Yoga with Bella

So my new favourite thing is yoga. I simply love my two new pink yoga blocks and my bubblegum blue yoga mat. The thing is, Bella (our cat) seems to love it even more than what I do!

I suspect it might be the spongy texture of the yoga mat. As soon as I take out the mat to start doing some asanas, then Bella is on the mat – before I can even get into a tadasana!

Then to add insult to injury, Bella then proceeds to show me how it should really be done. Never mind downward dog…. Downward cat anyone?

Ohm Shanti. Namaste 🙏🏾

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Not-a-failure

Image credit: https://www.management-issues.com/opinion/5882/if-you-want-to-succeed-get-used-to-failure/

Failure is a good thing. We’ve all heard this before. No one can deny that failing builds character. It builds resilience. It builds problem solving capabilities and it can make one a more compassionate, a valuable individual to the benefit of society at large. In that way failure promotes growth.

It’s noteworthy though, that the word ‘failure’ implies that something went wrong. Either we did something or we did not do something, when we could have done something different = failure.

Against this backdrop, I think that we often confuse failing with something else. I actually can’t define that ‘something else’ yet ….. I just don’t have the term for it yet although I know it’s a tangible concept. It also leads to growth but it is not failure. Let’s call it ‘not-a-failure. It is confused with failure because the process towards growth is so similar to when you failed at something.

In the case of ‘not-a-failure‘ a person might even say ‘but I tried my best but I did not succeed’. This means that what you tried was wrong. This emphasizes the person’s effort and the fact that they did not get the reward for that effort. When this happens, most human beings involuntarily turn against themselves and believe that they have failed ….when in fact they did not, because in cases of not-a-failure, the situation was just outside of one’s control.

Ok Ja what I’m saying might like waffle but let me use real examples from my own life to explain…

The job I took, after I finished studying my Masters degree. It was a disaster. I just didn’t fit. There were tons of variables that played a role including an insecure micromanaging supervisor. I tried my best but eventually resigned after a year. I felt like a failure…. but did I really fail? Fast-forward a few years and I ended up in my dream job, teaching at a University. Resigning from that job freed me in terms of time, to do things which gave me the experience I needed to apply for my current job.

My marriage. I worked so hard to save it. I was devastated, shattered when my ex-husband left me. There are things that I know I could have done differently but I think that truthfully, the majority of what played out was simply just out of my control. Looking back I see that no matter who said or did what, we were both just not mature enough to manage the situation in a way that would change the eventual outcome, which was a divorce. Failure? Yes, No… there was more out of my control than in my control. Growth yes definitely. In retrospect, failure not. Similar too, other relationships since my divorce. I have the tendency to want to think I’ve failed because each time I’ve genuinely opened up and allowed myself to be vulnerable. When one is openly vulnerable and you don’t achieve a successful outcome then you feel like failure. The same would apply to sporting activities, work or other projects or even friendships that don’t work out even after you tried your best.

The ‘not-a-failure‘ concept really is an intense form of disappointment. Disappointment is a result of failure but, importantly, it’s not always because of failure. The mistake that I think many human beings make is associating all our disappointments with failure. Our brains seem to be hardwired into tricking us into believing that all our disappointments are all failures! How unkind we are to ourselves 😔

The bottom line for me with all of this is that I need to remember to be kinder to myself when I feel disappointment. Not medicate disappointments with self-pity, or anger, humiliation or shame. I need to medicate myself with kindness and reject any self deprecating thoughts which tell me that I have failed.

Essentially, that is the act of surrendering control over something I never had control over in the first place!

Endgame

So it’s almost that time again. #Excitals

Tickets are booked. I can hardly wait! The minions are supposed to have a maths lesson that Thursday evening but we’re canceling it. It’s all about priorities!

My minions and I are hard core Avengers fans – anything MCU actually! It started a long time ago when my boy was a wee babe and he had a thing for Spiderman. Even when he was under a year old, it was clear that Spiderman was his greatest hero. Some thought that he would outgrow it but he didn’t.

There’s a part of me that’s nervous about the movie. We all know what a horror movie Infinity War turned out to be. It was traumatic. Emotionally tumultuous. We were psychologically scarred. I needed counseling after that movie – I kid you not. We left the cinema in silence and with red watery eyes. We went through the motions… Shock, Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression.

I would describe it as the perfect movie to watch on Halloween 🎃 👻 if you looking for something to scare and sadden you.

But in true Avengers style, we take courage. We lift our chins and our bruised and battered hearts. And so the rest of the motions followed… Acceptance.

And once again there is Hope.

Endgame. Only 21 more sleeps to go 😄

Mother and Daughter Goals

I’ve run plenty half marathons. Cool medals, amazing times. My best one ever was running the Two Oceans in 2016 with my brothers and sister-in-law. Now “that best one” will share best place in my heart with the one that I ran with my mom this weekend.

