Are you a nag?

confident manMorning rush is not always the best time for communication, is it?

Sometimes even the simplest sentences cause great irritation.

There I was rushing around getting things organised for the day. My husband was going to have a hectic day at work; I had plenty of clients and a list of chores to get through.

“Oh”, I thought, “I must remind him to organize that lift for his colleagues”.

As he rushed past me in the passage,  I reminded him.

I immediately saw the irritation on his face.

“I was just trying to help”, I responded, feeling wounded.

Later on that day I found a few quiet moments to myself and reflected on the morning’s interaction.

My intention was to help him to remember something.

His irritation led me to assume that he saw it as nagging – or something similar.

What was going on?

Then I remembered the old classic that I recently re-read: John Gray’s – ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus’.

When I figured it out, I did wonder how many more times I would make this classic mistake!

The implication for him of my wanting to help implied that he would forget.

I was demonstrating a lack of faith in my husband.

At an unconscious level I was telling him that he was not capable.

Men want to know that they are good enough for their woman. It is intrinsic to their fundamental role as protector and providers.

The mistake myself and many women make is not understanding that nagging implies there is something wrong with the man.

This is a subtle and easy thing to get wrong.

Ever told your partner to stop and ask for directions? Ever told him how to cook a meal? Ever advised him on how to manage his money? Ever pointed out that he is feeding the kids incorrectly? This list goes on and on…..

Start thinking about what your nagging means to your man!

There are, of course, consequences to continually telling your man that he is not good enough, and they’re generally miserable consequences.

Here’s what to do instead:

  • Take notice of your partner’s face when you interact.
  • Make a note of moments when you see anger or irritation.
  • Find some time later in the day to reflect on what happened.
  • Look carefully at the words you used. What is the underlying message you are giving your partner?
  • If you are eroding your partner’s confidence decide how you can change what you are saying.
  • DO IT!

As you develop self-awareness and the ability to reflect calmly on your interactions, you will be able to make small changes that allow your man to feel like a man.

Naturally there is something in it for you too: A confident man exudes a wonderful and powerful energy. Enjoy!

Photo credit

I think I’ll be going to Heaven,
because I had good intentions.
But my actions are another thing.
Curtis Jackson

Posted in awareness, Communication, Life Mastery, Relationships | Comments Off on Are you a nag?

Believing is Seeing

www brazilianpress comMany years ago I met an old man with a silver beard and a poncho.

He told me:

Believing is seeing!

I didn’t believe him.

Slowly, over the years, I began to understand …

I know that when a person is “in hate” with their partner, all they will see and notice is the things the partner  does that validate being “in hate”. Anything good that is done is invisible.

Many people in South Africa believe that our government is doing a bad job – now almost all conversations are around the bad that has been done, the corruption that has erupted and crime that is climbing. When last did you have a conversation about how great SA is? When last did you even notice something that is working? It’s there – we just don’t think about it or on it or  acknowledge it.

Yes –  we notice, we talk about, we think about all those things that validate what we believe is true.

We only see what we believe.

Is this ok?

Well…. it is OK on a level – after all everyone does it to a greater / lesser extent. The little story at the end of this article is an example of where believe is seeing was not a train smash – it was just amusing!

It’s not OK.

It’s not OK when you are limiting your life.

It’s not OK if you are suffering because of what you are not seeing when you could be seeing something different.

It’s not OK if you choose to only see those things  that allow you to  hold onto being right.

It’s not OK if you lose someone you love because you insisted on seeing them in a bad light.

It’ not OK if you withhold from giving your best because you’ve assumed how you see the situation is gospel.

Train yourself to open your mind to possibilities by asking more questions:

  • What do I believe about this person/ situation?
  • What other reality is possible here?
  • What am I missing?
  • How accurate is my assumption?
  • How does my way of thinking influence what is happening here?
  • How would my life be different if I changed my perspective on this?
  • What am I holding onto that I could let go?
  • What assumptions am I making?
  • How can I check if my assumptions are accurate?
  • What am I not seeing?

The more possibilities you explore, the more accurate your view of the situation becomes.

This is what you want:  to view a person or sitation accurately – with all the positives and negatives in the light.

This enables you to take decisions and actions that are appropriate and constructive.

I have worked on this over the years, and I believe it has brought me to a more peaceful and grounded state of being.

Yes – believing is seeing.

