Sometimes we place ourselves in a box or worse, allow others to place us in a box. Sometimes people like to remind us of who we once were rather than seeing us as who we are today. This is why is it is so important not to live a limited and confined life. We may well have been shy, geeky, awkward as a child or teenager or we may have been loud, boisterous and outspoken but does this mean we are that same person today? No!
I find it most frustrating when you bump into someone you have not seen for years and at a point in the conversation they make reference to your past. Whether it be about your character or your appearance. What on earth makes them believe you are that same person today?
Though life experiences shape and mould the adult we become, to an extent we have the power to influence this. I was extremely shy as a child and teenager, feisty but oh so shy. Due to a lack of confidence and verbal bullying at high school I went into a shell and stayed there for almost five years. I barely spoke at school and with family at home. Aged 18 I slowly began to come into my own, I experimented with make up and clothes. My confidence grew as I started socialising and dating.
Nobody has the right to keep you in a box or limit your plans and decisions because of their insecurities or thoughts they have towards you. Nobody has the right to continue to remind you of who you were especially if the motive is to keep you in your place. We all have a past and do not need to be bound by it, particularly if it brings up negative feelings and emotions.
So, if you want to wear that outfit to work but feel you will look too over dressed, wear it anyway. I know the drill – your colleagues may ask if you are going anywhere special and you may feel the need to justify yourself. If you want to join a dance class but feel reluctant due to having two left feet, do not let that stop you!
Whilst I am not suggesting you reinvent yourself, do not be the person who always plays it safe. Switch it up now and then and surprise yourself! I have considered cutting my hair low and wondered if it would suit me. I have also considered taking up pottery knowing full when I am unlikely to be any good at it.
If you are honest there is something you desire in life and for whatever reason you do not yet have this. Your desire may be unreasonable, not logic or long lived but it can begin to consume you. Are you able to live, laugh and be happy despite not having this one thing?
Discontentment can make one bitter, resentful and downright joyless. Discontentment can eat at you and make you a pain and a drain to be around. Your discontentment may well be justified. The thing you are after, you may well deserve it as well as waited a long time for it. Being miserable will not bring it your way any faster but why is it so easy to slip into the ‘woe is me’ role? Why is it so easy to play the victim and convince yourself you have been dealt a bad hand in life?
I admit to being discontent in several periods of my life, I felt I had the right to be miserable. Unfortunately my husband and children got the long end of the stick. Bless them, they had to live with me – day and night and truly deserve a medal. I was snappy, sharp tongued and always looked so serious. I rarely recall laughing in these periods and anyone who knows me well can verify that I love to laugh. It sounds pathetic now but I actually felt if I allowed myself to be happy, I would convince myself I no longer needed what I desired and therefore I would not ever have it. I cannot get my around my logic at that time!
I came to a point in life when I realised the importance in enjoying the ‘here and now’ and not waiting until I had what I felt I deserved before doing so. I came to a point where I made the choice to focus on what I did have as oppose to what I did not have. Something so simple and logic but life altering none the same. I began to play with the children and truly be present with them. I began to loosen up and laugh and tease my husband. Our house was a home of laughter, song and joy not a place where you had to walk on egg shells because someone (I) woke up on the wrong side of the bed every morning. This was a major turning point for me and my outlook on life began to change. I smiled on the outside and was actually happy and glowing inside. Years gone by my smiles hid a multitude of unhappy feelings. What I showed on the outside did not mirror what I felt on the inside.
On a scale of 1 to 10, how content are you?
Do you allow your current limitations to affect your joy?
What advice would you give to others who struggle with contentment?
Recently I spoke to a friend about the general fast pace of life; our desire to move things on quickly and get to the gist of conversations can mean we do not allow people to express themselves at their own pace.
A natural doer who likes to see end results quickly, I have a tendency to want to get to the point. However I would like to think that my self-awareness has improved over the years and I make a conscious effort to listen to people. Generally I enjoy people watching and listening- they never fail to fascinate me. There are so many elements to us as people and we are rather complex, well I know I am!
There is much we can learn from others if only we would take the time to listen. People are more important that results, processes, success and recognition yet this is not always portrayed. People are at times ignored and overlooked whilst we are in pursuit of what we believe to be more important.
As a child and teenager, barring my grandma (no biasness of course) I found elderly people dull and completely out of touch. I look back with fondness as I remember my grandma’s stories of her childhood, her time spent in Jamaica and my mum’s character as a child. I remember the advice my grandma gave about savings, marriage and children. I remember the sweet tea she made with Nestle condensed milk and her ability to rustle up the tastiest meal from the most basic of ingredients. I remember my grandma asking me to thread several needles as her eyesight was not so sharp. In her younger years my grandma was a seamstress and my daughter appears to have inherited this creative talent. My grandma passed away 18 years ago and the memories are all I have.
I believe it is important to give a little of our time to others, however busy, frazzled or tired we are because people matter. When my children ask me the same question over and over or continuously discuss their birthday plans for months on end, I try to keep my cool and humour them. A time will come when I will no longer be the centre of their universe and they will prioritise spending time with friends rather than their parents.
Years ago I would shake my head at sayings such as;
“Dance as if nobody is looking”
“Laugh as if it will be your last”
“Do not forget to stop and smell the roses”
I guess I was a bit of a cynic, well so my mother said. I found sayings a little ‘wet behind the ears’ and too try hard.
I did not realise life really is short and generally took myself far too seriously. At times we can get caught up with what we desire, what do not yet have, what is coming next that we forget to enjoy the here and now.
