Trudging through life with little motivation Finding reasons for procrastination I wonder what keeps me bound here Complacency, laziness or perhaps fear
My inner voice urges, “From this slumber wake Arise or your dreams you will one day forsake Remember and honour your heart’s desire Or your life experiences will be swathed in ire
Thwarted desires resentment breeds Resentment that insatiably on love feeds With love’s fragrant blossoms gone astray Life becomes empty, dull and gray.”
I wrote this poem many years ago. It was a way for me to unpack and understand my debilitating habit of procrastination.
Since writing the poem I have improved by stepping out of my comfort zone and overcoming the fears and insecurities that plague me.
However, there are times, like now, when I regress. The reason is not anything that I’ve mentioned in the poem but overwhelm and mental exhaustion.
My remedy is getting more sleep, watching my diet (what I take in through my senses) and not putting pressure on myself. Doing a little everyday and celebrating those wins instead of criticising myself for doing too little.
As we end another year, reflect on what causes you to procrastinate, how that impacts you and what you can do to change this habit.
Uncertain of what pushed me Into a downward spiral I fall No way of stopping No way out I bury my head under the blanket Warm dark cozy A cocoon of safety Searching for a handhold I grab onto a thought A positive affirmation And pull myself up I am beautiful I am intelligent I am courageous I am brave I am amazing I am incredible Each thought lifts me higher Until I can lift my head And get out of bed Self-doubt still lingers Emptiness loneliness Here in my heart Tomorrow I will descend Into the well I escaped Face the demons that pulled me down Slay them so that they trouble me no more And pull myself as I did before Reminding myself to fill my cup With positive thoughts So that the demons can’t survive
Tall and proud we stand On the shoulders of our motherland We remember those who have passed And the legacy that they left us They taught us to be strong To stand up when there’s wrong That when it’s dark outside God will be our Guide
I will strive to love And always serve In my heart I will see All as a part of me Peace it’s clear to see Is within you and me If we fill our thoughts with love And speak and act with love
Love like the brilliant sun Residing in the heart of everyone For we are Divinity This truth sets us free We are Divinity This truth will set us free
Writing has always been a part of my life, from as early as 9 or 10 writing creative stories for school. As a child, I listened fascinated, as my grandmother – a gifted storyteller – narrated stories of her life. I believe that this, together with a voracious appetite for reading, was my inspiration for writing.
In my teens, creative writing shifted to journaling and my diary became my best friend. I poured out tales of my first crush, the mean girls at school, the loss of my dad, and my dreams and hopes for the future. At the time, I didn’t realise how important this was for my mental wellbeing. Journaling that helped me process my emotions in a positive way. There was no-one to judge me. I was able to ‘talk’ about issues that I didn’t feel comfortable sharing with anyone else.
After graduating from university and getting married, I didn’t feel the need to journal as much. My focus was outward driven – material pursuits and career development.
1999, was however, a turning point in my life. I had been a member of a Spiritual Organisation for a few years, but that year felt the call for transformation – from outward to inner focused. I started a journey of reflection, healing and growth. Immediately there was an exponential shift in my creativity. I felt as if I was tuned into a Divine Radio Station, receiving words of wisdom and ideas for value-based rhymes and songs. All of this I recorded in my little notebook but was afraid to share – afraid that it was not good enough.
This creative streak continued even after my children were born. I made up stories and songs with a moral or educational value that I would act out and sing to them.
However, I felt adrift and unsure of my place. Motherhood was beautiful but tough. In my research, I came across non-dominant writing therapy. I would write out my question with my right hand (dominant hand), switch over to my left hand (non-dominant hand) and write my response. I was blown away by the insight that I gained during these writing sessions. I understood myself, my motivation and my behaviour much better.
I was called to write and share my experiences but still allowed ego to get in the way. All of that changed in 2011. I gave birth to my 3rd child via C-section. The night before being discharged my gynaecologist realised that something was not right. When I had a scan done the next morning, it revealed that my colon had ruptured. I had surgery and spent three and a half weeks in hospital, hovering in an out of consciousness.
