Platinum highlights aka grey hair…

I have loads of grey and over the last few months they’ve multiplied faster than the speed of light. I’ve had grey hair since my teen years but it was a couple of strands. Over the last few years they have enlarged their territory on my head and the last few months have seen a serious colour makeover.  Having greys has never been an issue with me – it’s just been what it is. I’ve noticed lately though that people look at my hair before they address me.  It’s as though they are assessing at what level to pitch their conversation with me.

Somebody then asked why I do not dye my greys as my face looks younger than my hair.  My instantaneous response was to say I am perfectly okay with my hair the way it is and I’m not one for chemical trifling with my hair.  Sometime later though, when I had time to think of my interaction, it hit me that people are uncomfortable with dealing with those that are growing older, and nothing symbolises ageing like grey hair. It’s an interesting time in ones growth as it dawns on people that there are many years behind me.  I wish they understood though that there are many years ahead as well, God willing, and as such I really cannot be fussing about frivolous things such as hair.  I have the hair.  I am grateful for that.  I could be bald and not out of choice too. My hair colour is the least important thing in my space.

And I have always been told its a sign of wisdom.  Maybe I am growing wiser – I sure hope so because I have exhibited very unwise behaviour in my past – and if I am growing wiser it is happening at an exponential rate right now.  A very good friend said that should it start growing grey in her nether region, she will shave clean.  I laughed at that but I got it.  I shall keep my counsel on that, but yes, these become interesting observations.  I am enjoying growing older but there are moments when I think “WTF??”.  Fortunately for me, greying hair isn’t one of those times.

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Health and body image in midlife

I have been blessed with height – that’s what I’ve ben told, although looking around I feel pretty average (1.78m). I have also been blessed with fairly good posture, good skin (now that the acne is under control) and I can comfortably say overall, I’m not doing too badly.  Now when I was younger I was as skinny as a rake.  It didn’t really mean anything to me except that I struggled to find long enough pants for my size so I stayed in dresses and skirts and that most times there was an assumption I liked mini’s – the clothing industry did not cater much for my height.

Over the years I have discovered the love for food and a sedentary lifestyle.  I think this happens when you pull a long hard day at work, get home and parent and pretty much do not make time for oneself.  I have taken my health for granted and settled into a hedonistic lifestyle, indulging in rich foods and lazy days. I’ve fooled myself into thinking I deserved it.  The unfortunate result has been creeping weight gain and very low levels of fitness.  In 2017, I decided to go to adult ballet classes and it has been amazing to be in a class doing something that brings me great joy.  This again made me think I’m doing something physical so my body will recalibrate itself to its good old fit engine.  How I have lied to myself.  You can’t out exercise bad eating habits. So although I have become a little fitter, I am fatter too.  My doctor has real issues with this – I am not a growing child, nor am I growing a child in my body so I do not need to be consuming the vast quantities that I do.

As I approach 50, I am more cognisant than ever the risk of and vulnerability to lifestyle disease so I am going to consciously challenge myself to turn this around.  No, I will not starve myself, but rather, I will strut myself into good health in order that I do not attract aches and pains that accompany midlife.  I want to continue to eat what I want whenever, but moderate my amounts (my eyes are far bigger than my stomach). I want to do a lot more than ballet. I want to move more – it will be good for my joints and muscles.  I want to get healthy.  I know that this is a very tough journey as it is a mind thing so I have put checkpoints along the way and will share with you how it goes monthly. Has growing older changed how you view yourself and your body? What are you doing to get your health right? Please lets talk.

Less sugar, more spice but still everything nice

One of the most difficult things I have had to overcome is the indoctrination that girls must be nice and kind. A girl must be sweet and pleasant. She must grow into a woman who is humble and accommodating, pleasing everybody (even at her own expense and they tell you this too).  A lady must be “sweet / nice”. What does this even mean? Today I thought of this as I met for the first time, my hostesses friends, who were very welcoming to me and really made it easy for me to feel at home in their house and presence.  It struck me that they made it very easy for me to be nice.  Not because I was taught that, but because it is what I wanted to be right then. To be open to them because it made me feel good to be so at that moment.  They were people whose spirits sat well with my soul.

As we sat conversing and later went out for lunch, it struck me that that this “being nice” is something that as a woman one carries the burden of dealing with.  Now don’t get me wrong, I am not always sweet. Long ago already, I recognised how being sweet and nice, on many occasions, meant that I compromise my own joy and comfort and that I was being dishonest not only to myself but to the recipient of the niceness. I long learned the lesson on niceness.  I do believe that I sometimes need to remind myself of it though.

