Friday, November 30, 2012

Lesson 174. Be nice to a sales assistant.

I made a muddle of the till. I entered the wrong figures into the wrong columns, printed off the wrong receipt and sent all of my very very wrong information to head office. I made a right mess, and it was all before nine am.

Needless to say I was panicked, I got all clammy and my head suddenly felt as though it was several kilograms lighter and I had to sit down for a second.

I regathered, I told myself "You are calm, confident and serene" in the words of my high school speech and drama teacher, Kate Kelway (We'll save her for another story, she was perhaps the classiest woman I've ever come across) and I carried on.

An hour passed, no customers, just Lydia and the store. No one to chat to, and no one to sell to. I'd botched up the morning's activities and I was without sales, I was ready to have a wee weep in the back room and I hadn't even reached midday.

Finally, two customers walked in. Relieved at the sight of someone with shopping to be done and something in mind, I talked my way through to the till where I put through the perfect gift for her mentor. She wasn't standoffish or rude the way some customers get around Christmas, she was chatty and appreciated the fact that I was genuinely interested in what she did, so she asked me what I did. I told her, we discussed a mutual love for Westlife amongst other things and when she had to go she thanked me with great warmth and told me she'd be back.

She made my day. Just by being willing to chat, just by being a Westlife fan, just by thanking me for putting in effort. From there on, I was on my way up. I was in a brilliant mood and dealt with other customers much better than I would've had she not come my way. It didn't take much but she really changed the course of my shift.

Be nice to a sales assistant. It doesn't take a lot to talk a little but it makes a world of difference. You never know- you might turn someone's day around. Be nice to a sales assistant.

Lesson 173. Apply grace and wait.

The lights were crimson and so I sat. The lights turned emerald and so I sat.

That doesn't sound correct does it? Well that's because it wasn't. The car two cars in front was obviously unaware of the light change and neglected to bring their foot off the brake. This meant I had to wait for the next turn of events, but to be honest I didn't mind.

I basked in the moment that was. I was sitting in a few cars deep traffic and nobody honked, yelled or made any sort of angry advance towards the driver, they just sat and waited patiently for the mistake to be corrected- which it was within the next few minutes. It's a rare and precious moment when we can simply wait. Wait and trust that the time is coming, wait and accept that sometimes people make mistakes, wait with patience for them to wake up behind the wheel. It's a rare and precious moment because it exemplifies grace, an undeserved mercy or gift that is seemingly less and less common in our cut throat society. I kind of wanted to get out of my car and hug every person in front of me because of they proved to me that even though it's a rarity it's still in existence. We don't all get road ragin' at the drop of a hat or miss of a light. We don't all tell someone to hit the road because of one little mistake. It's when we are able to accept a mistake and trust that soon we will move forward that we actually will move forward. That's when we move forward without anger, bitterness or regret. Without a mood or an attitude to carry to the next stage, we move forward with a new understanding of one another and a renewed appreciation for the human race. That's when we trust ourselves and those around us.

I want to live in a world where grace is an everyday occurrence. I want to see people dismissing road rage and resisting to sweat the small stuff. I'm not saying I think crime should come without punishment, I'm simply saying that if grace were exercised we'd live alongside one another in relationships that weren't full of angry words and harbored hatred. Maybe I'm alone, but I challenge you the next time someone is sitting at the lights, wait. You'll feel better for it. Apply grace and wait. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Lesson 172. Don't let go of your Africa.

My heart's started stirring again, this means trouble. It keeps plying my head with memories of moments that within I felt more alive than ever before. The time I fell in love with a continent and walked away a woman never the same.

Africa. Kenya was first, I suspect Uganda will be second, but it'll always be Africa. The way it smells straight after rain pelts the red soil, the way it sounds on a Sunday morning, the way it feels to hold a child and know that you're capable of changing their world by purely being present.

