SOUTH AFRICA: What is Love?

What is Love

What is love? I believe that each one of us understands “love” differently. Our upbringing has a lot to do with the way we show our love to others, and in the way we interpret loving gestures. Sometimes this leads to hurt feelings and misunderstandings. In this era of internet communication there are myriad ways of being misunderstood and / or to be taken advantage of, because of our imperfect understanding of what true love means.

I’m sure that every single one of you reading this has a clear idea of what love means to you – and I bet no two ideas are the same. That said, love is a universal need. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy, as soon as the basic necessities of survival (such as food, shelter, warmth, rest, safety and security) have been met, the next thing humans crave is love and the feeling of belonging.

For the longest time I felt unworthy of love, until I was exposed to the work of Dr. John Demartini. In his book The Breakthrough Experience, Dr. Demartini defines true love:

True love is a synthesis of the two aspects of one wave, and one full wave is light, which can also be called love. Love is a full quantum state. In physics they know that a full quantum state is massless, chargeless, spaceless and timeless, which by definition is spiritual and unconditional. Consciousness is light, and it comes in full quantum states. God is full quantum light.

Many people have different ideas of what love is, but I’m defining it as the synthesis or perfect blending of all dualistic perceptions, the summation of all polarities. When happiness and sadness are synthesized, they make love. Like and dislike, positive and negative, pain and pleasure, electron and positron in physics, all dualities, when totally synthesized, are love. No matter what -ology you investigate they all lead to the same essence, which is love, which is the unified field theory that permeates every human being and links us all.

Another quote of his is this:

No matter what you’ve done or not done, you’re worthy of love, and there’s nothing but love, all else is illusion. If you take the time to ask the right questions and reveal to your awareness what your intuition and inspiration are constantly calling you to be aware of, you will discover this, and you will be grateful for your life and you will do extraordinary things.

What I got out of that is that we don’t need to be a particular way or do a particular thing in order to be loved. Our essence is love. We just need to remember that!

How do you understand and define love? Do you agree that everyone is worthy of unconditional love?

This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Mama Simona from Cape Town, South Africa. Photo credit: Simon Shek / Flickr.

Mamma Simona (South Africa)

Mamma Simona was born in Rome (Italy) but has lived in Cape Town (South Africa) since she was 8 years old. She studied French at school but says she’s forgotten most of it! She speaks Italian, English and Afrikaans. Even though Italian is the first language she learned, she considers English her "home" language as it's the language she's most comfortable in. She is happily married and the proud mother of 2 terrific teenagers! She also shares her home with 2 cats and 2 dogs ... all rescues. Mamma Simona has worked in such diverse fields as Childcare, Tourism, Library Services, Optometry, Sales and Admin! (With stints of SAHM in-between). She’s really looking forward to the day she can give up her current Admin job and devote herself entirely to blogging and (eventually) being a full-time grandmother!

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SOUTH AFRICA: Crime Hits Too Close for Comfort

SOUTH AFRICA: Crime Hits Too Close for Comfort

Crime Hits Too Close for Comfort

Crime is not part of my daily life. I live in a middle to upper-class neighbourhood in Cape Town. We have an active Neighbourhood Watch, and most of the people in my neighbourhood also belong to the Community Policing Forum (aka CPF). The CPF has monthly meetings where we discuss crime stats, share self-defence tips etc. We all have signs on our gates indicating that we’re part of the CPF. We also have a WhatsApp group where we keep in contact with each. We’re all just a message away in case of medical or other emergency. I have always felt safe enough to leave my front door unlatched during the day.

This month, my illusion of safety was temporarily shattered. One morning, in broad daylight, shots were fired on my road! At first we couldn’t believe that it was gunshots. After all, this is a quiet neighbourhood and it was at a time of day when our road is pretty busy. Neighbourhood Watch was immediately on the case, whilst the rest of us were left stunned and wondering what we could do to help.

Roughly 30 minutes later I pulled out of my driveway into a surreal scene. Police cars, Neighbourhood Watch personnel and private security company vehicles were blocking the road. The crime tape was around my next-door neighbour’s property! That’s right – an armed robbery happened in the house on the other side of our boundary wall! I felt as if I’d been cast as an extra in a movie or TV series. Surely this can’t be real?! It was.

This is what happened:

My neighbour (let’s call him Bill) pulled out of his driveway and realised that he’d forgotten something, so he quickly ran back inside the house to fetch it without closing his gate (as we’ve all done numerous times). Two armed men followed him inside, pistol-whipped him, tied him up and demanded that he show them where his safe was.

