Image

Quote for the Day : Better, not Bitter

“…Never let hard lessons harden your heart; the hard lessons of life are meant to make you better, not bitter…”

— Roy T. Bennett : The Light in the Heart

IMG_0035

Advertisements
First World Problems

First World Problems

Today I took a day off work and went in to the city to the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages to obtain an official marriage certificate (the one they give you at the actual wedding is not worth the paper it’s printed on apparently) so that we can apply for a divorce in a couple of weeks (when it will be twelve months since we separated).  Feeling kinda down about the whole thing, I trudged through the city in the rain, wanting to tell everybody I passed how life had done me wrong.  How I was suffering.  How everything just sucks and basically a whole lot of boohooing was going on in my head.  I actually DID boo-hoo at work yesterday – just felt really sad and that stuff is getting finalised and DONE. That I’m going to be a divorced forty year old.  Waaaah.

Then I spotted a homeless guy, sheltering in a stairwell, his belongings around him.  He looked so cold and miserable.  I often see him as I drive through the city on my way to work.  I feel bad for him but can’t help him usually as I’m in my car – I can’t just bung a load of coins out the window at him as I whizz past.  But today I had no excuse.  As I walked past him, I tried to ignore the feeling of wanting to help.  I told myself I didn’t have any cash on me (I didn’t) and that I had to get to the registry office.
I told myself I was too shy/timid/uncomfortable/busy to approach him.

But then I stopped.

I turned around and I headed to a coffee shop about a block away from the man .I ordered a hot chocolate and headed back .
My conversation with myself had changed from “You can’t do this” to “You have to do this”.
I couldn’t pass him by, not one day longer.

I offered him the hot chocolate, thinking he would be grateful and pleased.  He simply said “Oh I don’t drink coffee…”  I told him it was hot chocolate (I had purposely not bought coffee as I know some people don’t like it) and said “I just thought you could do with a warm drink – you look so cold…” To which he replied “I am cold”.  I wanted him to take the drink.  I wanted him to smile and say thank you and “That’s so nice of you!” but there was none of that.
He almost begrudgingly took the drink and I think I heard a mumbled “thanks”, although maybe I just wanted to hear one.

So what am I getting at?  For a while I was a little miffed and felt kinda stupid for even bothering to buy the drink.  I felt that my kind deed had gone unappreciated.
I was embarrassed and flustered. I’d walked quite a way to get him that hot chocolate.

But then I stopped.

That man sleeps on the street.  He has no home, no family, no car, no money.  He doesn’t know where his next meal is coming from.  He has been rejected by society, maybe his family, and can’t rely on friends to give him a bed to sleep in.  He has way bigger issues than I do.  And I’m the one who’s uncomfortable?  Geez, talk about first world problems!  I buy him a drink and I think that’s going to solve all his problems?  What about tomorrow?  Or the next day?

I had to remind myself that his reality is different to mine.  I was trying to stamp him with the same social etiquette and manners that I live by.  Me in my cosy home with my nice job, my loving family and my loyal friends.  Me with a full belly and clean clothes, a roof over my head and a feeling of safety and security in my little world.

Maybe I’m not quite up to the whole Good Samaritan act yet.  I wanted to be.  I wanted to do this good deed and not expect approval or gratitude in return.  But we live in a world where we all want reward for the things we do.  We want to be noticed and acknowledged.  I, for one, am sorry I gave in to that need today and didn’t allow kindness to be its own reward.

Next time I will do better.  Next time I will buy a sandwich – but I will ask first, and not be offended if they don’t want to accept my offer.

At the end of the day, I did a good thing and I guess that is better than standing by or walking past and doing nothing.
A good deed, even a slightly unsuccessful one, has to count for something, I hope so, anyway.

Hope you are all safe and warm today x

Everything I Know, I Learned from the Kids…

Everything I Know, I Learned from the Kids…

I have been babysitting a lot this weekend.  My brother and his partner have four BEAUTIFUL children under the age of 7 (the youngest just a few weeks old) and they are a delight.  Most of the time.  They are children after all and they do have their moments of not-so-delightfulness.  But, on the whole, they are developing into charming little people that I like as well as love.  They have empathy for others and a care for their siblings.  They’re just so nice to be around.

