Why and for what?

Why do we do what we do?

We just want to be happy.

Happiness comes in all packs and sizes. My happy isn’t necessarily your happy. It comes in all shapes and forms. There are things which give us momentary happiness, others which create a permanent form of joy in our lives.

Happiness changes throughout the years. Is what made you happy ten years ago the same as what makes you happy today?

In my case, no. Thinking about it, my achievement of happiness ten years ago was more about the superficial than what I have found out to be more real and authentic. Happiness was more about doing what was expected of me, of adhering to certain schools of thought which did not necessarily reflect who I truly was. Acceptance played a huge part of what I thought being happy was all about.

Having the perfect hair, the right pair of shoes, saying the right things and doing what everyone else did. Acceptance and conformity led to a false sense of happiness. Because there is only so much happiness to achieve when you are not true to yourself.

Happiness was about the temporary. Of going to the right places and reading the right books. Of being accepted by people who, looking back, were probably more insecure about themselves than I was. That silly feeling of being accepted, of having made it? That’s what I’m talking about. Of feeling happy about something so trivial as someone accepting you for what you show them to be. Not what you truly are.

As if the important people in your life don’t love and accept you for who you really are.

Were you ever in someone’s presence, and they would say something outright, something so direct some people perceived it as shocking? They would be doing nothing except speaking their mind and expressing their thoughts. I remember meeting such people, hearing them talk and whilst I never told them anything, I would be secretly envious of their direct talk. No frills, no bull, just their truth.

And I started realizing that those truly true to themselves were happy. You sense a person’s happiness not necessarily by their laughs, their smiles or words. Most of the times, a person just shines. It’s that sort of aura that they have around them which makes you stop and look at them and smile. You sense their happiness, their joy in the simplicity of things, their lack of fear of being true to themselves.

So I tried to make that my mission, and am still trying so hard at it every single day. I try to stop adhering to what people want or expect of me, I seize the day and live the moment. If it makes me happy I do it. If it makes me stop and think, or worry, I just don’t. I owe no one any sort of explanations.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I still get ridiculously happy when I buy something which I have really wanted for a long time. I still like having sleek hair, only now I do not really worry about messing it up. And as for heels, what are those exactly? I love the light and the frivolous but I am learning to give it only so much importance. I am constantly teaching myself that pure happiness goes beyond that.

What I have found to give me great pleasure are conversations with friends. Long, stimulating chats about new books we have read, issues the country or the world is dealing with, and even some funny news which is doing the rounds. I love waking up so so early in the morning to train and see my friends and share a short chat, a quick smile and a hidden joke. Happiness is entering into the bookshop everytime I pass it, even though I know they can’t possibly have new books every single time I go in. I feel I have achieved something when the girls do or say something which makes me proud, even if it’s just a simple ‘please’ or ‘thank-you’. I feel happy trying new things which previously scared me. And one of the most satisfying and great pleasures I feel is when I realize that I may be getting older, but I feel wiser too. I know what I want and I no longer hold myself back in achieving it. The sense of freedom age brings with it is refreshing. Not owing anyone any explanation is liberating.

Happiness often comes after a great heartbreak. When you have your feelings crushed and your heart broken by people who were once in your life, you slowly start to feel yourself being freed from their weighted presence, and slowly start to emerge as a freer being. It is a slow process, and quite painful, but suddenly a day will arrive and you will find yourself smiling again, rejoicing in small pleasures and you will feel you have arrived at a special place in your life where the simple and the little give you the greatest joy.

So whatever gives me happiness, I go for it. We have to trust our instincts more. We all know deep down inside of us, what is good for us and what not. And at the end of the day it’s our life, and a ridiculously short one at that, so why not spend it happily, doing what you want, surrounded with the people you want in your life?

I try so hard in following this. I am learning to say “no” when I know that a “yes” won’t benefit me. I choose the people in my life very carefully. I just want peace, happiness and love.

Shape your perspective, follow your chosen path and always strive for the simple yet happy moments.

The Basic of Basics

I write this post as a rant. Or maybe it’s an angry observation which rubbed me up the wrong way. Perhaps it’s the lack of respect of the simple things, the basics.

It could be that I was just irked off to such a great extent that I had to write it all down here and vent.

Every Saturday evening we like to go out for dinner, all four of us. Well, to be honest we start off as four, then Bettina is the first one who falls asleep, leaving three on the table. Cesca lasts an hour and then she rests her head on the table and is asleep within minutes, leaving Anthony and myself to finally have an hour or two all to ourselves.

