Chasing The Elusive Butterfly

IMG_2855He spots a butterfly. Runs towards it and tries to catch it. The butterfly flies away, with him chasing after it. Over and over he tries without success. He is my two-year old grandson.

But why? I ask myself while watching him.

Why does he keep on chasing the butterfly?

Does he think it can play with him?

Does he only want to touch it, feel it, experience its beauty?

Does he think holding it will make him happy?

Is he simply chasing it because it is a new experience?

As I watch him trying to catch the butterfly over and over again without success , it reminds me of people in general. Looking around me, I see people running and running trying to catch the elusive butterfly of happiness.

We chase after worldly possessions, new experiences, new relationships, new looks, in a never ending quest to catch the elusive butterfly of happiness.

But what does being happy mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary happiness is :

a state of well-being and contentment, a pleasurable or satisfying experience.

This seems to imply that being happy is a feeling, brought about by  the pursuit of pleasure, and the avoidance of pain.

A realistic goal? No.

This kind of happiness can only be found when all else is taken care of. In an ever-changing world filled with uncertainty, both economically, politically and emotionally, finding pleasure and experiencing no pain or negativity is truly like the elusive butterfly. It always sits on the next bush to be chased after, only to fail in catching it.

Life is never perfect and always harbours a surprise just around the next corner. Accidents happen, relationships come and go, health changes in the blink of an eye, economic status fluctuates without warning. All this  leave us gasping for air and wondering where happiness has fled to.

Being happy lies in finding the ability to be content no matter what the circumstances are. It is to smile when it is raining, to be grateful for the small things, to rejoice in every relationship which has meaning, to assist others less fortunate, to enjoy every day no matter what it brings.

The apostle Paul describes it in the following words:

I know what it’s like not to have what I need. I also know what it’s like to have more than I need. I have learned the secret of being content no matter what happens. I am content whether I am well fed or hungry. I am content whether I have more than enough or not enough. Philippians 4 :12  

Above all life has taught me to be happy, is to know myself, to accept who I am and where I am to be content with my own companionship, for no one else is responsible for my happiness and contentment.

Writing this piece about happiness is to remind myself to stop chasing the elusive  butterfly of happiness, as it will always sit on the next bush.   To keep on chasing after it will cause more feelings of discontent and unhappiness. Therefore I will strive to find happiness and contentment in whatever life hands me every day.

What will you do?

Chase the elusive butterfly , or find happiness in what you have?

To Answer before Listening -That is Folly and Shame

To answer before listening. – That is folly and shame ( Proverbs 18:3 )

DPP_33

We all know them.

Those who answer before listening to all the facts. Those who ask the unasked for questions. Those who give the unasked for advice, those who simply do not understand or even try to. Those who know all the answers.

To listen before answering is an art, something to be learnt and practised.

On Saturday I sat amongst about three hundred women of various ages. They were all gathered in one place for the same purpose, to raise  funds for Teddyland Daycare at the Baby Therapy Centre  where I have been working for more years than I care to tell. As I looked around me, I wondered how many unlistened to stories hid behind the smiling faces, the happy buzz of voices and the laughter.

Through the years many many parents and their babies with special needs walked through our doors for the first time. Stress and anxiety visible in their faces. Sometimes anger is the uppermost emotion of the day, at other times fear and despair for the future reigns. Sometimes denial and disbelief.

Those:  This can’t be happening to me feelings.

What do they need most of all?

Someone to listen before answering. Someone to listen with their heart. Someone to listen without advice. Someone to just be there. Someone to practise the art of listening.

Through the years I learnt that as professionals we need to listen to parents. After all they are the ones who go home and spend 24 hours a day with their child. They know their child as we don’t, they live with their child.

To listen is an act of kindness and healing, it is a choice we make, a choice to give the other time. Time to voice and express feelings no matter how bad the feelings without neccessarily needing the solutions. Solutions often follow if feelings have been expressed and listened to.

I know professionals are trained to try and fix the problem. To look at the child objectively, to diagnose and to treat.

But……

Do we stand back and consider the effect the problem have on the person, the family, the marriage, the interpersonal relationships of those around the unfortunate one? Do we consider how much more effective our treatment would be if the parents and other family members find themselves in place of reasonable emotional peace? I say reasonable emotional peace for I realise that living with and caring for a child with special needs is an ongoing and never ending struggle.

Do we waste time and money if a treatment session was spent listening and allowing a parent to voice feelings, to cry, to be angry,even to blame us the professionals? I don’t think so, I think it is time and money wisely spent for an emotionally well parent brings up an emotionally well child.

To all us professionals out there ( and note I say us as I include myself) .

Let us learn to listen before answering,

or

As our cleaning lady once said: Let us not talk into another’s mouth, for how can we know that which is in another’s mouth?     

 

 

 

 

When Blah Blah Become Words.

Words amaze me.

Often when standing in the supermarket queue , I listen to conversations around me. Because I live in South Africa with 11 official languages it is inevitable that I would not always understand the conversation.

If I listen long enough and allow the words to  swirl around me filling my consciousness with sound, it becomes music. It has phrases and intonations. It has soft sounds speaking of tenderness and love. It has playful sounds telling a story of people who know one another well enough to tease and laugh together. It has dark harsh sounds warning of danger and anger. It has melancholy sounds expressing sadness and loss.

