Sunday, June 29, 2014

You Cannot Save Everyone - Bryant McGill

This piece of writing has opened my eyes and set me free. Free from the guilt, free from the drama and free from the toxic people that I allowed to enter my life, in the shape of a "friend" in need.   

Recently I wrote a post called Life Lessons where I briefly touched on this topic. I tried to help someone from my past. Logically I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that this person had screwed their life up and was deserving of all the problems that came their way and yet I allowed myself to be drawn into the drama of their depressing life. I turned away from my own family and their needs and put this person and their family's needs ahead of my own. I felt enormous pity for this family that stemmed from a deep-seated guilt that maybe I was partly to blame.

Rewind 20 years.......

I was looking for my first real job and this person pulled some strings for me and got me an interview at their company, just a few minutes from my home, it would have been perfect. I remember that day very clearly, the interviewer loved me and offered me the job on the spot, I was surprised. There was just a little test that I had to write, as a formality, but I had the job. She left me alone for no longer than 3 minutes, to get the test and thank goodness she did. In my mind I quickly assessed the situation and remembered what people had said about this person, none of it good. I had seen some dishonesty and deception but had ignored it, but now I had to make a decision. My life could go anywhere I wanted it to, this was my first job, the world was my oyster. I imagined what it would be like to work with this "friend" day in and day out, knowing that they had already behaved inappropriately with me and I realized that my life would go in a way that I didn't want it to go. I believed that this person had already made poor choices and I didn't want to be part of their daily life, as I would be dragged down with them. I did not have the courage to turn down the job and disappoint this person, so I failed the test, on purpose. The interviewer couldn't believe it and offered to let me write it again, because nobody failed the test, it was unfailable, but I refused and left, faking embarrassment that I had failed, therefore I couldn't work there. That was a defining moment in my life. I realized in my 20 year-old mind that I was better than that job and the future I would have with that person there. I cut all ties there and then and never made contact again.

Back to the present - the year 2011. This person made contact with me, we met once "for old times sake" and so the guilt was born. Guilt that my life had gone so smoothly and that I was blessed with a wonderful, loving, caring husband, beautiful children, a brilliant career and a job and life that I loved. Guilt that I had made good choices and had gone on to study further, while my friend had not. We had both come from the same neighbourhood, attended the same school. How could our lives have turned out so differently? Perhaps if I had remained in their life I could have helped. (Seriously?? How on earth could one person stop an avalanche? But I firmly believed that I could have made things right.) I was shocked and depressed that this person had no healthy, positive relationships in their life. All of their relationships were dysfunctional, from parents to children, siblings and friends. I kept a safe distance, burying my head in the sand, not wanting to get involved. 

One day I got a call asking if I would assist this friend, as they had no one to turn to, with some psychological help that was being received. The psychologist had suggested that positive messages should be sent daily to a trusted friend and would I please accept these messages as this person had nobody else to ask? How could I object? I was happy to help someone, who obviously needed professional help, and had taken the first step to getting it. But just a few weeks later I was racing over in the middle of the night, after receiving many ominous texts which basically thanked me and eluded to the fact that suicide was the only way out.

This was the beginning of three torturous, controlling years. 

I immediately phoned the parents, who basically told me they didn't care and this person should go right ahead and kill themselves! I was horrified! Here was their child asking for help and they didn't care! A sibling made contact and they got together once, but the relationship rekindled out of pity didn't last long and I watched as the little spark of friendship from the sibling was snuffed out by my "friend" due to ego issues. Eventually the family stopped talking to me as they didn't like the way I spoke to them! I was incensed by their apathy, when one of their own was in trouble. Perhaps in hindsight this should have been a warning light, they knew this person better than I did.

I am an all-or-nothing type of person, so against my better judgement and warnings from my friends and family (and my gut feeling), I jumped in with both feet, convinced I could help. I attempted to break down walls and build bridges between this friend and their family, I spent hours listening to the same problems over and over again, all the while ignoring the warning signs, that at no point did this person ever take responsibility for any of the problems in their life. I played down my own happiness and my wonderful life and relationships to make my "friend" feel better. I would spend all my energy smothering this person with positivity and boundless energy, at the expense of my own family, friends and happiness. I felt like I had another child who I needed to take care of and I would make time for this person, no matter what was going on in my own life. 