It is that hour or two which I look forward to the whole week. It’s us two, with good food and better wine. Simple.

So when both girls are sleeping and I am enjoying the night, the one thing I do not want to hear or see, are running, noisy children. I do not want them whizzing past our table, ducking underneath our chairs or shouting right next to us. I feel my nerves slowly slowly rising upwards to the surface with each passing minute and as much as I try to ignore them, they do get on my nerves in the most irritating way ever.

Last Saturday we were enjoying our night out when three children started doing just that. They were young children and their parents were nowhere to be seen. We politely told them to go run and play somewhere else, but that was advice they adhered to for a couple of minutes because they were soon back. They were yelling to such an extent I was sure the girls would wake up. Luckily for the playing children, they didn’t.

Now I do err with the girls. Sometimes fatigue makes me give in to their whims too easily. I find it very hard saying no to them and I choose my battles with them very wisely because I know that I can not expect them to do all that I want them to.

But the one thing I try my utmost at, are manners. I am constantly correcting the girls, reminding them of their “pleases’ and ‘thank-you’s”. I do not tolerate rudeness. For me, nothing is more attractive or rewarding than good manners. I am not impressed by scholastic achievements if they are not accompanied by basic manners. And if there’s one thing I am trying to drill into the girls’ heads it’s exactly that. Sometimes I see them following my example. Other times I need to remind them about it, and repeat for days at end before it finally sets in.

My girls are noisy. They’re messy, chaotic and sometimes act like a pair of monkeys who do not get along at all. But I try and keep trying.

Which brings me back to last Saturday. After asking them to take their unwelcome screaming party elsewhere for well over an hour, they finally retreated back to their parents. Their parents, who never – not even once, came to check on them or ask them to behave, or at least not to go screaming and shouting next to sleeping children and resting adults, remained at their own table, totally oblivious to their children’s behaviour. These were not old children, I’m guessing they were around 6-7 year olds.

After a couple of minutes, the child sitting down on the table right next to us decided to switch on Youtube on what seemed like full volume, and we spent the rest of the evening listening to an online fighting cartoon episode.

Children are children and having two, I know how hard it is to control them. But to ignore their blatant disrespect and lack of basis manners? I fault the parents. The basic of basics of manners ought to be taught and emphasized and acted upon. I don’t think it’s too much to ask to go out on a Saturday night and not be surrounded by screaming children and loud cartoons playing right next to you. I am in that environment every day, seven days a week. I just need a break, especially if the ruckus isn’t my own.

Rant over, apologies.

When you’re wronged/When you’re wrong

What do you do when you’re wronged?

Are you the sort of person who fights back a personal wrongdoing? Or do you back down and choose personal peace over a full-blown argument?

A couple of months back I found myself in such a predicament. Along with the personal hurt and disappointment in people I thought knew better, I found myself angry and totally enraged.

My first instinct was to fight the hurt. When the initial shock passed me over, I felt offended and hurt. I chose to activate those feelings, and although the feeling of vindication and knowing that I was actively doing something to fight the lies and wrongs that had been thrown at me did fuel me on, from a mental point of view these emotions were not helping me.

So when things calmed down and just recently another smaller, similar incident popped up, I chose the other road. I did nothing. I am still hurt and let down, I still pray for justice and the truth to prevail, but I am doing nothing else. Actively pursuing the road of revenge and fighting had led me to some dark moments, and it was only with the help of my close ones, friends, and a strong determination from my part to change and better things, did I finally come out of a dark circle and learnt to embrace the simple and the peaceful.

I am no saint. I still get angry when I think about things. I still doubt whether the decision to not do anything was the correct one or not, because nothing bothers me more than remaining inactive.

But I chose peace this time round. I chose to ignore everything and march on forward. And even though I can never wish harm or any negativity onto anyone, I do believe in karma. I strongly believe that what you throw in the universe comes back to you tenfold.

Prayers, strong affirmations and positive thinking fuel me nowadays. Actively choosing not to pursue a negative path does not mean I do not care about the wrongs that happened. It just means I care about myself much, much more.

8!

Sometimes I stop and stare the girls and am quite literally taken aback by how much they’ve grown. I still see Cesca as the 3-week-early baby she was. The one who spent the first six months of her life drinking milk and bringing it back up at every given occasion. The one who started talking and never, ever stopped since then. The one who insisted on screaming everytime anyone stopped to say hello. The one who embarrassed me on so many times with her blunt and straight way of talking.

I’ve written so many times here about Cesca and the interesting episodes we’ve had together. This blog has loads of those stories, and there are so many more I remember and smile.