Sometimes its ok and not so serious:

The other day I woke up feeling not too good. Nevertheless I did gym, put the washing in the machine and  made hubby’s breakfast.

Then I became aware that I was still not feeling too good. I decided to get back into bed.

This is not something I do often. In the 10 years I’ve worked from home, this was maybe the second or third time.

I lay there quietly drinking my tea.

Then I  heard my husband get up from his desk. I listened as he walked into my office and then into the kitchen.

I smiled as I realised he was looking for me.

He walked up the passage. I wondered how he would react when he saw me back in bed.

Imagine my surprise when he walked right past me  and into the dressing room and bathroom.

He didn’t even see me!

He asked the empty bathroom : “Are you in here?”.

I giggled and shouted from the bed: “Here I am!”

As he walked back into the bedroom I said,  “You didn’t even see me!”

“That’s because I did not expect to see you in bed,” he replied!!!!

We only see what we expect to see.

Believing is seeing.

Belief is a deception
you play upon yourself.
Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

Posted in awareness, Habits, Life Mastery, Thought Patterns | 2 Comments

The Little Frog

frogMy son had been fixing up the ponds and streams in our garden. As  he was tidying up, he noticed a frog hopping along our boundary wall.

“Let me rescue this little frog”,  he thought, “before the dog catches it.”

“I won’t put it in the top pond because that’s where I’ve cemented,  so I’ll put it in the bottom pond.”

He walked through the garden to the bottom pond and threw it gently into the water.

In a flash the big yellow koi that lives there jumped out the water, caught the frog mid-air, and swallowed it.

He was devastated.

Later, as he told the story we all had a good laugh.

It reminded me that whatever our intentions are, we seldom have control of the outcome.

Which is why the gurus and spiritual readings out there all advise us not to be attached to the outcome.

How do we do this?

  • Let the outcomes guide us and inspire us.
  • Imagine your outcomes every morning when you wake up.
  • Spend a bit of time enjoying the feeling of living the outcome you desire.
  • Then get up and focus on the things that are in your control – your actions, your attitudes and your responses.

And if the outcomes do come your way, be grateful and enjoy!

Success is a journey,
not a destination.
The doing is often more important
than the outcome.
Arthur Ashe






Posted in Feelings, Goal-setting, Life Mastery | 2 Comments

Warning: too much fun kills fun

steakChipsI knew March was going to be crazy.

It was.

Right now I’m sitting here determined that I will not eat out in another restaurant till next month.

I also have a smile on my face.

Why? Because my son said something (as kids do) that forced a change of attitude; a change of attitude that I desperately needed.

March was fulled with visitors from abroad as well as local. I was the tour guide most of the time. We had fun! We ate out. A LOT. We had late nights. Plenty.

Just as the visitors left, we skidded into Cape Town for our youngest child’s graduation ceremony. We ate out again. A LOT.

I have to be honest here.

I was complaining.

I don’t like to admit it, but I was.

I told my son about how much we had eaten out and how hectic it was, and how much we had done, and how full I was, and how tired I was….. hana hana hana….

His response : “Mom, it’s really hard to feel sorry for you!

After I had a good laugh I felt much better.

I realized that I’d slipped into complaining mode. There was a far better way of looking at this.

I remembered when I was young and had just started working. Friends and I would save our money and once a month we’d go out to the local steak house . How I looked forward to the happy atmosphere of the restaurant,to the delicious aroma of sizzling steaks and  to a plate full of my favourite food. On top of it all, I didn’t have to cook it nor wash up afterwards.

I treasured those nights out at the local steakhouse.

Now, many, many years later I am able to eat at restaurants as often as I like.

My son’s comment opened my eyes. I have so much to be grateful for – and I have since spend time in reflection and giving thanks for fun, friends, food and  for a full life.

And a full stomach!

And wonderful children who continue to teach me lessons every day…

Yes, too much fun kills fun but only if you have the wrong attitude and forget to be grateful.

Share with me: what are you complaining about that you could be grateful for?

Posted in Balance, Life Mastery | 1 Comment

Good from Bad

5310700062_8428d0b6dc_zThabo, a friend of mine, shares this story:

Years ago, I landed an awesome job working as a contractor for a well-known IT company here in Johannesburg. I was going to earn a lot more money and my life was going to improve dramatically.

Or so I thought.

Unlike my previous company, I did not receive any benefits and was expected to sort out my own medical aid, pension and the like. Life as a contractor involved decisions that I had not previously had to make.

