Vital Community

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Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it – Helen Keller

What do we do in times of distress?  Last week Monday my husband, an Attorney, was driving out of the basement parking lot from Joburg High Court and as he reached the top of the driveway he was suddenly in the midst of a full blown riot.  Hammers and rocks were being used to hit his car.  Then someone threw a rock through his window, aiming at his head.  Nobody does that just for fun, they were trying to kill him.

The rock went through the window piercing the clingshield, hitting him in the head and face, fracturing his cheekbone in a few places.  With blood streaming down his face and no glasses on he managed to get out of the situation by driving through the crowd to a quiet street where he was helped by some local shopkeepers.

He has been volunteering in the security field for over 20 years and had a first aid kit in his car so he managed to bandage his own head and called some friends in the security business for help.  On the Wednesday he had reconstructive surgery to fix his cheekbone.

What can we do in times of distress?  We can lose hope, we can get depressed, we cry, we get angry…. but if we leave it there that would be a waste.

Staying hopeless, angry and depressed cannot under any circumstances help you.  It can get you sympathy for a while but not too long because people get on with their lives and don’t want to hear about it anymore.

birds of a featherThis is what my experience has been… When you are part of a community people love and care about you.  Your community brings you strength during troubled times, they offer to help even when you didn’t ask – and you can ask.  People brought us meals because they know what it is like to try and live ordinary life when you are running up and down to the hospital.  I didn’t even ask.

While writing this a friend of mine who recently left South Africa sent me a note:  Sometimes the strength within you is not a fiery flame that all can see, it is just a tiny spark that whispers softly “You got this”, “keep going”.  People offered to come sit with me at the hospital.  Every day people phoned, WhatsApped or visited.

We need community.  It is so important and such an integral part of any recovery.  In Joburg we live behind high walls and electric fences and if we don’t make an effort to be part of a community we can find ourselves alone.

Being part of a community doesn’t mean just sitting there and doing nothing, it means taking part and doing your share. We can all do something no matter what our circumstances are, volunteering our time or our money or our expertise.

If you are not part of a community, look around, find one and become part of one.

Feel the love

Eve

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Why should I forgive them?!

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forgiveness 2

People hurt each other.  It happens to everyone.  Intentionally, unintentionally, regretfully or not.  It’s a part of what we do as people.  The beauty is that we have the ability to heal and forgive.  Adi Alsaid

They hurt you…. why do they even deserve forgiveness?

Forgiving someone is more for yourself than for them.  Ask yourself this…. When you hold on to the pain, the hurt and the anger, who are you really punishing?  Not speaking to someone or being snide or being vengeful does not hurt them as much as it hurts you.  In fact they might not even know that you are holding on to this stuff.

When you forgive someone you are choosing to let go of the anger, hatred or ill will that you are holding towards a person in order that you can heal from this wound.  Forgiveness does not excuse their actions, forgiveness prevents their actions from hurting you further.

Why should you forgive them after all they have done to you?

Think of an open wound.  If you don’t clean up the wound, disinfect it and check on it, it will fester and get worse and worse, it could even become dangerous.  If neglected long enough a wound can kill a person.

When we hold bitter indignation towards someone for a long time it’s like an internal wound.  The other person is not getting sick, we are.  They might not even know we have the wound.  We are effectively poisoning our own body.

Forgiveness does not mean allowing someone to abuse you over and over again.  That’s where boundaries come in.

If you want to forgive someone but can’t, get the help you need to do it.

With love
Eve

Please take a compliment

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complimenet-paper.pngI am fortunate that I can easily see someone’s beauty (inside and out) and I love to light people up so telling them what I see or feel about them is something I enjoy doing.  

When giving a compliment, be honest and sincere so that it comes across well. 

Many people find it hard to receive a compliment because they don’t believe good things about themselves.  

Receiving a compliment is just as important as giving one.  You are allowing the other person to see the good in you, you are allowing someone else to give.  If you negate the compliment you are in essence telling them you don’t like their gift.

Start by practicing to just say thank you.  Even if you don’t believe them at first saying thank you without making up some story about why the compliment couldn’t be true will help you to receive this gift with grace.

What happens if what they are saying is true?  Isn’t that nice?  Allow yourself to be built up.  People love you.

warm regards

Eve Marks

How do you spell love?

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love child and dogHow do you spell love?  – Piglet
You don’t spell it, you feel it. – Pooh

I have noticed that it’s easy to forget to love when we are busy and taken over by life’s happenings.

We forget because we lose our presence.  I see it in myself…. when I have a lot to do someone (like my husband or child) can talk to me but I’m not fully there, I’m only half there and I’m not paying full attention.  The thing is when I do pay full attention the whole scenario turns out differently.  When I’m half there I’m also dismissive, trying to get the things done that seem so important (and sometimes they are) but it disconnects me from the other person, they feel my lack of attention, my hurry or my lack of interest in their story.

When you slow down slightly, breathe deeply a couple times and connect properly with the other person by putting everything down, hearing what they have to say, looking them in the eyes and sometimes adding some acknowledging touch, not only do they feel loved but you will feel love for them.  Communicating is an all senses experience.