Now I’m faced with a little lady who communicates with “oh my gosh, I can’t take this anymore” and “Mama’, I’m freaking out!” She is a protective older sister, but that does not mean that there are no fights. I have yet to count the number of times I have heard her scream, “I don’t want to be your sister anymore Bettina!” She is still very picky with food, but I can still disguise any sort of meat as being chicken. In fact she’s eaten beef and pork convinced they’re such…

But for all her drama and trying to act all grown up, she is still my sensitive one. She worries for us all, she listens and pays real attention to what is being said and she is always asking.

She may be taller than average and resembling a walking stick with her non-existent waist and long limbs, but sometimes I’m taken aback to how small she was. How she made me a mother. How she filled up our lives to such a capacity, I can not even remember a time without her.

She’s artistic, cross-stitching is her newest fad, and loves using Bettina as her student guinea pig. Her notes are the sweetest and the little booklets she makes for Bettina to teach her reading? I wish I could keep them all.

I prays she always stays true to herself. I wish for her to remain this sensitive and kind. She is a good girl, and we are truly lucky to have her in our lives.

Have a special year my Kikks x

From this…
…to this.

About bloody time

After starting and deleting and discarding unfinished posts, I have now decided to stop procrastinating and actually finish and publish a post – the first in what has been ages! I miss my happy place, my own personal space where I can say what I feel like saying and interact with people who share their thoughts and opinions with me.

Finally!

I have been busy and life has been hectic but then again so is anyone’s who works and has young children at home. School has just finished, another year done and dusted. The girls are growing up so quickly, a fact I only tend to truly realize when a birthday is approaching because somehow, apart from the fact that they’re growing at an alarming rate, they’re still my little girls. So I acknowledge that they’re growing and that Cesca’s sudden eruptions of young-girl-drama are nothing but a phase of her age, and try to accept that time is passing. And I try really, really hard to stay in the moment. To not think how I can’t stop them growing up and changing. So I bask in Bettina’s kisses and Cesca telling me I’m the best mama’ ever, and enjoy the here and now.

That, perhaps has been something I have been working on lately. To stay focused on the now. You can’t stay worried over something which might never be, or fixate over things you have no control over. I am trying to start letting go, of going with the flow, enjoying the present and let the future play out by itself. I want to be present during the present, and although sometimes my mind doesn’t let me, I keep on trying.

What grounds me?

Controlling my breaths, spending time with the girls and having the most random conversations ever, having a coffee with mum, my crazy-hour training sessions and my  beautiful friends there, chatting and going out with A. When I find a few free minutes, I clean my crystals and meditate. Other times it’s housework which just frees my mind and lets me lose myself in what I’m doing. Reading is always a welcome distraction.

And sometimes, when nothing works and my mind keeps wandering, I just try and live it all out. I try and let all my fears and worries come out into the open, because when I manage that, I realize that they’re not really that serious or scary to begin with. Because when I worry about the girls growing up, getting hurt, leaving home, I then realize that they might grow up, but that doesn’t mean I will lose them. They might leave home, but our home will always be their home. And I realize that everyday I have them in my life is a day where we can make new memories. Memories for them and for me.

Thank you dear friends for encouraging me, all in your own ways, to start using this page again. I had honestly forgotten how positive and encouraging all this feels. It may sound silly, but I get a liberating feeling doing this. Friends and strangers reading this, thank you.

Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

The most helpless feeling for a parent is seeing your child going through a rough patch and being unable to help.

Cesca has been going through a particular period lately. What started off as a bad-mum moment from my end – forgetting to pick her for around five minutes when her religious class finished, has now escalated to a terrifying fear of being left alone forever, of being forgotten of and never seeing us again.

These past two weeks have been trying for us all. She has started crying to go to school, does not want to board the school minivan, skipped a class of sports I know she loves, and made a small scene last Monday before going in for her religious class. She sometimes shows a mean streak to her little sister, and I have heard telling Bettina that she has to behave, otherwise we will leave her all alone and never come back for her.

I have read and reread countless articles on separation anxiety and she ticks all the boxes. What all the articles tell you is to give the child extra reassurance and love during this difficult period. But this is a very fine line to thread. Too much of one thing can serve more bad than good. I try to be good cop/bad cop all in one. I am giving her secret notes to read and hold during school time whenever she feels lonely or scared. As of yesterday she even started taking a family photo with her. However I am now noticing that too much attention brings about other problems. Most notably, unnecessary moaning and complaining over silly, trivial things. I have had to put my feet down, use a stern voice and tell her to buckle up and move it. Case in point this morning when once again she did not want to board the school minivan. I talked to her gently but ended up looking her in the eye and telling her that she can cry till tomorrow, but she would still have to go to school with the van. She then stopped the pretend-crying thing she now excels at, stomped her feet and said, ‘Oh, okay then!’ and went in without further protests.