I learn a lot from them.  Mostly, I am just happy they love me and we have fun together.  I am constantly amazed by their wisdom and insight.  They are creative (thank goodness), funny and energetic. They make me laugh ( a lot – sometimes when I should be telling them off) and I wish I could wrap them up in cotton wool and protect them from the world forever.

Today we did painting (hey, a sun can be black, right?) and papier mache (I’m still hoping to get glue out of my denim skirt), did magic tricks (how many times can you “pull” something out of a kid’s ear before it gets boring? Apparently many, many times…), baked cookies and watched dvds involving trains and sing-alongs.  It was too hot to do anything outside for any length of time and I let them watch tv a little more than usual – just because it was so darn warm.

As much as we adults teach children about life, I think they show us a few things too.  They are wise and courageous in many ways and live the heck out of life every single moment of every single day.  We can learn so much from them if we just listen and watch:

Stuff I have Learned from Kids

1. It is never too cold, too hot, too sunny, too wet, too windy, too anything to go outside and play, even just for 5 minutes.  Embrace the great outdoors and be amongst nature.

2. Hugs.  One size fits all, always.

3. Build a bridge and get over it.  Literally.  There is nothing Lego can’t fix.  Or build.

4. Don’t sweat the small stuff.  This includes mess, unmade beds, toys on the floor and cereal in your hair.  Worrying about these things only takes time away from more important stuff, like playing. And making more mess.

5. Baking cookies is an anytime kind of activity.  Licking the spoon is obligatory and non-fattening.

6. Colouring outside the lines is ok.  In fact, it is recommended.

7. Jokes are funnier when they don’t make any sense.

8. Sometimes you just need to cry.  For no reason.  Let it out.

9. Wearing pants should be optional.

10. Saying “Fart” is always hilarious.

11. Meals should be looked at as intermission between snacks.

12. Sometimes you just have to dance.

 

I hope you have some little people in your life.  They make the world a much nicer place to be in. 
Have a happy week everybody 🙂

 

Ten ways you can help make the world a better place

Ten ways you can help make the world a better place

The world is a funny old place.  We’re supposedly so connected with all the new technology we have, but we don’t know how to connect on a real level any more.  We text and email, poke and ping, but we don’t know how to talk to anyone.  We’ve forgotten our please and thank-yous.  We rush around and sweat the small stuff and don’t stop to smell the roses or hug the person who means the most to us.  Little things add up to big things and sometimes we need to stop and take a minute to remember that life is made up of moments and people, not money and stuff.  The world needs a little more “us” and a little less “me”.  There are simple things you can do that make a big difference:

 

