Free to Be Me

happy socsk

Does there always have to be a really good and logical reason for doing things? I mean, sure, buying a house or changing jobs, yes. But how about wearing socks with bananas on them, or putting chopsticks in your hair (although they could come in handy around dinner time)?

I hear a lot of criticism of girls who wear ‘too much’ makeup, particularly from guys. They look so fake. What are they trying to hide? I could write my name in their foundation. I just really like the natural look . . . like Jennifer Hawkins.

The other day my boyfriend asked me why I wear makeup even though I don’t need to. I replied with, “Well, why do you wear Happy Socks? You don’t need to wear them. Socks without bananas on them will keep your feet just as warm. Happy Socks aren’t more comfortable.”

But he uses Happy Socks as a way to express who he is.

I am a girly girl and will go for a ruffle or lace or sparkle any chance I get, even if it means only hand washable. I sometimes wear high heels and sequins that itch and a coat with shoulders tight enough to make it difficult to drive. I wear makeup not primarily to conceal or alter, but to express. The room for creativity in cosmetics is endless—it’s no wonder they call it makeup artistry.

inspire others

Sometimes people say, “Gee, you get excited about little things, don’t you. How is a rainbow or a Kit Kat going to impact your life?” But I say why not get excited, if that’s what you like to do? It’s not hurting anyone; quite the opposite.

Do you know why expressing our individuality makes our souls come alive—why it feels so good to just be who we are? Because we were created in God’s image and our individuality celebrates and showcases his creativity.

Imagine for a moment that in the seven days of creating heaven and earth, God spoke into being only what was practical, only what was functional. No colours, no curves, no smell, no sound. Because what is the point of all these things really? A silent, grey world of straight lines and the inability to ever smell grass after the rain, or even hear rain. Sounds pretty soul crushing to me.

But no.

Thank the Lord—he spoke and galaxies rushed forth from his mouth. All kinds of trees were planted with all kinds of fruit. Birds chirped and rivers gurgled and the sun shone so Adam and Eve could actually see all of this. Animals of different size, pattern and colour were breathed into life, all of them making different sounds. Flowers that ate insects and fish with crazy teeth and headlamps haunting the deep ocean floor.

All of it a form of expression. Creation is made to reflect God and we know that a reflection in a mirror is just a shadow of the real thing. Take one look at creation and say WOW. How good must this God be! How beautiful, how creative, how infinite.

Dr Seuss

So celebrate the diversity that you see in the world, all the eye colours and hair textures and skin tones and fashion choices. We are like a big wooden chest and our individuality like a hoard of treasures that God gives us at the moment of conception that can be pulled out one by one to delight and amaze. Ourselves, people around us, even God.

Use your unique personality, strengths, way of viewing the world . . . to the glory of God. How to make the world a better place 101.

“Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” – Oscar Wilde

Sincerely
Lil

 

Images (all sourced 7 August 2017)

http://www.tfcoconut.com/2017/01/11/brand-know-happy-socks/

https:///11-dr-seuss-quotes-you-really-understand

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/what-embracing-individuality-really-means-a-m-morgan

 

Then Comes Marriage

When someone begins the phrase “marriage is…” do you think they are more likely to end with “great” or “hard”? Does some version of, “Enjoy it now, because once that ring’s on the finger it’s all downhill from there” sound familiar?

Now you probably think I’m referring to non-Christians. Although I have heard this phrase many times from non-Christians, I am also speaking about Christians. Shouldn’t we sound different, especially when describing a relationship that models Christ and the church?

Genesis 2:24 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”

It makes me truly grieved to hear only the bad things about something that God intended for so much good. It was God who thought it was not good for man to be alone (Gen 2:18), so what did he create for him? A lifesaver beside him (ezer kenegdo), an equal loving companion, a desperately needed helper. Woman. How wonderful. And what a privilege to be able to reflect Christ’s devotion to his bride, and vice versa. But how are we talking about it to young people?

Same story with having kids.

What I don’t hear quoted often enough is that children are a reward from God and “like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth” (Psalm 127:3-4). Not that you have to quote it verbatim, but quite frankly I’d rather hear that than someone ranting about how kids have ruined your body, used up all your money and sucked dry all the passion in your marriage.

To a young single person that is pretty depressing—and doesn’t sound much like those verses from Genesis and Psalms when God is talking about marriage and kids.