The more I gave the more they took, constantly reminding me how wonderful my life was and how terrible theirs was, adding to my guilt that I had a wonderful family to go back to. My guilt was so bad that on the day that I gave birth to my third child, instead of spending quality time with the two young children that I had, I was racing around, fetching and carrying and attending interviews that I had set up for one of the family members to get a real job and some direction in their life. Needless to say the person lasted only one day in that job. But still I continued trying to help. When this family phoned or texted me ad nauseum I would stop what I was doing and answer because I felt beholden, perhaps when even my 4 year old was rolling her eyes and saying "not again!!" I should have noticed the impact, but on I went, being the good Samaritan! I couldn't see the wood for the trees.

It took a long time for me to realise that the reason I had good relationships in my life, is because I worked on them. I stay in contact with all my siblings and my mom and we've loved each other and been there, through thick and thin. I love spending time with my friends and I make time for them whenever I can. I have no superficial relationships, we talk, we about everything, we share, even the deep emotional stuff. I make an effort, without even thinking, and it has resulted in me having a fantastic support system. I have an awesome family and a close circle of wonderful friends. 

One evening I was at home answering the 100th text that night (I felt if I didn't answer the texts immediately, perhaps suicidal thoughts would re-emerge) when I remembered attending a talk by a colleague of mine who had had the misfortune of being in the heart of the tsunami, where hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives. One thing he said stuck with me and it was this:
"I was pulling as many people out of the gushing waters as I could, men, women and children. I was exhausted and I got to a point where I had to make a decision - I could only help people who could lift their own body weight and help themselves. I did not have sufficient energy to pull people out who were a dead weight."
This memory was (as Oprah calls it) an A-HA moment for me. I had reached the point where my health was being affected, I did not have sufficient energy to continue helping someone who was dead weight and not wanting to help themself. By helping this family, I was drowning. 

I wanted out. Out of this mess that I had made myself, of helping a person who was not worthy of my help, I had leapt into their lives and told them everything they wanted to hear, how important they were, how deserving they were, purely because they were a human being and now I had to let go. I didn't know how to extract myself from their life. I reduced the amount of time I spent with them but I again ended up feeling guilty, as their life was empty without me. I felt like a prisoner of my own making. Fortunately, because I knew this person so well, I had a suspicion that something else was going on and very soon thereafter, this "friend" did something unforgivable and I was able to use that as my get-out-of-jail-free card, but the guilt still ate me up inside because now a young girl, ironically aged 20, was involved! And although I did reach out to help her, I gave up very quickly after I realized that she would be the scape goat for me not having to care anymore. I felt sorry for her but I felt more sorry for me. Although the relief was overwhelming, when the ordeal was over, I was filled with rage as I looked back with 20-20 hindsight and realized just how much I had been played, how much I'd sacrificed and how much this "friend" had taken, lied repeatedly and hadn't cared about my feelings at all.

It's taken me quite some time to get over this "friendship" for want of a better word, because I had allowed myself to be used over and over again. Fortunately through all our interactions, I never considered this person to be a true friend, as I gave and gave but got nothing in return. I think the idea of the friendship was stronger than the actual relationship. I never shared any of the real details of my life because I knew that a narcissist does not care about others - I knew this the whole time. Within the last few weeks I have finally extracted myself from the remaining contact that I have had with one of the relatives and it is like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I no longer want to have anything to do with that family. I will no longer be the shoulder to cry on, I will invest my time with like-minded friends, not spend my limited resources on those who are undeserving of my attention and kindness.

Only when I read these words below, penned by Bryant McGill, did I finally realise that the dysfunctional nature and broken relationships of my friend, are completely self-inflicted. If I had remained in their life, without a doubt I would have been dragged down with them. So three years later I can say without a shadow of a doubt:
1. I have learned a lot 
2. I will never do that again 
3. I have no ownership whatsoever
I have released the guilt and the anger and I am ready to take on whatever life has to offer me. Thank you Bryant McGill, you have put into words so eloquently, that which I could not. I cannot save everyone. In future, those who need my help will have to earn every bit that I give. My energies will first and foremost go to look after myself and my family and if, after that, I have more to give, it will be on a deserving-only basis. 

