it go? Do you take the chance?

The lesson learned here is that no matter how dark the stormy clouds around you, there is always the possibility of a little bit of sunshine waiting to shine down on you.

Kitty hiding amongst flowers

This all being said, I suppose the main lesson I learned in 2015 is no matter how many obstacles are thrown your way, you will find a way to survive.

I release all things from the past year that has caused any negative attachment. I prepare and welcome new changes, new lessons and new adventures. I welcome new opportunities to grow emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

I have been truly blessed to always be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes it takes me longer to get there but I do get there eventually.

Frangipani_Single

In the year that lies ahead, let’s strive to do the following:

Make time to bond and connect:
The oxygen of a healthy family is time together not merely time of physically being I each other’s company but quality time of connection and engagement, a time of bonding, talking, sharing each other’s dreams and anxieties, hopes and concerns about life today and tomorrow.

Do you . . .
• Grab food and run off to your next meeting, appointment, sports game?
• Technologically distracted – are you constantly checking messages on your phone i.e. text messages, e-mail, social media? Are you constantly on your laptop, tablet etc? are you glued to the television screen?

Review important relationships:
Re-connect, revisit and reinvigorate your relationships (sit around a table and share a meal while sharing the tribulations and triumphs of the week or year gone by, share Biblical values and thoughts, debate, laugh and sing together.

Strengthen awareness and understanding of Biblical principles, keeping families together . . .
Take a critical look at your religious value system

Nurture strong loving families:
Securing sacred uninterrupted time together for families is universal and absolutely vital if we are to nurture strong, loving families.

Parents (mothers and fathers) need to take responsibility to create space and time which is completely devoted to bonding and connection for the whole family, in an atmosphere of engagement – not distraction love not dislocation, awareness not distraction, loyalty not expedience, belonging not alienation.

What do you think?

In pursuit of my African Dream : Breathe in, Breathe out!

Voice_You have a voice

You may remember that not too long ago I wrote about training as a Voice Over Artiste
Find the post here:

In preparation for finding work as a Voice Over Artiste I’m hard at work practicing my exercises and keeping my voice in tip-top shape. I’ve learned that your voice is a vehicle for your words just like a car is a literal means of getting around. Vocal preparation, maintenance of the voice and overall health considerations are important.

As a Voice Over Artiste I need to master breathing techniques and take care of my voice in the same way as a professional singer would. In my search for exercises I could use, I’ve come across these which I thought you might find useful too if you are using your voice professionally on a regular basis.

Words to warm up by:
Someone said something simple
A simple something said to me
Simply simple someone said
A simple something said to me

Find your voice

How to warm up like an athlete:
Side stretches (expands the rib cage and makes your lungs feel like they’re full of air):
• Take a deep breath and raise your arms to the sky
• Exhale and lean slightly to the left, lengthening in your side. Hold it there for a few seconds before you inhale to centre, and then exhale over to the right.
• Stand with your feet hip width apart. Inhale, with your arms up to the sky, then slowly bend at your waist on the exhale and take your hands towards the ground. It doesn’t matter how far down you can go. Stay there for a few breaths, on an inhale, come back up into a standing position.

Voice_faceless person

Your face:
• Moving your fingers in a circular motion massage your face where your jaw hinges. This will stimulate blood flow to your jaw muscles, where many of us store tension.
• Gentle head and neck rolls can also make you feel more comfortable behind the mic.
• Yawning is a great way to loosen things up.

If you’ve just woken up, do not get behind a mic without warming up.

Voice_mike

VOICE CARE EXERCISES:
Quick warm ups:
Humming: A loose, gentle modulating hum is a nice way to ease in your facial muscles and create space for resonant sound
Lip trills: Go back to your childhood i.e. a car goes B r r r r r r r
Descend on a nasal consonant sound: e.g. onion, gn sound (gnocchi), anything that ends in Z (buzz, fuzz), linger on the Z to get resonating as well.
Articulation exercises: Tongue Twisters
– Unique New York, Unique New York . . .
– A big black bug bit a big black bear
– She sells sea shells by the sea shore
– Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers
– How much wood could a wood chuck chuck if a wood chuck could chuck wood?
Range: Yawning is a good thing. It naturally drops your jaw and regulates oxygen while extending your soft palate. Do the yawning-sigh.
– Open your mouth as if you’re going to yawn and slide all the way down from the top of your vocal range to the lowest grumble you can do. Only do this a few times per warm up and never start with this one. Leave it till the end when you’ve already warmed up your voice.