Sounds like an orchestral symphony?

Yes and if I listen long enough some of the blah blah will become meaningful and then it is called words.

Sometimes as I try to write about life, I can’t find the words to express how I feel. Then I read the post  by  Botteldworder,  Simple Word Love  and realised releasing the words flying around in my mind and emotions is to allow them to live.

How often do we not keep our words expressing how we feel captive, allowing them to die and become noxious matter in our minds untill that day when they break out of the cage and cause havoc in our own and the lives of others. Maybe I release the words and feelings today and it sounds like blah blah to another, but one day, maybe one day, it will gain meaning and become words bringing healing or joy or sadness to the reader.

Even if  no one reads my words,even if it is just blah blah to others, it sets me free to watch the words fly away taking  my thoughts and feelings with them.

 

Time Remembered

“Time remembered is grief forgotten

Algernon Charles Swinburne from the poem Atalanta in Calydon

Time is in its essence abstract and transient, difficult to grasp and impossible to hold onto.

Everyday we rush through time, forgetting that each moment past will never be again. We live, we laugh, we love, we pass through time without thinking about the impact that our choices today will have on our lives tomorrow.

Important events in life, both good and bad, cause  time to take on a whole different dimension. It slows down or speeds past in a  most alarming way. Moments become hours, or milliseconds, imprinting visual pictures indelibly on our minds.

Pictures which can either haunt us with bad memories or delight with memories of joy and laughter.

How do we, I, you, anyone replace the haunting pictures with ones that bring joy and peace?

This is a question I have been struggling with for the past nine months since my husband took his own life and I was the one to find him on the bathroom floor.

I close my eyes and I see the blood, the gun, his feet in his favourite shoes, parts of his favourite sweater and in my mind I run. I run as far away as I can. I run away from the picture, I run and try to hide in my own mind from that corner where the picture is stored, only to find myself back there again.

I relive the shock, the disbelief, the anger and the grief again and again.

I relive the feelings of abandonment and betrayal.

I relive the moments, of chaos both in my mind and the minds of others around me.

I relive the exhaustion both physically and emotionally of packing up and moving  from our family home.

I relive the feelings of being uprooted from what I thought was my life and what was normal in my life.

I relive the feelings of loosing a husband, a friend, someone I thought I was going to grow old with.

To the outside world, I live a seemingly “normal” life. I go to work, I laugh, I eat, I sleep.  I visit friends and family, make new memories and new pictures in my mind.  I learn new skills and try to build a new life with a new normal.

Yet……….. Deep down I know I will never be the same again.

I will always carry that moment in time that changed my whole life with me. I will always carry the gap it left in my life. I will always carry the questions with no answers, the feelings with no cure.

I can only strive  to reach a point in my life where:

Time remembered will be grief forgotten”

Even if only for a short while.

A First Glimpse of the World Through the Eyes of a Preemie

Week 34

Here I am safe and warm in my mother’s womb, floating in a softly undulating waterworld.  I can hear sounds, that of my mother’s heartbeat and breathing, her voice, my father’s voice,and music, beautiful music.  It is muted and reassuring. The dark dim light and lukewarm water make me feel safe, calm and contained within their boundaries.

I am aware of my twin sister tightly packed next to and a little above me in the womb, floating in her own uterine sac, far away and yet so near!

Suddenly everything changes. My waterworld disappears and I am being sucked strong and fast through a small dark tunnel towards an opening. I pop out and find myself in bright lights, with loud and confusing sounds. I can’t breathe, I try to make a sound but can’t. I feel hands around me moving me and putting me down.  Panic, fear, cold and lonely. These are the feelings I experience.

Now I find myself all alone on an open platform, splayed and exposed to the world.  A world which is a cold white expanse of nothingness. My face is covered with a boxlike thing which makes a sound unknown to me, but later I will know it sounded like a strong wind . It was oxygen to help me breathe under the headbox. Bright lights  hurt my eyes and loud voices pierce my ears.

I feel so alone, afraid and confused!  What is happening, who are these people all in white. They are hurting me with their prodding needles and loud voices. Are they trying to kill me?  Where is my mother, my sister and my father. Have they abandoned me. So many questions and no answers. Only stark fear!

Time passes and  gradually I become aware of my twin sister in the incubator next to me. I find it reasuring to have her near, almost like in my mother’s womb. My mother and father come to visit , but they don’t pick me up or touch me. Do they hate me? After what seemed to me like a very long time I am at last taken out of my confining box and put in my mother’s arms. Instant bliss. Here I am safe, it feels just right. This is where I belong.

Year 8.

It is many years later and I still feel the fear. Only now I am afraid of being alone, the dark, people, doctors, nurses, hospitals. In short, life scares me! Dreams haunt me and keep me awake at night and at my mother’s side during the day.

Then a special lady enters my life. With her help I reconstruct my birth and the events following my rude and unexpected entry into this scary world. We face the fears and with lots of prayer conquer them. One wonderful day , I am free, free of the fear, free to start living, free to experience all this life has to offer, free to grow up and take my place in this world.

I told you this so that  you may know preemie babies experience feelings too.