I’m aware that we go through a large portion of our lives having internalised these behavioural expectations and over time we come to the realisation that these shortchange our kindness to ourselves.  Everybody expects women to be sweet and this has been the standard used to “take” from women.  The standard used to hinder our progress – be kind and sweet about Mr so and so getting the promotion, he has a family to feed, be kind and sweet to your abusive in laws, you will alienate then lose your husband to someone else etc.  A great number of my life decisions have been based on being sweet, even after I believed I had unlearned this.  So I need to consciously interrogate the true reason I am “sweet” in every instance to be sure that it is by choice, because I am more conscious than ever that life is short and has to be lived on ones own terms.

Overly niceness, just for the sake of it, beasts the other part of me. I can and have been in the past particularly “bitchy” – all you need to get this is to push my buttons. When I have shown this part of me and am honest and truthful, and when that truth does not work in favour of the other party, I have been labelled – hard, unsympathetic, indelicate, inappropriate and all such names.  But this is my honest self.  This is the self is authentic and frees me from questioning myself.  It’s a little spicy according to others.  This could mean anything – spicy alluring, spicy wicked, spicy tart or spicy acerbic. Whatever it is though, it’s the real me. I don’t mind any of these labels, so long as I can sleep well at night.  However, I’ve learned that I can be honest without being hurtful.  People are carrying a lot of “stuff” and I can and choose to contribute to society by being cognisant of this without compromising myself.

So as I hurtle towards 50, I am learning that it is okay to be a little sweet, a little spicy but overall, a brand of nice, that allows one to be in communion with others and affords one good sleep at night. Most importantly though, I am learning the importance of being kindest, sweetest and nicest to self.  I matter most – I am my business.


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A fortnight ago I turned 49 and as the days were drawing close to this birthday, I asked myself that typical middle age question – what have I got to show for my life? What have I got to show for half a century of life? Then the question became, “Am I where I wanted to be at this phase of my life?” Was this my mid-life crisis? 😊😊

My birthday somewhat coincides with the year turning, so I can excuse people for thinking that I am going through “end of calendar year” issues. Mine though is really a need within me to wake up to myself. Let me correct this, I actually have woken up to myself, but now begins the quest of how best I utilise the next 350 days to get myself closer to the mark of what I had set out for 50, physically, emotionally, spiritually financially and mentally. So I have challenged myself to be intentional about my journey to 50. To be intentional about the areas of my life that will see me pat myself on the back because I will have “started the shift to it”. I choose to share this journey with you, my friends, so that you are not left tittering one day in some corner asking yourselves “what happened to her?”.  I will be honestly raw and vulnerable. I will open up parts of myself that one would typically hide as a way to protect oneself – but I believe that without opening oneself up, one cannot grow. 

Many of us are afraid to grow older, afraid to admit we’re growing older, afraid to vocalise and address the disappointments we have had because of our choices. We do not want to appear as being failures. Yet I believe these conversations will allow us to seek the right help as we journey life. These conversations will allow others the space to share their wisdom, and possibly also learn from one.

I hope, too, that maybe one day, the younger generation, the Msi’s of this world, will not think that they would be the first to experience life challenges  and perceived failures – but would rather understand that all generations go through these and in some instances the challenges are exactly the same with just a different context.

I will share fortnightly and will welcome your thoughts and feedback. I will be brutally honest with myself as I wade through my own bullshit. My first topic will be “I’m less sugar and more spice but still everything nice”. I will end the year on this very topic too.  Today I write from Cape Town, my second destination in 2 weeks, as I want to live through my my journey in every way and I look forward to sharing it with you.

For now, MERRY CHRISTMAS and may the holiday season be memorable.

Celebrating wins along the journey and not just the destination.

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So with Msi being at uni this year, I admittedly initially worried about him settling into organised schooling, particularly after a year of serious idling!  I was concerned that he would find it difficult to settle in with classmates a year younger, who have formulas still fresh on their minds.  It’s a quarter way through the year now and a chat we had today has really settled me.  Alright, we have had other chats along the way but today’s, specifically, made me realise that he is handling it.

When he started uni, I made it clear that he must enjoy this phase of his life journey, that it is one denied many and he has this one shot to grow into young adulthood, find himself, and get a degree conferred him, all while staying in the comfort of his home with the security of knowing mum is there.  I also made it clear that it is an opportunity not to be frittered away because this mum doesn’t play like that.  I did emphasise that I am not expecting him to kill himself getting marks close to 100% because application matters a whole lot more and that getting to know people and having some fun will add to his ‘varsity experience.