Voice_Person with mike in hand

Breathing Techniques (5 minute workout by Tommy Griffiths):
This one is perfect as a regular workout for facial muscles, lips, mouth and tongue and is a great way to maintain good articulation, breathing and posture. With daily practice it will help wake up your vocal cords and ensure your voice always comes out strong and clear.

Stretching exercises for your mouth, tongue and lips (do this for 1 minute)
Grin as hard as you can and hold it for a few seconds, then quickly purse your lips and hold. Do this back and forth a few times then quickly stick your tongue out and stretch it as far as it will go. Then touch the back of your upper teeth with the tip of your tongue. Hold for 5 seconds.
Say the word “WoW”. Notice the positions of your mouth when you say the word? Your lips start out pursed and the word ends with your mouth open. Exaggerate the positions and repeat over and over as though you’re saying the word “WoW”. At this point you should feel the facial muscles in and around your mouth.

Frangipani_Single

Improving your articulation with the obstruction drill (do this for about 2 minutes)
• Find a piece of copy and an obstruction for your mouth. Ideally it should be the size of a wine cork. Sit up straight or stand with your feet shoulder width apart.
• Place the obstruction between your front teeth and read the copy out loud as clearly as possible. The obstruction will force your muscles to over compensate for the difficulty in articulating the words. Keep reading for about 2 minutes.
• Take the obstruction out of your mouth and read the same piece of copy. You’ll notice that you now effortlessly pronounce the words.

Sea Shells

Learning to master our Plosives (do this for about 2 minutes)
Hold the palm of your hand a few inches away from your mouth, approximately where your mic would be. Then say “Pam’s preppy pal Peter”. You’ll likely feel a rush of air with the P’s. That rush of air is what creates the “popping” sound through your mic.
With full vocalisation, practice saying “Pam’s preppy pal Peter” until you no longer feel the rush of air.
Practice this every day for about 2 minutes until it becomes second nature to you to speak “plosive” free, even in your regular day-to-day conversations.

It is suggested that you practice these three simple exercises every day for two weeks before speaking or singing in public or recording your auditions.

animal-cute-kitten-cat-medium

Common ways to practice your exercises:
Reading copy aloud: or repeating or imitating what you’ve heard on radio or television
Analysing what you hear: whether it is your own recorded voice or someone else’s voice)
Mentally reviewing copy: to observe markings for breaths, punctuation, inflection etc.

Waterfall

The Announcer’s Test:
Every person who wishes to become an Announcer on radio goes through a particular test called the Announcer’s Test which involves retention, memory, repetition, enunciation, diction and ten factors that use every letter in the alphabet a variety of times. This test is also known as the Tibetan Memory Trick.

T. M. T. (Tibetan Memory Trick)
1. One hen.
2. Two ducks.
3. Three squawking geese.
4. Four limerick oysters.
5. Five corpulent porpoises.
6. Six pairs of Revlon tweezers.
7. Seven thousand Macedonians in full battle array.
8. Eight brass monkeys from the ancient sacred crypts of Egypt.
9. Nine apathetic sympathetic diabetic old men on roller skates
with a marked propensity towards procrastination and sloth.
10. Ten lyrical, spherical, diabolical denizens of the deep who
stalk around the corner of a cove all at the very same time.

Voice_faceless person

This is actually spoken adding one at a time, so here is how it
actually goes.

1. One hen.
2. One hen, two ducks.
3. One hen, two ducks, three squawking geese.
4. One hen, two ducks, three squawking geese, four limerick oysters.

5. One hen, two ducks, three squawking geese, four limerick oysters,
five corpulent porpoises.

6. One hen, two ducks, three squawking geese, four limerick oysters,
five corpulent porpoises, six pairs of Revlon tweezers.

7. One hen, two ducks, three squawking geese, four limerick oysters,
five corpulent porpoises, six pairs of Revlon tweezers, seven
thousand Macedonians in full battle array.

8. One hen, two ducks, three squawking geese, four limerick oysters,
five corpulent porpoises, six pairs of Revlon tweezers, seven
thousand Macedonians in full battle array, eight brass monkeys
from the ancient sacred crypts of Egypt.

