Monday, 1 January 2018

My healing journey is now on Radio Kingfisher 107.5FM

Hi Diary,

HAPPY NEW YEAR to you and my readers!!

Lifestyle with Lize 107.5FM
At the beginning of December, Lize-Mari and I discussed on Radio Kingfisher how real the "Hunger Games" became for me a few years ago. Only too real! (You can also read the story in my last post.) But, by the grace of God, I got out of them victoriously and I believe so can anyone else! Over the next couple of months, we will be talking about some practical tips on how to avoid burnout altogether, so you never even have to enter the games. So listen in this year!

Some of the core lessons I learnt on my healing journey came out of a book written by David L. Cook titled "Seven Days in UTOPIA, Golf's Sacred Journey". It took me more than seven days to complete my healing journey, but for me, it was indeed somewhat of a sacred journey and I will be sharing my best learnings on Lize's Lifestyle show on Radio Kingfisher 107.5FM.

For ease of reference and in case you would like to read any of my blog posts that I have written about it for more details, I will list them right here for you. I called them "The Journey to the Center of Me..." and there were 7 parts of this journey:

I hope you will find them helpful on your journey and don't forget to join us every first Wednesday of the month at 10h30 (GMT+2) on Kingfisher FM 107.5 or 103.8!


HAVE A FABULOUS WEEK AND A GREAT YEAR!


Click here if you want to listen live!



Monday, 27 November 2017

Mockingjay...here's MY way out of the "Hunger Games"

Hi Diary

Today I need to speak to all the moms out there who are in danger of burnout. Because burnout can throw you into a game you don't want to be in. A game few survive if they play. It's called the Hunger Games and it's not just a scary movie, for some of us it's a reality!

I have been in the games and the Mockingjay has become my emblem of hope in a struggle that I was lucky or perhaps I should rather say blessed enough to survive. Cancer. A Mockingjay, as seen in this picture, is a fictional bird and the emblem of the sci-fi trilogy called the "Hunger Games". If you are a teen mom, like me, you might have seen any of the movies "Hunger Games", "Catching Fire" or Mockingjay". Great movies! Some of my thoughts about them, which I am about to share, might seem a bit of a stretch to you at first, but stay with me till the end of this post and then feel free to let me know what you think! Those who follow my blog, might know that I like being inspired by movies and I often take life lessons from them. These three movies were particularly meaningful to me. They taught me survival skills during the toughest years of my life!
 
All four movies of the "Hunger Games" trilogy ("Mockingjay" was split into Part 1 and Part 2) are based on science fiction novels written by American author Suzanne Collins. "Mockingjay", the last novel of three, continues the story of Katniss Everdeen, the heroine, who agrees to lead the rebels of Panem in their rebellion against the seemingly tyrannical president of the Capitol, their wealthiest city. Reluctantly, she becomes their Mockingjay, a symbol of resistance, resiliency and hope.

At first, I was somewhat opposed to these movies, as I was not sure if they might not be a bit too violent for my teens. But then I discovered that although the first movie is rather violent, the second is already much more moderate and I also found that I have a lot in common with Katniss Everdeen, the female main character in the story. There’s a distinct commonality between her childhood deprivation and mine, especially her lack of a father and good role model. 

Katniss is selected, by lottery, to compete in a televised battle for survival inside a sophisticated and controlled arena. She succeeds and survives, but only somewhat victoriously. Bruised and battered from the battle, she hides in an outlying district, where she takes time to think things over and gradually becomes part of the rebellion against the dictatorial government and the organizers of these ghastly games. In a twist, almost at the end of the story, she finally realizes who here real enemy is and by the end of the novel - spoiler alert! - she breaks free from all the evil games people were playing with her and lives "happily ever after" with her husband and two children. Happily ever after is in inverted commas as she still has a lot of grim memories to deal with and many bad thought patterns to overcome.