See, this weekend my family did our annual family getaway weekend – always centred around a running event. We’ve been to Knysna thrice and Langebaan thrice before too. A new development is that my mom, who previously was a solid supporter, joined a running club and started doing races since July last year as well!

 

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So this year she joined our running pack. I’m totally stoked, elated and chuffed to say I finished a half marathon with Momma Bear.

Treasured family moments

 

Rainy Monday mornings

So summer has officially left us in Cape Town. That’s ok. Transition is a friend, not a foe.

I must admit though that I was very surprised at the heavy downpour we’ve had since this morning. But the rain brings blessings along with it. It washes everything clean.

There’s a peaceful feeling about this rainy Monday morning. Hearing the rain fall down outside. There’s lots to be thankful for. Coffee and reflection. Lots of stuff to do, but everything will happen in its time. What will be, will be. Welcome Autumn 🍂…

Namaste 🙏🏾

And Bella agrees. She says that she loves the rain 🌧

Dichotomy

I have Olivia and Candice with me. They are my two greatest fears. About a month ago I came up with the idea to give my greatest fears names. I don’t know why the names Candice and Olivia – I just like those names I guess.

See, I have this gut feeling that “fear” is my friend. If I am feeling fear, it is my intuition trying to tell me something. It’s a message. Instinctively, my human nature wants to push fear away, or overcome fear. I spent ten years learning to overcome fears by challenging myself. Pushing fear back or running towards it. I achieved amazing things by doing that – but something (some seed of wisdom deep down in my tummy) tells me that is not the healthiest way to deal with fear. Hence, this my experiment.

Instead of fighting my two biggest fears, I’ve manifested them as real friends in my world by naming them. And whenever I feel their presence, I acknowledge them… even sometimes talk to them. Let’s see how far I get with this 🤦🏾‍♀️🤷🏾‍♀️. It just feels right.

Learning to be aware of my emotions, as I’ve explained above, is the most empowering tools that I’ve been gifted with. At the moment I feel very sad about something in my life. However, I also feel curious, excited and moderately nervous about two other things in my life. I feel strong and courageous about the work I am doing. I feel the weight of responsibility because I am determined to do a good job. At same time I’m feeling compassionate towards myself. And I feel loving towards the world in general. Our earth is so beautiful. People are so beautiful. Yes, sometimes people act in ugly ways, but when that happens it’s because they’re hurting inside. I truly believe that human nature is inherently beautiful. So I’m also feeling grateful. I’m also grateful for my amazing minions and my family and friends. A proper medley of emotions. A dichotomous melange.

This is why life is beautiful. The intense fear, the despair and sadness, the curiosity, the excitement, the hope, the courageousness and the gratitude. There, right there…. That is the point of life. To feel it all.

Yeah, I know what you thinking. This woman is nuts 🥜. You might be right. But I don’t care. I love you too!

The art of listening

I need to be heard. We all need to be heard. That’s not a selfish thing. It’s something that is as critically vital to good health as the air that we breathe.

These thoughts came about because I had dinner with a very good friend last night. She’s a very close friend too. Dinner was fine, however on my way home I felt a dull unsettled feeling that I just could not shake. When I got home I managed to fall asleep but when I woke up I still felt unsettled. I desperately felt a need to ground myself but I did not know why. I started to meditate.

Meditation is my favoured form of reflection. I meditate, then reflect then meditate some more. I always feel better. It allows me to understand my own feelings and my own behaviour which stems from those feelings. Most importantly, it reminds me to be compassionate and gentle with myself. I see my situation from a clearer, less judgmental perspective.

I realized that I was feeling unsettled because even though my friend and I conversed over dinner, we weren’t listening to each other. I think we both really tried to listen to each other – after-all we really are very good friends. However, there is a great deal going on in her life and equally, there’s a great deal going on in my life too. At present, the issues that we are both dealing with are very different to each other.

I believe that we both weren’t able to fully take in each other’s perspective without the filter of what is going on in our own lives. This doesn’t make us bad friends – we are both only just human. Human beings have a need to be heard. And unfortunately last night we were both not in a position to be ‘the listener’. Listening is an art.

Honestly, I believe that I know how to be a good listener. When my own needs are filled, it’s easy for me to be empathetic, unjudgmental and present. Last night for the most part we both struggled to be empathetic.

In restrospect, had I meditated before dinner it would have probably been a different experience. As I am writing this I feel that I have been ‘heard’ – and I actually didn’t need anyone else to hear me, but me.

Because my own needs have been taken care of, right now I am feeling more relaxed, less critical, more open and receptive. And those are the vital constituents required for the art of listening.