I'll never forget dancing in a classroom with fifty children in the middle of a thunderstorm. I'll never forget the way that their voices drowned out the claps of the clouds or the hard hitting water on the tin roof. I'll never forget the way their smiles consumed their whole beings, or the joy that radiated from those who had so little but loved so much.

My heart's started stirring again. It's the part where the names of the children who changed it are engraved: Victor, Nifa, Adelaide, Wilson, Blessing. It's been two years and I've never really let go, I'm still figuring out where it fits, but it's safe to say it's not going anywhere anytime soon.

Dont stop your heart from stirring. Hold on to the dreams that live within it and trust that when the time is right they'll be before your eyes. Don't let go of your Africa.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Lesson 171. Talk to someone in a lonely moment.

It's getting on, and although I've been in bed for two hours I still can't sleep. My best friend right now is Shania Twain's biography and I'm currently googling if it's good to sleep with a deep conditioning treatment in or not, clearly my life is thrilling (maybe if I got out more I'd actually be tired enough to sleep right?)

Okay so I haven't been in bed for a solid two hours. I actually just wandered downstairs to quench my thirst after reading up a storm of Shania's childhood. I then discovered that I was not the only one battling a mind all too awake for midnight on a Monday, sitting on the couch was my mother. She was knitting for Christmas, and she had a cup of tea. I poured myself a glass of juice and joined her.

We discussed and debriefed the details of our day. Even though the majority of it was spent together, it was nice just to have someone to talk tiny things. To talk tea cups and record players, to talk Christmas colours and dinner plans. To talk just to talk. 

She doesn't know that a simple conversation about nothing did me a world of good. She's asleep in the next room oblivious to the fact that I can rest easier because there was someone discuss what time I would be waking up in the morning and what I had to get done during daylight hours. Not because she said anything profound or particularly stirring, but because she was simply there to converse and communicate with in a lonely moment.

To be perfectly honest, the last few days have been lonely. I've been battling thoughts of being by myself and they seem to overtake all else at the most inappropriate of times. I thought tonight would be no different, I was wrong. A couch chat with my Mama at midnight was exactly what I needed.

Don't underestimate the power of pure communication. Trust me, it doesn't always take a pearl of wisdom or a discovery of great importance to change something for someone. Talk shop, talk anything. Talk to someone in a lonely moment. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Lesson 170. Make your blunders beneficial.

I showed up to work today as usual. With 5 minutes to spare I wandered into the back room and placed my things down for the day, timed in on the computer and tied my apron strings neatly. I hit the shop floor with a bow in my hair and a smile on my face when a babe of a co-worker walked in.

I was surprised to see her because we're barely ever rostered on together and it seemed like a strange over staffing coincidence. I asked her if she was sure she was working and she replied confidently and went in search of evidence- to the rosters. She then emerged rather sheepish and mumbled "You aren't rostered on" My cheeks flushed crimson and I apologised profusely. I then went and sat down and tried to figure out where I went wrong. I just had it in my head and the idea had lead me so far astray that I'd planned my Friday around a 10-3 stint at work. I'd also brought my sister over, who wouldn't be finished work until around 3. I felt foolish to say the least.

Luckily, my trainee manager was a witness of my despair and made a few calls to ensure that my journey would not be in vain. I ended up working only an hour short of my made up time. Somehow, I managed to make a little extra money out of a less than impressive situation.

Now I'm not saying I'd do anything like that deliberately and I'll hopefully avoid any further incidents involving roster blunders but, I'm saying that there's a possibility to work out a way to make the clumsy beneficial. You can either choose to have a tanty and walk away before you can find a solution or you can sit a few short minutes until one is found. It's up to you. Make your blunders beneficial.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Lesson 169. Be thankful.

I'm no American. I don't have pumpkin pie and I don't talk about the pilgrims, I don't sit around the table holding hands with my family or eat 'til my belly is fit to burst. I do, however, celebrate thanksgiving. I celebrate thanksgiving here and now, you and I style, consider it a rather momentous occasion as it is our first thanksgiving as a unit.