It's a long read, but well worth it:

You Cannot Save Everyone by Bryant McGill

"Should you help someone who is reaching out and deeply-hurting? Absolutely. Do what you can to help people but have the wisdom to accept your limits. You can only do so much. You should never have a relationship based on guilt over someone's poor choices. It is so easy to find ourselves in denial about someone's behavior because we so deeply wish they could escape their pain and suffering. But what we want for others doesn't work unless they want it for themselves. People must save themselves, and you can only help a person who really wants it and is ready. You have permission to walk away from anything that doesn't feel right. Trust your instincts and listen to your inner-voice — it's trying to protect you. Never stop sharing your love with people; that's why you were put on Earth. But sometimes the way to share your love is to let someone go. Staying in an unhealthy relationship can keep a person from finding their own way and moving to the next level of their own path — and that person could even be you. Sometimes the best way to save someone is to walk-away. Real love sometimes means saying goodbye.

Your life was meant for more than being a life-long doormat for deadbeats, losers, gossipers, nay-sayers, dream-crushers, energy vampires, users, abusers, ragers and passive-aggressive backstabbers. Some of these people are rabidly-infected with obvious madness. Some have less obvious ways, such as the "helpful" enabler, who sends you off to your destruction with a helping hand and a smile. Some are "doubt-whispers," who plant the seeds of non-belief in your heart to take root, so they can then console you in your inevitable moment of defeat. There are also perpetual victims who feed on your constant attention. Call them what you want, you know exactly who I am talking about. One thing always reveals their sometimes hidden identity — after you have been around them, how do you feel; have you been depleted and drained or energized and inspired?

A person at peace can immediately recognize a consciousness in crisis, whereas those in crisis cannot fully understand themselves or others. This is the eternal challenge with ignorance — ignorance can't see itself. People often turn away from good advice because they need something another person can never give them — discovery. As much as we would like to help others avoid pain, sometimes we have to let go and allow them to receive their painful lessons. Suffering is one of life's great teachers. You cannot save people from themselves. All you can do is stand firmly in your hopes for them, with compassion.

I know you want to be a good person and be helpful to people in need, but it's impossible to give to others if you have been used-up. Being a good person has nothing to do with allowing people to destroy you. There are limits. You can best help others from a position of strength, not weakness. So, don't forget to be good to yourself first. Don't forget to take care of you! It is never cruel to want to save yourself from being swamped by fools. You cannot save everyone. Some people are going to destroy themselves no matter how much you try to help them. Their lives are full of emptiness, chaos and dysfunction, and they will bring their misery and pain into your life with full-force if you allow it. Then there are others who have the outward appearance of success and are seemingly not self-destructive in nature. These people do not destroy themselves, but instead survive through the destruction of others — these are the users. Either of these types of people will latch-on to you in a death-spiral and take you down to the depths of hell with them. This is your life and you have the right and responsibility to make good decisions for yourself.

You must firmly, absolutely and ruthlessly protect your safety and sanity. Misery loves good company, so if you are surrounded with drama, gossip and fools you may want to consider that you are presently at risk of becoming one of them. The real zombie-apocalypse is the pandemic of drama and mediocrity. Troublemakers will infect you with the malady of their madness. And especially, if your positivity immune system is low, any exposure to a person afflicted with negativity can poison your life. You have to get these people out of your life once and for all. One of the fastest ways you can profoundly change your life is to rid yourself of toxic people. When you do come in contact with one of these people run for your life. Get to safety. Meditatively and spiritually decontaminate yourself. Scrub down your brain with a wire-brush and remove their insanity from the corridors of your mind. Inoculate yourself immediately by creating a safe space and aligning yourself with healthy people. If you have to go it alone for a while until you find your healthy tribe and chosen family, that is fine. Being alone is much better than being around negative people out of loneliness or desperation.

