Six months ago I watched the Netflix drama ‘13 Reasons Why’ as research for book four or five. I'm not quite sure where these themes will come out in the next few books but I know they will, and it has me thinking…a lot.
I write because I want to help facilitate change; change in the way we treat others and the way we treat ourselves; change in the words we speak to ourselves, and those we allow to play on repeat in our heads; change in the way we are living our lives day to day and the things we carry.
I'm a busy wife and mother to three beautiful but highly energetic children and am trying to build a career writing books that I can be proud to put in people’s hands. As well as raising a family of children who know their worth and who treat themselves and others with dignity, love, kindness and grace. Children who walk with their head held high and are not infected by the ugliness of the world around them but instead add a different voice. Children whose very presence in a room changes the atmosphere.
It's a huge job, and one that I take very seriously. And then I fail, well, I feel like I am failing over and over and over again, and I know in my head that it's normal, that we all feel as though we're failing. If we didn’t, maybe we wouldn’t strive to be better, to do better. Maybe we feel like that by design? It sucks though, that feeling. Every time I hear my own raised voice, I think ‘Damn, really...’ and then have to call my children over and apologise for my over-reaction, again…because I’m stressed again…but why. Why do I allow myself to get so stressed? What is it?
I'm pretty sure the things that have me on edge don’t matter nearly as much as I think they do. And then I get to thinking about what things I am wasting my precious life on. Because that’s what it is…precious. As a parent, and then probably just as a responsible human being life can feel a wee bit like ground-hog day. There are all of those responsibilities preventing you from doing what you love…but hang on, when was the last time you thought about what you actually love doing anyway? Do you even know?
Why is it that we fall into this ground-hog day, stressed out type of living, making money to pay bills, buying things to make ‘life easier’, which in turn just add to the clutter of our lives. Why don't we make grand plans, unrealistic plans, and have seemingly impossible dreams. Why do we settle, instead of walking out the dream, one day, one penny, one decision at a time? Why do we wait until we have a terminal diagnosis to plan that family holiday we’ve always dreamed of but never prioritised? Or say the things we wished we’d said to our loved ones, or those we wish were our loved ones? Why do we wait? Why do we waste so much time?
My own experience has proven that nobody cares about all this crap on their death bed. They care that they loved and were loved, they care about connection and legacy, they care about not being alone.
So why wait? I'm preaching to myself here. Tell that boy or girl you love them…do it! It might get you laughed at, it might give you a happily ever after…I personally think it's a risk worth taking. See a doctor for that illness, that pain, that addiction, depression…don’t wait until you lose the capacity to make good decisions, do it now.
Live the life you want. live the life you'll wish you'd lived when lying on your death bed.
I had my own experiences with bullies at high school, but there is one memory that stays with me. I was 15 and I stood by and watched as a girl was taunted by my friends. She was from the Netherlands, her personal hygiene and dress sense needed some attention, she lacked self-confidence, she was often dishevelled at school and they played with her. I hated it. I remember hating it, and despite being friendly to her when we were alone, and being super uncomfortable with what was happening I allowed it to happen. I didn't use my voice to stand up for her, to do what was right, and to a person that's hurting, feeling alone and desperate, staying silent is just as bad as throwing insults.
This memory reminds me to talk to my kids about standing up for people, whether they're your friends or not; about listening to that voice inside telling you to do right; about being kind to people; about excusing yourself from your group of friends to walk alongside somebody who has been rejected by them; about not repeating a rumour or creating them. Is it true? Is it kind? Would it hurt you if somebody did that/said that about or to you? I want them to question their behaviour, their interactions, their words. To understand their power, to be present, to be observant, to notice. I want them to do better. I want them to be better than I was.
People matter, when it comes down to it. Lives matter.
One of the largest epidemics in our societies is a lack of connection.
Those on the edge of depression, addiction, self-harm or suicide desperately need to feel seen, heard and noticed. We don’t know what goes on behind closed doors; financial strife, homelessness, abuse, heartache, brokenness. It's hidden, it has no special formula, no neon sign will be blazing on people’s foreheads, but there is a way to know.
PAUSE…take a moment to look into someone’s eyes, to the way they move and observe the world around them. ENGAGE…be a good person, be friendly. Ask people if they're okay. Don’t wait for time to free up in your schedule. If someone’s name rests in your mind or heart, or something doesn’t feel or look right ACT. Take time, make time…turn up and do something, and then LISTEN… we all do far too much talking and not nearly enough listening. How can we possibly understand where people are at, and the decisions they make, if we don't know where they've come from?
Don’t waste your precious life. If you need help – Ask for it. If you see somebody else needs help. Step up.
Genuine care and connection, and the knowledge that we are loved is the answer to brokenness.
Every single life matters. Including yours.
Live. Love. Decide. Connect. Act.
Image by Unsplash/Nina Strehl