I was supposed to have finished my blog by now- before life happened. Today was the goal finishing date, and we've got a way to go yet. But I remain thankful, because although I haven't achieved quite what I wanted yet, I have more time with you. I have more time to be challenged by each day and to write in such a way that maybe challenges you. I'm thankful that you're reading this, I'm thankful for you.

In case you haven't caught on, I'm about to list what I'm thankful for in the hope that you might do the same somewhere. Write it down, I dare you. Consolidate your list of loves and I promise your heart will catch a little happy too. Don't be afraid of feelings friend, they only bite when they're bitter and they only grow bitter when they're smothered by smirks and shoulder shrugs.

I'm thankful for the one who made me. For his persistence in an unrelenting pursuit of broken people, for his love and his grace. For his sacrifice.

I'm thankful for family. I am thankful for their arms and their hearts, for the way it feels like coming home with each hello. I'm thankful for those I'm blessed with not only through blood but through deep friendship. I'm thankful for another home through times of trial when my family felt far away. I'm thankful for my parents and their commitment to unswervingly loving one another and each child with the same incredible strength. I'm thankful for my big sisters and how I'll never cease to learn from them or laugh with them.

I'm thankful for friends. Especially this year. I'm thankful for new friends that made their way into my heart successfully and deeply. I'm thankful for the laughter, for the understanding of one another. I'm thankful for the way they've walked me through the hardest things I've ever had to do. I'm thankful for friends who will sing Westlife and quote silly things and occasionally humiliate themselves in order to cheer me up. I'm thankful for old friends, dear friends, friends that although see distance don't see change in relationship. For those who drift in and out but remain as always a source of great friendship. I'm thankful for friendship and the way it reminds me of how blessed I am to enjoy such an excellent standard of human beings.

I'm thankful for music. For the way it changes people and things. I'm thankful that it allows me opportunities to be happy and sad and occasionally slightly psycho. I'm thankful that it runs through each stream of everyday life and that I'm blessed enough to study it. I'm thankful for the way it bonds total strangers.

I'm thankful for love of all sorts. I'm thankful for falling in love and feeling heartbreak. I'm thankful for the love of a friend and the love of a family. I'm thankful for the love of food.

Which brings me to this, oh how I am thankful for food. I am thankful for full bellies and their contents. I'm thankful for chocolate, my dear sweet love. I am thankful for cookies and movenpick.

I'm thankful for 2012. It's been absolute madness and I've had to do harder things than ever before. I'm thankful for the challenges and the trials for the way they show ability to grow and move forwards. For the way they give strength. I'm thankful for the people it's showed in and I'm thankful for the people it has sustained. I'm thankful that I have learnt that cookie dough and kisses on the forehead make the world a better place. I'm thankful that it has allowed me to figure myself out.

I'm thankful for home. And I'm thankful that I've realised how beautiful it is.

I'm thankful for Snoosan and his companionship. I'm thankful that he can't talk because I've told him an awful lot. I'm thankful that his little blankie attached to his hand doubles as a tear catcher.

I'm thankful for Singin' in the Rain. I'm thankful that Gene Kelly is a wonderful man and I'm thankful that he gives me hope that one day I'll make a man tap dance through various puddles.

I'm thankful for cuddles. For arms that hold on tighter and just long enough to know the presence of love. They're one of my favourite things in the world.

I'm thankful for underwear. Mostly just because they're not only necessary but also excellent when the right sort is selected.

I'm thankful for new life. For the reminder it is of how precious each second is and for how it makes my eyes get all foggy and my throat get all froggy. I'm thankful for the beauty of a baby and a brave mother.

I'm thankful for lake Rotoma. That it provides the most basic and beautiful hiding place. I'm thankful for the peace that it radiates and the happy memories that reside. I'm thankful for clothes that smell like campfires and ever so slightly sunburnt noses.

I'm thankful for everyday needs being met without thought. I'm thankful that I'm blessed enough to live each day with food in my stomach, a roof over my head and clean water on tap. I'm thankful to be a healthy eighteen year old.