As part of my contract I ended up working at the North West Provincial Government office in a small town called Mahikeng.

Living in isolation is not easy and I missed home terribly.After a few months I was decidedly home sick.

I made a plan to visit home.

When I got to town the boys were already waiting for me. It was the best – catching up on the missed months.

My plan was to see my better half straight seeing the fellows. Wow – I was looking forward to that – I had missed her badly.

Finally I said my goodbyes to the fellows, got into my car and headed for my lovely lady.

I was driving slowly and steadily on that late Friday afternoon. Suddenly I was caught me off guard as a car came swerving to my side of the lane, crashing into me in a head-on collision. My car spun out of control stopping horizontally across the road.

Before I lost consciousness from the impact a woman came to my aid, asking me who I was and who she could contact to inform them of my accident.

When I regained consciousness, I was on a stretcher, and I could see familiar faces of friends and family who came to support me.

I was sure I was a goner when they broke out into song and started singing those hymns you only get to hear at a funerals!

Because I had procrastinated on the medical aid, I was moved from the luxurious rooms of Morningside private hospital, to the third largest hospital in the world, the Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital in Soweto.

I had sustained injuries that had me bed ridden in hospital for 6 weeks.

Although life at a government hospital was not as bad as I expected, the big problem was that I had no earnings; as a contractor it’s no work, no pay.

It took 9 months to recover fully!

It also gave me plenty of time to contemplate my future and consider my options.

Life was pretty bleak to be honest. On top of the fact that I needed regular physio, the country was in recession that year and it wasn’t easy finding a job.

I couldn’t afford my own life.

Realizing that contract work was not stable, I made a decision to go back to the corporate world so I could bank on a steady income and have Medical Aid. When I finally got a job it felt more like I was two steps behind, taking only one forward.

Today I am free of debt, happily married to one of the most amazing people I know, and for that, I wouldn’t change my life.

Looking back, the accident changed my life for the better.

It wasn’t a great experience. It wasn’t something I would choose to do again. It wasn’t something I planned.

But it did open my eyes and made me think differently and choose differently.

Thanks, Thabo, for sharing.

One of the things I harp on at my kids about (I’m a mother – I am allowed) is this: always have medical aid because you never know what will happen. I’m going to make them read Thabo’s story.

What his story confirms for me is that good and bad exists in every life, every person and every situation. Part of the process of growing up and living peacefully is accepting this peculiar characteristic of life. Resisting the bad (especially if you have no power to change it) causes unhappiness. Acceptance brings peace.

So where are YOU on this  journey? Share some of your good/bas experiences. Your stories help us all to learn and grow.

I used to have all these plans and think
‘ah, I have my whole life figured out’,
but then I realized no matter how hard I plan:
life happens!
So, I find myself living day-to-day trying to do my best
embracing every moment as a learning opportunity
and a chance to get to know myself a little more.
Quaote Q’orianka Kilcher

Photo Credit

Posted in Choices, Happiness, Lessons, Life Mastery | 2 Comments

Will he ever learn? Will you?

Visiting a tinbaboony village in the deep countryside of Mpumulanga is a little bit like being on a reality TV show – strange characters, shenanigans and whispers all make for deluxe entertainment.

One of the characters pointed out to us, in this peculiar village, was an old, gnarled man.

Let’s call him Leonard. Leonard was a colourful character – almost as colourful as his language. With a greying ponytail and a bald head, he didn’t pay much attention to rules and etiquette.

Leonard was bothered by baboons. They ruined his garden, ate his veggies and played havoc on his patio. He vowed to get rid of them.

Leonard spent some time planning and plotting his revenge.

In the middle of summer he attacked: he put a bowl of poisoned peanuts out on the patio table. By the end of the week, the nuts had still not been touched. He marched grumpily into the house and put the bowl on top of the freezer out of harm’s way.

Or so he thought.

A few months later, he was tidying up the kitchen and spied the nuts.

“Yum”, he thought, and popped a handful of nuts in his mouth.

After a few days in intensive care, he recovered slowly.

But did Leonard learn anything?

Fast forward a few more months. Leonard was snuggled up in bed on a frosty winter morning.  Through the open window opposite his bed, he spied the baboons ambling across the lawn towards his house. He leant over and grabbed his shotgun. Because of the bitter cold, he decided to shoot from the bed. Lying down, he aimed through the window at the closely approaching baboons.