Boundaries and risk management are very important parts of living a healthy and positive life. Even professionals like therapists, psychologists and social workers limit their exposure to their clients and draw boundaries. What makes you think you can handle unlimited exposure to toxic people and survive? You can still be a charitable person who helps and cares about people, without helping those very people destroy your life. Learn how to draw a line and learn how to enforce it. Get selfish and take care of you. Cleanliness and order is good Feng Shui which applies to people even more than to the things in your life. You must clear out what you don't want, to make room for what you do want to arrive. The way to send a clear message that you are ready for better people in your life is the kick the rascals to the curb. We strive our whole lives to love people unconditionally, but sometimes we need to get rid of people unconditionally. The intimate space of your personal life should be reserved for amazing, beautiful, radiant souls — good, wholesome and loving people. Your truest family is your chosen family, people with whom you most identify. Make a clear decision on the type of people you want in your life and if they don't make the cut, then create some distance. It doesn't matter if it is a close relative, parent or child-hood friend; no matter the history — when people are toxic, disruptive and dysfunctional with no reasonable signs of recovery, then they need to go. Sometimes, to escape a bad relationship and reclaim our lives, we have to break a piece of our heart off, like a wolf chews its leg off to escape a steel trap. Love toxic people from a distance.

Now could be the time to walk away; hell, you may even need to run. Haven't you been listening to your inner-voice? Be honest, your gut has been screaming but you have been ignoring it. How much more of your life are you going to throw-away for a lie? Accept it. Some people never change. Some people have abusive, negative, controlling tendencies in their blood; they are wired for havoc, bickering and deception. They know of no other way to interface with others except through their created chaos. Chaos is their home-court advantage where they play their mind-games so they can have power over you; it's a rigged game you can never win. They will wear you ragged and bring you to your knees emotionally and physically. In time they will destroy every wonderful thing you have in your life. You are in danger: your health, your peace of mind, your happiness and maybe even your life. There is more than one way to lose your life; quickly through violence, or fettered-away and wasted around dreadful, toxic people. You must take control of your life and make good decisions for yourself. The insanity must end, for your sake and for theirs.

Sometimes a person needs us to abandon them, but we hang-on anyway, which can be devastating for both parties. Helping others can sometimes even be a convenient distraction from addressing our own unresolved issues. When someone you know is so toxic and destructive that they are poisoning your life, you have to create some distance. They need you to walk away as much as you need it. People who are out of control desperately need to observe your healthy boundaries in-play to learn from your example. You best teach others about healthy boundaries by enforcing yours on them. There is a difference between giving-up and strategic disengagement. Know the difference. Learn how to let people go. Stop holding-on to the wrong people. Let them go on their own way; if not for you, then for them.

You can help others once you are safe, secure and successful in your own life. Practically every successful person you know of is successful, in part, because they moved the destructive and disruptive people out of their lives. Successful people carefully manage their energy and associations; they are gatekeepers. Who you allow into your life, mind and heart are among the most important decisions you will ever make. Take inventory of the people with whom you spend the most time. Who you spend your time with is who you are, or who you will soon become. Limit your exposure to unhealthy and unsupportive people. Love yourself enough to say no to people who diminish your chances for a beautiful and empowered life. Sometimes you have to get away from what you know to discover what you don't know. It is time for the abuse, control, lies and negativity to end. Align yourself with a new tribe of healthy people who are supportive of your highest good and potential. Find the people who are living the positive lifestyle you wish for yourself and who share your values, and create a new family of friends that you can call, "home." Your new positive and supportive tribe will edify you, strengthen you and empower you to serve others in ways you would have never before imagined. Taking care of yourself is the most powerful way to begin to take care of others. It is not too late for you. It is never too late to begin loving yourself again. It is never too late to have the life you deserve. Healing for everyone begins with self-love — starting right now."

Jenni & Bryant on Healthy Relationships (Audio)

For Printing:

If you have had a hard time you will love these:

You have the heart of a warrior and you were designed to survive!

Every positive thought is a silent prayer which will change your life.


"From the backstabbing co-worker to the meddling sister-in-law, you are in charge of how you react to the people and events in your life. You can either give negativity power over your life or you can choose happiness instead."
— Anais Nin

"It takes a lot more courage to let something go than it does to hang on to it, trying to make it better. Letting go doesn't mean ignoring a situation. Letting go means accepting what is, exactly as it is, without fear, resistance, or a struggle for control."
— Iyanla Vanzant

"You cannot expect to live a positive life if you hang with negative people."
— Joel Osteen

