Guilty pleasures

Recently, I learnt to crochet, and by ‘learning’ I really mean that I know three basic stitches that enable me to create a passable ‘granny square’. I’ve come into contact with a lady who had an idea which has grown into a group of women, and one man, who get together to create blankets for those who are currently homeless or marginalised in some way.

I can do that, I thought. When I’m sitting around at night, procrastinating about writing my book, or folding the washing, I can crochet and do something good for others.

Easy, right? Mmmm, not so much.

So I sit in my warm house, next to the fire, a glass of wine or coffee at my elbow, either the tv or music quietly going in the background, chatting to any one of my family who might be in the room at the time and the irony is not lost on me.

I am sitting in luxury compared to those who I am crocheting for. I found it much easier to enjoy my wine, the fire and my home before I started crocheting. Now, I sit there, sometimes on the verge of tears, knowing that others, right in my city, are sitting under a bridge with a piece of cardboard for warmth, or huddled in an alley, their meagre possessions clutched tightly for fear of being stolen.

Now, I know that me selling everything just because others have less is not actually going to help them. I know that crocheting a blanket will eventually do some good. I know that writing articles and speaking to groups about Destiny Rescue has an impact and is needed. I know that giving when we see need makes a difference.

But sometimes, it just doesn’t seem enough, and I am overcome with sadness, guilt, sorrow.

I know all the trite answers. Sometimes, increasingly more often, they just don’t cut it. And I want to scream at the sheer unfairness of life.

When we talk about being content with what we have, we usually mean how little we have.

The opposite is true too.

Learning to be content with how much we have, how much has been gifted to us, is a hard lesson too.

And I am nowhere near mastering it.

 

Shining lights

Today we bumped into some old friends while out and about. I wrote about them in a previous post. This family have been through an enormous amount of stress, fear and now, triumph.

It was so wonderful to see little Charlie thriving – smiling, batting her ridiculously long lashes and being cheeky. She was so ‘shiny’ that I very nearly got teary just seeing her exude life. She shone with strength, like only those who have been to the brink and back do.

We have an extra special spot in our hearts for Charlie. Her mum was one of our Charlie’s kindy teachers. And it was our Charlie that their Charlie is named after.

Sometimes determination is acquired through extreme circumstances, sometimes it’s a gradual learning process.

We have vivid memories of our Charlie persisting with many things beyond the norm.

At five, she refused to leave the pool after her brother showed her how to dive, until she had stopped belly-flopping and did it right (which, by the way, wasn’t til well past dark and dinner time).

At seven, there was a hoola-hoop group at school that she wanted to be part of – this resulted in at least four hours after school straight hoola-hoop practice in the back yard.

Her first athletics carnival meant hours in the back yard jumping over an increasingly higher broomstick balanced over some bricks.  

And at 15 and needing to raise money for a mission trip to Thailand saw her save and work hard at her photography to have the money by the deadline.

It must be something to do with the name because these two Charlie’s are very much the same – resilient, tenacious, sweet, cheeky and in possession of an indomitable spirit.

While our Charlie has not had to face the extraordinary circumstances that their Charlie has, she’s still had her share of things to overcome and stand firm against, and still does.

What they share is an ability to overcome. With smiles and through tears, they get the job done. And somehow, manage to still keep shining.

But I don’t think that just those called Charlotte have the exclusive rights to these traits. We all possess the qualities needed to push through and never give up.

Regardless of whether we think we have what we need already, or we need to learn tenacity through practice, we all possess more strength than we think we do. We can shine through anything.

After all, it’s pressure that makes diamonds, and they’re kinda shiny too 🙂

Lemons = lemonade, right?

Lemons

We’ve all heard the saying “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade”. It’s a saying I have always liked, being the optimist that I am, as it implies the need to make the best of something and turn something sour in our lives into something sweet.

I don’t know how many of you have made lemonade but it’s a family favourite in our house on those 40+ something summer days when plain water just doesn’t quench your thirst.

If you have made lemonade at home, you’ll know that you need more than just lemons. You also need water and sugar, and maybe a little mint if you have it growing in the garden.

Have you ever not got the ratio of water, lemon and sugar quite right? Too much lemon and it’ll make your teeth curl, as my dad used to say. Too much sugar and it’s undrinkable, too much water and all we have is a watery tasteless liquid.

I know I have made far too much lemonade on occasion by having to add just a bit more of this and that until, before I know it, I’ve made enough for three jugs instead of one.

The saying “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade” is incomplete, really, isn’t it? You can’t just make lemonade with lemons, you need the other ingredients in the right proportions or else that lemonade is not going to taste pleasant at all.

Just like in life, we need the right ratio of other ingredients in order to make lemonade from the lemons life hands us all at various times.

Just like with lemonade, sweetness needs to be added, so too in life when a crisis or ‘lemon’ hits our life. We need the sweet things like a surprise visit from a friend, picking flowers from our garden to bring inside, watching a favourite movie with a friend, taking that day trip to a town you’ve always wanted to see. We don’t need much sugar to sweeten the whole batch of lemonade.

We need that sweetness to balance the bitter taste of disappointment, loss and pain that life seems to hand out on an alarmingly regular basis. Without sweeteners, life is indeed just a bowl of lemons sitting on the bench. We need to intentionally add the sweetness.

And we can’t make lemonade without water, the mainstay of life and a necessity to our very existence. We need mainstays. Whether it be family and friends, faith, job satisfaction, life purpose. We all need the basics in life, just like our physical bodies need water.

So when life hands us lemons, we can indeed make lemonade but we also need the water and sugar and enough of each to make the living palatable.

Maybe you can provide some of the sugar and water to someone’s life when they are handed lemons. Or maybe you can allow others to do the same for you when life takes a sour turn.

After all, what fun is drinking lemonade all by yourself?

Fun, fun, fun, give me more fun!

Beach

 

 

Yesterday, we went to the beach. You see, I made a fuss the other day about us not having much fun anymore. So my husband put into action a proposal I made a few months ago to have a jar that held pieces of paper with fun things to do when we have a free weekend.

Friday afternoon, we put them in the jar and the youngest member had first honours in pulling a piece of paper out. Ironically, it was one she had written, so she was super chuffed that we got to do it the next day.

We went to the beach, had fish and chips, fed the left overs to the seagulls, played catch and bocce, walked, built sandcastles and had…fun!

Fun is underrated these days. We seem to be so busy, busy, busy that fun gets left out of the equation. We need to be intentional about fun. We need to plan and actually schedule it in, otherwise, it most likely won’t happen.

Having fun is like hitting the pause button on the day to day stresses we all have in our lives. It’s a re-set mechanism that gives our minds and spirits a chance to regroup.

Fun makes us remember all the things our problems make us forget. Like how good sand feels between our toes, like how liberating it is to all sing together in the car, like how funny seagulls are when trying to get a chip thrown in the air. It’s our bodies remembering that sweet, pleasant tiredness that comes from a day of enjoyment, rather than the stressful, fitful dog-tired sleep that is more an escape than a rest.

And we remember how to smile and laugh. And we remember just how much there is to smile and laugh about.

We remember who we are, and who we are with.

And we remember that that’s what life is all about after all.

Having fun in our life doesn’t take all the problems away but it does take us away from our problems, even if only for awhile.

And it’s amazing how good it feels and how absolutely, undoubtedly, positively essential it is, not only to us but to those around us.

The family that plays together, stays together 🙂

Do you intentionally have fun? If not, why not?