A while back I was talking to a friend about life in general and especially about one of the biggest mistakes I tend to repeat time and again: give myself entirely to something, to a friend, to a cause, to work, in general to everything that makes part of my life.
I always see the glass half empty, I tend not to test fate by saying all is good and splendid just in case fate decides to step in and change the course of things. I am happy in so many things but not so happy in many others. But one thing I always do, paying so many times a very high price for it: I always give myself and dedicate myself 100%. To whatever, whoever, whenever. As long as I feel it is something I need to do, I just do it. In this process I tend to forget about myself a lot.
So I was talking to my good friend T, saying I was feeling quite exhausted and not able to give my ususal 100 % that people around me are used too and that that was making me feel bad.
So she explained me her rule: The 95% rule. And this is one of the truest things I have ever heard, one that truly makes sense and for which I am so grateful to her. It goes like this:
"It is not healthy to try to give more than 95% of yourself. You need to hold back the last 5% to maintain sanity. There are times in life when 100% is required ( for me these tend to be when a family member is ill) and you can give 100% but only for a short spurt of time. Giving 100% for a long period of time leaves me empty and I tend to get grumpy, sad or angry. I have learned it is not selfish to reserve the last 5%. It is what makes me better able to give the rest of me happily and without a grudge toward those I am serving".
I have been pondering on this testimony for a month and this is really true! It does apply to me and probably to a lot of people. I have also discovered that a small part of me dissappears when I give 100% for a long time to something.
I become a layered person and to reach within and find the real me takes time and effort from others and from myself. I get a lot grumpier (like the dwarf in Snow White) but I also get unhappy. And when you become unhappy you are less able to give happiness to others, to enjoy life to see what is beautiful around you! So I tend to stay more reserved and inside my shell.
I thank T for what she shared with me. I have learned and pondered a lot about it and I am quite sure that from now on I will keep that 5% to myself!
And it starts now because I am writting way past midnight while listening to this song that I just love! Doesn't it make you feel better? For me it even makes me feel a tiny bit beautiful!
While making my research today about the various movemnets of paying it forward and about the organization random acts of kindness I came across this amazing video from Beyonce at United Nations World Humanitarian day.
I have been hearing it every 5 minutes. It's amazing. Not just the video itself but again, listen to the words: "I was here, I have lived, I have loved". Isn't that what we all deserve and hope for? To live, to love and be loved in return.
Have you paid it forward today? Have you given, loved with no demand of return? Have you shouted to the world how a stranger or a friend made a difference in your day today? No?
Well, I have....this is it! Thank you all for your generous words of kindness and support, spoken or left unsaid. I was here!
I have waited a whole year to write this post.
A whole year passed since the day my heart and the heart of so many of my loved ones turned black. What was a day of celeberation, in a split of a second, in a few words, in the words left unsaid made us feel how life can be so tremendously unfair. I will never forget that day, I will never forget the tears, I will never forget the silence. The days that followed, the achiness, the feeling of impotency was tremendous. The malicious ink in the newspapers that rain and time ended up fading away.
But today, exactly a year today, a circle has passed, a page has been turned. Because you see, I believe that there is a Circle of Life but more than that that, there are circles inside our life. Have you ever watched Lion King? No? So just watch this small bit but most of all listen...
If you played close attention the song goes "Since the day we arrive in this planet..." and so it is. Since the day we are born we begin to make our path, we give steps into what we are to become. The greatness of that outcome can be as private or as public as the role we choose to play forces us to be.
Inside our circle of life, other circles take place. Smaller or bigger we never know. Good and bad, triumph and defeat, health and sickness, we all experience moments when we are at our best and moments that we are not. But if we learn and accept that these are things that we have to go thru and overcome, things that we most face as life experiences, as education and growth, then whatever happens next, we will for sure become stronger.
We, as a country are normally calm and easy tempered. We tend not to say too much, or party too much. We are normally bland. We often let things pass, we don't protest a lot and we also hardly ever praise.
When we do show emotion and when that emotion becomes news is in the lines of "man screams Messi at Ronaldo when he arrives in Guimarães". Why? Why is our memory so short? Why do we forget the greatness and the good things achieved by that man? (just an example that really shocked me)
In the same way we hardly ever put in writing when we are mistreated. Why do we never complaint? Why are we ashamed of claiming what is ours by right? Why do we let things go by, unsaid, unwritten. We give way and space for unfairness to win in this world. We do have the right to fairness, we do have the right to be treated politely, we do have the right to be heard, we do have the right to the truth.
But at the same time we hardly ever praise! The small things mostly. Like the generosity of the grocery man that carries our bags to the car when we are pregnant, like the stranger on the street that helps you with the baby stroller up the stairs or the smile of the receptionist at the airport that helps with the bags and the children (private joke, sorry!). These small acts of kindness stay so many times unsaid, unspoken, unthanked for.