At this time my neighbour’s adult son (let’s call him John) arrived with his wife. She walked inside whilst he waited in the car. She walked in on the robbers and screamed. The 2 armed suspects fled with the safe, but then dropped it as soon as they saw John, and jumped into the vehicle which was being driven by a 3rd suspect. John followed them and they shot at him out of the window – just like they do in movies! By then (thanks to our CPF network), police and other response vehicles joined in the chase. Two of the suspects jumped out the car when it got stuck in traffic and were promptly arrested. The driver got away, but later the same day he was arrested too.

I’ve been left rather bemused by this. By the next day there was no sign left of what had happened. Apart from the shock that this happening caused in our quiet and close-knit community, no real harm was done. The stolen goods were recovered, nobody was seriously injured and the suspects were arrested immediately. Things could have gone a lot worse. In fact, in many ways this could be considered a win for law and order.

That said, it still doesn’t quite feel real. I don’t know if it’s because of the shows that I watch, or just because it doesn’t seem possible that this happened right next door to my house. The strangest thing is that my neighbour is one of very few people on our street who did not belong to the CPF, and I can’t help but wonder if that was a factor in him being targeted.

Truthfully (but possibly foolishly) I still feel safe where I live.

Have you lived through something that just didn’t seem real or possible? How do you feel about it with hindsight?

This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Mama Simona from Cape Town, South Africa. Photo credit: Alan Cleaver / Flickr.

Mamma Simona (South Africa)

Mamma Simona was born in Rome (Italy) but has lived in Cape Town (South Africa) since she was 8 years old. She studied French at school but says she’s forgotten most of it! She speaks Italian, English and Afrikaans. Even though Italian is the first language she learned, she considers English her "home" language as it's the language she's most comfortable in. She is happily married and the proud mother of 2 terrific teenagers! She also shares her home with 2 cats and 2 dogs ... all rescues. Mamma Simona has worked in such diverse fields as Childcare, Tourism, Library Services, Optometry, Sales and Admin! (With stints of SAHM in-between). She’s really looking forward to the day she can give up her current Admin job and devote herself entirely to blogging and (eventually) being a full-time grandmother!

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SOUTH AFRICA: The Best-Laid Birth Plan

