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Life Lesson 3

If you wish, you can read previous posts on my life lessons:

Not everything is black and white

Being a hero comes at a cost

This week I know I’m going to make those eyes roll back in your head and churn some thought processes. I have to challenge some mind sets and this specific one is certainly controversial but when you really think about it, also rather practical.

#3: Everything does not happen for a reason

Don’t jump to conclusions just yet. Let me explain.

I believe everything happens because of the decisions we make. It’s these decisions and actions that lead to consequences, good or bad, within your control or not. And ultimately these decisions determine where you are and what you do at a specific place and time. If I could, I would rewrite the statement like this:

‘Everything happens because of our decisions’.

I know this may not be your conviction but it is mine. And it’s a good thing for me. It’s not to say we are always responsible for inviting the bad things that happen to us. It simply means we have freedom of choice and who could ever know what lies around the corner in the future. It really is a gamble at times.

Whose to say that you made the perfect decision to stick to the speed limit, only to get hit by another speeding and reckless vehicle. Or gained a bunch of kilograms simply from eating chocolate every day for a month.

You see, when we realise just how much is within our control and what is not, this point becomes much more clear. For example, checking the traffic and weather before deciding when to leave for that crucial meeting and arriving on time. Yes, that can all change enroute (out of your control), but if not anticipated (within your control) and you arrive late that’s your own fault. We have so many resources on hand nowadays, there is actually no excuse. We need to accept the consequences of our decisions (or lack thereof) and not simply settle with ‘everything happens for a reason‘. That can only be a byproduct of everything happening because of the decisions we make.

I met my hubby on a dating site and my checklist as a woman, never incorporated considering a man who was previously divorced and had kids. But I made a decision to click on him and he made a decision to click on me too (read more here Coincidence or Not).

What’s the chances we would fall madly in love, get married and live happily ever after? We met because of our decisions to take a chance. This was all within our control and everything after happened as a result of those decisions.

If you really think about it, everything we face is the result of a decision made at some point in our lives. And yes, because of these decisions, everything happens for a reason we already chose – be it consciously or unconsciously!

#Just some food for thought

Life Lesson 2

Just to reiterate, I know these Life Lessons may in fact be controversial to say the least. Use them or don’t use them. Remember to keep in mind that we cannot live on someone else’s conviction. We need to grab hold of our own personal convictions and only then can we live with meaning. I do hope these lessons will challenge current perspectives.

(Read more on Life Lesson 1)

#2: Being a hero comes at a cost

Whether you asked for it or not, circumstances can sometimes subtly dictate and autonomously place one specific person in the spotlight without any conscious choice. Most often this is not something one could ever prepare for or even just have a moment to consider, and no opportunity is given to accept or decide upon. It just happens.

One is thrust into a position of leadership, where an exceedingly heavy mantle of responsibility is unconsciously taken upon one’s shoulders and carried through the circumstantial period of time. It happens at the blink of an eye. The natural fight or flight reaction of our brain chooses to fight. Not flight! It chooses to survive, chooses to save a life and chooses to ensure right prevails despite the repercussions. And all this without any reasoning or logic.

And only some time later, reality hits home. The implications and consequences of what was done, the good and maybe the not so good if any, begins to play devil’s advocate. And before you know it, the age old question reveals itself and cries out ‘Why me?’.

Enter the pool of self-pity that begins to heavily weigh down on you with each ‘Why me?’.

Yes, being a hero comes with much honour and sometimes even prestige, mostly unwanted. With all the best of intentions, it can even have the appearance of a profession one would want to grow up into. But being a hero eventually plays out and takes it’s toll on you emotionally, mentally and physically without any persuasion or comfort. It just happens without your permission. And no one was designed to carry that kind of responsibility. It can wreak absolute havoc with thought processes and emotional stability if not identified and accepted sooner rather than later.

For me, I reached a point where I was on the verge of losing everything. It’s a hard place to be and one to be avoided at all costs. Quite ironic that sometimes this very point is just what is needed to shock the brain back into realizing just exactly what you do have and how much value that already has – just enough at just the right time.