We’ve been given the impression sometimes that marriage is a hard slog requiring lots of gruelling hard work and sacrifice—that you have to fight, fight, fight to survive—that we’d be lucky to make it out of there alive. Then tacking on at the end “but it’s worth it though.”

Hmm . . . sounds like it.

Now a lot of this probably sounds really harsh, and there are some marriages that I’m sure have been worthy of the description “gruelling struggle” and I don’t mean to dismiss anyone’s pain, but how do you think it sounds to unmarried people at times? They’re scarred before they even begin.

It’s good to be open about the different aspects of relationships and various stages of life, and it is naïve for someone to get married and have kids thinking it’s all going to be sunshine and rainbows, but what about the parts (hopefully bigger and more important) that are filled with sunshine? I honestly hope that there is more good than bad about two of the most important things in a lot of our lives.

All I’m saying is that the other day when someone described marriage and kids as great (without a big BUT right after) it genuinely shocked me. And I don’t think it should have.

#speakhope #generationsofblessing

 

Sincerely
Lil

Images:
https://www.muslimmarriageguide.com/, sourced 27 July 2017.
http://www.salon.com/2015/01/04/6_things_i_wish_i_knew_about_marriage_when_i_got_married_partner/, sourced 27 July 2017.

Why we avoid the things we love the most

Do you remember that strange thing at school athletics day as a kid when you’d be about to line up for the sprint race and suddenly need to pee? Never mind the fact you’d already been to the bathroom twice in the last half hour. No, just me?

I remember being so nervous about the running races in Year 9 that I was genuinely hoping I would somehow break both legs before athletics day. There was a girl who had been bullying me a bit for the last few months and we were pretty much neck and neck in terms of fitness (9 periods of sport a week together left little ambiguity). I was pretty sure I had the edge on her but I knew that it would push me to my limit physically.

But the horror of coming second, or ‘first loser’, as some competitive people like to say, drove me on and I won every single running race in that athletics competition. The most memorable was the 400 metres, my least favourite event. Middle distance is horrible, in my opinion, because it pushes you to your limit for the longest period of time. There’s no slow and steady, and you can’t give it all in the first ten seconds. Shortly after the race my legs cramped up so badly that I was lying on the grass crying while my mother stretched out my hamstrings.

I often used to look forward to long distance more than sprinting, even though I found it less enjoyable, just because I found it less stressful. And last time I was with my boyfriend Jacques the last thing I wanted to do was sprint. Because I love it so much.

I am currently working on a novel. Writing stories makes me crazy happy and I love every amazing, difficult second of it, but I have to get my cousin to give me deadlines because otherwise I will ditch writing to do the washing, or clean the house, or reorganise my pantry. Why do I avoid the thing I know will make me come alive the most? The other things are mundane tasks, yes, but it is a lot harder to fail at them. And if I did, what’s the big deal? So, I’m not a domestic goddess after all (or am I really?).

But somehow if I fail at writing, or view myself as having failed, I feel that I have failed as a person. Every writer (who actually shows their work to others) knows that you have to develop a pretty thick skin, and I have gotten better at handling rejection over the years. However if someone were to give ‘destructive criticism’ (as opposed to the more commonly used constructive criticism) I would find it hard not to perceive it as a criticism of me as a person.

In some ways it’s easier to never try your hardest, because then your all, your absolute best, can never be rejected, or deemed ‘not good enough’.

We need to decide whether the risk is worth it. Would you rather succeed at rearranging your pantry or winning an Olympic gold medal for the 100 metre sprint? Fill in the blank with your passion, but don’t avoid using the gifts that God’s placed in you because, in some ways, it’s a slap in the face.

As a side note, of course Satan would want us to become distracted and do everything but the thing that is going to have the most impact. The thing that would make us really come alive.

Look into your own heart. What desires are in there so deep that you feel like to cut them out would to become someone else entirely? Maybe you already know.

Now ask God to help you pursue that, to his glory.

 

Sincerely
Lil

 

Image: https://en.fotolia.com/tag/%22sports%20race%22, sourced 21 June 2017

Is the Apex gang taking over our streets?

I took this photograph on my run this morning after seeing my third or fourth one, sadly right near a children’s playground. This ‘South Sudanese’ gang seems to be everywhere. In the parks, lighting up our news headlines, holding up our cars, breaking into and entering our homes. Most Sudanese people probably have associations with them. Right?