9. One hen, two ducks, three squawking geese, four limerick oysters,
five corpulent porpoises, six pairs of Revlon tweezers, seven
thousand Macedonians in full battle array, eight brass monkeys
from the ancient sacred crypts of Egypt, nine apathetic sympathetic
diabetic old men on roller skates with a marked propensity towards
procrastination and sloth.

10. One hen, two ducks, three squawking geese, four limerick oysters,
five corpulent porpoises, six pairs of Revlon tweezers, seven
thousand Macedonians in full battle array, eight brass monkeys
from the ancient sacred crypts of Egypt, nine apathetic sympathetic
diabetic old men on roller skates with a marked propensity towards
procrastination and sloth, ten lyrical, spherical, diabolical
denizens of the deep who stalk around the corner of a cove
all at the very same time.

Whewf!!!!!!!!!!! That was long!!!!!

In Memory of Mom: Scattering the Ashes . . .

REST IN PEACE MOM – 27 OCTOBER 2015

Where and how can I scatter cremation ashes?

Many people will hold a funeral memorial service, as well as an ashes scattering ceremony.

There are many options when it comes to scattering ashes.

If the land is privately owned, permission from the owner of the land will suffice. If the land is public, you will need to check with local authorities for any regulations.

Ashes can be scattered in lieu of preserving them in an urn, grave, or keeping them in someone’s home.

Some people have specific places where they want their ashes to be scattered, others prefer their ashes be scattered in a particular manner.

Some of the most popular and common places to scatter the ashes are in a river, pond, lake, hillside, golf course, hunting ground, flower bed, hiking trail, or garden.

Location will determine the method of scattering, but there is a specially designed urn called a “Scattering Urn” that can ease the task and maintain the sense of dignity in the service.

Frangipani_Single

There are several different methods that can be used to scatter ashes:

Casting – the act of simply tossing the ashes to the wind. This is usually done by one individual person or a group of people in front of a grieving “audience”. The ashes will fall to the ground immediately, but the person tossing them should pay attention to the direction of the wind.
Trenching – This is done on land when a shallow trench or groove is dug in the soil. The ashes are poured into the trench, and then the soil is raked over at the end of the ceremony. Candles can be lit around the trench or a special symbol can be drawn over the trench.
Racking – The ashes are poured from the “scattering urn” evenly and loosely on the soil. They are then racked over and into the ground.
Green Burial – A hole is made in the soil, and the ashes are pored into the biodegradable urn or the ashes are scattered onto the soil.
Raking- The ashes are poured from the scattering urn evenly on loose soil and raked into the ground. This is often how it is done in the scattering gardens that are now located in many cemeteries. Your funeral director can help you find a scattering garden in your area.
Water Scattering – A “water-soluble urn” are specifically designed to gradually disperse the ashes back into the sea or body of water. Ashes can be cast directly into the water, but may get caught in the wind and cling to the sides of the boat. A water soluble urn will float for several minutes then slowly sink where it will degrade. The family members aboard the boat can cast flower pedals as a final tribute to the deceased.

Candle & purple flowers

There is great comfort in the idea that a loved one’s remains can forever be associated with a place that had special significance to them and their family.

The ceremony of the scattering the ashes can help give family members and friends the closure they need and begin the grieving process.

Brook_Water over rocks

What I also wrote:

ONE YEAR DOWN THE ROAD LESS TRAVELLED . . .

October 2014:
https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2014/10/05/tapestry/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2014/10/31/to-each-life-there-is-a-season/

November 2014:
https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2014/11/19/warning-emotional-volcano-about-to-erupt/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2014/11/27/dear-mom/

December 2014:
https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2014/12/14/why-the-obsession-with-loneliness/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2014/12/24/christmas-and-new-year-blessings/

January 2015:
https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/01/21/grief-mourning-and-bereavement-what-is-the-difference/

February 2015:
https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/02/03/woman-heal-thyself/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/02/08/self-care-sunday-hard-questions-weightless/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/02/13/re-investing-in-life-moving-on/

March 2015:
https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/03/02/how-to-help-a-grieving-friend/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/03/19/how-to-find-the-balance-between-work-and-home-life/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/03/30/what-life-has-taught-me/

April 2015:
https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/04/09/i-am-a-sensitive-child/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/04/14/me-the-budding-entrepreneur/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/04/26/green-is-the-colour-of-my-life/

May 2015:
https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/05/11/in-the-midst-of-movement-and-chaos-becoming-the-new-me/