So here is my challenge: do you have a facebook page? Do you use it? Well then, every time you are the subject of one of these acts of kindness, when you are touched by some strangers generosity, when you see the example of someone that deserves praise, no matter how big or small, post about it. If you can find an image to illustrate it then use it because images do speak more than a thousand words.
Today, I dedicate this post to a great man. And stealing a sentence just placed in my facebook page by my cousin Luís (thank you): " leaders are those who embrace the possibility of failure as a necessary first step towards building a great career". I praise the courage, the nerve, the tears, the suffering, the pain, the belief, the hard work, the struggle and the continuous search of this great Leader who I have the honor to call Brother.
Today a new circle begins for him and no matter what, when and how the outcome will be, for me and for a lot of people he is already a winner. Why? Because there isn't much space in this world for second chances, for new beginings, for new circles to take place. And he dared to do it.
I do not know who Tommy B is but the viedo he made still makes me shiever. Hope he makes a new one when the season is over. A one of praise for the hard work done, no matter what the outcome will be. Because you don't always get to to win but you should always get the right to prove you can still do it better!
Parabéns meu querido!
I have told you about my New Year resolutions. Pretty basic, right? The problem is the action plan to put them in motion. You see, it is easy to decide on what you want to do but when and how you are going to do it is a different scenario.
So in order to accomplish the so desired thick (which means done) in my resolutions list, I decided that first of all I needed to organize things around the house: move things from drawers to shelves, from shelves to boxes, from a pile of not numbered and unknown things to well named files, from receipts of appliances instructions spread throughout boxes to a neat file. Simple yet arduous work.
The one happy thing about it is that I love the arranged boxes with the customized labels, each naming what's inside! Even if inside there is not much yet.....
I really find gratification in order rather than chaos. It is hard work (especially when you have 4 children and a husband that not always shares my vision about storing papers) but I really enjoy having things in their right places. And then I like to move them around and make a different decor or arrange it in a different way. The result: an endless organizing task!
Sometimes people ask me how do I find the time for this and that, how do I manage, how I still find time to come here once in a while. And the answer for that is: I have no idea! I don't know how I do it but I know that I just need to do it. I don't know how to do it differently and I know for a fact (tested, experimented and proved) that I do not like it when I don't manage it as I feel I should. And that again is me being me. Or more me at least.
So I have decided to enter a journey, provoked by the book I am reading (the Happinnes project), to get to know myself better. Start with the simple things, the things I have always liked, search my childhood memories and follow the thread to today. If I can make a list (yes, a list) of ten things I liked as a child and transport them to today, I believe I will soon be walking the rainbow road to a much happier life.
Funny enough, the first thing that comes to my mind is animation movies. I have always loved them: the hidden lesson behind the script, the music that springs out at unexpected moments, a less happy moment that always leads to happiness in the end. Because I only like movies, animated or not, that have an happy ending. For non happy endings we have everyday life so no need for more!
When my boys were younger I had the pretext to see the movies because of them but now they no longer care for them so I can't wait for my baby to grow a little more so we can start seeing Cinderela, Peter Pan and so on! I always cry in the end. Even if it is only a small tear, it always escapes my eyes!
I have so many favorite ones that my list is endless but there are two that have always remained in my heart: Beauty and the beast ( I mean, how can you not love the small tea cup?) and The Prince of Egypt. Why? No idea really but I know the songs from both movies by heart (as I do of many of others....which is a bit embarrassing). I trully feel that after seeing these movies you actually become richer, with a lighter heart and one more willing to give and do good to others. And isn't that an amazing thing to want to do, to want to achieve?
Maybe if every individual had the capacity to see these movies with a different eye, with an eye that seeks innocence, happiness and do good, the world would really be a much better space.
For all of those who have never heard about these amazing movies, here are my favorite songs from each of them. No program for this weekend yet? Well, rent the movies, bake a cake, make a good cup of tea, grab a pack of tissues and sit down to watch and learn....
Number one on my list of things I love: animation movies!
I am currently reading a book I borrowed from my cousin. She came to visit and said: "I have just finished reading this book and you need to read it too". So I am reading it. And it is already making me ponder so many things!
It is called The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and you can find more about it here. I am only at the start but more than a really good read, the book is a very good "make you think" kind of book.
During my read I came across this sentence in the book, written by W. H. Auden:
"Between the ages of twenty and forty we are engaged in the process of discovering who we are, which involves learning the difference between accidental limitations which is our duty to outgrow and the necessary limitations of our nature beyond which we cannot trespass without impunity."
And that sentence has been engraved in my mind for a couple of weeks and it has really made me think. Because it is so true! Before we are twenty we are just young and that is it. Then our journey to adulthood begins. We start to take on responsibilities, some along the way form a family, finish studies, go on world travels. We know little about the world and life in general.