Of course you will be unavailable sometimes but you can choose to set a time to connect with them a bit later.

When people feel loved by you, you will see it in their eyes or their demeanor and you will automatically feel love towards them.

There is something extraordinary about being present, about really being there,  bringing love into being….. don’t you think?

Eve Marks

Your inner strength is rubbing off

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I see youCompassionate people ask for what they need.  They say no when they need to and when the say yes, they mean it.  They’re compassionate because their boundaries keep them out of resentment  – Brene Brown

 I volunteered to be on the team for the More to Life Weekend.  I can’t emphasise enough how life changing that weekend workshop can be.  It was amazing to be a part of it.  Not only did the participants grow exponentially and have huge transformation in their lives – walking in at the beginning of the weekend heads down, shoulders slouched, faces stretched taut – walking out at the end eyes shining, bodies standing tall, faces emanating joy….. but those on team also grew in leaps and bounds.  It was a privilege to behold.

Each person on team works on something in their own lives where they are wanting to grow and I chose boundaries because that is an area of challenge in my life.

The more to life community is unique in that it encourages each person to stick to their growth edge (mine being boundaries) so if I choose to say no to something, I am encouraged by them.  

Brene Brown describes boundaries as “what’s ok and what’s not ok”.  Since the weekend there have been many moments where I have been challenged by life to stick to my boundaries.  Since being back at home I am a much more peaceful, loving and accepting individual where little issues were just that …. little.  Instead of getting upset I used my new found growth to discuss them in a loving, firm, connecting way to inspire the kind of behaviour I want towards me and others. 

This last Friday night instead of quietly complimenting my family in whispers, I said out loud (just this once) what I loved about each person.  Then they in turn responded with what they have noticed or love about me.  One of my children looked at me and said “Mom what I have noticed about you this week is that you have an inner strength and it is rubbing off on all of us”.  Tears to my eyes.

When we let people get away with behaviours that are not okay we can become resentful and hateful.  I am choosing not to allow that to happen anymore.  I want to be peaceful, loving and connecting and I am important enough not to accept certain things that are not okay for me.  Boundaries are not walls or rifts they are respect.  

There may be brief sweating when setting boundaries because doing so could bring on other people’s disappointments and could make them angry.  Once they understand that this is not a once-off, things will change.  I used to think that setting boundaries was too strict and I should be doing things for everybody (or else maybe they won’t like me or our relationship will end).  What I have realised though is that setting boundaries is kind.  Not just to me but to them.  Lying about your true feelings and then holding resentment is not loving and caring and doesn’t keep relationships healthy.

I am deeply grateful for having experienced the More to Life weekend once again and I encourage you to look out for it next time (November).

Sending you much love, my precious reader.

Eve

If only I had done it differently

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Let go that things could have been differentEvery now and then I get upset with myself for not doing something I should have or for doing something I shouldn’t have.  For me it’s often about how I’ve been as a parent.  I feel guilt and regret and think, if only I had done it differently.

Think about the person or situation that applies to you in this case.

Is it a given that things would have turned out well if you had done things in another way?

Well maybe you could have done things differently (there’s always scope for growth) and there is a possibility that the situation could have turned out better but how do you know that things would have turned out the way you think they should have?

Maybe not much would have changed or maybe the scenario would have gone in a completely different direction (good or bad).  Maybe you worry a lot about things you can’t control.  After all you can’t change what has already happened.  At the most you can apologise and make amends and work at changing the way you behave now.

We have expectations about how life should be but life doesn’t happen in neat little packages.  It happens the way it happens and we often have very little control of the outcome.

Instead of holding on to guilt of the past, rather spend your energy being the best you can be now.  Beating yourself up is going to do nothing except give you bruises.

With love
Eve

The Unanswered Question

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Here’s something that blew my mind.helpful kids with dog

There are no problems says Tony Robbins.  A problem is just a question that remains unanswered. And what is an issue? An issue is a question that remains unanswered that has a judgement attached to it.

Here is an example that you could relate to: The cost of living has gone up hugely (not only in South Africa) and it is difficult to afford many of the expenses that come up regularly and especially emergency expenses, nevermind saving up for retirement and other life goals. If you focus on the fact that it’s a problem it can become insurmountable and unfixable and very stressful.

And what about an issue? If an issue is the same as a problem but with a judgement attached to it, the judgement would be something like – I have no self control.  Life is unfair. There is never enough.

If you look at it instead as a question that remains unanswered you need to ask a question.  So you could ask something like – What can I do to earn extra money? How can I put away a small amount every month towards savings? Where am I spending too much? Am I buying things that I don’t need? What can I cut back on? Do I need help and if so how can I get help?

Once you start asking and answering these questions you will start to find solutions for the situation that you find yourself in. If we use the above example you may find that there are various ways to change the way you’ve been using money up until now.

Does this make sense to you? The same applies to any “problem” or “issue”.

Do you see how this can help you to get through situations that are difficult or stressful? Let me know what you think.