"Inoculate yourself from dangerous bozos."
— Guy Kawasaki

"End it now! Don't waste another minute dealing with a toxic, negative, energy-draining person. Some people are wired for negativity. They love being argumentative, combative and abusive. Run for your life as quickly as possible. Life is too short and unpredictable to deal with these emotional vampires. They feed off of stressing you out, raising hell and creating drama for you. The toxic energy will turn your hair gray overnight, cause you to gain weight and rob you of your health. Don't waste valuable time trying to change them. Change yourself and get them out of your life! Don't say a word; leave all of your belongings if you have to in the middle of the night. Cut off all communication. Don't take their calls. You have heard all the lies before. They will not change. They don't choose to change. It is who they have decided to be. Move to another city, if you must, and start all over again. Your life is worth it. You deserve to have peace of mind, a great relationship and an exciting life. Watch how dramatically your life will change for the better once you get this burden off your back. The air you breathe will become fresh and invigorating. You will feel an infusion of exuberance, energy and love for life. With this stifling, suffocating and controlling person out of your life, get ready to live again and be the person that you've always wanted to be. Live life on your own terms, not having to answer to anyone but yourself. Control your own destiny."
— Les Brown

"Letting go means to come to the realization that some people are a part of your history, but not a part of your destiny."
— Steve Maraboli

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Frozen Party

Tomato turned 8 years old at the beginning of the month and Bacon is hot on her heels to turning 6 in a couple of days (we're counting the sleeps!) I told them they could each invite 5 friends and we could do something together. Initially they wanted an ice skating party at the local ice rink, so we went to give ice skating a go - huge fun but in a very icy, public rink which was a bit overwhelming for littlies.

They both LOVE the Disney movie Frozen and fancy themselves as Elsa and Anna (the main characters who just happen to be princesses) so we decided to have a Frozen party at home - what was I thinking??

It turned out to be one of the best parties ever!!

When the friends arrived they all got a rectangle of orange cardboard and they had to cut out Olaf's nose and write their name on it. [I always like giving the friends a craft as they arrive at the party to give them something to focus on, instead of just milling around and or clinging to their mommies.]

I collected all the noses. The girls then all had some sweet treats in the Winter Wonderland (our double garage). I gave them all pillows and cushions and blankets, delivered the popcorn and we started the movie.

After the movie, we played "Pin the nose on Olaf" which was hysterical and everyone got a gold chocolate coin for playing. Bacon put hers on his head and Lettuce could only reach a foot but everyone loved it. So weird that nobody seems to play these "old fashioned" games anymore.

Some people are worth melting for.....

Then I put all the girls into groups and gave each group a block of ice with "jewels" inside. Each child was handed a straw and they had to heat the ice up with their breath! It ended up with a "smash and grab" as the girls started smashing the ice and making a mad grab for the jewels!! Any jewels that they found they could keep. They had a ball!! (I may need to send my neighbours some flowers - eeek little girls en masse are LOUD!!)

We then gathered around, sang happy birthday to Bacon and Tomato, had a lot of fun with candles that re-ignited and then we all ate cake! The tribe then headed off to jump on the trampoline in the back garden and play in the girls' wendy house until their parents arrived.

When the parents came to collect the girls, they each got a party pack and before I knew it the party was done and dusted!!

I have never had so many parents and children tell me how much they enjoyed a party. I got so many calls and messges, I was a bit taken aback! It really was sooo much fun and so easy. Many parents have asked me to share how I did it, and because I'm a "sharing-is-caring" kinda gal (Barney would be so proud of me), I'll explain in more detail about how I did everything. Herewith the details if you'd like to copy me, change things, add, remove, fee free!!

Firstly I need to give a HUGE shout-out to the new love of my life..... Pinterest! I got so many cool ideas there and so much free downloadable stuff.

How To Have an AWESOME Frozen Party

It all began with an idea.........

But wait! First things first, it had to be "cheap and cheerful" [read as "Frozen Party on a budget"]

So my brilliant [yes brilliant!] idea was formed. What if we invited all the little friendies to our house to watch a movie and have some fun with the icy theme? Obviously we would need to make a Winter Wonderland...... but how?  Aha!! I've got it!

I must add in here, that I often have many, grand, inexpensive, but labour-intensive ideas (which I always rope Hubby into and give him his due he seldom rolls his eyes, he just gets down to business and makes my dreams come true hee hee.) Firstly our double garage needed to be transformed from its existing storage facility into a  white Winter Wonderland, complete with big flat screen TV so the girls and their friends could watch the movie - Frozen (of course.)