The other day I spotted a beautiful robin in my back garden and took a photograph of it. The robin looked carefree whilst perched on my garden wall then it flew off never to be seen again. I enjoy peering through my kitchen window at my tree, the birds and the cats that visit. I enjoy watering the flowers in my garden and watching them bloom. I smile as I sprinkle water over the flowers whilst trying to convince myself I am ‘green fingered’. I really am not but I do like a pretty garden. I enjoy teasing my children and husband; we dance, sing and make jokes – our house is full of much laughter. Simple but pleasurable pass times.
We are not given the chance to go back and relive moments of our lives that we were too miserable, distracted and discontent to enjoy. They just become missed opportunities. Our families; immediate and extended grow up, move away and pass away. As do our friends. It is therefore important we cherish them today.
Life will never be perfect, not everything will go as planned. However there will always be hope. There will always be elements of joy and laughter that we can grab hold of.
I am of the mindset that if you want to place blue highlights in your hair, go ahead and do it. You can always re-colour if it does not grow on you. Wear those pretty heels to take photographs in at home knowing they are far too high to ever consider leaving the house in.
How do you ensure you remain in the present?
Was there a pivotal moment in your life in which you made this choice?
Life is busy – plain and simple!
I often think of how I can accommodate all I need to do and the thought of it is far worse than reality. Working full-time, running a business, raising children, being a carer and so on means there is little time to cook from scratch, clean and tidy your home, keep to appointments and stay on top of administrative tasks.
So how does one manage and stay balanced rather than stressed?
Well, one option would be to outsource. Identify if you can afford to outsource and what you are happy to outsource. Hiring a cleaner on a weekly basis will save you several hours of housework. Try to avoid the temptation of cleaning before the cleaner arrives as it defeats the object! If you have a large garden, consider hiring a gardener. If your child requires extra learning support consider paying for a tutor (particularly if maths is NOT your strong point like moi!) Freeing up your time allows you to focus on your family or perhaps a hobby with no guilt.
Previously, I would cook on a Saturday and Sunday. Now we order a take away on a Saturday and I cook on Sunday after church. When we have full-on Saturdays, I am under no pressure to squeeze in cooking. It also means I am far more relaxed and less likely to complain which my husband is pleased about!
If you would rather not outsource for your own personal reasons, why not create a housework rota for the family to ensure everyone pulls their weight. Bulk cooking is also recommended when cooking meats which can be placed in plastic containers and frozen. You could consider holding a ‘gardening party’ and invite family/friends over to give you hand. Throwing a barbeque as a thank you would go down well.
Do you outsource in order to free up your time?
Are there particular household tasks you would rather not do?
As we mature, we naturally take on more responsibility but generally feel like the same person we were as a teenager. Our appearance would have changed in a number of ways but on the inside we remain ‘us’. On a number of occasions I have caught myself stating someone in their late 30’s, early 40’s is young because this is my age. I then realise it is practically middle aged!
I feel it is important to bring out our inner child now and again – to make us feel alive and to enjoy life. Being an adult can be downright boring and demanding at times, so much so that I have often muttered to myself:
“I do not want to play this game anymore”
I look at the way my children have such confidence in my husband and me, that we will care for them, that we have all the solutions, that we clearly never get tired, that we are indestructible. The notion that I am a parent catches me unawares – these little people actually call me ‘mummy’. I recall seeing my mum in the same light when a child, I thought she was superwoman. She had insecurities, fears and worries like anyone else but she knew how to laugh and not to take life so seriously.
So, how do I bring out my inner child?
- I run up the stairs when home alone
- I dance in the kitchen pretending I have an audience
- I ask my children to show me their latest dance moves. I mimic them while teasing to hit the dance floor at their school disco – my daughter shudders at the thought!
- I allow my children to do my hair and make up. They then take photographs of me.
- I make faces whilst looking in the mirror
- I make jokes out of practically any situation – just ask my husband!
Choose today to let your hair down a little, do something silly, go on a swing at the park, run around in a field, roll down a hill (the adult in me urges you to check first for dog fouling), dance in front of a full length mirror.
Stop taking yourself so seriously!
Do you ever think about your true purpose in life?
Do you even believe you have a purpose?
Purpose extends far beyond your career, hobbies, family life, responsibilities. Your purpose is what you are called to do and is likely to be something that impacts positively on the lives of others, whether a few or a multitude.
The busyness of life means we are often distracted or focused only on the day to day. Many have long commutes, stressful jobs, demanding families and after which there is little time to think;
“What am I called to do?”
“What difference do I want to make?”
As much as we enjoy our jobs (if you are fortunate) and love our families and friends we can make more of our lives by going deeper and identifying how and where we can make a difference. I believe each of us has something the world needs and by exploring this we will be walking in our purpose. One could be a good listener so often act as a confidant to friends and family members. Another could be a great encourager who offers hope to those who are in despair. There are many ways in which we can be a blessing to others.
After a long day in the office or working on your business, you may naturally want to binge on Netflix shows, read a book, catch up with friends. Whilst downtime is great and much needed, one should not neglect the fact that your life can have more meaning than this. Meaning is important as it reminds us we are not just here to pass time and what we do will leave a legacy for future generations.
15 or 16 years ago, I read a book called The Purpose Driven Life written by Rick Warren. This book has impacted greatly on my life up until this present day. It completely changed my perspective on purpose and I believe in order for one to be truly fulfilled they must have purpose.
Do you believe everyone has a purpose?