I am because We are

Today’s prompt is: “Write about something that makes you feel strong”. I looked up the word in the dictionary and was amazed at all the things that strong could mean. When I hear the word, I either think of physical strength or strength of character. Since I definitely am not the strongest person physically, I’ll talk about the other definitin that comes to mind.

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People call me strong and have done so for most of my adult life simply because I have always been single and appeared to do everything for myself. Becoming a single parent and raising what I would like to call, a well-adjusted son, just amplified this idea in everyone’s mind. The truth is that I am not really that strong. I do however have a support system of friends, colleagues and family that gives me the space to do what I need to do to take care of my son and myself. My network is small but it is big enough for me. My network though is not the main reason why I appear strong.

The main reason is because I have faith in a God who always has my back. This means that I can lean on Him all the time. I will not fall. He will not fail me or my son. I am by no means a church-going somebody. I do however believe in God because I see the evidence of all the good things He has done in my life. I often point out the evidence of it to my son whenever I become aware of an example. It blows both out minds to see God in action. On of the more recent examples is that of the kittens that came into our lives. He wanted a pet so badly that God sent them to our door. He was so dissappointed when neither of the kittens seemed to want his attention initially and now George is about the clingest cat I have ever come across 😂. I was just saying to him today that he clearly has a special line to God because God is always answering his prayers.

So in a nutshell, “I am because we are”. My network of family and friends together with my God, make me look strong. Without them, I would have nothing and be nothing. I am grateful for the wonderful network that God has blessed me with.

Becoming a non-smoker…again

Being a single parent is a challenge. Being a single parent of a son when you didn’t even have any brothers in the house…a bigger challenge. It’s a daily challenge though that I enjoy waking up to. If I had to choose one challenge to write about, it would be, becoming a non-smoker again.

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I started smoking when I was 18. I loved it. As an introvert, it gave me something to do in social situations and, once smokers were uncermoniously booted outdoors to smoke, it was how I made new friends and networked. Most smokers are awesome people so my smoke breaks were often my favourite part of the day. I smoked 20 a day. It was a lot. Then I became a mom.

I was always conscious of reeking of smoke when holding my baby but it took a while before it really started bothering me. When he was 4, 9 years ago, I eventually started giving it some serious thought. I did some research and Allen Carr’s Easy way to stop smoking sounded like a method that could get results so I bought the book. It sat on my shelf for another month and a half. I just wasn’t ready. I continued to contemplate it and eventually decided that I would never forgive myself if I got cancer while my son was young and I could possibly have prevented it by giving up then. I was also conscious of the fact that every time I lit up, my hard earned money was going up in smoke! It had to stop. So on a Friday afternoon, towards the end of February, I came home from work. I sorted my son out. Then I lit up a cigerette. Then I opened the book.

I was hooked by the end of the 1st chapter. I smoked as I read. I still wasn’t sure if I was ready to commit. I continued to read and to smoke. Halfway through the book, I stopped reading. It was late and I was tired. I also needed to think through all that I had already read. A lot made sense to me but I still wasn’t ready to commit. I went to bed.

Saturday morning. I can’t wait to start reading further. My poor son had to amuse himself after breakfast while I immersed myself in the book. I could hear ‘clicks’ in my head as I went through it chapter. I wasn’t addicted to smoking I told myself. I was addicted to the nicotine and the cigarette was merely the vehicle. I let these points and a few others marinate in mind while I lit yet another cigarette. By midday I reached the final chapter. I was so nervous. I still didn’t feel ready to commit but I knew I was closer.

I started reading the last chapter. I was encouraged to smoke one more cigarette. It was to be my last. Once I was done I would no longer be a smoker. I was so scared. Before I lit that cigarette, I reasoned through the why’s and how’s of what I was about to commit to. Then I lit the cigarette. I savoured every puff. I finished the book. That was that. It has been almost 9 years to the day and I am still a non-smoker.

The 1st 3-4 days were hard. On the 3rd day I found myself curled up on the couch feeling terribly ill. I asked my munchkin to bear with me that night and he did. I made it through. I kept telling myself that it was nicotine that I was addicted to and not the cigarette and that once the nicotine was out my system I would be ok. It takes Nicotine about 3-4 days to work it’s way out of your blood so I told myself that I just needed to make it through those first few days then the worst would be over.

I have to admit that I still miss my smoking rituals. I enjoyed them. I even investigated nicotine-free electronic cigarettes at one point but there are none that are completely nicotine free. I just wanted to experience the ritual again.

Becoming a non-smoker again was a huge challenge for me and I am very proud that I have achieved it.

Be Bold Enough to Live Life on Your Own Terms

What does it mean to live to boldly? That’s today’s prompt. I have no idea so here goes nothing.

Lets start at the beginning. The Oxford dictionary defines bold as ‘brave and confident; not afraid to say what you feel or to take risks’. In this day and age of social media, where so many are trying to be something they are not, I would say anyone who is not afraid to be true to themselves fits that definition. Why are we so determined to be someone else? Why can’t we just be ourselves? There is far more power, fulfillment and happiness in it.

“Be bold enough to live life on your terms, and never, ever apologize for it.”

Mandy Hale

Not a single one of us is the same as the other. Not even identical twins can claim this. We each have unique traits and talents. Even if you and are both painters and are asked to paint the same picture, our pictures will not be exactly alike because we interpret the world differently based on our experiences. We will therefore interpret the picture differently. Our differences should be celebrated and not criticized as if they were faults. They are not.

If you think of the people who are most memorable in your community, I am willing to be that they are also the most original. They don’t “try” to be original, they just are because they are themselves. They tend to be ‘a breath of fresh air’. They are not perfect and they don’t try to be. They accept themselves as they are. They stand out in the crowd.

I am inspired by Elon Musk for much the same reasons Steve Jobs inspires me. He is supremely confident in what he is capable of and cannot be bothered with the naysayers and the sceptics. He is a dreamer but a practical dreamer and his actions are impactful. Both have moved us forward technologically through their visions. They have not tried to be anyone else but themselves. They have not tried to live anyone else’s dream. They have built on and being inspired by those who went before them but they have not tried to copy them. To be honest, his personality rubs me up the wrong way a bit but that doesn’t take away from the things he has accomplished.

In a nutshell, for me, being bold is having the courage to be yourself and to follow your dreams. Those dreams are God’s wish for you, in fact, I believe His dreams for you are bigger that you imagined but you will only discover what He truely has in store for you if you have the courage to follow your own dreams first.

On that note I will leave you with these words of wisdom from Oprah Winfrey:

Every time you suppress some part of yourself or allow others to play you small, you are ignoring the owner’s manual your Creator gave you. What I know for sure is this: You are built not to shrink down to less but to blossom into more. To be more splendid. To be more extraordinary. To use every moment to fill yourself up.

Oprah Winfrey
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