The months that followed were one of the lowest points in my life. I was not able to do much which left time for reflection. Writing once again came to my rescue. I wrote poetry to express that which I could not verbalise. It has been a process, overcoming the fear and feelings of not being ‘good enough’. It took me another 10 years before I felt ready to publish my poetry in book form. As my confidence grows, I share more. The more I share, the more inspiration I receive. I know now that I am living my purpose, which was revealed to me during a meditation,
“Write, write, write Speak also the world needs to hear your voice Heal the world That is your purpose This is why I saved you”
We traditionally think of a love letter in romantic terms. But did you know that you receive love letters from God every day?
It comes in the form of an answer to a prayer or a question that you voiced. This love letter appears in the most unexpected places – a song, a line in a movie, a photo, something in nature, a phone call from a friend or even a random page in a random book.
How do I know this? Well, I have received many love letters, but only when my heart was open and my mind as clear as the summer sky.
On days when I need a reminder of His Love, I find hearts. A heart-shaped leaf in my garden. A guinea fowl feather with a heart pattern on my dad’s passing anniversary. Heart-shaped cherries on a family outing to the cherry farm. A heart shape in a tree on Mother’s Day. Finding these hearts lightens and brightens my day and makes my heart expand with love.
My other love letters come in the form of signs – on cars, billboards, or buildings. Each of these is a special message that I needed to reflect on and help me on my journey. I love to sing, especially when I am driving. I was singing one of my favourite hymns, “How Great Thou Art” and when I looked across, the taxi next to me had the words, “Jesus Loves You,” on the rear windscreen. It was confirmation as if God were saying, “I hear you.”
On another day, the car in front of me had a sticker on the rear window – it was a cross with the text 29:11. This verse from the bible states:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
– Jeremiah 29:11
This came on a day when I was paralysed by self-doubt.
There are days when I don’t see or hear anything. It is usually when I am functioning on autopilot or have filled my day with busy-ness.
This article is not a brag post but a reminder that we are blessed – we are loved. Pause, breathe and be aware – be awake. If we are sleepwalking through life – putting our attention only on the material, we will miss the miracles that surround us – we will miss the love letters that God is sending us to guide us and light up our way through the darkness.
Are you aware of the love letters you have received?
The last few years have been traumatic for everyone. However, even before the pandemic struck, we lost many loved ones in our family, both young and old. How do you continue with your life, knowing that a part of you is missing?
My answer came in the strangest of places. One day, I found a handwritten note in the pages of a second-hand book I had bought. It read: “There is only one world, the world pressing against you at this minute. There is only one minute in which you are alive, this minute – here and now. The only way to live is by accepting each minute as an unrepeatable miracle, which is exactly what it is – a miracle and unrepeatable.”
How do we put that into practice?
By giving thanks for every moment we have.
By appreciating everything we have, especially this beautiful bountiful Earth we call home.
By appreciating and showing appreciation to the people in our lives.
By using our time, spending time with those we love and making good memories
Through sharing our love and serving.
By thinking before we speak or act so that we don’t have regrets.
The events of the past few years have reminded us that we are not in control. We had to adapt and learn to live with uncertainty. “How?”, I asked. The answer was revealed to me when I was out on the road.
What do we do when we are driving in mist so dense that we can only see as far as the car in front of us? We slow down, switch on the headlights and stay alert and focused. Perhaps we recite a prayer or chant, trusting that God will make sure we arrive at our destination safely.
Over the past few years, we have been forced to slow down, to take a step back from the distractions and busyness in our lives. We were given more time to reflect and re-evaluate our lives – time to understand our purpose and to focus on what is important. The headlights that light our way is the love that we have shared with our brothers and sisters. We stay calm through prayer and meditation. And it is our faith and trust in God that will carry us through these tests.
Sometimes it is hard to trust especially when we are grieving or when it seems like there is no end and no hope.
But when we falter or lose faith, it is the support from family, friends and our community, even strangers that will lift us. If we put aside our pride and reach out for help, we will find so many willing to serve – with love, without judgment and selflessly.
As time passes, let us not forget the lessons we have learned – to treasure and be grateful for every minute – to live each minute with purpose, love and joy. To live with equanimity understanding that God is the Director and trusting in His Divine Plan.