Without researching, would you say that the Apex gang are pretty big? Earlier today I would have answered huge, but after doing some research I found that most of my assumptions were wrong. Big shocker there.

Most news sources manage to agree that at its peak the Apex gang contained around 130 members. Melbourne is currently home to 6007 Sudanese people. Which means that the Apex gang make up just 1.85% of the total Sudanese population. With statistics that low, it is ignorant to assume that ‘any African out there’ could be a member of Apex. You also might be interested to know that of the 2000 teenagers committing crimes in Victoria between October 2015 to September 2016, 1700 of them were born in Australia. So why aren’t we running scared from them?

One of the worst parts for me is that if I’m walking on a street at night and I see a group of young men walking towards me, sometimes I feel a twinge of fear if they are African looking. Because the thought that goes through my mind is, “Well, what if they are part of that violent minority?” Just my luck.

It is assumptions like these that can lead us to discriminate against perfectly innocent Sudanese people in the community, particularly young males. Where do we get our facts from? Do we even have any actual statistics? I know that before this week I haven’t even read one single article about the Apex gang and the way they’re ‘terrorising Melbourne’. All of my information was word of mouth, probably by people who themselves have already felt the cold fingers of anxiety creep over their shoulders and shiver down their back.

I’ve always known that the minority ruin it for the majority, but what I didn’t know until I actually read some articles is that the Apex gang contains several nationalities, including Australian, which the media largely ignores.

Other information that has reached me by word of mouth is the tough situations that Sudanese friends of mine have encountered just because of their ethnicity. If you think basic racial slurs in the schoolyard are all they’ve got to worry about, you’d be wrong. From being told to ‘get out of here’ while attempting to enter a workplace to start a shift, to being run away from when you needed help after locking your keys in your car, to assault in broad daylight on the way out of the school gates.

Several schools across the western suburbs of Melbourne have banned any ‘African looking’ people from gathering in groups of more than three because it ‘intimidates’ the other students. This is the kind of racial profiling that leads people to become even more prejudiced, and African young people to feel increasingly ostracised.

The Sunday Morning Herald referred to the Apex gang as a ‘lightning rod’ for racial violence (Michael Koziol) and The Saturday Paper claim that, “When not covered responsibly, hot topics such as race and immigration encourage discrimination against groups of people that are already marginalised” (Santilla Chingaipe).

Can you imagine what it’s like living in Melbourne as a South Sudanese young person with the shadow of the Apex gang looming over your shoulder? Sudanese all across our city are experiencing fear, suspicion and sometimes even outright rejection or hatred because of their ethnicity or fears that they may be violent, based on the actions of strangers, not their own. That shouldn’t sit alright with us.

Just to be clear, I am in no way downplaying the pain that victims of the Apex gang have suffered, merely trying to shed some light on the pain of another group of innocent victims.

Probably most of us when asked if we harbour racial prejudice would say no, but what does fearing a whole people group just because of a 1.8% gang say about us?

So when you come across people from any kind of ethnicity different to you, if their behaviour is normal and peaceful, give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they’re just a great person like you, trying to navigate life’s struggles and hoping that the world can see them for who they really are, not just the colour of their skin.

Sincerely
Lil

 

 

Sources (all found 15 June 2017):
http://profile.id.com.au/s_greater-melbourne/sudanese-population

https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/media/2017/02/25/race-stereotyping-and-melbournes-apex-gang/14879412004275

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/south-sudanese-students-banned-from-congregating-in-groups-at-several-melbourne-schools/news-story/88e7d820d1714beb59cb6bdb7722fd1f

http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/apex-gang-most-youth-crimes-committed-by-australianborn-police-say-20170412-gvj964.html

Your city 100 years from now

642 Things to Write About

Fiction Prompt from ‘642 Things To Write About’ by : Your city one hundred years from now

It is the year 2117. A very old woman named Mrs Lil Van Wyngaard walks the streets of Melbourne. I specify walks not because she is homeless, because she is not, but because walking these days is a rare event. Most people hover (if they are really poor they use a hovercraft instead of having the jets surgically implanted into their feet). Lil has always been old fashioned. She tells the kids on her block that she used to be suspicious of ebooks, but they tell her that they have no idea what an ebook is. Does she mean insta-info pads?

A lot of the time they look at her funny and she suspects that they think she has completely lost her marbles (of course marbles are a relic of the past too).