SOUTH AFRICA: The Best-Laid Birth Plan

The Best-Laid Birth Plan
Before my (now 24 year old) son was born, I was a SuperSitter. Not only did I work for a Babysitting Agency called SuperSitters, but I’d also studied Child Psychology, Child and Infant First Aid and aced a course which would have allowed me to open up a daycare facility of my own, if I’d wanted to. I was the person they’d call for challenging babies and children. I could soothe a colicky baby and have a normally hyperactive child fast asleep before the parents came home. They all expressed their astonishment at how well their young ones behaved when in my care. I felt supremely confident in my ability to be a great mother – after all, if other people’s children behaved so wonderfully when I looked after them, surely my own flesh and blood would be even easier, right?!
When I found out I was pregnant, I was thrilled. I read every single book on pregnancy, childbirth and parenting that I could lay my hands on, attended prenatal classes, and congratulated myself on how well-prepared I was for motherhood. A week before my due date I had my bag packed for the hospital and my birth plan written out. My husband had been prepped as to what I would need from him at each stage of labour. We were ready – or so we thought!
My due date came and went with no sign whatsoever of my son wanting to be born.  I was extremely bloated and hot (January in South Africa is peak Summer heat), not to mention anxious to hold my son. To make matters even worse, my husband and I were living with my grandparents at the time, and with every braxton hicks contraction they would ask, “Is it time?” Eventually I couldn’t take it any more, so 10 days post due date I had my husband take me to the hospital. When I got there my contractions stopped again. On examination I was 3 cm dilated. The doctor asked me if I wanted to go home or if I was willing to have my labour induced. I wish that I’d been smart enough to go home, but at that moment I couldn’t face going home again without having given birth. This was to be the first of many mistakes I made as a mother.
I will spare you all the gory details, except to tell you that nothing went according to my meticulous birth plan, and I ended up needing an emergency c-section due to foetal distress. That was just the start of our problems.  The surgical team struggled to get my uterus to stop bleeding after they’d delivered my son. My blood pressure nearly bottomed out and (much later) my OB-Gyn admitted that, if I hadn’t stopped bleeding when I did, she would have had to perform a hysterectomy to save my life! I thank God every day that it didn’t happen, because I wouldn’t have my beautiful daughter if it had! I’d lost so much blood that they had to keep transfusing me throughout the night. I wasn’t taken back to the maternity ward until the next day.
Because of what had happened to me, I wasn’t given the chance to breastfeed my son until much later the next day.  By then they’d already given him a bottle and I never managed to get breastfeeding properly established. Instead of the minimum 6 months that I had planned to breastfeed, I ended up switching to bottle feeding almost from the day I got home. I really wish that I’d known then what I know now, like breastfeeding on demand!
As if that wasn’t bad enough, my son had severe colic for the first 3 months or so.  Much to my surprise and dismay, this “SuperSitter” was completely and utterly unable to soothe her own baby! I also suffered through Postpartum Depression. I thank God every day for the unbelievable support I had from my husband, grandparents and aunt, who all stepped in and did for my son what I wasn’t able to.
Things went from bad to worse for my poor son. He projectile vomited every feed for almost 2 years, despite all our best efforts. He also often had gastroenteritis. Between puke and diarrhea we did a full load of washing every.single.day.  I cried a lot during those first two years, because I felt like the world’s worst mother, and I was sure that my son wasn’t going to survive given all the vomiting.
Fast forward to today and the child I was so worried about has grown into a handsome, healthy and intelligent young man.  In those early days I couldn’t even begin to dream of him becoming the man he is today. He has surpassed all my expectations, and I am incredibly proud of him.
He is now married, and is the step-dad of a lovely little girl. My son has learnt how to speak, read and write German fluently, and is currently studying Computer Science (Informatik) at Goethe University in Frankfurt.
The main reason for writing this post (apart from the fact that today is my son’s birthday!) is to give hope to all the moms who, like me, feel that they’re not “good enough” mothers.  What I have learnt is that all children need to know three things – that you love them unconditionally, that you’re proud of them and that they can trust you.  As long as you have those 3 things in place, nothing else really matters that much.  Most of the things that we beat ourselves up for they don’t even remember when they grow up!
Was your labour and delivery what you hoped it would be?  What do you wish you’d known when you were younger?

This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Mama Simona from Cape Town, South Africa.

Photo credit to the author. 

Mamma Simona (South Africa)

Mamma Simona was born in Rome (Italy) but has lived in Cape Town (South Africa) since she was 8 years old. She studied French at school but says she’s forgotten most of it! She speaks Italian, English and Afrikaans. Even though Italian is the first language she learned, she considers English her "home" language as it's the language she's most comfortable in. She is happily married and the proud mother of 2 terrific teenagers! She also shares her home with 2 cats and 2 dogs ... all rescues. Mamma Simona has worked in such diverse fields as Childcare, Tourism, Library Services, Optometry, Sales and Admin! (With stints of SAHM in-between). She’s really looking forward to the day she can give up her current Admin job and devote herself entirely to blogging and (eventually) being a full-time grandmother!

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SOUTH AFRICA: Unwritten

Unwritten

On my way to work this morning, the song “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield played on the radio. I’ve heard the song many times before. This morning, I really paid attention to the lyrics for the first time, and reflected upon my own goals.

Many of us feel trapped in the routine of our daily life. We’ve all said at some point that we don’t have enough time. I’ve been using this excuse for two important goals in my life: decluttering my home, and writing my novel. These are things that I know will make me feel happy and proud of having accomplished them. The truth is that none of us “have” time, we “make” time to do what we really want to do. So I must ask myself the question, “Why have I not made time for the two goals that I’d most like to accomplish?”

The clutter in my home is complicated, as much of it was inherited from my husband’s family. For that reason, I feel that my husband must make the decision regarding what to keep and what to sell. Of course, there is no excuse for me not to get rid of my own clutter!

I know that my almost pathological fear of giving things away stems from my childhood. My parents were terrible at managing our family finances, and in our house, it was feast or famine. When my parents had money, they’d literally buy champagne and caviar. When they had none, we had to make do with “mystery” tins (we had a box of tins without labels). I guess it’s the fear of being without that holds me back from doing what I should in this regard. The ultimate irony is that I usually can’t find what I need, when I need it, anyway!