The invitations were sent out, they looked like movie tickets! I downloaded them from here

I then nipped off to our local haberdashery shop and bought a roll of cheap, white dress lining material (50m). Hubby drilled some white hooks into the garage ceiling and did a criss-cross of string across the roof. We then hung the material, as if on a washing line, around the entire garage, which immediately transformed our boring garage into the White Winter Wonderland that I had envisioned. A kind friend delivered bejewelled polystyrene snowflakes which we hung up, we threw out a carpet that we had for the kids to sit on and Hubby moved our TV and all other relevant tech into the room, all set up to play the movie. The girls were D-E-L-I-G-H-T-E-D and played in there all week long!

Then I set about getting the rest of the party ready.......


Snowflake Biscuits
A week before, I started making some of the snowy treats. I found some snowflake cookie cutters and made my granny's famous ginger biscuits (the recipe calls for 4lbs of flour, so picture the load of biscuits we made!) I made royal icing for the first time ever, using this site, which was fantastic - How to make Royal Icing and set Hubby to work doing the icing. Not bad for a beginner!!

The final result:

The biscuits above were just some of what were left, that we managed to actually ice, after a kiddy feeding-frenzy of the rest during the week! They are very yummy!

"Ice Cubes"
I then bought 4 packets of blue jelly (yes they do now sell BLUE jelly!) and used half the amount of water stipulated, to make firm jelly. I poured it into a square cake pan and refrigerated. When it had set I put the tin in hot water for 30 seconds and it plopped out onto a chopping board. I then cut it into blocks and put the blocks on a plate and put them back in the fridge. The girls went MAD for these "ice blocks."

Dipped Marshmallows on a Stick
I bought some white chocolate, some white plastic sticks, marshmallows and blue sugar (who knew they now sell blue sugar??)

I melted the chocolate in the microwave for a minute and made a hole in the marshie with the white stick. I then took the stick out and dipped it in the chocolate and reinserted it into the hole that I had just made (makes it stick nicely, like a cake pop.) I then dipped the marshmallow on a stick into the chocolate and then dusted it with the blue sugar. It stuck really well to the wet white chocolate and they turned out very well. Very tasty but VERY sweet!!

Flings, Smarties and White Snowballs - well almost Snowballs!
I added bowls of chips and Smarties because they are kiddy party staples and some blue suckers and mini white marshmallows as snowballs on the table.

I tried to make white snowballs but *duh* I used the left over pink marshmallows (I am blonde - eek!) so the white snowballs became pink snowballs. Note to self, there are a LOT more pink marshies in a pack than white ones and when melted, the pink become HECTICLY pink. But I had a lot of fun making them and the kids ate them all almost immediately so they never made them to the party table but they were a.w.e.s.o.m.e. I will definitely make these again in the school holidays as a treat. So quick and easy - see recipe for them here

Melting Snowmen
I was pleasantly surprised by a gift of a tray of melting snowmen biscuits which were kindly made by my sister-in-law and delivered on the day - how cute are these?

Liquid Ice
I borrowed a large punch bowl from a friend and poured 6 Litres of Sprite into the bowl. I then added blue food colouring and edible glitter to make it sparkle. Another HUGE hit with the girls!
Movie Popcorn
I made enough popcorn to fill a 5 Litre container for the girls to eat during the movie (what's a movie without popcorn?) It was all flattened, little girls can eat!! Hee hee.

The Party Packs / Party Favors
I asked my good friend Chef Garry at Aroma Cafe to keep me some 2 litre milk containers and then set Hubby to work, cutting off the bottoms and leaving long pieces which I stapled to make a handle. I then added some blue ribbon and a "thank you" note and viola I had the party pack baskets.

I then made a massive amount of popcorn and put it into plastic sandwich bags and labeled it as "snow."

Then I made up little packs with snowman parts and labelled it Do You Want to Build a Snowman? (the lyrics from Olaf's song in the movie). Again I put Hubby to work with orange fondant (plastic icing) that I bought at my local icing shop, to make snowman noses. Then I got packing.

Each pack included:
  • 3 white marshmallows (Olaf is a 3 ball snowman!)
  • 2 white mini marshmallows (Olaf has 2 feet)
  • 5 mini choc chips for the buttons and eyes
  • 2 pretzels for the arms
  • 1 orange nose shaped like a carrot

I put the "snow" and the "snowman parts pack" into the decorated milk container baskets and my party packs were complete!

