happiness

Monkeys Inside and Out

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What day of the week is it? I don’t know what’s with the zooming time these days, but I’m sure whole days are being swiped from me. We’re a funny bunch us humans. I read a thing by Seth Godin where he reckons that artificial intelligence isn’t worse off than humans without the ability to reason and all the other things that go on in our heads. He calls it our chattering monkeys. Those robot guys won’t be jealous of all that swirling negativity and fear at all if they take over the world. He’s quite right too. I’ve had a whole bevy of the little sods all chattering away at the same time in my noggin, and sometimes they cause me to just freeze right up. So a lot of white noise leading to useless action, and very little constructive being done around here these days. Time to focus, I think.
I’m a proper old anxiety bunny. I get all tied up in knots for days about all sorts of things that I think I should be doing even when they’re physically impossible. I stress about letting people down, or not being what other people expect me to be. So – got to the point where I did the most epic Tasmanian devil spinout, and then I stopped and put the TV on. This universe never ceases to amaze me. I reckon that there are hundreds of invisible angel guys out there all waving placards at us to slow down now and then and consider the paths we’re on. What popped up on the screen was a documentary called The (Dead Mothers) Club. I was about to change the channel when I saw that it had Rosie O’Donnell in it, and she’s always good for a chuckle, so I watched a bit more, not thinking for one second that I could relate to it in any way. But I did. And I learned quite a lot from it too. It also had Jane Fonda in it, and when I saw that she’d written a memoir I did what any self-respecting scribbler would do and zoomed on to Amazon to see the latest celebrity blah blah that people generally buy only because – well – celebrity.
Turns out she’s actually a fabulous writer. I haven’t read the whole book yet because my TBR list is WRIT and having writ it, I will not deviate from the reading order. I did have a very quick squiz through though, and I admit to looking forward to getting properly tucked in to it. I remember hating her a bit when I was really feeling the buuurn to her old exercise videos in the eighties, but generally she was inspiring. I read a couple of reviews that spoke about her anti-war protest days – which was news to me – and the hatred some people still carry for her. It did make me think though. She’s moved on. She admits to many, many regrets, but she realises that wallowing in them serves her no purpose now. People make mistakes – sometimes very bad ones. She’s incredibly honest in her book, and that takes guts. Especially when she looks back on her own failings. But back to the documentary.
It’s all about women whose mothers died when they were young. All the stories are really touching, especially those women like Jane Fonda whose mothers took their own lives. It’s deeply affected each and every one of them, and after the empathy I felt for them I was quite surprised to find myself relating totally to them. Rosie said something like, “It’s a club. You get a badge…..” That’s true, I think. I was eighteen when I lost my mother – not so young I thought back then. But looking back now with the itsy bit of wisdom I’ve gained, I see that it was. Watching how these women coped it suddenly became obvious that often they completely lost their way for quite a large chunk of their lives. Jane only “came to” in her sixties.
I certainly did lose the plot at the time – and for many years afterwards my main goal was never to think about her. I managed to block out goodly chunks of my childhood, and if any memory tried to surface it got squashed. All I carried on through the years was how she had suffered to the very end, and also that I missed her death by forty minutes, and she died alone. That guilt made me quite a little crazy I think. There’s also that sense of not belonging to anyone anymore. I used to get properly jealous of friends who had fathers. I don’t remember my father at all, but I do remember being upset at not having one when I realised that all my buddies had them. They were cool too. I used to pretend that someone had got their facts wrong, and that he wasn’t really dead at all, and would show up on the doorstep one day. Now I’m trying really hard to remember my mother – the happy bits though, and not the end.  It’s working, and I think that I’ve just lost the guilt too.
I do believe that anyone can be whoever they want to be as an adult, no matter what has happened to them before the minute of the decision to be whoever they want to be is made. I’m quite tough on myself this way. But seeing these women – especially Jane – look back on their lives, warts and all, it’s obvious that this club, this Dead Mothers Club is a real thing. It’s like some sort of switch was flicked when they became motherless. You can strike out wildly, furiously, and mess your life up without ever realising that it’s really because your mother died before you were properly grown. Somehow it makes you feel of less worth than everyone else. Always needing to be tough and prove that you’re just fine and dandy on your own, when you’re really not at all. Jane’s locked away pain and the guilt kept her from living her life properly until she turned sixty, and she made some gloriously terrible boobies along the way before she decided to have a little squiz within, and found a way to eject the monkeys.
I can’t recall ever purposefully ever setting out to hurt anyone, but I have. I’ve always been incredibly naive, taking people for what they appear to be, and it took me a very long time to realise that that has caused me some really big missteps. I’m great with the self beating, so I suppose that all the years of running and falling has left all these monkeys running around in my head. I’m not overly partial to monkeys in general – the real little sods are having forays into my tomatoes right now – so evicted they will have to be.
After a couple of hours of mulling over what I learned from those women, I realise that life shouldn’t be about guilt and sadness for the past, and worry for the future all the time. This is wasting the time we have now, because without a time machine there’s not a lot you can do about the first, and you don’t know what the second will be. Although what you do now will probably have a big impact on your future. Running around with the monkeys will too. So. Deciding to mindfully control your own life after chasing your own tail in your noggin for decades isn’t easy. I’m well chuffed though. I thought I was a club of one kind of crazy, so it’s nice to see that I’m not. Mothers are probably with you always (secret Long Island Medium watcher at your service), and not having one around physically doesn’t make you less valuable. People do love you, blood or not, and just by doing what you’re doing and being who you are, you do have purpose and most definitely value.
You’re allowed to enjoy yourself, and have fun while fulfilling that purpose, no matter what has gone before. In fact, for me, I sometimes think that what has gone before had to happen just as it did for what is now to be. Now is good. Even though everything that you do or is done to you will have some sort of impact, you don’t have to allow these things to control you in ways that make you waste any of your life that you have left. I’ve got a lovely imaginary monkey guilt and worry basher in my head now, so whenever these feelings of not being or doing good enough pop up from now on they will be summarily whacked right out of there. Knowing that you really are doing the best that you can right now is good enough for me, so happy bunny forever for me. Now back to business as usual. Oh, and hi there Mom – it’s lovely to see you again.