I know what she is going through. I really do. Almost eight years ago, I was diagnosed with cancer. I went into a similarly sophisticated and controlled "arena of chemotherapy" and engaged in a battle that not everyone survives. Back then, it also felt as if I had been selected by some kind of "lottery" as none in my family had every been entered into this kind of "game" or battle and, under the scrutiny of the whole community around me, my own battle certainly felt a little "televised". But I survived, like Katniss and just like her, I was given some kind of a "victory tour". It's a long story and it does have a happy end. However, I went on my victory tour with the same reluctance as she did. Like her, I was and am still not able to enjoy my victory, in light of all the devastation I have seen being done to others in that arena or in my case, the chemotherapy ward. When I was finally released from my arena, I also decided to lay low and to think about things. I too needed to know who my real enemy was. My reading chair at home was my favorite place to sit and think and from that vantage point, having survived the massive onslaught on my life, I can tell you one thing already - excessive "busyness" is a real enemy for sure! Years ago, when I was a mom with little children, I got really busy and I didn't realize that every time I thought I didn't have enough time for a little quiet time, not even a quick moment of rest, I was taking one step further in the direction of burnout and I had to learn the hard way that burnout can enter us into a game we don't want to play.

In District 13, the outlying district in the novel "Mockingjay", however, life is very simple. Stress is kept to a minimum wherever possible. Two meals a day, two sets of clothing, one bed to sleep on, everything is structured and spartanic. I almost envy them for the simplicity of their life. There, Katniss often separates herself from the others. She hides behind a warm pipe in the laundry room, inside a supply cupboard or, if she can, out in the woods. She clearly needs a place to be alone as often as she can.

And that's another thing I can relate to! I try to keep things more simple now and in the last three years I have often found myself hiding in a bathroom if necessary, just to steal a little moment alone with God. I believe without her quiet moments Katniss couldn't have made it through her battles and I know I wouldn't have made it through mine! The way out of my personal Hunger Games was to start having quiet times!

I am back in District 12 now and well into my healing story, fully aware that as I exited the "games" others have entered, but I also know that with the right mentor, you can survive! You can reduce stress and you can avoid burnout and it's never too late! But you might need to make some hard choices in order to do so and you might want to get a good mentor right from the start. I found that Jesus was and is the best mentor by far! Whatever your struggle, whatever your game, I know that if you ask him to, he will show you a way out and he'll give you a new hope and a new future!

I have survived and like Katniss Everdeen, I still have a lot of grim memories and bad thought patterns to overcome in the future, but I know that my "happily ever after" is just around the corner now! Like Katniss, I am a mom of two children and my life must go on and like her, I play a new game now. 

At the end of the last movie Katniss says that every time she feels distressed, she plays a new, comforting and repetitive game: reminding herself of every good thing that she has ever seen someone do and she adds that "there are much worse games to play."

I agree! We seem to be living in an excessively busy world now and there are much worse games to play than having a little moment of thankful thinking, especially in the pre-Christmas season! This is the time of the year where our lives can become very stressful and "loud" and it seems to be getting worse each year. So many preparations, so many worries and often it's just trivial things we are getting stressed out about. So, right now, it might become even more important for every busy mom, to allow herself a tiny little break! A little moment of thankful thinking. These little moments of quietness, just a cup of tea and a cookie perhaps, can relieve stress in a most pleasant way and prevent a burnout. That's my Christmas wish for You. Prevent burnout. Have fun and play. Yes, let's play...but let's play a game of gratitude and joy!


I wish you a very PEACEFUL and  MERRY  CHRISTMAS  SEASON !!




(Please leave me a comment below if you can relate to what I have shared here. I would love to hear from you.)
(All photos are my own.)

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Last day @ High School...my very own "Groundhog Day" victory!

Hi Diary,

Five years ago (I can't believe it's already been this long!) I wrote an article on what "Day 1 @ High School" felt like for a mom. The link is here...


It's been five years and in a couple of weeks it will already be his last day of school! Back then I struggled to let him go and I must admit, I sometimes still do. But I have learnt a thing or two. 

Walking a child through high school is not only about learning and growing for him or her; it's for the parents also! In these last five years, I have dropped him and picked him up from school about 2500 times and frequently waiting for him in the parking lot has gradually taught me some much needed lessons. You don't understand? Perhaps this will help.

Great movie - watch it!
Many years prior to him starting high school, I have watched an American movie called Groundhog Day - a comedy starring Bill Murray as "Phil", a weatherman, who is out to cover the annual emergence of the groundhog from its hole. Phil gets caught in a storm that he didn't predict and finds himself trapped in a time warp in which he is doomed to relive the same day over and over again, until he gets it right. But in order to "get it right" he has to re-examine his life and priorities. Critics say that Bill Murray "shines in this good-natured comedy that delivers lots of laughs and some honest sentiment".