I was amazed by how excited the kids were with these really cost effective packs and the parents were thrilled that the kids weren't put onto a second sugar-high in the car. Nice to know so many parents feel the same way as me :-)


Stick the Nose on Olaf
I downloaded a picture of Olaf from the web and printed it out on 6 separate pages and Hubby stuck them all together nicely to make a big Olaf. We then used Prestik to stick it to our garage door at the height of Bacon, so everyone could reach him. We then gave each child Prestik to put on their nose that they had made, blindfolded them with Bacon's scarf, turned them around and let them put the nose where they thought! There was a lot of giggling! Again today I was mobbed by little girls at the nursery school telling me how much they loved putting on Olaf's nose!

Jewels in the Ice
I half-filled 6 small buckets with water and froze them. I then added in some "jewels" that I found and filled the rest of the bucket up and froze it again. So I ended up with the jewels being frozen in the middle of the ice. I took them all out of the freezer about an hour before the movie ended (to prevent frost bite and the ice sticking to their skin) and put them on the driveway, put them into groups of a similar age and let them go crazy! Boy did they go crazy!!

Extra Handy Tips
It was a "drop and go" party so I made a list of guests with a space for the parent's names and cell numbers in case of emergency (also very useful for thank you texts and later play dates!)

We live in a security estate so I also gave the guest list to the gate so that they could let the guests in as they arrived.

Lastly I sprinkled snowflakes (that I had used a craft cutter to cut out) onto the carpet to make it more snowy.

Hope you try it and have as much fun as I did :-)

#cost effective

Monday, June 16, 2014

Life Lessons

I believe, in order to grow and learn from our mistakes and the mistakes of others, every once in a while, we need to stop, take a breath and reflect on where we are in our lives and the lessons we have learned, on our travels. For me and my family, the last few years have probably had more ups than downs, but although there have been some dark days, I continue to be grateful for all that I have and I welcome abundance into my life.

These are just some of the lessons I have learned over the past few years:


You just need to be there
Whether it's a concert or a mother's tea or a netball game, you just need to show up.
I have learned that you think it's not important to them, but they do notice and it means the world to them, even though they don't always show or verbalise it.

It's not about the perfect party
I went all out and had the most awesome party ever, with everything matching and looking gorgeous. I stayed up until 2am for nights on end making cake pops into Hello Kitty and making a cake that could win an award. In bed that night, after an exhausting but smooth-running, beautiful, well-executed party, I asked Bacon to recall her favorite part of the party. She responded "putting out the sweets!"
I have learned that what means a lot to me (a stunning-looking party), sometimes means nothing to my children.

I have a very emotional and needy child who has so many medical, physiological and psychological challenges that I have lost count. Sometimes her ranting can drive me insane and puts a huge strain on the family dynamic.
I have learned that when my children are being at their most unlovable, that is when they need me to love them the most. I have to dig deep within me not to react.

Natural vs Chemical
Going the natural route is the first thing that I try.
I have learned that I don't want a homeopath to perform open heart surgery on me. Medical professionals and medication definitely have a place.


Everyone is going through something
Whatever each person is going through is rough for them.
I have learned that perhaps in comparison to my problems, others' troubles may seem trivial, but everyone is going through some turmoil and it's a big thing to them.

Just because someone looks happy, doesn't mean they are happy
Ask questions, find out about the person inside. Often people are going through difficulties and you need to be there for them.
I have learned that if people want to open up, they need to feel comfortable enough to do so. It cannot be forced.

Listen to understand, not to reply
So often I find myself being so enthusiastic in the conversation that I butt in before my friend has finished their sentence.
I have learned that I should listen first and answer later and then only if required. Perhaps they don't want my input, they just want to talk. This is still a work in progress for me!!

Sometimes friends need space and that's ok
This took me a long time to come to terms with. It's been a difficult lesson because I don't like space, I want friends around me as often as possible.
I have learned that some people need to withdraw from friends, not because they don't want the friendship, but because they need to cocoon and regroup.

Coffee can be medicinal ;-)
A cup of coffee and a catch up can be like a Full Swedish Body Massage for the soul.
I have learned not to always wait for others to invite me, but to make the effort to make plans. Busy people make time for the people they care about.