I'm thankful for bed. I'm in bed right now so I suppose this is where my post ends, although it's only where my thanks begin. So I challenge you to try this too, it's this crazy thing called 'being thankful' and I've heard it's a pretty groundbreaking new trend. It might even do a little something for your perspective, go on, be thankful.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Lesson 168. Commit to your diet.

I literally just cried because I'm on a diet- not even a slight exaggeration required. I sat through a movie today and missed 3/4 of it purely because I could smell junk food. Oh how I miss the sweet caress of chocolate and the constant reassurance of carbs. 

However, I don't want to ditch the diet because I want to see results. It's killing me, but I want to see results. So here I sit, with a pang in the pit of my stomach because I know I just have to push through. 

I have to shut off my daydreams of belly meeting brownie. I have to smile, salad fork in hand, and stomach food that I always felt was meant for rabbits and people who had their picture taken every day. 

You gotta push through if you want to see the results. You have to keep on keeping on in order to get to your dream destination. Commit to your diet.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Lesson 167. Stop skimming, start living.

I read a whole book last night. I couldn't sleep, so I read a book. Not a chapter, not half, the whole 224 page story of Ben Carson's life.

It was about 2am when I finally wrapped up although it should've been long before. My eyes were half shut and if I sat up dizziness promptly made sure my back was to bed within seconds. I didn't enjoy the last few chapters which were actually the most joyous of the book. I was just trying to get through, to see the last page and know how it ended. I'm impatient with endings.

I'm this way in most situations. Not in a morbid "I want to see how I die" kind of way at all, but in a "I wonder who I marry, I wonder what job I'll end up in, I wonder if my children will also be freakishly klutzy" kind of way.

I don't know about you, but I've realised I need to slow down before I miss all the good bits. Before I'm so busy looking forward that I neglect to look beside me and marvel at the people walking this journey with me, before it's too late to laugh or to learn. Start enjoying every page and stop skimming. Appreciate that it's part of a grander plan but appreciate the phase that you're in even more.

Stop skimming, start living.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Lesson 166. Smell good.

I just bathed in the glory that is the So White bath ballistic from Lush. I smell like the lord himself kissed me after eating a crisp green apple. This is a simple lesson, but it's one I feel you should fairly easily apply to everyday life: Smell good.

All it takes is a teeny weeny bit of effort to eliminate your natural stench and adopt a slightly sweeter one. I assure you it will make life that little bit better. It will not only bring confidence but will remind you that even if everything falls to pieces, at least you smell good and have that under your control.

Simple, smell good.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Lesson 165. A time is coming where you're gonna see rain.

I'm so proud of my big sister Annie. She got news today that she'd aced one of her core papers and had earned herself an internship for next year at a fashion/pr company.

Annie has had a rough year. The big city is lonely and the lights aren't enough to keep you smiling. She's battled the ups and downs of massive life change and turbulence in almost every area. She hasn't really experienced a breakthrough like this 'til this very moment.

We all go through dry seasons. We wander through deserts of loneliness and confusion and we wonder when it all ends. I think sometimes we almost decide it won't. We almost lose heart and stop trying. I'm proud of my sister because she didn't, and she's on her way up and out of the valley.

Keep believing and trusting that your time will come. I know it's hard, but push. Push through and know that you won't be in the desert forever. A time is coming where you're gonna see rain.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Lesson 164. Tune into the rain and out of the fly.

There's a fly in my bedroom. It's a bee in my bonnet.

The incessant buzzing is driving me to the great line of sanity and I'm about to start kicking my legs and flailing my arms about in sheer frustration.

There's rain on my window pane. It's my favourite lullaby.

It sings of safety. It feels like home.

There's a battle between the two. And I'll admit that right now it's easier to listen to the buzzing, it's closer and it dominates. The rain though beautiful seems further, and harder to hear above the fly. But right now, I'll choose it.