I honestly do not know how to wrap this one up, but maybe I can leave you with just these suggestions:

  1. Humbly acknowledge being a hero
  2. Recognize and deal with the effects (no matter how small or big) even if it means seeking professional help
  3. Be grateful, even though life may be overwhelming

Life Lesson 1

I used to live and make decisions based on what I was told. Those that had any form of influence in my life, I held in high respect. I never questioned or challenged what I was told. I believed acceptance was the right thing to do. But as I grew wiser, better looking and more experienced in life and all it’s amazing fullness, I have to say that I have learnt some real hard lessons, like most of us do. Lessons that certainly do not necessarily agree with past influences and lessons that have certainly played a role in moulding me into the me I am today.

Over my next few posts, I will touch on my top life lessons. I know that they may in fact be controversial to say the least, nevertheless these are my lessons. Use them or don’t use them. Just keep in mind that we cannot live on someone else’s conviction. We need to grab hold of our own personal convictions and only then can we live with meaning. I do hope these lessons will challenge current perspectives.

#1: Not everything is black and white

That’s right. It’s not just about black or white, light or dark, yin or yang, right or wrong. That neutral tone colour that exists between black and white indeed is there, grey does exist. This doesn’t mean there is no absolutes, but what most of us do not realise is that sometimes seemingly opposite forces can actually interrelate with each other resulting in unassuming prevalence and necessity in facilitating decisions and actions that may not be the norm. Yes, they are grey areas!

For a Type A, perfectionist like myself, that did not sit well with me at all. After all good people deserve good things right?! But often bad things happen. What we don’t see is that just maybe those bad things could be the doorway to those often missed life giving turn of events. We never know.

When this realization hit home for me, it felt like I had invited a form of chaos to rule in my mind. Something I had to tolerate and give a chance. It wasn’t easy. But chaos is not necessarily right or wrong and there is something called ordered chaos. The truth is that sometimes in certain situations, we may not fully know or fully understand or have the ability to comprehend matters, and that is actually ok. Yes, it is ok! That is a grey area. We do the best with what we have at that given time, even when it doesn’t make sense!

Don’t get me wrong. I’m in no way condoning this grey area to be an excuse for inexcusable decisions and actions. Wisdom is required. So when something maybe does not fit into your black or white box, leave it out in the grey area. The more one tries to force it into a black or white category, we stunt our creativity and personal growth. Maybe just give it a try!

Time is love

For those of you that have read my story (click My Story to read), you probably would have noticed that I just told the story as best as I could remember. A simple sequence of events (past) with a happy ending so to say, and a story that contributed in so many ways to who I am today (present).

What most people do not know, is what followed over the next three years. Those years were the hardest part of my story. The detail is certainly not important, but in a nutshell, I suffered from Post Traumatic Stress. It began roughly seven months after the incident. Despite the fact that I had somehow gotten back on the horse on numerous occasions back to the berg, this potentially in itself exacerbated the already declining sleep patterns. Before any realization, the damage had set in and escalated to a critical point where I could no longer function. Night terrors striking unexpectedly. It was horrible. No one really knew or could possibly feel what it was all about, leaving those closest to me helpless in their plight to be of any support. They could only watch and wait and I’m pretty sure prayed and prayed and prayed, while all I wanted to do was to remain highly medicated so that my reality would remain a distant blur.

Taking this high road cost me three years of my life. That’s 156 weeks gone. Over one thousand days gone. Never ever able to get them back.

The one thing I have always been proud of is to live without regrets, and I do not regret those years. I have to say that as much as I may have been out of control, I believe those many days and weeks and years were neccessary for my soul to mend and heal. And boy, when that day arrived and my mind was set free, believe me when I say the sky was indeed bluer. Every sense was heightened and intensely aware, so much so that it quenched and satisfied my soul beyond what words could ever express. No one can conjure up such an experience. I can only say it was a miracle.

And when reality did hit, it was just as painful as it was beautiful. It opened my eyes and my heart, it opened an old door in a new way, it gave me time, time I could utilise and start using for things so much bigger than myself.

Time is a gift. It’s all we have. The right now. This very moment. We will never get it back. And we should be cramming it with as much life giving and uplifting moments so much so that one falls in love with life. Time is not an illusion. Time is real. Time is love. The brevity of human life may many times feel like a heavy responsibility, but my plea is to not let it pass you by. It may not be easy but it is beautiful and worth everything.

ShWeet!

Today I’m going to tell you about a device I have to admit is absolutely ingenious. It’s called the SheWee and it is shweet! A device made for ladies, suitable for any occasion, especially where you cannot squat (for example on a hike, a trail run, mountain biking or just out in the bundu). A device that is used as if you had a jolly winkle. It really is a life saver.