The kids, not meaning to be rude, ask Mrs Van Wyngaard if when she expires (the term ‘death’ is no longer used so as to avoid offending the people mourning or those who are close to their ‘expiry date’) she will be stuffed and put in a museum, like Phar Lap? They somehow know who he is. Go figure. Although horses are extinct now. Too much pollution, and they got phased out, just like cars. Teenagers laugh at their parents when they use the word driving to describe hovering, or ‘hovving’ as the cool kids say. “Mum,” they say, “that is so last century.” Literally.

The museums are getting too overcrowded all over the world so the earth government have made an executive decision to start deleting parts of history, like throwing out old files in an office. The obsolete bits of history—the boring, inconvenient and unusable parts, of course—are distributed to the poor to take strain off the social security system. The paperback history is divided up and used by them as stuffing for their coats in the winter. Feathers are also extinct, because of all the birds being eaten. Lil’s next door neighbour Peter claims that they were worth every delicious mouthful, but his grandson tells him that that’s politically incorrect and insensitive to those birds that have expired. Peter replies, “Stuff and nonsense!”

Lil is unfortunately a widow and expects to expire soon after a nice, long life. Asking for anything more than 123 years just seems greedy, she thinks.

On sunny days she walks along the neglected grey footpath, marvelling at the city around her. She keeps her tinted UV protector bubble activated at all times. Old fashioned she may be, but her pale skin and the sun weren’t the best of friends before the remainder of the ozone layer did its disappearing act, like a bored guest at a party… so she is not taking any chances now.

The skyline of Melbourne from a distance is much the same, but like a small crop of wheat that has grown upwards, being fenced in by suburban grass on all sides. Up close though, everything has changed.

There are no waiting lines to get in anywhere, because people pre-book for everything, by law. Cigarette smoke and smog has taken a back seat, because the sun (thanks to the non-existent ozone layer) is more than capable of powering everything—and cigarettes have of course been outlawed. Perhaps most noticeable of all is that there is no sense of chaos anymore. Cars have long since gone, and everyone punches in their destination to a little keypad at the start of their journey so that collisions are all but eliminated (except when the computers melt down of course, but that’s too shocking to tell you). There are no horns blaring, and the music is in everyone’s own ears, so they’re not forced to listen to anything they don’t like, ever.

But Mrs Van Wyngaard keeps walking because four blocks east of her house, and five blocks south there is a park. One of the few parks left in the city (it’s extra special because the trees are made of recycled wood and green pained linen, rather than plastic). There is talk going round that somewhere far, far outside the city there is a park with real live trees, protected by a bubble containing a high oxygen concentrate. Dreamers discuss it with naïve hope but the realists dismiss it as urban legend, like mobile phones with actual buttons on them.

This park is buzzing. Everyone is walking or sitting or running. Lil shuffles past the ‘no hovering’ sign that is scrawled over with the graffiti ‘hovving rulz’. The hand writing is barely legible because iPads replaced handwriting in schools about two generations ago.

Lil finds her regular table and sits down, breathes a sigh of relief. Her friends at the table greet her. Some are absent today—maybe they have expired. But for right now Lil is alive; she is happy.

Smiling, she picks up the paint brush and dips into the oils, pulls a picture from her mind of an old farmhouse on a hill beside a river. The word ‘Hillegersberg’ is written on the white gate and there is a beautiful river garden hiding all her childhood friends.

She continues to paint.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

Sincerely
Lil

 

Image: Alamar AV Communications, ‘Urban Melbourne’, <https://urban.melbourne/forum/melbournes-trams&gt;, sourced 31 May 2017.

What is success?

 

Do you consider yourself successful?

The question is asked and you start to squirm in your seat. Do you? You glance round at the others, to see if they are as unsure as you. The question goes round the circle, making its way toward you, and you go back and forth between yes and no about six times each. I mean, you’re not a total loser, but then again, you have that university degree that you’re not even using yet. You don’t own a house. Your car is worth half of what the mechanic says it will cost to fix it. And to top it all off, you’re single.

Better go with no. It seems safer. Plus, you have the added bonus of not looking arrogant to the group. Decision made.

You’re actually one of the first ones to give your answer (a lot of mind changing can happen in a few short minutes).

You say no. When asked what would you have to do or achieve to consider yourself a success, you say, “Become a professional writer.”