I choose to hear the rain. To hear the sweet sound. To block out the cheap noise and choose something that reminds me of the beauty in life, something that I trust as constant and true. I choose to tune out the fly, to listen beyond him for better things. To ignore what bothers me and look towards what makes my heart happy.

I choose to hear words spoken out of love. I choose to hear the laughter of a child or the sound of happy tears embracing the ground. I choose to trust those who I know are full of wisdom and are consistent with sharing it. I choose to ignore the talk of those who stir for the sake of stirring, I choose to listen beyond them and hear the voices of those who believe and know truth about me and my decisions.

Tune into the rain and out of the fly.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Lesson 163. For goodness sake, fight.

Fighting is a funny thing.

I quarreled with my parents throughout numerous conversations today. I have like a five second rebound rate and then I'm right into the apology, I don't stay mad for long enough for bickering to effect our relationship. Still, I apologised and expressed my frustration with myself for being generally agitated. My Dad simply said, "At least you're fighting again."

He made me think. He often does that. I realised that he was referring to the somewhat out of character passive state I'd been in for the last few months.  He was right, at least I'd started fighting again.

When we fight, we take on fire. We pack punches with great gumption because we're living with passion and without apathy. Fighting means we're fighting for something, it means we have a cause, a greater agenda and that's something to acknowledge and appreciate. You might not quite be at the place you're wanting to be but at least you're fighting for it.

For goodness sake, fight. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Lesson 162. Pack up properly.

I packed my year into twelve boxes and a suitcase. I then neatly stacked them into my five seater honda jazz, turned up "On My Way" by Rusted Root to full volume and I drove home in record time.

I'm sitting at the kitchen table having just consumed six cookies and a savoury muffin pondering quite how I did it. My bedroom was atrocious looking yesterday when I woke up. My bedroom was immaculate when I handed in my keys today.

It was so messy. So complex. There were so many different areas that needed tending to. I started in the righthand corner, only to pack it all up and feel as though I'd done less than make a dent. Even so, I decided to push through. So corner by corner, lush product by lush product, trouser to t-shirt, I boxed a years worth of my life. I'd avoided it so long that I had to face a giant pile of things I didn't know how to, so with sufficient tears and little grace I did so. But the point is I did. And I'm here, I made it home. I'm sitting at the kitchen table having just consumed six cookies and a savoury muffin realising quite how we should do things.

Take it corner by corner, step by step and know that it's not supposed to be easy. Know that the things that define us never are. But know that you'll get there. Maybe your righthand corner has exhausted you and you still feel as though you've got forever to go before you get to okay, but let me assure you you'll get there. Have the courage to face things and to place them appropriately. To take, or to leave behind. Pack up properly.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Lesson 161. All it takes is a touch.

We were sitting in Starbucks when I felt something I'd never felt before.

I'm not talking about the heart-skips-a-beat-jumping-fences-kissing-the-skies kind of stuff. Yuckity yuck yuck, thank you kindly but absolutely no thank you good sir, I'll be leaving that until I'm middle aged and at least slightly emotionally equipped for it.

I'm talking about something that my fingertips had never met before. The feeling of a baby doing a little dance in his mama's belly when sensing the need for a wee party trick.

I cried. Right there in the Starbucks with my hand on my best friend's belly. My throat suddenly had kermit living in it and my eyes got all watery and the corners of my mouth were pinned to my cheekbones. Every single experience I've had watching this new life form has been a game changer but there's something about physical feeling.

There's something about touch, about physically knowing something and not just mentally processing. It got me thinking about how much hope a simple flutter can bring. A hand on your back or quietly slipped into yours, a head resting on your shoulder, a hug, a kiss, a baby moving under your palm for the very first time.

Reach out. Bring hope. Be the flutter. The reminder that life is beautiful and that it's really right in front of you. Be a physical reminder for someone today that there is so much happiness and light to be found in a world so seemingly riddled with woes and sorrows. All it takes is a touch. 

Lesson 160. Be happy you're here.

I passed first year of University, if that isn't a silver lining then I don't know what is.