For some, I know you must be thinking ‘how disgusting’! But quite honestly, I don’t think you have any say that can be valid or even entertained until you have actually tried the product.

I must admit I was quite skeptical at first but also super curious as to how it would work. Amazingly so, it just slots in through the side of your underwear and held in the direction you require. No more having to squat. No more bum tickles in that long grass, hoping nothing will cling on and eventually find it’s way into your body. No one wants to be searched in the cavity area for a tick!

But most importantly, there are two things to remember:

  1. You must ensure you have a good seal against your body, and
  2. Make sure ladies, that you face downwind!

A bonus feature is that the product has a liquid repellent type of surface, so once done, one quick rapid shake and back into a plastic ziploc bag does the trick. It really is that simple!

There are many others on the market like the Tinkle Belle, GoGirl and even some disposable options. Whichever you choose is up to you. Keep it handy in that bag you always carry with you, as it is also suitable for when those desperately needed moments arrive whilst shopping or having a cuppa, and the toilet is just too far gone, beyond sitting on. And no one really knows what it is, so keeping it in your bag will certainly not draw any attention.

And for those of you that are brave and comfortable with your man, take on the unspoken challenge! Ok, it may not be that sexy and he will probably win with a distance goal, but hey, convenience is the talk of the day!

How you doin?

I love the Friends series. Bought the entire original DVD set. But I know there are many out there, millions perhaps, who have Facebook accounts with hundreds and possibly thousands of friends. But let’s be honest with ourselves. No one has thousands of friends, not Donald Trump, not Taylor Swift and not even the Queen of England. Quite frankly, it’s an epitome of disillusionment (read more on Social Media or Social Murder).

But it feels so good, right?

The problem I have with this, is that friendship implicates a relationship. And a relationship means investment. Investment in time, effort, heartfelt sorrows and joys, trust and support. It also means taking a risk! It certainly is not something you just land. I mean just look at a marriage. It takes work, all the time, 24/7. There is no half-time. There should be no end (read more on The Currency of Trust). But when in for the long haul, committed to growth, the investment returns in multiples of multiples squared. And no, not physical currency. This is a currency one cannot set a value to.

So my question is how does one have so many friends? Even the cast of Friends really just had each other, six of them.

I am proud to say that I can count my friends on only my fingers! They are the ones I want to be around at any given time. I do not need any more. And the most beautiful part about this is that even though I may not physically see them for months or even years at a time, we simply pick up from where we left off. There is no resentment, anger, bitterness, gossip or even doubt in the friendship foundations that were laid. It’s as good as a miracle.

Over the past few weeks I have had the privilege of catching up with some real deal good ole friends and it’s amazing how it makes my heart so happy. Even though there have been many life hardship stories shared and lived, there’s still nothing better than just being together. I honestly believe in what Socrates once said:

Be slow to fall into friendship; but when thou art in, continue firm and constant.

It sounds like a hymn, a warning to heed. It’s like falling in love. Something we should indeed cherish and protect and sing out loud at the top of our voices. Hold close to our hearts and never let go.

So here’s to friendship, as Eleanor Roosevelt so aptly said:

Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.

Psychological Manipulation

This past week I learnt a very valuable lesson. It started with a simple talk I attended on social media security and how easy it is to hack a person. Social engineering is what they call it.

The statistics are indeed alarming especially when referring to children under the age of 18. In a nutshell, the talk explained how these engineers cleverly play on your emotions and fears. They do such a good job at projecting the idea that if you don’t take the required action as requested, you will for sure land up in trouble. And no one wants to be in trouble especially with the law. But before you know it, you’ve somehow given just enough information to be hacked. Manipulated!

Bank accounts, email information, business IP and data, all at risk. This play on emotions can be devastating in so many ways.

I guess when emotions are at the forefront, they can have the ability to detach you from reality. If this happens (more often than not), they initiate reactive responses that distort the truth and later you find yourself being dumped by an emotional wave, crashing over a sandbank, barely able to breathe. Left only with a wake of turmoil and a hacked identity. Ever been there?

So what’s the moral of the story:

When asked to act on something, or when a decision needs to be made, if it involves your emotion, don’t do it!

Trust your gut. Trust your heart. Know your rights!

Click here to read more on Social Media or Social Murder and What does social media say about you