  1. When you’re at the checkout in a supermarket, talk to the person serving you.  Don’t tell them your whole life story, but ask them how their day’s been, if they’ve got a long shift, etc.  Just be pleasant.  Remember, they’ve probably had to deal with lots of rude, grumpy, harassed people all day.  Standing up.  All day.  Wearing an ugly uniform.  They deserve your patience and respect and courtesy.  Smile and say thank you.  A “have a nice day” goes a long way.
  2.  Servicemen.  That’s one word, not two.  Servicing men is not what I’m telling you to do.  Unless you want to – I won’t judge.  What I am telling you to do is be polite and friendly to any man (or woman) who comes to service your washing machine or clean your windows or fix your reticulation.  Offer them a cup of coffee or a cold drink.  You’d be surprised at how many people don’t do this.  The same applies to work situations.  Yes, you’re busy, yes, you have little time to spare and deadlines to meet.  But you can offer someone a drink and a smile.  Be appreciative.  You need that photocopier to work, right?  This guy is fixing it for you, right?  Then be nice.  The lady who empties your grotty rubbish bin each afternoon?  She doesn’t do it because it’s her life’s dream to pick up after you – she could probably think of a hundred things she’d rather be doing.  So make her day a little bit more pleasant by saying thank you and acknowledging her existence.
  3. Let someone in.  When out and about driving on our busy, hectic streets, make it a rule to let at least one person in in front of you, every day.  One person.  It’s no big deal but you’re making that one person a little less stressed.  Maybe, down the road, someone will let you in too.  God help you though, if I let you in and you don’t give me a courtesy wave.  That’s just rude.
  4. Don’t be a mucky pup.  This is one of my biggest pet peeves.  When sharing a space with other people, pick up after yourself.  I will never understand why people can’t put used teabags in the bin.  When it’s RIGHT NEXT TO THE SINK.  It’s not a monumental task to throw it in the rubbish bin, is it?  And tea stains, what is up with people not wiping up their spilt tea?  Gah!  It drives me nutty!  Wash your dishes, wipe the sink, put your cup away.  Be aware that other people have to use the same space as you and they don’t want to have to live or work in a manky filth pit.  Work place kitchen areas are the worst.  They bring out the inner grot in many people.  Just because you treat your own home kitchen like a pigsty, doesn’t mean your co-workers have to put up with it in their place of employment. 
  5. Random acts of kindness.  Practice them.  Someone at work looking a bit sad or worn down?  Leave a little gift on their desk to cheer them up.  Make it anonymous if you like (keep ‘em guessing) and let them know that someone is thinking of them and hoping they’re ok.  The days of helping little old ladies across the street may be gone (they’re just as likely to run you down in their gopher or hit you over the head with their handbag) but you can always offer someone a hand, open a door, help them carry something heavy, return their library books for them, offer to take it in turns to clean up the kitchen (see #4).   It’s not hard.
  6. Tell people you love them.  Not just random people on the street – that might be a bit weird – but the people in your life who are there for you.  I am lucky to belong to a family who uses the “L Word” a lot.  Telephone conversations are ended with it, cards are signed with it and children are taught what it means.  To give and receive love is one of the most important things in life. When I was sick in hospital, I believe I was saved by love.  Sure, the medical professionals working around the clock to keep me alive played a part in my survival (a very large part) but I can’t discount the people who loved me and surrounded me with nothing but positive energy and hope and love.  I know it sounds corny but it’s true.  At the end of the day, no one was ever disliked for caring about people. 
  7. Be tolerant.  This can be a tough one.  The world is filled with people and situations that try our patience.  We may have different values to the people we share an office with or sit next to at Bingo and it can be hard to bite our tongue and turn the other cheek.  But everybody is different and everybody has views and opinions – it would be a boring world if we didn’t.  It’s how we learn and develop and find out new things and ways of doing stuff.  I’m not saying if someone is openly racist or homophobic, sexist or just plain rude, that we have to smile and suck it up and pretend it doesn’t bother us.  Some people do need a wake up call.  Some people need to be told their attitude stinks and they have bat-crazy ideas and opinions.  But, for the most part, it is better to let bygones be bygones and crazy people be crazy people and just be tolerant.  For instance, I love animals, but I have some friends who don’t. Does that mean I should shun them and not allow them to darken my doorstep with their animal-hating presence?  No, of course not.  I don’t understand their feelings or opinions about animals, but I respect their right to have an opinion, even if it differs from mine.  If they are otherwise pretty cool people, who would never actually harm an animal, then they are alright with me. Everyone should be able to like what they like and do what they like, as long as it harms no one else.  Don’t you agree?  Just be nice, dammit!
  8. Don’t gossip.  Ok, we all do it.  But we shouldn’t.  Enough said.
  9. Give.  Whether it be time or money or donations of food, give to others who are in need.  Send a cheque, bake a cake, donate a bunch of clothes or school supplies.  Just give.  It will make you feel good – I promise.
  10. Be aware of other people.  The world doesn’t revolve around you and there are other people on the planet who deserve attention and respect and consideration.  When making decisions, think about how it will affect others.  Don’t leave your shopping trolley in the last remaining car parking space because you were too lazy to take it back to the trolley bay. Don’t shove library books back in any old order on the shelf.  Recycle. Don’t litter.  Don’t hog the remote.  Do think before you speak.  Don’t take the last cookie on the plate before offering it to anyone else.  Treat others as you wish to be treated yourself. 