As parents we look at all possibilities. My mind has studied each and every possibility, I have become obsessed with finding out what these changes have come from. Talking with friends, with her teacher and other parents who have found themselves in my situation sometime during their lifetime have all assured me that it is a phase, a very difficult one, most often linked to nothing more than the child wanting extra reassurance and affection. As a parent, I want a quick-fix. I want her to return back to the child she was a fortnight ago. And I know that is not going to happen that quickly or suddenly.

Therefore I take small pleasures from the minute changes that occur on a day-to-day basis. If she cried less than yesterday, that is a small victory. If she was sad for only a short last night instead of the two hours on Monday night, then that is a plus. If she wanted to go to her sports class after not attending for a week, then that is the very top.

I am trying very hard to keep strong with her. To not give in and take her to school myself. I know I am doing the right thing, but it feels so hard when your choice brings your child so much sorrow and tears.

So I am taking one day at a time. I am trying to find a hard balance between being extra-loving yet strict at the same time. And of course there’s Bettina who I pray does not catch the clingy bug that seems to be doing the rounds at the moment.

One book which I bought for Cesca, which we both incidentally love and is helping us through this particular period is a Dr. Seuss one – Oh, The Places You’ll Go! The meaning behind the words is beautiful. It’s an honest explanation of life – of having ups and downs, of good days and other scary ones. But in the end we all succeed if we put our mind to it.

Life works in mysterious ways. The month we start reading Dr. Seuss, we start reading the book which seems to hit the nail right on the head. Would I recommend this book? A hundred times over!

dr seuss

March On

Up until some time ago, I never really gave the concept of friendship that  much thought. I was never one to have a whole list of friends. Quite to the contrary, I always had a small number of friends I counted as real ones, and the rest were just acquaintances – people I would not share more than a ‘hello’ or a smile with.

The younger you are, the more important it seems to have lots of friends. The number of friends you have seems to be directly proportionate to how popular or unpopular you are at school. The bigger the posse, the more high-up the fame-scale you find yourself.

With university, your friends change. Friends you leave behind for different courses or work are soon replaced with new ones, and only the treasured few remain as true friends. It only makes sense that the new people you share new experiences with become new friends, ones who can understand what you are going through, and who you find yourself confiding more and more in.

And then you start dating, and you get married and you have children, and suddenly you realize  that you have become isolated from everyone and everything. When children come in the scene, you are so involved as a mother, that all the rest seems unimportant. You lose yourself as a person at times, and the only conversation you can hold seems to revolve around feeds, nappy changes and the colour of the baby’s stools. When I had Cesca I was not working at the time. I was a stay-at-home wife, still discovering a new country and being happy with baking and watching television. When she arrived, my life was all hers. I used to force myself to shower, change and get out of the house, and when we visited Malta, I found that I had lost so much of myself. My conversation was boringly all about babies. I had become the person I never wanted to be. Only then did I realize how important working and being round people was for me.

So I did what I could and changed that. I found a new line of work, I met new people and I very slowly began finding myself again. Being a mother is a gift, but it is also very tiring and draining. I was ‘mummy’ all the time, and I had truly forgotten what the old “Josepha” liked and who she was.

And so came another change. I found new me-time, I made new friends, and I started opening up more and more. I made a new set of friends and realized that adults need friends. We need to be around similar-minded grown-ups and be able to moan, complain, joke and laugh around them. Life is so crazy at times, we need to know that it is not only us and our situation which are chaotic, but others are actually going through the same things.

There is something liberating in being able to meet up with a group of friends over dinner and a bottle of wine, or even a quick cup of coffee and discussing every topic under the sun, without feeling guilty about leaving the husband or children behind.

I do believe in balance. Between work and family, I had so little time for myself. So I did what I could and I made the time. And I threw all the guilt I could possibly feel out of the window.

Take yourself as a whole. Now remove the mother part of you, the wife part of you, the daughter part of you, the worker part of you. What are you left with? I am still not left with much, but I am content that the little I now have is much more than what I had a couple of years ago. And it fulfills me a hundred times more.

So any opportunity I have to be just me, I seize. Being able to recharge as a person after meeting up with friends, or going out with my husband alone, makes me a calmer and better person for it.

Again, no guilt.

None.