Monkey

Fear Less

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Right up to Sunday, which turned out to be a brilliant day altogether, last week was crap in every way. 2013 has to have been the weirdest year I’ve ever had, with impossible things happening – both really good and really bad – back to back. My stubborn sense of trying to see the good in everything, and belief that every bad thing generally happens for a good reason or outcome, finally started to cave under the pressure, and good old anxiety set in. Shake, rattle, and roll, and I’ve still got the shoulder ache to prove it.

Meltdown Doodle Cropped (2)

Yesterday we went for a braai with some lovely friends, met a lovely new friend, and had a really relaxing and great day at their gorgeous home. There’s nothing like spending time with people you like, people on the same wavelength, laughing and chatting about subjects that interest all of you, to get you out of a funk.

So, feeling really positive and once again able to string a sentence or two together, good old McNabs super-chill pack of holistic herbal peace pills doing their work, I’ve got my mojo back, and I foresee a good week of scribbling ahead. I’ve even got a better grip on my germ phobia, after being well sneezed upon in the bank, and managing not to sprint out immediately and buy a bottle of Dettol to disinfect – spending forty five minutes in a queue does wonders for embracing those funky germs.

Sneezing Doodle Cropped (2)

A more interesting twist to the week. We’ve discovered that there could be a wee ghostie in these parts. To be honest, the feathered horde have been a bit put out and nervous on a night or two – with Beanie the parrot girl exiting her own warm bed and heading over to mine a couple of times. Birds don’t usually move around in the dark, and mine never have before, so this struck me as a little odd. And the whole horde has been reluctant to go to bed a few times. The occasional case of goosebumps for no reason, and general sense of not being entirely on your own, has now been explained by hearing of a small brown thing being seen flitting around and about here, and others feeling a general sense of unease.

Ghost Doodle Cropped (2)

I’m guessing that we haven’t finished with this – it’s two am right now and I’m feeling properly creeped out. Bring on the medicinal champers! It could just be that writing about these things will do that to you, and the rain is bucketing down. ‘Tis a dark and stormy night – sort of thing. I’m quite a coward when it comes to things that go bump in the night. The thought of something unseen being able to interfere with you gives me the proper willies, but I don’t care what sort of an ooh nasty you are – if you interfere with the horde and frighten my feathery guys out of their beds, I’m going to stomp on your spectral self – with a bit of luck and probably some burning sage.

Fear is a funny old thing. Whether it’s a fear of something creeping around when you’re asleep, or fear that your life has taken a disastrously dark turn, and you’re about to crash and burn, it’s never productive to let it get a good grip on you. Dark forces feed on fear – it makes them stronger. Whether that dark force is some sort of spirit up to no good, or a fear that no matter what you do something really horrible is going to happen, ruin your life, and make a mockery of everything you’ve worked for, it’s important never to give in to it. No matter what happens to you in your lifetime, it’s an amazing thing. Your life. Sometimes it helps to look at yourself, your amazingly alive self, and the world around you, and realise that ultimately nothing can truly harm you. You can choose to cower, or you can choose not to waste a second of your allocated three score and ten, and meet every little thing head on. You’re alive on this crazy miraculous rock – you have thought and you have soul – and the ability to choose to face anything with courage, or if necessary, a really big stick. Never let any sort of dark force steal any of your life. Rock on.

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