Yes, that just about sums up my past five years! Because for the past five years, it seems that I have "covered" the daily emergence of my son from his room in order for me to drive him to school. Like Phil, I seemed to get caught in a storm I could not have predicted, except, I call it the "teenage storm" and in the midst of it, I seemed to have gotten stuck in a time warp of my own. I have lived day after day during high school trying to "get it right" and I have finally learnt that my attitude towards my son and others around me really is crucially important! Just like Phil, I ended up re-examining my life and my priorities several times.

High school, like the movie Groundhog Day, can be a good-natured comedy with lots of laughs, but it certainly also produces some honest and profound sentiments. The teen years are not over yet and neither of us has passed all the tests that were presented to us 100%, but we have both grown up.

Soon the clock will turn over one more time as it did in the movie and both him and I will go "free", we will move on. Hopefully remembering all we have learnt. Not only the Math and the Science, but also the way we ought to relate to and support each other. 

Soon he is leaving high school for the last time and I wish him and every other child that is leaving with him that their path will be full of hope and mystery and that they will conquer their future victoriously! I am proud, as always, to be his mom!

P.s. Two months from now, it will be his sister's first day at high school and this time I will know what to expect, thanks to him and other moms who have encouraged me. It will now be my honor to encourage other "first time" moms! 


HAPPY FINAL EXAMS EVERYONE!   


Wednesday, 6 September 2017

I just want to BE OK!

Hi Diary,

I am indeed a non-perfect mom and I know that I have limitations and shortcomings and because of it, I often crave to know that I will be ok. I want to know that somewhere in the hopefully near future I will reach my very own "Promised Land".

If anyone has read any of my earlier blog posts then they know that I "burnt out" about seven years ago. Since then I have traveled a long way on the road to recovery and perhaps they are walking this road with me. If they do, I want to encourage them today with a little song titled "Be OK"! It was originally performed by Ingrid Michaelson but beautifully covered by Rachel & the Kooka Cats on YouTube and it can be viewed here:


👏🏻 👏🏻 👏🏻
 
Oh how I can relate to this song!! I wonder if anyone else can? (I would love some comments below.)

The first time I listened to this song, I hadn't felt "ok" in years and even though I feel much better now, I still love this song! It's very comforting to know other people share my need to "just be ok".

I love the way she starts making breakfast, thinking that she is alone, blinded to the presence of other people in her kitchen. She wishes to be ok. But she knows that she is a "gallery of broken hearts" and she wants her broken parts back.

So did I! Yes indeed, so did I! As a mother of young children I often felt that I was completely ALONE in my home, especially in the middle of the night with a sleepless child. So often I wished to be ok, but I wasn't and it took me several years to discover that part of the reason why I wasn't ok, was that I too was a gallery of broken hearts and that I needed someone to help me mend them. I have found someone when I finally allowed myself to have "quiet times" and his name is Jesus. Every time I ask Jesus to give me a broken part back, he gives it to me and helps me mend it. Over the past few years, it has been and still is the most amazing journey and I just hope that if anyone else needs help, they will find it also! For me, it all began with a little quiet time and slowly but surely I became more "ok"...

Occasionally I still have doubts and I get up some mornings still needing to know that I will be ok. But I noticed, that if I pray to God to give me help and top "open my eyes" to the beautiful things around me, something amazing usually happens, just like in this little video. At the end, as she keeps verbalizing her wishes and desires, she suddenly starts noticing all her friends and she realizes that she is actually NOT alone! You can see the sudden change in her physical and mental composure transforming her from depressed to smugly content. I love that! In the end, she seems to have a sudden notion, that not only maybe, she will actually be ok! So cool! I want that and in small ways I am already beginning to have it! 

Yes, it is not easy in today's fast paced world to maintain a well balanced life, but I am determined to get it! And how will I get it? I will keep asking Jesus to "open my eyes" to everything good around me that has always been there, even when I didn't notice it! In 2 Kings 6:8-23 God opened the eyes of Elisha's servant to see an army of angels that has come to their aid and what he did for him, I believe he will do for you and me also! Rachel & the Kooka Cats have illustrated this so beautifully! 