He is not a great fan of one of his math teachers and he articulated this, so I had said if it gets impossible to understand him, he needs to speak to other students who are being taught by somebody else so that he is not only relying on self tutoring.  He’s managing overall, and he confided in me in the car a few weeks ago that he loves uni.  This pleased me immensely because I trust that he will stay the course. And just so you understand my joy, Msi typically doesn’t force himself to do stuff he hates.

He worried about a test he wrote a few weeks ago but today he got his marks and he was so relieved he had passed better than he had thought he would, hence my writing today.  I was very happy for him.  I was happy too that he told me how he has worked out ways to better approach the second half semester, particularly given that he now knows his lecturers and how they work.  I am pleased that he thinks about these things and is not hoping it will all take care of itself with little effort from him.  I am even more pleased that he talks about his school life daily – the ups and the challenges.  I have decided that I will continue to share some rides with him to uni on some days, as it gives us good time to chat (well all 10 min of the ride).

He was so stoked today and I celebrated with him because I want him encouraged as he goes through this walk into adulthood.  I want him to continue to know that I can be his first port of call with any thoughts about it and that as much as the end matters a lot (being the key to his career future), the journey is as important, as it builds and begins to define the man he will be; the work colleague he will be one day; the team player he will be; and just the adult he will be. I want him to understand that every little success matters as it leads to the greater success.  That keeping his eye firmly fixed on the prize is mostly about understanding that the whole is made up of bits that need to be celebrated too.

I am hugely grateful to God for the relationship I have with Msi, I am ever grateful to my tribe for the love they extend to him and the celebrating they do with him too.  It is tough for young adults at universities these days (especially University of Pretoria), and I am grateful for the love, encouragement and support extended him daily by all my support .  God has blessed me.

Do we put strong women on a pedestal…

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I’m not going to do this topic any justice but I believe I need to put it out there so that we can start engaging it.  A dear sister posted about the strong woman a few days ago and I have been thinking on it ever since.  My mind just wont let it go.  I am a strong woman.  I say this in all confidence, knowing what I have endured in my life (yes, some self inflicted but a lot, not) and how I have come through the other side and still remain standing tall.  I say this confidently also because people who have witnessed my various struggles have told me that I’m strong, so it’s been affirmed.  Many women I know and am privileged to call friends are strong.  I’ve watched them handle their difficult business and all the while stand tall.  I say this because I have held the hands of many who have been going through their challenges and have felt that my strength can sustain them as they navigate their waters.  My strong friends also have had their fair share of holding other peoples hands whilst they go through their own drama.  How I became strong, I do not know – I never aspired to be strong. I would have liked to get through life without needing to have to be “strong” and to just be a women with all the beauty that comes with it but my journey was not to be so.

Here is my challenge – what happens when the strong woman can not be strong any longer; when she needs to totally surrender and for a while let go of being strong? What happens when the strong woman is the one who needs someone to be strong for her?  Does the strong woman believe enough that there will be others who are there to hold her up when she needs the support, when she needs to draw on their strength? Or does she do it all alone? My thoughts (and please feel free to shut me down here) led me to a couple of decisions for my self and I write hoping that you will consciously get to your own decisions after really thinking through what being a strong woman means for you.

I cannot change who I am – I solve problems. I want to rush in and find a solution when things are floundering. That is who I am.  This has given rise to the belief that I am strong. So maybe I am – or maybe I have had to rely on my own resources and strength, on my own belief that I will get through it, because I have had no other choice.  My Christian faith has certainly been an anchor in affirming that “I can” through Christ.  There have been many instances though when I have felt that enough!! I can’t do it any more – but having the responsibility of a child has pushed me forward.  I also am seen as strong because I appear to cope in very many trying situations.  What people do not realise is that it is not my strength that gets me through but God strength – His word is the pillar I hold onto for myself. Result is that I appear to automatically take control and get on with things and not reach out to people around me.  At no point though do I put my burden down, it is mine but I just carry it with God.  I talk to Him in prayer and I get on with the next day – seeing it as an opportunity for change.