Simple stuff, but stuff that we sometimes forget in our busy, stressful lives.  Being nice doesn’t mean being a pushover.  It means being respectful and thinking about others a little bit.  You can still be assertive and self-confident and a go-getter, but it’s wonderful if you can combine that with a bit of kindness and empathy.  Maybe I’m old-fashioned.  Maybe “nice” isn’t trendy any more and we’re all supposed to look after number one.  But what a lonely and empty world that makes.  So, today, just try and be a little kinder, a little more tolerant and much, much nicer.  And that means being good to yourself too.

Have a nice day! 🙂

 

 

Things I have learnt from moving

Things I have learnt from moving

We are all moved in to our new place.  It is a bigger house with more rooms and an extra bathroom.  It is not quaint nor does it have great character – it’s just one of those modern, soulless villa’s that are popping up all over the place in secure complexes around the country.  But I like it.  I loved our old, cute and quirky house but it was too small for us, freezing in the Winter and less than secure when burglars or other dodgy types came a-calling, and, anyway, we had to leave as the owners needed to move back in themselves. 

So, on the 27th of December we moved.  It was horribly hot – sun blazing down, humidity up and the new house is much warmer than the old one.  The removalists grumbled about the amount of boxes we had (“You’re both librarians!  You work in libraries! Why do you need your own books!?”) but they were friendly enough and chatted pleasantly throughout the SIX HOURS they were there.  Yes, that’s right.  It took six hours to move all our stuff.  I didn’t think it was ever going to end.  I was on my own (hubby was conveniently at work) and I thought I had entered some sort of Twilight Zone universe where a demonic moving van was forever full, never emptying and would continue to reveal more and more layers of stuff.  I actually helped the guys move and carry stuff (I’m not good at standing around doing nothing) and I think that helped to cut out some of the time I was paying for. 

Anyway, we finished cleaning and tidying up the old house yesterday, handing back the keys and bidding the place a final adieu.  I was going to take a small cutting of rosemary from the garden but forgot so will have to plant a new one at the new house.  We have no garden to speak of there – sand and dead bits of grass is all we look out on through the dining room window.  But I will try and make it look presentable – grow a few pots of herbs and flowers, maybe put up some trellis or something if we’re allowed and get some climbing, flowering plants to cheer things up a bit.

Moving is not fun.  I don’t know why people like doing it.  I never want to relocate ever again.  Ever.  But of course I will have to at some stage.  We don’t want to rent forever, after all.  I did learn some things whilst moving though, and I guess that’s the important thing (well, that and having a roof over our heads). 

Things I Learned from Moving

  1. Just because a box is labelled, doesn’t mean the contents match the label.
  2. Be careful when labelling boxes – think about what you are writing.  For instance “Bedroom Toys” will make people snigger and go “Ooooerr!” until they unpack said box and find it is full of teddy bears that you keep in your bedroom.
  3. You DO have too much stuff.
  4. There are not enough boxes in the country for you to move all your stuff.  You WILL have to beg, borrow and steal boxes from your friends, family, co-workers and random people on the street.  
  5.  For someone who has “nothing to wear”, you WILL mysteriously have more clothing than the entire population of Paris during Fashion Week.  And several hats (which you don’t remember buying).  You will have nowhere to put them and they will sit in sad little piles all over the house.
  6. You WILL regret leaving your portable wardrobes behind at the old house.
  7. In the process of packing, you WILL become so tired that you find yourself sleeping, standing upright, leaning against the fridge with a waterproof marker pen in your mouth.  You will have black lips.  The stain will not come out for three days.
  8. You will learn that friends with utes, trailers and any other large vehicles are extremely useful. 
  9. You will learn that moving during the Christmas/New Year period is a really crappy time to do anything.
  10. You will learn that your bed, at the end of a very long day, is the most valuable thing you own. 

We are still without phone or internet so I am blogging this quickly at work (it’s ok, it’s a Saturdayand I’m not actually working today).  I hope your Christmas and New Year’s were blissfully stress-free and lots of fun.  I wish you all a wonderful 2013 – hope your resolutions are easy to keep!  (Mine are going to include de-cluttering and culling my stuff…we’ll see how that pans out!).