I am encouraged today and I hope others also and the next time I cook myself a breakfast, I will try to remember this song and KNOW that I WILL BE OK!

HAVE A HAPPY DAY!

😃 😃 😃

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

My blog is now on Radio Kingfisher FM...!

Hi Diary,

Guess what? This is so EXCITING and an explanation why my blog posts are a bit less frequent at the moment...

"Diary of a non-perfect mom" has now been introduced on Radio Kingfisher FM and Lize-Marie Arthur and I are discussing one of my blog posts every first Wednesday morning of the month! She is such a gem and I am sure you really would enjoy her programme!

It does, of course, create extra preparation work for me and since I am still a full-time mom, I do not have quite enough time yet to "do it all". I am sure other moms know the feeling!! So, my writing might be a little less frequent for now, but I hope they still do pop in every now and then and visit my other social channels, like YouTube, Facebook and Instagram where I am also posting frequently.

I've once read that full time moms are not only moms, but teachers - nurses - referees - chefs - maids - waitresses - handymen - body guards - photographers - counselors - chauffeurs - event planners and hairdressers "all-in-one" and by the looks of it, now radio guests also. Phew...so true! So to all the busy moms out there - I wish you a FABULOUS week with plenty of HUGS and KISSES from your kids, as a thank you for all that you do!
If you want to listen to my chats on Radio Kingfisher FM, just tune in on the first Wednesday morning of the month around 10h30 on either 103.8 or 107.5 FM or simply click on either of the links below, which will both take you to the KFM live stream:





ENJOY!

Monday, 5 June 2017

Five lifehacks I learnt from a rather inexpensive IKEA lamp!



Hi Diary,

I love it when the most mundane things around my house teach me something! A hamster cage, an apple, even a solar panel, they have all taught me valuable lessons or "life hacks" as we call it now. Not long ago, this little lamp has taught me something also. It kind of felt as if it was talking to me. Quite amazing considering that the lamp doesn't even seem to have a mouth. But let's start at the beginning...

Long time ago, I bought this little lamp at IKEA in Europe and it has been on my night table for many years now. Always silent, but always ready to shine. That's what it's made for. The years went by and some were happier than others, but this little lamp never had anything to say. With two ears and two eyes it seemed to observe and listen but it never spoke. After all...it's just a lamp! Right?

But this little lamp has seen me cry. Just like you. Did you ever wonder why? Without going into details, let me just say that my childhood has included less ups and more downs and I have often felt unwanted, unworthy and also very angry at times. As I journeyed through the years, battling with feelings of rejection and shame, I have cried many tears, especially at night.  But I did what everyone else seem to be doing: in the morning, I put on a smile and I journeyed on. All the while, deep inside, I was hiding a profound sadness that no one seemed to understand and only I knew that my smile frequently was fake. I became a wife, then a mother and I still carried the sadness inside. Then, one day seven years ago, I faced a major burnout, a dangerous illness and a desperate need to heal. Several years of physical and emotional healing followed and today, by the grace of God, I am now completely healed. But in the process, I did cry many more times and all through these years this little lamp was a silent witness to my tears.

Then, on a very normal day when I was just cleaning my room, I switched the lamp on and noticed some dark spots inside. Some kind of dirt seem to have accumulated on the inside of the lamp that couldn't be wiped away from the outside, not unless I took it apart. The dirt on the inside didn't change the purpose of the lamp, but it did seem to dim the light quite a bit and in a very sudden and unexpected moment of self-reflection, I really felt sorry for that lamp. Because I realized, that for many years now, I felt that my light had been dimmed. Rejection seems to have a sure way of dimming our light! It can leave us feeling diminished or "unable to shine".

People are rejected daily and write in their diary, so I have no doubt that you know what I am talking about. I have been rejected by my own dad. But others might have been rejected by a spouse or a superior at work or anyone else. I know that even the smallest kids at school already have stories of rejection to tell. How sad! There are so many ways that we can end up feeling rejected and while every type of rejection seems to have a way of leaving us feeling sad, unloved and unworthy, some actually have the potential of leaving us almost "dirty" inside. Not real dirt of course, but some kind of unwanted and undeserved guilt or shame and like with this little lamp, it seems to accumulate over the years.  