Then we stumble across difficulties, we always say yes because we are just afraid to say no, we go beyond ourselves to please others. We never question our elders orders or requests, we live running from one place and errand to another, we fail and feel disoriented, meet people that in the end we discover were not who we thought. We suffer, cry but mainly feel that we are really no good.
Then we grow a little more and start reflecting on each and every single one of those things. Does it really have to be like that? Is it really my fault, my duty, my failure? Do I really need to do all that, be all that, change all that?
And if we really, really grow a little more, we find the answer, which sometimes will be yes but others will be no. It is finding the difference between what we must overcome and what we should not that makes all the difference. And that road is long, tortuous and hard. If we learn the difference by the time we are forty then probably, as the author of the book reflects, we will be much happier.
Why? Because we become ourselves. We become truer to our nature. We are no longer eager only to please others but we learn also to please ourselves. Me becomes Me.
It is not easy and we will fail and fall but as adults that we have become we will for sure overcome these minor things and just be more of what we want to become. Yes, because we will want more, we will become more demanding. Not of others but of ourselves, of life, of happiness and fulfillment.
For me, the last couple of years have been a true lesson about life and this road we travel in. And still I am sure there will be so much more to learn. Hardship sometimes, pain and sadness others but I am sure that now that I am more Me then I have ever been, happpier and more satisfying moments will happen.
Four or five years ago, I can't really recall, we started passing News Year's eve alone. Just the 5 and now the 6 of us. We don't dress up for dinner but we prepare a fun meal and all the children help. Sometimes we dance after dinner, sometimes we play games and wait for midnight to arrive. We always eat twelve grapes at the strokes of midnight and we jump from chairs or sofas (or beds) when the new year begins. With our right foot of course.
And on the first day of the year we take a photo. Again we don't dress up but everyone has to wear something new (that we normally keep from Christmas presents). Just this yearly photo makes us see how much our children have grown (and we aged!!) but it also reminds us why we get up every morning and smile. We have accomplished so much! We have so many things to be grateful for! We, as family, become more WE. And that is quite a thing!
My parents, me and my brothers are a WE family! I know that for a fact and it is one of the things I treasure most. And now me, my husband and children are becoming a WE family too! And that makes me happy, makes me want to work, makes me get up every morning, makes me want to enjoy the journey.
And that is a very good thing to want! Happy New Year everyone!
I must admit I am a list person. There is actually no way I can deny it!
I make lists for everything: the supermarket, my daily tasks at work, my weekend tasks at home and so on. I have tried several ways to do it over the years and have now the perfect formula! I have different kinds of notebooks for each type of list being the supermarket one the ugliest of course!
I have a notebook at work that I fill with my what to do's and deadlines to do them, I make notes regarding each item and yes, I like to use lots of arrows in different colored pens (being Muji store pens my favorite kind).
At home I have a prettier journal I bookbinded myself with my favorite fabric and each entrance has a divider with a chipboard tag and everything.
But a list is only good enough as the amount of time it saves you. If you end up getting lost in the entries you have to make and the things that relate to each one then list making is not for you!
My one problem is that you need time to make lists and manage them and recently I have been more on the lazy side at home. So making lists of the tasks I need to make there has become a little bit harder! Besides, if one works five days a week, isn't one supposed to rest the other two?
Well, with a house with 4 children that is just not possible! And besides I love my gold stars when I finish a task I have assigned for myself! So this weekend I have finished decorating Filipe's room, I have redone Leonor's bedroom (now just the decorating needs to be finished) and I have taken down Christmas decorations so the living room is now back to it's normal status.
In the meantime and since we are at the beginning of the year I have been giving a lot of thought about the famous New Year resolutions. It's kind of mandatory to think about it and do it, isn't it? So the first thing I did was think of what I wanted this year to be, what I wanted to acomplish at a personal level (my work resolutions would fill a whole blog!).
I have finally found the answer and the title for my New year resolutions list is: Pay attention, tie loose ends and payback with love. The title itself is just imense so in terms of tasks my list is very short:
- Organize the photos digitally and make an album of the last 2 years for each child;
- Finish all my quilting and sewing projects in hand (I have 4 quilts in the making and none finished).
That's it! And to be honest I hope I can make it (so feel free to remind me if you see me getting of track). I hope I have the time and energy to do it. I hope I can balance my need for rest with my need to get the job done. I hope I do win my gold stars in the end of the year!
One of my tasks for today was redoing one of the walls in my office. Why? Because I received just the perfect Christmas gift and I had promised I would do it. And I do not like to fail my promises!
So here it is, thanks to my lovely cousins, P and F who gave me the wonderful sentence in vinyl all done and ready to apply!
It now stands in front of my desk and on the side of it I have two photos of my Family, my loved ones, my inspiration and reason for living!
My day had a list and I am really glad all the items are now ticked down with done!
Isn't this a great inspiration to live by? Better yet if, like me, you can look at it every day!
First thing tomorrow morning: make a new list for the rest of the week!