Not until this moment have you realised that maybe one of the reasons you want a job in this field so badly is so that you can stop feeling like a failure. Maybe even the main reason. That every time someone says, “What do you do?” it translates to you as, “How much are you worth?” and the answer you keep coming up with is, “Not much.” What I do is not impressive. I sell clothes. No one dies if I don’t get up and go to work. They just buy at Target.

Somehow your successes in the field of retail never mean quite enough to you because you don’t need a degree to do it, and so many people refer to it as their job before they get a “real” job.

This particular Tuesday night last year as I sat on the bean bag I felt tears build slowly in my eyes. Listening to the answers of the rest of the group I suddenly broke in. “Can I change my answer?” in a tone that barely concealed the panic I was feeling.

“No.” Why did that word make the tears spill over?

The other people in the group all said yes. When asked why, the most memorable answer was one of the women saying, “I would consider yourself a success if people actually like you, and want to be around you. Do you have any good, solid friendships? You’ve certainly succeeded in something!”

The way my answer contrasted with the rest of them made me feel ten times the failure I had felt before and I was suddenly undone and exposed.

What had happened in my heart that I constantly held myself to this high standard of perfection? That I had set an arbitrary bar for success and anything that was below or in another area was all stamped with the words “try harder”. Why was my standard for myself so much higher than anyone else’s for me, and so different to what my creator had in mind? Just a hint, Lil. God wasn’t looking at Adam and Eve’s careers when he said, “It is very good.”

They were good because God made them, and they belonged to Him.

Now how many people would be successful in the world’s eyes just because they were created in the image of God? No career, no great wondrous achievements. Nothing to do with what they had done and everything to do with who they belonged to.

When God says in his word not to be conformed to the pattern of this world (Romans 12:2), we can often view it as him telling us off, but what if (crazy thought, I know) he put that in the bible for our freedom? Think like me, because I actually see clearly, he says. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so far are my ways above your ways, and my thoughts above your thoughts (Isaiah 55:9).

 

What does God view as success?

Faith: without it it’s impossible to please him (Hebrews 11:6).

Love: He wants us to love him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, as well as loving our neighbour as ourselves, according to Matthew 22:37-40. In fact, the whole Hebrew law is summed up in that one sentence.

How do we show our love, according to John 14:15? Obedience.

Do you have these three things? If you do, then you’re already a raging success in His eyes.

It’s not always the most seen and heard, the rich and famous, the bosses, the stage performers, the TV stars and the hit singers who God considers close friends.

Who was Mary, when Gabriel met her where she was at in order to have a talk with her about the saviour of all mankind?

Who was Abraham? Who was this young guy Jacob, fighting with his brother, when God called him?

Jesus was born in a stable for a reason, and it wasn’t the celebrities of the day that the angels first appeared to.

 

What a relief then, to realise that just because we haven’t followed the world’s trail of stepping stones for us, that all is not lost. Actually, nothing is.

Just keep saying ‘yes’ to Jesus, and the day he takes you home to heaven you can hear those wonderful words.

“Well done, good and faithful servant. Come and enter my rest.”

 

 

Sincerely,
Lil

 

Image 1: http://www.openlettersmonthly.com/novelreadings/fear-of-failing/
Image 2: http://www.capital-moments.com/the-blueprint-of-success/

 

What’s more powerful for your daughter’s self-esteem than telling her she’s beautiful? Not telling yourself you’re ugly in front of her. As the video in this blog post shows, if you ask many young girls and their mothers what they either don’t like about themselves or would change, the answers are incredibly similar.

Growing up my mother never told me I looked bad. Not once. But I would sometimes watch her criticising herself in the mirror and think, if what she’s got is bad, then is what I’ve got bad too? I am a mini version of her, after all.

It didn’t affect my sisters much at all to my knowledge and I’m happy to say that they have not struggled with low self-esteem. It’s also important to say that there are many factors when it comes to low self-esteem, and this wasn’t even the most significant one to affect me, but it did impact me to some degree and I’m committed to looking at all angles of self-esteem. I am not sharing this to make my mother or any mother feel bad. My mum is one of the many wonderful, strong, beautiful women that make this world a better place just by bringing their heart to it.

But I refuse to let this continue one generation further. This stops with me. Because the way we view ourselves affects our daughters, and our relationships, and the challenges we take on in life.

I’ve decided long ago that I won’t belittle myself in front of young girls, but then I caught myself some time back criticising my drawing as I was helping my 6 year old friend with some art. She immediately started to criticise hers too and I had to pull myself up and point out all the good things in my drawing, as well as hers.

