Also by me...


Thursday, June 14, 2012

10 things I've learnt in my 20's

A friend of mine sent me a mail with a link to a blog where a woman had written down a list of things she learnt in her 20's and thought that it was such a great idea. Acknowledging what we have learnt in our lives is a wonderful way to remind ourselves of the progress we've made and how much change can happen in our life time.

So, without further ado, here is my list:

1. Any happiness that we find outside of ourself is completely irrelevant (and will be short lived) if we do not have happiness inside of ourselves first. I know that all the BIG decisions I have made in my life came when I decided to put myself first and put my happiness first, and then the change that came brought me even more happiness. You have to put your happiness first!

2. What other people think is none of your business! I'm not saying you shouldn't care (it's very hard to turn that off) but I have realised that what other people think is out of my control and therefore I have stopped letting it affect me. People will think what they want no matter how you behave, speak, think, dress or whatever - it is out of your control so let it go.

3. Be your word. A promise is a promise. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Integrity is something that is very important to me and it is something I have taught my daughter from an early age. Not only do you need to follow through on promises made to others but you need to commit to your word when it comes to yourself too. Being true to your word (when you really commit to it) can be one of the most valuable character traits you have and it will set you apart from those who are not and draw towards you those that are equally committed to being their word.

4. Let go of the fact that life is going to be easy at some point. Challenges will come and go but they will never disappear - and thank goodness for that! I would not be able to write this list if my life wasn't challenging and when I am in my late thirties I want to be able to write another list. Challenges are not the problem, the problem lies with our attitude towards these challenges. Embrace them and know that within each challenge lies many lessons and many opportunities for growth.

5. Don't be afraid to be alone. This might not be for everyone but I know that without a doubt that if I had not spent 2 1/2 years on my own (single) I would not have met my husband when I did. I needed those years to be with my thoughts, to process what it was I wanted, to figure out what was important to me but most of all I needed that time to be happy and at peace with my own company. I believe that true love can only find you once you know how to make yourself happy first. This is, obviously, a very personal point of view, and I am so grateful that I learnt how to enjoy my own company before meeting the love of my life.

6. Life never gives you anything you can't handle. This is one of the most wonderful lessons my mother ever taught me. It is something that I have repeated to myself over and over again many times in my short life and every time I do I immediately feel calm and all anxiety drifts away. Looking at life in this way just simplifies everything because the alternative to not handling it would mean that I would give up on life and cease to exist - this is never an option for me, so, as a result I have absolute faith that everything will be OK and I will overcome whatever obstacle is in my way.

7. Take time to do what you love. Even if your passion can't be turned into a career, make sure that you make time for the things that you love doing, for the things that inspire you. Whether it's reading, writing, painting, knitting, watching reality TV shows, dancing, or sports, make sure that you don't forget to do these things. There is a reason that you enjoy it, so do it!

8. Friendships change. The friends you had in high school are not necessarily going to be the friendships you have in your 20's - people change, this you can count on. You need to just go with the flow. I have friends who I lost touch with for many years (mostly over the years after I had my daughter) and only now are some of these friendships present in my life again. I have also made some amazing new friends in every new avenue my life has gone down. Friendships, like any relationship, take work and effort and sometimes you need to know when to let them go and other times you need to remember to hold on to them and be the friend you want in your life.

9. Everything happens for a reason. It is easy to just say this and fill your mind with positive thoughts and then push the situation under the rug, but I think that the point of this phrase is to make you look for that reason and then face the situation and move on. I believe their is a reason for everything and everything is always as it should be - good or bad - life is here to teach us but lessons aren't going to introduce themselves to us - we need to find the lessons ourselves.

10. Enjoy the moment you are in right now. It is so easy to either look ahead and hope or to look behind and regret. I often find myself wishing I was at a different stage in my life (owning a house, financially independent, etc) but all this does is take my focus off the present and all that I do have. Sure, have goals, but there is no need to dwell on them - put them out there and then get living in the present in order achieve them. As for the past - it's there to be remembered but not to be lived in - be happy in the now - it's all you have really.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The mountain that is life and other such profound things...

I climbed a mountain yesterday. No, not a little hill or a walk through a forest with an incline...I climbed up to the top of a mountain, walked along the top to get to the other side and back down the other side.

While I was climbing up I was thinking that when I get to the top, and look back over the view of Hout Bay, I will feel so good and it would be one of the most amazing views I have ever seen. Knowing that something amazing was waiting for me made the pain in my legs and my ever increasing heart beat completely worth while. And then it got me thinking about life and that life is, in fact, like climbing a mountain (well, my life is anyway). I do realise that references to this analogy have been made by many a thoughtful person but never have I truly got it, literally and physically.

Yes, life is tough (uphill) and then you get there (the top) and then it's just easy (downhill) but when climbing this mountain I had an opportunity to really experience an almost mini version of life (the way I experience it) and it was awesome.

Two minutes into the climb (we were walking up some stairs) I was already out of breath and my my thighs were aching and I thought, "F*#k! How the hell am I supposed to do this?" I voiced my concern (a bit more politely) and was met with a response that gave me so much relief. My uncle in-law (an avid climber) said, "Me too, don't worry." Later on, during the uphill, we were in a forest making our way to a waterfall and the beginning of a steep crevice that we would have to climb up. I realised while climbing above the waterfall that I actually enjoyed this part the most, the part that was more challenging was the part I liked. Don't give me wobbly rocks and slippery paths, these are just distractions; give me challenges! This is when it hit me, luckily not a branch or a rock, but a thought - The initial thought went something like this - "Hiking, climbing, mountain, life, uphill, downhill, reaching the top, ooooh! It's so similar!" But I will fluff it out a little for the sake of this blog.

Life, or any journey, is just like this hike. The beginning is tough and challenging, but with help and reassurance from other people and a lot of determination you will be able to get to the point of success. When you reach the top of the mountain, your first instinct is to look back and see how far you have come and to look at the view. Maybe some of us do not do this often enough in life, we just keep looking forward instead of acknowledging how much we have accomplished and really paying attention to our present. Once on top, you get the long walk at the top of the mountain, and as with life, even the top has its challenges. In my case there was muddy slush, loose pebbles and annoying spiky plants, so, in life, these refer to sticky situations, unreliable people (and self-doubt) and possibly the occasional prickly predicament. Either way, you have reached the top and the view is astounding! You have done it!

When it comes to mountain climbing, you start to go downhill when you've reached the other side or when you want to go home and so, the down hill decent begins. But wait, not only do you have the opportunity to see your view while climbing down, you also have to keep your eye on where you are going - one wrong turn and you are falling through the sky. The downhill can prove to be just as, or even more, challenging than the uphill.

How does the "downhill" apply to life? I am actually not sure yet and maybe that will have to be another blog. I am thinking that it has something to do with getting back home (or remembering to go home)- not forgetting where you came from and that even if you reach the top you should ideally always still have the essence of "home" with you. Even though I am not physically on the top of the mountain anymore, I remember the feeling and I can still see the views (emotionally, I am still there). What purpose would it serve for me to stay at the top of the mountain forever, in all my glory, if I had no one to share it with? As with life - get to the top, succeed, become famous, but don't forget that without "home", without your friends and family, none of it really matters. Maybe the "downhill" has something to do with that.

Anyway, here I am, I have reached the top (in life) but I am still making sense of it all (getting the lay of the land). I still have some aches of the journey uphill, but I am thoroughly enjoying the view and always remembering how far I have come and never forgetting the home that is always there for me.

The crevice above the waterfall that I loved climbing :)
The view from the top of Hout Bay

The view from the other side over-looking Llundudno

Me about to go "downhill" :)