June 2015:
https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/06/07/i-am-capable/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/06/22/the-pain-of-watching-a-parent-age/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/06/25/stop-the-bus-i-want-to-get-off/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/06/25/what-happens-during-a-colonoscopy/

July 2015:
https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/07/11/me-the-budding-voice-over-artiste/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/07/22/what-im-learning-on-my-journey-to-wealth-creation/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/07/26/what-im-learning-on-my-journey-to-wealth-creation-part-two/

August 2015:
https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/08/02/how-to-increase-your-financial-iq/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/08/11/river-of-life-a-time-for-reflection/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/08/18/finding-your-why/
https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/08/23/wild-geese/

September 2015:
https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/09/01/im-not-extraordinary-enough-the-power-of-vulnerability/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/09/12/how-do-i-start-a-blog/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/09/21/my-life-as-an-introvert/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/09/28/dont-resist-change-let-things-flow-naturally-forward/

October 2015 (One year down the road less travelled):
https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/10/13/dear-trauma-counsellor-i-have-ongoing-flashbacks-and-voices-in-my-head-that-just-wont-shut-up/

https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/10/20/journaling-as-a-mindfulness-practice-for-thoughts-and-emotions/

Don’t resist change . . . Let things flow naturally forward . . .

Sinfonia_Brides Veil

Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes.
Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow.
Let reality be reality.
Let things flow naturally forward
in whatever way they like.

– Lao Tzu

Today (Sunday) is the end of the last Public Holiday in South Africa before the end of year break in December. I, like most people here, turned it into an extra-long weekend by taking a day’s leave on Friday as well.

For me, the weekend did not go quite as I had planned but I still managed to achieve a lot. On Heritage Day (on Thursday), I did not end up going to the Storytelling Festival event where my dear friend Simone was the honoured guest speaker. It broke my heart to disappoint my friend, but I was just too exhausted to get out of bed and just took it easy for the rest of the day. Much later the evening, I summoned some energy to clear my cupboards of old clothes I’ve not worn for years – three bags full which I set aside to donate to my church for the homeless shelter we support.

Voice_You have a voice

Friday morning, after months of hard work, I went off to do my first Voice Over demo reel. It was not my first time behind a microphone, but it was the first time in my life I’ve had to be recorded as a Voice Actor (which is what Voice Over artists are also known as).

The experience itself was awesome. I had a wonderful Sound Engineer, Adam Linder, who patiently explained each step. My equally awesome Voice Coach, Barbara Barbieri was there as moral support and to inject some much needed confidence when my mind monkeys (negative talk) started taking over my brain. Barbara also did her first Voice Over demo reel so it was a learning curve for both of us.

Voice_Person with mike in hand

After my Voice Over demo I dropped off the three bags of clothes at church, did some grocery shopping and rushed home to meet my Personal Trainer for my gym session. By Friday evening, I was utterly and totally exhausted – physically, mentally and emotionally so, needless to say, I had an early night.

Saturday also did not go completely as planned so again, I had a late start to finishing what I started on Thursday (Spring-cleaning my bedroom). At least that’s done now. Mom would be so proud to see my bedroom now.

I miss mom so much . . . today is exactly eleven months since mom passed away. As I write this I’m feeling terribly sad, emotional and weepy. Last time I had a good cry was 25 June 2015. Since then, I still just feel sad, emotional and weepy around this time of the month.

Sinfonia_Brides Veil1

I never realised how much mom and I shared. It became so natural for me to come home and say “guess who I just saw . . .” or “guess what so-and-so just said”. Watching a programme on television, I still have to remind myself that I cannot go to mom’s bedroom anymore and share what I’ve just seen (sometimes something funny or something ridiculous) – it’s still a huge adjustment for me to continue living in the same house without mom, but I’m not ready to move out yet. I think it’s still too soon. I think I will give myself some more time.

Tomorrow it’s back to the office, getting ready for my exit out of formal employment and working on my marketing strategy for my life as a Freelancer and Voice Artist. There is so much to do. Marketing yourself just takes up so much time. I hate talking about myself. I hate having to go out there and say “Hey, look at me . . . I’m here!” but if that’s the way I have to go to get work, then so be it. It will just have to be done.

Sinfonia_Mauritius by mom

Food for thought:
• What does change look like to you?
• How are you adapting to your changing circumstances?

My life as an introvert . . .