This brings me to my unwritten novel, which I have dreamt of writing for as long as I can remember. A couple of years ago, I signed up to NaNoWriMo, and started to work on my goal in earnest. Then I was diagnosed with lupus and psoriasis – two severe autoimmune diseases that have since wrecked havoc on my life. I was unable to type due to numbness and pain in my arms and hands. Since then, I have abandoned my goal of writing my novel. While my health challenges are certainly a handicap, I suspect that the real obstacle isn’t lack of time or my health, it’s fear. As long as my novel remains unwritten, it can’t be rejected. I can hold on to my dream of being an author “one day”, whereas if I write it and it’s not good enough, I would have to give up on the dream.

You would think that, given the above insights, I’d be able to overcome my psychological hurdles and get on with it. I’m happy to be able to confirm that I’ve started taking baby steps in the right direction. I have given away two large bags full of clothes I no longer wear, and I’ve started writing for World Moms Network again.

To paraphrase Unwritten: each day we get a brand new chance to “begin our book.” No one else can do or say what we are meant to do and say. We’re all unique, and therefore uniquely qualified for whatever it is that we’re meant to accomplish in our lifetimes.

What goals do you have,  but “don’t have time” for? If you have already published a book, do you have any advice for us aspirant authors?

This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Mama Simona from Cape Town, South Africa.

Photo credit: Caleb Roenigk / Flickr.

Mamma Simona (South Africa)

Mamma Simona was born in Rome (Italy) but has lived in Cape Town (South Africa) since she was 8 years old. She studied French at school but says she’s forgotten most of it! She speaks Italian, English and Afrikaans. Even though Italian is the first language she learned, she considers English her "home" language as it's the language she's most comfortable in. She is happily married and the proud mother of 2 terrific teenagers! She also shares her home with 2 cats and 2 dogs ... all rescues. Mamma Simona has worked in such diverse fields as Childcare, Tourism, Library Services, Optometry, Sales and Admin! (With stints of SAHM in-between). She’s really looking forward to the day she can give up her current Admin job and devote herself entirely to blogging and (eventually) being a full-time grandmother!

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SOUTH AFRICA: Why is change inevitably painful?

Change

Change is painful. The myriad of cliches, affirmations, memes and inspirational quotes on this subject are testament that this is a widespread problem. No one knows this better than us mothers. From the moment of conception, change happens at an incredibly fast pace. Our babies go from helpless newborns to defiant toddlers in the blink of an eye. Blink again and they’ve left home to start families of their own!

Not only do our offspring change, but we do as well. At every stage we must adapt to new demands. I’m not the only mom who actually wanted her child to grow, change and reach milestones as soon as possible. What I wasn’t prepared for was the sense of loss that accompanied each change. In a strange way, it was as if I was mourning the baby that had been replaced by the toddler, the toddler replaced by the child, and so on.

My son is now 23 years old. Two years ago he moved away from home to live abroad with his girlfriend (now wife!) and her family in Germany. Thanks to Skype, we still talk often, but this change has been the toughest one for me so far. As grateful as I am for my in-laws’ generosity in giving my son the opportunity to live and study in Germany, I can’t help feeling sad that my son is now more part of their family than ours. Also, I’ve had to come to terms with the idea of not living close to (eventual) grandchildren.

Don’t get me wrong, as a mother, all I truly care about is that my son is healthy and happy (which he is). This has been a very positive change for him, and I am incredibly proud of the awesome young man he has become. I’m the one who wasn’t quite ready for this change, even though, objectively, I know it’s the best thing for him.

This change from mother to mother-in-law really is my most challenging change so far. I have a new understanding for what my late mother-in-law must have felt when my husband told her he was going to stay in Cape Town with me, instead of moving to Durban with them. Whether in a different city or on a different continent, the result is the same – it’s simply impossible to be present in the lives of your child and possible grandchildren.

It took my mother-in-law over 20 years to accept me, and I suffered a lot in that time. I vowed to never put my daughter-in-law through what I went through. Yet, if I’m being scrupulously honest, there’s a little part of me that resents the fact that my son has moved to a different continent, and that he was willing to learn German, but I never managed to get him to learn Italian, my own mother tongue.

Change is as inevitable as death and taxes. It is counter-productive to strive to keep things the way they are. It is much better to embrace each change as a new adventure. The problem is that I’ve never been adventurous!

How do you deal with the stress caused by changes in your life? Do you have any advice for me, to help me overcome my resentment?

This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Mama Simona from Cape Town, South Africa.

Photo credit: Conal Gallagher / Flickr.