The point is that even though I was aware of how quickly younger girls can see themselves in us, I still spoke negatively about myself. If we’re going to get this right for the sake of the generations to come, we need to be very intentional.

The first time I watched this video I bawled my eyes out because it resonated deeply with me. Mothers, I know all of you want to have the most positive impact on your daughter as humanly possible. And even if you don’t feel comfortable speaking well of your appearance, just try avoiding talking about all the features you dislike, because chances are your daughter has inherited at least some of them.

We were created by God, fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps 139:14), and he didn’t make a mistake with our nose, our legs, our hair colour, our freckles. He saw fit to infuse it into our DNA so that it would be replicated in the next generation in a new and beautiful way, mixed with our husband’s features.

And He looked.

And He said, “IT IS VERY GOOD.”

 

Sincerely,
Lil

Our Beauty Legacy

Caring for your sensitive

 

Are you sometimes wondering why all one of your friends seems to do is cry? A sad movie will get them, a book, even a commercial or a cute baby animal sometimes. This sounds familiar to you, right? How they like to be hugged every time you see them? The way you feel like you’ve wronged them when you forget something so seemingly trivial (to you) as the date of their birthday–not even on their birthday! How you live in constant fear of offending them or hurting them? Or some days: like you just can’t say anything to them?

This may be frustrating to you. You may want to just tell them to build a bridge and get over it. You may want to tell them to grow some thicker skin. And you may want to tell them to just go jump. What you’re dealing with is a sensitive person. And there are certain things you need to know.

 

Why are they like this?

Like introverts, the world tends to sometimes bash on sensitive people. Especially sensitive males. Why can’t you man up like everyone else? Why does this hurt you? And to girls: why do you have to cry so much? Tough people want everyone else to be tough like them, because they are insensitive in many ways and want to be able to say what they like and not have to deal with someone crying at their “honest opinion.” And don’t get me wrong, I love those tougher people. I live with one, and she has helped me learn many things. But she has also had to learn—and I think is still learning—how to take care of me. Because the criteria for sensitive people is different.

 

What do you need to know? Part One:

Although I may have scared you (or you might have been scared long before this) there is a flip side to everything I’ve just said—a good side. While they are sensitive on one end of the spectrum (as receivers), they are also sensitive on the other end (as givers). Some people would say that either way you look at it, sensitive people are at a risk. Sensitive people have a lot to lose. A positive, sensitive person, like me, would also say that we have a lot to gain, but the risk is never eliminated (nor can it be). We are sensitive to other people’s moods, energy levels and needs. We are so affected by the people around us, and because our hearts can be penetrated by almost anything, we feel a lot of empathy toward others. We would be willing to do anything for the people closest to us—even people not so close. Because our hearts go out to people. We see suffering and it kills us. I know for myself, I cry when my friends cry before I even know the reason.

 

What do you need to know (and never forget)? Part Two:

In this world there are givers and takers. Sensitive people are almost always givers. However, because we so often are, you need to learn not to use this to your own gain. If you take advantage, these people will let you, so don’t. Because in my books that makes you a bad person. When someone offers you everything and you just take it all and run. That is not fair, and it is not acceptable.

 

So how do you deal with this “overly emotional, touchy-feely” person?

I know that I as a person, whether I like it or not, need to be taken care of. I always have been. My male friends in high school used to pat me on the head and call me delicate. And I’ve lost count of the number of people who have told me that they live in constant fear of hurting me, and that they would hate themselves if they did. All that sensitive people need from you, is a little extra thought. Do they look like they’ve had a rough day? Could they use a hug? Is it important to them whether I keep my appointment with them? Do they care whether I remember their birthday? Some small amounts of taking a little more care, and a little less for granted, would go a long way—and leave you with less crying messes on your hands!

A little more thought so that everyone wins.

 

Sincerely,
Lil

 

Image: https://www.pinterest.com/explore/sensitive-quotes/?lp=true

The double standard most people ignore

 

Who is your worst critic? Maybe it’s your mother, or an older sibling, but most likely it’s the person staring you in the mirror. Why are we so much harsher with ourselves, particularly in the areas of looks and achievements, than we are with other people?