The baboons scattered.

Leonard surveyed the damage. His walls were full of bird-shot. His curtains were shredded. The tops of all his toes were shaved off. He was in agony once again.

I wonder if Leonard learnt this time?

What I take from this is:

  • Stand up when shooting.
  • Also: don’t kill baboons.
  • (OK OK a bit tongue in cheek !! After all I haven’t ever done either of those two things, have you? )

How often, though, do we tread the path of revenge and get nowhere?

If your mind is consumed with revenge and your life is stuck in the endless obsession of getting back at someone, it’s likely to be you who is shot in the foot.

Reflect on these questions:

  • Who is suffering because of my revenge?
  • What role am I playing in creating misery in my own life?
  • What will it cost me to let go?
  • What will it cost me NOT to let go?

Can you name anyone who is consumed with revenge that is happy and content?

Letting go of revenge opens up the space for something else in your life.

Less revenge, more peace!

Choose today.

As for leonard  I hear that the baboons are still winning…

Revenge is often like

biting a dog

because the dog bit you.

Austin O’Malle

Posted in awareness, Choices, forgiveness, Life Mastery | 2 Comments

These are a few of my favourite things

figure_climb_large_book_stack_custom_15091If you know where that line came from then you’re probably as old as me!

A stunning young man called Zee asked me if I would share a few of my favourite reads with him. I thought I may as well share them with you too.

These books are easy to read. Once you have read through them, it’ great to jump to a relevant passage or chapter when needed. I believe that the knowledge shared in these books has the power to transform your life.

Get reading! Get changing! Get motivated!

Lastly if you know meditation is good for you

and you battle to focus (like me!), try the guided meditations on this website. There are plenty to choose from and my husband and I listen to them often:

And finally (another lastly) if you know of any great meditation apps or apps that have helped you transform your life, share them in a comment so we can all learn and grow.

The spiritual life is not a life
before, after, or beyond our everyday existence.
No, the spiritual life can only be real
when it is lived in the midst of the pains and joys
of the here and now.

Henri Nouwen


Posted in awareness, Life Mastery, Way of Being | 4 Comments

Remember what happened last December?

File_169AAA reminder popped up on my phone this morning. (Wonderful things reminders!)

It said I should go and read my blog post from January. I wonder why?

Curiosity got the better of me and so I did. Read it here.

Aha – I remember now: I had battled to get things done in December yet in January I cleared those same things off my list easily and effortlessly.

This year I have been practicing getting into a flow state

There have been some successful days and frustratingly , some ridiculously distracted days. Still – there has been some progress.

My self-diagnosis is that I have adult ADD and it’s my excuse for badly focused days. (Please don’t do as I do and make excuses – rather follow the  advice in my posts!!!!)

The days (like today) that I have sat down and worked easily and effortlessly (in the flow state) sparkle like diamonds. It is such a good feeling. It feels like a mixture of passion, contentment, achievement and peace all rolled into one.

Flow – 0; Distraction – 1

Here’s what I realised as I read through the post. When I get derailed it’s because of step 3 – the practicalities.

If my desk is messy or I choose to peek at my mails or my phone is not off or I allow myself to get up from my desk to do something else (like water the garden, feed the birds, pop some washing in the machine … oh the list is endless) then distraction wins and flow loses.

This is what has helped me

– I keep a notepad next to my laptop. As soon as I think of something else to go and do I write it down. In effect, I am acknowledging that this must (or could) be done , not right now, but later. Then when I have worked solidly for about 45 minutes I break and do one thing off my list. It’s easier to sit down for another 45 minute stint if I have crossed something off my list.

Now – I plan to focus even more on working on the flow state in November and December. Let’s see if, when I go on leave, I have easily and effortlessly cleaned up my to-do list. I’ll let you know how it goes.

My challenge to you

List the important things you need to do so that you can enjoy a peaceful break in December (even if its only on the weekends!)and get them done.


Work in Flow.

Let me know how you do….

“It is how we choose
what we do,

and how we approach it,
that will determine
whether the sum of our days
adds up to a formless blur,
or to something resembling a work of art.”

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Posted in awareness, Fulfillment, Goal-setting, Life Mastery, Time management | 2 Comments

The importance of oiling the garden bench

Garden1My garden bench was almost white from sun and water damage.

“Lets oil the wood.” I decided and 10 minutes later ….