The cloud is change, the cloud is life's erratic weather patterns, the cloud was university.

The silver lining is growth, learning to love each and every season, the silver lining is passing, being better and stronger than before. If making it out of any sort of madness alive isn't a something to celebrate then I don't know what is.

Congratulations, you're breathing. You woke up this morning. You're lucky enough to have made it through the night so start smiling about it. Note your smallest of victories and rejoice in them.  I'm so happy you're still here. Be happy you're here.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Lesson 159. Kiss your little pinky.

Have we ever discussed my righthand pinky finger before? I don't believe so.

It's rather ugly. Kind of mangled. Sort of  hookish. Has two knuckles.

It blame physical education for it. I wasn't even properly partaking (I never really did) and it evolved into a rather disastrous occasion. I was just minding my own business, contemplating lunch and why toast always seems slightly browner on one side when I fell over my own foot. Everyone started laughing, there goes Lydia falling over without reason. Then everyone stopped laughing, up I stood with the top half of my pinky pointing in a direction pinkies should never point, to the side.

I hid it behind my back and darted for the office. Sonya the irritatingly calm office lady asked me if she could see so I covered my eyes and proceeded to shove my unsightly extremity in her line of vision. She quickly sent me to the health nurse. The health nurse told me I'd be fine. She then sent me to my mother. My Mother assured me I would not be. She ordered x-rays for the next morning and before I knew it I was headed for surgery on what Dr. Galley (Or as I like to call him, Butcher face) would later tell me was the most unforgiving joint in my body. He popped some metal in it. I had hand therapy for 9 months with the most wonderful hand therapist (who's wedding I attended and promptly was one of the first to be informed that she was with child.) and then another surgery and then was informed "Sorry, the joint is completely deformed. The next step would be amputation as you're going to get severe early onset arthritis"

I managed to break my finger in three places and rotate my bone, cost the government several thousand dollars and cry in front of numerous doctors over what would seem like spilt milk.

We're going somewhere with this-trust me.

My point is this. Well actually, several points could be extracted.

1. Don't contemplate life's most harrowing questions (When lightning strikes the ocean, why don't all the fish die? Why is toast slightly browner on one side? etc etc.) during a PE lesson
2. Don't go to said PE lesson. It'll only end in tears. People who jog and enjoy it are never going to be on the same wavelength as someone who considers their lunch half the day and dinner the other half.
3. Sometimes the things that break and get complicated and hurt and require multiple minor surgeries are the things the make us who we are. I'm never without a fact when it comes to those awkward meeting people and saying something strange games you play. I'm never without conversation and I pride myself on being able to make other feel comfortable when they see quite how ridiculous I am.

The things that make us cry in front of doctors make us who we are in the long term. We're make up of our baby sized tragedies turning to victories. Whether it's a healing of a wound or simply overcoming and accepting, it's something to be celebrated. Your scars remind you of who you are, learn to love them because who you are is rather breathtaking if I say so myself. Kiss your little pinky.

Lesson 158. Soundtracking makes everything better.

I told myself I wouldn't blog until my big final recital was done and dusted- and here we are. It's 11.43pm and I'm well equipped with brownie and anecdotes to complete two daily conversations with you.

There were three in the bed tonight. My two flatmates came into my room and thought it would be hilarious to hide under my covers. After discovering two eighteen year old girls behaving like six year olds with a secret, I joined them.

We then went through my iTunes and discussed appropriate songs for appropriate moments in life.

Soundtracking makes everything one hundred percent better. Even heartache can be found more bearable when the background is Michael Buble's 'Haven't met you yet'

I think it made me realise that the seasons give us all sorts of reasons to listen to all sorts of songs. And they're songs that should be listened to and loved. Just like each season should be listened to and loved. We have to embrace all of life's curved balls and learn that they're each striking in their own right.

So listen to the songs. Embrace every moment with full volume. Don't just sit and let life happen. Play music in every scene to follow the rhythm of your heart and feel what you need to feel.

Soundtracking makes everything better.