I had a customer at work this week who tried on a fitted black dress because her friend’s daughter had invited her to be a guest at her Debutante ball. She was probably in her late 40’s and as we assessed the suitability of the dress for the event she started to point out all the tiny details of what was “wrong” with her. The greys in her hairline, the size of her bottom, the curve of her stomach, the crow’s feet around her eyes. It was all news to me because even though I was staring hard into the same mirror I literally hadn’t seen those things until she pointed them out. All I saw was a lovely, beautiful woman who had that special, comforting mum-vibe that only comes with years of experience and triumphing in hard times (people think that their gentleness of spirit cannot be seen by those who don’t know them, but it’s not true). And I realised that’s how the rest of the world probably sees her too. But she is walking around thinking people are thinking things that they aren’t, assuming they are zeroing in on her minute faults, and judging her for them. And it is damaging her self-esteem. Her own thoughts are hurting her.

Image result for beautiful women low self-esteem

I’ve realised a long time ago that working in women’s fashion, it’s not how the garment actually looks, it’s how a woman feels about herself in it. Because, as I explained to a new team member the other day, if she doesn’t feel good about herself in it, even if she buys it she will barely ever wear it because she feels her flaws are exposed in it.

We spend so much time trying to cover our true selves, with concealer, spanks and baggy clothes (usually black, because it’s slimming, right?) because we’re afraid the world will not accept us as we are. This is a fair assumption, considering the advertising industry spends most of its money and energy telling us that we’re not good enough.

I’m reminded of another encounter as a shopper this time. I was with my friend in the U.S. about four years ago and she came out of the change rooms and asked me what I thought of the outfit she was wearing. I said, “I think it looks like you’re trying to hide the fact that you’re a woman.” Yay for honesty. She actually got quite emotional and began to open up about some deep insecurities she has about the way she looks, and how she doesn’t feel she can wear fitted clothes. That New Year’s Eve she sent me a proud photo, wearing a dress that showed her lovely feminine figure in a completely classy way. Another victory.

She was liberated to be who she was as a woman. That would be my prayer for every woman. Stop judging yourself so harshly, ladies! You are beautiful, and wonderful, and knowing that is powerful.

Trust me, most men don’t see all the little flaws either. One of my friends said her husband has asked her to stop pointing out all her miniscule imperfections because he hadn’t even noticed them.

Here’s an idea: start viewing yourself the way you view other women – as strong and beautiful and worth envying.

Dove tends to agree with me that women are more beautiful than they think…

Sincerely,
Lil (a beautiful daughter of the King)

 

Images sourced 4 May 2017
http://www.express.co.uk/life-style/health/631289/revealed-womens-shocking-top-daily-self-criticisms

The Dishes Can Wait

Do you respect your man? If you asked most women (hopefully all) this, they would of course say yes. But lately I’ve realised an area that we can so easily disrespect our men in, without even meaning to.

We’re strong, independent women, right? A busy week, a head cold … doesn’t faze us. You want us to meet you for coffee or come help out with the charity event you’re running? No problem. I mean, we value relationship, and the event is for a good cause. We can handle it. We’ll sleep when we’re dead.

Before I was in a relationship I used to disregard the kind advice about resting from the guy who liked me. But when he became my boyfriend I realised that if I were to continue acting in that way, I would actually be damaging our relationship, slowly but surely, by disrespecting him.

Since we started going out, there hasn’t been one time that me ignoring his advice about my health or rest that has gone over well. This man loves me. He is trying to the best of his ability to lead me well and prioritise my wellbeing. And I am continuing like I haven’t even heard him. We can’t expect him to not be hurt or upset by that.

Ladies I’ve realised that if we want him to feel respected in this area we need to listen to him. His words of, “Come sit down with me” or “You need to get some rest” are never with bad intentions, and are going to stop us burning out in the long run. Sound familiar? The way we listen is by actually taking his advice. Actually sitting down and watching TV with him or reading a book, without doing three other things at the same time or feeling guilty for taking a break. Sometimes we women feel guilty like it’s our profession. It is not healthy, and I am speaking from experience.

So while, yes, we go through busy seasons in our lives, we should never think we’re too busy to rest. And if we think that, we don’t actually always know what’s best for us. Also, taking a break is not being lazy. I once heard someone describe being lazy as taking a break you haven’t earned yet. So yes, work hard. But also rest, because God did after he created the world. And next time you hear your man suggesting some R&R, don’t just reach for the nearest excuse.

The dishes can wait.

 

Sincerely,
Lil

 

Image: http://www.thebusinesswomanmedia.com/distracted-multitasking-woman-risking-success/, sourced 26 April 2017.