“Ah that looks better.”

5 minutes later I looked out and it was white again,  as if I had not oiled it at all. The oil had merely  soaked up and disappeared.

There was a problem

Now I’m religiously oiling the bench twice a day.

It’s a pleasant job and I am enjoying been out in the fresh morning air and the cool of the evening. Whilst I’m doing it, my thoughts wander. Last night they wandered to the emotional bank account. I realised something….

Oiling the bench is just like depositing into your partner’s emotional bank account. (Thanks to Stephen Covey for this concept)


Deposits into the bank account (doing things for the other that make their heart’s smile) means you are  taking care of your partner and your relationship. Oiling the bench is taking care of the bench.

When your emotional bank account is strongly in the positive your relationship will be beautiful and your partner will be happy and you will be happy.

When the bench is oiled regularly it looks beautiful.

I neglected to oil the bench for way too long. Now one application of oil is not enough. It’s going to take many days of  intensive care for the bench to reflect its gorgeous golden brown wood back at me in the mornings.

Neglecting your partner is like neglecting the bench

Just the same as in relationships….

If you neglect your relationship for too long and if you are making withdrawals from the emotional bank account on a regular basis then your relationship will be in a bad state.

You will find that one deposit will make no difference. You cannot do one “nice” thing for your partner and hope that the days and months of neglect are wiped away. It does not work like that.

Like me, you are going to have to do a lot of work to restore your relationship to a strong and healthy state.

For now I am oiling the bench twice a  day. It’s  still going to take a few more weeks  of work for my bench to look healthy and strong again. I just hope I haven’t left it too late.

Oil the bench regularly

Take a look at your relationship. How healthy is it? How happy is your partner? How happy are you?

If it’s not looking healthy and before it’s too late, start making deposits on a regular basis. You have the power to restore your relationship and then to reap the benefits of a healthy and loving relationship.

Your decision…

“What love we’ve given,
we’ll have forever.
What love we fail to give,
will be lost for all eternity.”
  Leo Buscaglia


Posted in Choices, Happiness, Lessons, Life Mastery, Relationships | 2 Comments

How to shift from destructive fear to constructive vulnerability

16214400156_97e78cf4a6_zThank goodness for our reptilian brain! It keeps us alive.

When we are in danger the reptilian part of our brain is activated and we respond (without logic) by fleeing, freezing of fighting.

I certainly appreciated this aspect of my neurology when I was held up at gun point in my home years ago. I believe I survived purely because the reptile in me took over and I couldn’t think of what to do.

There are times though when it really does not serve us to stay in the reptilian brain. Why?

Because we cannot think when we are afraid.

Mostly it is better to be operating from the neocortex area of the brain – the place when logic, reason and language reside.

In our relationship with others, we often find our selves being afraid.

Take me for example. I have a strong fear-memory (residing in my reptilian brain) of insecurity. As soon as I imagine (NOTE imagine – not reality!!!) that I may be abandoned I feel insecure and terribly afraid.

When I am in this space I go quiet and withdraw.

As you can imagine, this is not very useful!

You know and I know that when there is an issue in a relationship it’s much better to TALK about it.

I have worked on this for many years (I’ve been on this planet for a long time 🙂 )

I am much better, but certainly have a way to go.

When I am feeling afraid in a relationship, I now know that I need  to shake off the reptile as quickly as possible.

There are three ways to get into a more constructive space:

1) Ask questions

This gets you into your neocortex which is where you want to be and stay.

Two questions that works really well are:

“What do I want?”

“What constructive step can I take right now?”

Answering these questions help you to focus on the bigger picture and to keep a useful perspective on the issue.

2) Calm down

The quickest way to a constructive space is to get into gratitude. Breathe deeply and slowly.  Think of your situation with deep gratitude. You will notice a shift in emotional energy.

3) Express your emotions.

Tell the other person how you  are feeling: “I am feeling terrified right now.”

This takes you into vulnerability and authenticity.

Often that’s all you need to say. When you are vulnerable you are showing the other person the real you. This invites the other person to also be vulnerable.

Using these three steps, you recognise and acknowledge your fear but you don’t act from the fear.

You have opened the space for an authentic and constructive conversation.

This is what building strong relationships is all about.

Love is what we were born with.
Fear is what we learned here.

Marianne Williamson

Photo from Flickr

Posted in Life Mastery | 1 Comment