So, on the day when I was cleaning my house, my little lamp finally opened it's (invisible) mouth and ended up teaching me five important things. Here they are:

1. Each and every one of us is made for a purpose and this purpose doesn't change, no matter how much baggage or "dirt" we accumulate inside! Rejection can make us feel unworthy and "dimmed" but it still doesn't change the fact that there's a reason for you and me being here. Perhaps you don't know your "purpose", neither did I, but having regular quiet times sure did shed some light on it for me. (Pardon the pun!) The point the little lamp was making to me is, that even if you are feeling a little dirty inside...you can still shine! Shine, whenever you have an opportunity, even if you are not squeaky clean! 

2. Nobody is perfect. Most likely everyone has a little bit of "dirt" building up within. Unfortunately this little lamp cannot clean itself and neither can I. It can only be cleaned by it's creator or supplier (IKEA) or the buyer (me) but it clearly cannot clean itself. That gave me a bright idea! Since God is my creator and Jesus paid for me at the cross, they must be the ones I ought to ask to cleanse me if I am in trouble and unable to shine. In the past, I have tried many times to cleanse myself of all my sad feelings, but they always came back. However, once I asked God to take care of them, when I finally started to pray that He would take them away...surprise! Little by little they disappeared and with them went the guilt and shame. The words in Psalm 51:7 "Soak me in your laundry and I'll come out clean, scrub me and I'll have a snow-white life." (MSG) became a personal reality for me, even if I'm not snow-white yet!

3. The "position" of the lamp doesn't affect its purpose at all. Think about it. it is totally irrelevant where you place this little lamp, where it stands or where you plug it in. Its purpose is always to shine and it can shine absolutely anywhere. In a one-room apartment or in a mansion, at home or at work, the purpose of the lamp is not to find the right place to stand, the purpose has always been and will always be - just to shine! If and when it needs to. Likewise, I believe that God also has a purpose for each and everyone of us and I am sure that it is not about position or wealth either. It really doesn't matter whether I am a Home Executive or a Board Executive, a street vendor in India or a boutique owner on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. What matters is that, for today, I give it the best I can, wherever I am!

4. My favorite bible teacher often says, "Live by example and talk only if absolutely necessary." This is certainly the case with this little lamp and no surprise, considering that it has two ears, two eyes and a nose, but no mouth. Living by example, is much more effective than living by "speech", especially with children. Ask any mom! But I must admit, that I have been somewhat challenged by that. I do like to talk and sometimes I still talk too much. But I am trying and every day I hope to do a bit better than on my last.

5. And one more thing! I have learnt from my little lamp that when my energy runs low it is time to plug in! Plugging in can mean different things to different people. I like to sit still for a little while and just be quiet. But you might like to move and go to gym or have a breakfast with a good friend at a local Café. Whatever you fancy, whether you ponder about life and read the bible or dance around in your own living room, as long as you recharge your batteries and take a few minutes away from your routine...it will definitely help to be able to shine again for the rest of the day!

So, these are the 5 things that this little lamp has taught me so far and I mostly need to remember that, especially as a mom, it doesn't matter so much what I say to my children, it matters that I look at them, listen to them, breathe deeply before I reply and...try to shine. Thinking before I speak and living by example are things I still have to practice every day. But I am sure I am not the only one. These 5 lessons probably apply to anyone, not just moms! I might have accumulated some "baggage" or "dirty spots" over time and I do sometimes feel a little "dim", but when I plug in, well, I really do get a good clean and then I remember that I am meant to shine. I know now that we can't fix the past, but we can live each day better than our last! Tomorrow is a new day, so let's try...




If anyone can think of anything else that this little lamp might be able teach me, please do leave me a comment below! I do hope that this post has lit up someone's day just a tiny bit and that we all...

...HAVE A BRIGHT AND BEAUTIFUL WEEK!


(All photos are my own.)

Monday, 27 March 2017

Breathe MOM!!


One of the most important life hacks for moms I have ever learnt (and perhaps for anyone else coming to think of it), I have learnt while flying to Europe. I wrote a blog post in October 2012 about it, but for your convenience it is now on YouTube! I hope you enjoy it! All you need is 3 minutes and 22 seconds... 😉😄




HAVE A GREAT WEEK!