So when I do really need that worldly help, I do not know where to turn because I have never given anybody the opportunity to be my strength.  I have found though that when I have reached out people have turned away (save for a handful that I try to spare because I know that they too are handling their own trials) and I suspect it is because I shatter their illusion of being this immovable person. Suddenly I am like them – seemingly weak and helpless. So the pedestal is immediately removed and you do not hold that space in their lives any more.  So I have come to the following decision.  I refuse to be the strong woman now.  It is tiring and attracts to you souls that are broken and so you cannot have an equal relationship.  As a strong woman you become the psychologist of many.  Whilst this may make you feel good for a while, it can drain you, making you the “go to” and leaving you with very little for yourself and with no idea where to draw energy from.

As women there is an expectation that we will be superwomen and when you are a strong woman, even more so.  There is an expectation that you will have this infinite well of strength. Part of that means you will always be expected to avail yourself to give that strength out.  As for me, I’m done with that life now.  I am tired and I need the strength for me first.  If there is a human soul willing to reach and share their strength with me, yay! But I will naturally be seeking it from Gods word. This strength will be to deal with my own drama.  I need to refuel my reserves and nurse my soul and strength back. I, at this point, have none to share. I refuse to burn out.

So I urge you to ask yourself why you are seen as the “strong one” by others. Why have you been put on this pedestal and how do you feel about it?  Does it validate your purpose in this world, your existence? If your conclusion is that people have placed you on a ‘Strong Pedestal” for their own selfish gain (by the way they do not do it consciously) then you must ask yourself if that is who you want to be for ever and if you will be able to sustain it.

Tell me sweet little lies

Truth – we always think of it in relation to others and will endeavour to only get the truth from them. We do not afford ourselves the same truth though. We are way less honest with ourselves and with people who will affect our lives, present and future. Then we wonder why we are in situations we should not be in, we wonder why our lives have taken a trajectory that they should not have taken.

 

I know that this is because we fear that when we speak our truth we may not get what we want or desire. What we do not understand is that when we do not speak our truth, we really will not get what we desire. We will always be secretly unhappy and unfulfilled. This is because one gets what they portray. One gets exactly what they ask for. I will give a few examples as I too have been guilty of self-deception.

 

Scenario 1:

You need a job because you are either unhappy where you currently are or you are flat out desperate because you do not have a job at all and you need to earn an income. You are interviewed and at the interview your instincts tell you that something is not right, but you go through with the process. You get a call a few days later to tell you the job is yours. You are reminded by your conscience that something was “not right” or felt “off”. You accept the offer anyway because you lie and tell yourself that it is nothing; that you can get in there and make it work. Once there, you begin to see clearly why your conscience was niggling. But you continue and lie to yourself, telling your-self it will work. A year later, you want out…

 

Scenario 2:

You meet a seemingly wonderful girl / guy and you hit it off first date. They tick off several boxes. Then they say they are not ready to settle down and that they just want to see where this will go. You lie to them and agree saying that you are in exactly the same space, you are fine with casual dating. A few weeks / months later, you want something more with this person and they are not willing to give it to you so you pretend that it is fine, but it is not. You hope by staying, they will see what a great person you are and will want something permanent. You lie to yourself and them and therefore get what you asked for. This leaves you alone and / or unhappy.

 

There are many other such scenarios and I am sure that as you read you were thinking of them.  Whatever the scenarios, these self-lies and therefore lies to others, leave you unhappy, unfulfilled and hurting. You know you cannot really blame anybody but yourself, yet continue to lie to yourself and say it was “them”. STOP!! Let us STOP this self-deceit. It is time we took the steering wheel of our lives and truthfully confronted each area in which we deceive our-selves and others. It may cause initial discomfort, it may mean you find yourself temporarily in a position of lack (physical, financial etc) depending on the area that you have chosen to confront truthfully, but what it will eventually do is put you in a position where you get what it is you are looking for as you are more truthful about what it is you want; a position where you are in real control of your life journey.

 

The desires of your heart are not there by mistake – those are a part of your life journey and destiny – those are what the Holy Spirit has placed in you. Therefore there is a need to be honest about your life journey. The Holy Spirit has a way of confirming your beliefs and your hearts desires. The Holy Spirit has a way of guiding you to what is right and that which we call intuition is the voice used. Let us get rid of our need to be in control of others and of situations and rather be in control of our own lives. This means we need to stop being driven by our insecurities. Let us not judge ourselves unkindly. Let us believe in ourselves and trust our truth, irrespective of the nature of the short-term discomfort, in order that we may live happier fulfil lives, with what we want. It is time we used truth to be fair and kind to ourselves.