A Woman in harmony with her spirit

I have spent my entire life being an introvert which I firmly believe has been as a result of my upbringing. For as long as I can remember, I have been trying to force myself to be more outgoing (extrovert) and less timid and shy because I have also been led to believe that the extrovert goes places while the introvert does not get recognition and is no fun to be around.

I have just recently learned that being an introvert is not the same as being shy. Introverts and extroverts brains actually work differently. The brain activity of introverts is quite high when they are alone, and it’s easy for them to feel overwhelmed with too much external stimulation. This certainly is true for me.

Realising that much of the stress in my life was caused by trying to force myself to be more of an extrovert, is a huge relief for me. Now that I’ve embraced my introverted nature, I’m carving out time in my life to make sure I keep my mental balance. How am I doing this?

Waterfall

I make time for acceptance and self-love: I do this by accepting my true nature. The stigma attached to introversion has left me with a lot of self-doubt and a negative self-image. Both introversion and extroversion are healthy, normal ways to function. One is not better than the other. Life is so much better since embracing my perfect, introverted self.

I have more understanding and support: It is so important that my family, friends and those close to me understand my introverted nature. Introverts are so often misinterpreted as cold, snobby or uninterested, especially by the extroverts. I find inner peace when I have alone time every day. I need solo time to recharge and make sense of events that took place that day.

I’ve found compatible work: For years (most of my life, in fact) I’ve lost myself in very socially inclined jobs that was not well-suited for me, as an introvert. I was always mentally exhausted, which led to periods of physical exhaustion. Now I’m setting up a business working from home which is more compatible with my true nature. I will be working in my own space, by myself and when I feel the need to socialise and be with other people, I can determine when and for how long and I can be in control of what form the interaction would take. If only I’d figured this out a long time ago!

As an introvert, I need to be in an environment that allows me to get in the mental zone where I thrive so I don’t experience more stress than I’d like. As human beings we spend most of our time working so it may as well be maximising our brain’s natural tendencies rather than going against the grain of our true nature.

Life of the rich

I enjoy downtime every day: All introverts need a downtime period, and we need it every day. Without time alone we can become perpetually overwhelmed and frazzled. I still have not perfected carving out time in my schedule for this, but I’m working on it. I need to consciously make time for nourishing activities that make me feel relaxed like reading a book, soaking in a bubble bath, writing in my journal (which is actually my online blog), going back to doing craft work etc. and I need to give these nourishing activities as much importance as eating or sleeping. For introverts, this downtime is just as critical to our well-being.

I know when to bow out gracefully: Social events can be fun for both introverts and extroverts, but introverts sometimes feel the need to leave an event long before extroverts do. After a lot of interaction with others, I need to mentally process everything I’ve taken in. I therefore usually prefer to drive myself to the function or event and usually leave the event long before most people do. I don’t like feeling trapped at an event because I’m dependent on a lift home. I need to have the freedom to come and go when I please and not be bound by someone else’s time schedule. Advanced planning is therefore very important to me.

Now that I have a better understanding of my true nature and am embracing the real me, I am happier and more at peace with the world than I’ve been before. I’m trying to embrace my true identity because once I accept myself and live my life accordingly, life could be truly wonderful.

Wild Geese

View from our table

“WILD GEESE”
by Mary Oliver

“Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination…”

You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.

Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting – over and over announcing your place in the family of things.

Birthday milkshake_Cheers

Reflection:
Maybe, we don’t always have to be good. Whatever guilt, shame or confessions we hold inside, can be let go.

Maybe we don’t always have to repent because we, too, are animals like the wild geese. Instead of suffering, or spending our lives trying to find forgiveness, we only have to do what we love to do.

Everybody has his or her own despair, everybody needs to be told we do not always have to be good, everybody would have a reason to repent.

Talking about our troubles can help us heal from the, and hearing other people’s pain can create a primal connection between two people, loyal and deep like the bond between birds.

“Meanwhile the world goes on.” The repetition of the word “meanwhile” is soothing and is, in the poem, cyclical like rainfall in nature. Like humans and wild geese, the rain also travels.

Table Mountain, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

Table Mountain, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

The geese are travelling home again, but where is home? Are they flying “home” South for the Winter, or “home” back North?

“Whoever you are, no matter how lonely . . .” it does not matter where you call home.

Listen to what the world tells you – look at the wild geese. They fly alone yet in an inclusive form, honking to keep in contact with each other in flight, connected in the “family of things”.