The perfect wife, doting mother, supportive friend, gracious hostess, always smiling – that is how most people described Jodie. Very few knew that her beautiful smile hid a painful secret. She was dying. Not of a physical illness, but a dis-ease of the mind that was slowly robbing her of joy and purpose.
The shrill tone of the alarm pierced through her dream. Jodie reached over and hit ‘Snooze’. “Five more minutes,” she thought to herself. The alarm jarred her sleep again. “Why don’t you turn that damn thing off if you are not going to wake up when it rings!!” barked her husband, Reese. Cursing silently, she rolled out of bed and into the bathroom. Looking into the mirror, she wondered, “Where have the last 20 years gone? Where was the zeal, energy and passion I had at university?” She splashed cold water onto her face as if to wash away the unwelcome thoughts. As she dressed, each piece of clothing, each layer of make-up served as her armour, preparing her for the day’s battles. The finishing touch was the lipsticked smile. Jodie looked at her reflection, pleased by what she saw, and said to no-one in particular, “Let this be a good day.”
Her two children, 10-year old Sarah and 13-year old Joshua were extra slow that morning, having only got to bed at 10 after completing their schoolwork. It still added to her frustration though and she scolded, “If we don’t leave in the next five minutes, you are going to be late for school. Then you can explain to Mr Steyn why you are late!” They sped up whatever they were doing silently, knowing that it was best not to argue with mom when she was in “one of her moods.” By the time, they arrived at school, Jodie had calmed down a little and feeling guilty, she gave them each a quick hug, saying, “I’m sorry. You know I love you, right?”
The conversation at the school gate revolved around the same issues – too much homework, lack of motivation, too much screen time, and their hectic lives and what to cook for supper. Even though it was reassuring to know that other moms shared the same problems, Jodie’s insecurity still raised its ugly head. “What am I doing wrong? Why are my kids just average and not excelling at anything? Have I done enough to encourage their talents or is it too little? Leaving work to be at home with them hasn’t seemed to make any difference.” Once again, there was no stopping that nagging voice once it started.
En-route to her car, Jodie suddenly stumbled, feeling faint, then felt herself falling as everything went black. When she came to, her friend Laura was at her side, a concerned expression on her face. “Hey, you scared us when you toppled over like that. How are you feeling?”
“Weak…… a little confused…….. Don’t know what happened, “she said, the metallic taste of blood on her tongue.“
“Don’t try and get up, “said Laura, “We’ve called for an ambulance and Reese is on his way.”
The paramedics checked her vitals when they arrived. Her blood pressure was 80/60 which is why she had fainted. She had a split lip from knocking it against the gate as she fell. However, she would have to be taken to the hospital for observation and x-rays to determine if there were any other injuries. Reese arrived just as they were placing her in the ambulance.
“The kids……” she muttered.
“Don’t worry, I’ll take care of everything,” Reese assured her.
Thankfully, there were no other injuries but Jodie would have to remain in the hospital for a few days for an MRI and other tests. Initially, she was concerned about the children and how they were coping without her, but relaxed when she saw that her mum and Reese had everything under control. Not used to doing nothing, she used the time between tests, the prodding and pricking, to catch up on her reading, complete a knitting project and plan for the following week.
One morning, she picked up her diary and pen with the intention of compiling her “To-Do” list. She went no further than the date. Her hand began moving across the page as if it was being controlled by another force. A picture began to take shape. Minutes passed, as she drew, unaware of her surroundings. When she finally put down her pen, she felt spent, as if she had finished an intense workout.
Putting her pen aside, she focussed on the drawing. It was a little girl, curled up on the floor, crying. She was alone, surrounded by a protective shield. Around the shield were arrows being hurled at her and bouncing off the shield.
“THIS IS ME,” she thought. As the tears welled up, Jodie went to hide in the bathroom, trying to stifle and mute the sobs that racked through her body. Returning to her bed, she began to write. Every sentence helped her understand. With each sentence, she could feel a part of her protective shield breaking away.
After all the tests, the diagnosis was that she was stressed. The doctor gave her recommendations and suggested a psychologist help her manage her stress levels. Jodie smiled inwardly because she’d understood the message delivered with this incident and received the guidance she needed to start the healing process.