Good deeds do not go unrewarded
About 2 years ago, instead of selling a fairly expensive but awesome baby item that I no longer needed, I remembered an "old" friend who was expecting and offered it to her as a gift. That one good deed has lead to a rekindling of our friendship, seeing another "old" friend who is also divine. The knock-on effect has been many hilarious, fun-filled, fabulous girls' nights out and me meeting so many wonderful people, going to see Bon Jovi live, having a fantastic long weekend away and numerous delicious meals prepared at my friend's beautiful home.
I have learned that good deeds attract good people into our lives.

Popping-up people
Some people, without you even trying, keep popping up in your life. These people have been placed in our lives for a reason. For me, some have moved to the other side of the world, but still check up on me and support me from afar.
I have learned that social media and whats app (especially the voice message option) may have its critics, but when used wisely, it brings old friends closer and allows new friendships to emerge. Honestly I sometimes feel like I've been to an awesome therapy session after some of these interactions!


Ditch the energy vampires
There is only one of you and so many people who need you. Never dip below your own energy reserves to help others (except your kids, that goes without saying).
I have learned that there will always be someone needing my help or advice but, as the air hostess reminds us during the flight instructions, you have got to put your own oxygen mask on before you can assist others.

Not every dysfunctional family is not functioning
Just because you can see that a family is a train wreck, does not mean that it is not servicing the dysfunctional needs of its members. I became involved with a hugely dysfunctional family because I felt enormous pity for all parties and I leaped in to help, I tried to build bridges and tear down walls but as Miley Cyrus sings, all it ever did was wreck me. Relationships borne out of a sense of pity, instead of mutual respect, can never flourish.
I have learned to walk away from the drama of other peoples' lives and am happier for it.

Cyclical friends
Some friends enter your life and you mistakenly think that they will be life-long friends. Perhaps these are friends made when your children are in nursery school together and you have a lot in common. You share intimate details of your life with them, assuming they will "have your back" and support you no matter the situation. Sometimes you are wrong. These friends are only there for a short part of your life and they added something at the time. Perhaps they are kind and caring and you wish they would stick around, but sometimes they are only there for a time and then they are gone. These friendships can dissolve on their own and just fizzle out or they can be very hurtful, especially if there was no closure, you didn't know what happened. Perhaps you said something or perhaps you didn't say something. Perhaps you didn't work hard enough at the friendship or perhaps you worked too hard. Disappointment can be devastating as you try to understand what went wrong.

Some friends are in your life forever. They enter your life and never leave. These friends are the true soul mates in your life. They are there for the good and the bad. They lift you up when you are down and are a support system through thick and thin.
I have learned that cyclical friendships are not real friendships, they are more like "good acquaintances." Sometimes the relationship doesn't fulfill the needs of both parties anymore. It is hard when one party invests too much in a cyclical friendship, hoping that it will turn into a real long term friendship and this can be very hurtful. Never invest more than you are prepared to lose. Not everybody is upfront and honest and you can be left high and dry without an explanation. You will survive.


Control your own destiny
When you get older, people think they know what is best for you and they might be right. As children, we want to keep our parents around for as long as possible.
I have learned that even though I don't always agree, allowing elderly people the freedom to make their own choices, on how to live out their remaining years, gives them hope for the future and a will to live. Even if their choices reduce their time with us, it is their decision, which will lead to them having a more enjoyable life, which ultimately means a lot more to them, than the extension of an unhappy one.


You only think about your health once it's in jeopardy
We all know we should exercise more, eat healthier and look after ourselves. Some of us eat too little, others too much. Some use exercise as a drug and others use alcohol as a tonic, some of us are sleep deprived even though we know this is unhealthy, we all have our vices.
I have learned that you are not your body, you are merely an inhabitant of it during this life, but when you experience a pain-free day you should be grateful.

When you go it, you go it alone
Chemotherapy is not for the faint-hearted. It is a severe treatment, its side affects are painful, exhausting and debilitating. No matter how much friends and family sympathise with you, when you go through it, you go through it alone.
I have learned that putting on a happy face during these "bad" days, sometimes even fools me into being happy!

I am still relatively young (well I think so) so I am sure my life lessons will continue. I like to reflect on what I have learned in order to be a better person going forward. As Maya Angelou so wisely put it:

Do The Best You Can Until You Know Better. - Maya Angelou.