Mamma Simona (South Africa)

Mamma Simona was born in Rome (Italy) but has lived in Cape Town (South Africa) since she was 8 years old. She studied French at school but says she’s forgotten most of it! She speaks Italian, English and Afrikaans. Even though Italian is the first language she learned, she considers English her "home" language as it's the language she's most comfortable in. She is happily married and the proud mother of 2 terrific teenagers! She also shares her home with 2 cats and 2 dogs ... all rescues. Mamma Simona has worked in such diverse fields as Childcare, Tourism, Library Services, Optometry, Sales and Admin! (With stints of SAHM in-between). She’s really looking forward to the day she can give up her current Admin job and devote herself entirely to blogging and (eventually) being a full-time grandmother!

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SOUTH AFRICA: The Soundtrack of our Lives

SOUTH AFRICA: The Soundtrack of our Lives

inner peace (2)Recently I started practicing Heartfulness Meditation.  It is when you are trying not to think about anything that you truly realise how your brain is never quiet!  No matter what we’re doing, there’s a constant commentary going on.  Most of the time we’re not consciously aware of these thoughts, but they do have an impact on our mood and behaviour.

Sadly, we are often raised to be very hard on ourselves, and our “self-talk” tends to be negative and critical. We would never be as cruel as we are to ourselves towards anyone else!  This begs the question, why do we think it’s okay to be so mean to ourselves?

Many point to the way women are portrayed in the media, and how we’re somehow expected to be “perfect” – totally able to be a brilliant mother and an outstanding career woman whilst keeping a husband happy to boot. The truth is that nobody is perfect, and nobody truly has the life that we imagine they do!

A while ago I read something that truly resonated with me – “Don’t compare your behind the scenes to somebody else’s show reel.”  Think about this for a minute … none of us really know what goes on in another person’s life, we only know what they choose to share with us.

Obviously people tend to share whatever makes them look good, and not what they’re ashamed of.  So we look at another person and think “why can’t I be as good / brave / fit / successful or whatever as this person?” without knowing that they are probably thinking the same thing about us!

The good news is that as soon as you become aware of a bad habit, you can choose to replace that habit with one that is better for you.  With regard to negative self talk, there are two steps to mitigate it.  The first is to become more aware of the “soundtrack” going on in your mind. The second is to refute the nasty comments.

For example, if you make a mistake and find yourself thinking “I’m SO stupid!” you should counter that statement with something like “I’m not really stupid, I made a mistake, I now know better and I’ll do better next time.”

I also think it is very beneficial to carve out a few minutes every day to try and quieten the mind completely.  This is usually accomplished by means of meditation, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be anything esoteric. It’s enough to sit in a quiet and comfortable space and just focus on breathing in and out. As soon as you become aware of a thought, you just bring your attention back to your breathing.  There are many variations to this, for example in Transcendental Meditation a teacher gives you a mantra that you must repeat. No matter what you choose, the aim is the same, to try and get rid of the “soundtrack” (even if it’s just for a couple of seconds) so that you can reconnect with your authentic self.

Sometimes my soundtrack is made up of snippets of songs, and that can occasionally be rather amusing.  Recently I tore part of my big toenail away from the nail bed. I kept it taped up to try and prevent my nail from falling off completely.  I’d only left the tape off for a short time when I snagged the same toenail again and ripped it even more!  Despite the pain, all that my brain had going on in a loop was the line “Oops, I did it again.” from the Britney Spears’ song!

Did you ever notice yourself thinking about a particular song in response to what is happening to you or around you? If so, can you give us an example?

Have you ever tried any kind of Meditation? If so, did you find it beneficial?

This is an original blog post for World Moms Blog written by Mamma Simona from Cape Town, South Africa. Photo credit: Kirsten Doyle

Mamma Simona (South Africa)

Mamma Simona was born in Rome (Italy) but has lived in Cape Town (South Africa) since she was 8 years old. She studied French at school but says she’s forgotten most of it! She speaks Italian, English and Afrikaans. Even though Italian is the first language she learned, she considers English her "home" language as it's the language she's most comfortable in. She is happily married and the proud mother of 2 terrific teenagers! She also shares her home with 2 cats and 2 dogs ... all rescues. Mamma Simona has worked in such diverse fields as Childcare, Tourism, Library Services, Optometry, Sales and Admin! (With stints of SAHM in-between). She’s really looking forward to the day she can give up her current Admin job and devote herself entirely to blogging and (eventually) being a full-time grandmother!

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