Home business, home education and health challenges: what makes us tic?

“Well then you’d better go and play on your computer.”
Those are words any twelve-turning-thirteen-year-old would love to hear. Right?

Goldilocks is the epitome of an empath. She could feel the anger and sarcasm hiding behind the words she’d been hoping to hear. She dutifully went – and played – but her eyes betrayed her pain.

The thing is – I wasn’t even angry with her. It’s true that I don’t often ask for help with meal prep. And I certainly don’t think there’s anything wrong with a twelve-almost-thirteen-year-old knowing the basics of how to prepare meals. But I also know how sensitive her sense of smell is, and I admire the strength of character with which she can say, “No, I don’t prefer to do that.”

And the way I’d asked certainly wasn’t an instruction. “How do you feel about trying your hand at chopping some onions?” Yep. Definitely a lot of wiggle room there.

I was just frustrated by the day I was having. And I used – no, abused – my power over my innocent, sensitive, precious girl to unload some of that frustration.

I had two choices. I could act as if nothing had happened. Or I could apologise.

“I’m sorry.”

With two small words, I could fix two big things. I could acknowledge what I’d done, admit that it was wrong, and ask for forgiveness. And I could also validate her emotions. With that “sorry”, I could say, “You didn’t imagine it. What you sensed was real, even though what I said was what you wanted to hear. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t kind. It wasn’t right. And your empathy is spot on.”

That little apology – and the big hug that went with it – set everything right.

And to think: my pride could so easily have cost me that magic window into Goldilocks’ soul.

Comfort Dysfunction

“So … do I just lie here and try to sleep?”
“Yes, my darling. I’ll stay with you until you fall asleep.”
How does she not know what it means to be comforted by her Mama. In a decade, have I never done this with her?
“I love you, Mama. Thanks for staying with me.”
“I love you too, my Baby.”

It’s late. So late that the girls have flipped over into the twilight zone of sleep-deprivation-induced dysfunction. Nothing in their worlds makes sense. They’re angry and afraid and oh-so-exhausted.

And so am I.

This is their first late night this week, but it’s the earliest I’ve seen a pillow in ten days – and it’s 11:45PM.

I hold my little girl’s hand, and gently stroke her back. Soon the room is filled with rhythmic angel breathing, and I feel myself dropping off as well.

My days are so filled with focus on work and Goldilocks’ neuroses that Red Riding Hood gets left to fend for herself, it seems. We had that, growing up. It’s why I only had two kids: I didn’t want to do this to anyone else. And yet here I am: doing it.

No wonder she is so angry so much of the time. No wonder she resists physical touch: she hasn’t experienced enough of it.

Poor baby.

I hug her tighter than I ever could when she’s awake, and I kiss her a hundred – a thousand – times on her beautiful forehead. She smiles in her sleep and flings her tiny little arms around my neck. “Thank you, Mama” she breathes in sleep angel music into my ear.

I love you, Baby Girl.

An empathy epiphany

Today I had an epiphany.

When we see ourselves as not being worth anything, not having value or effect, we utterly fail to see how we affect others. As a result, we withdraw from their lives, and give no thought to the devastation we may leave behind. We think, at best, that we’re doing them a favour. At worst, we imagine they won’t even notice our absence.

The truth may be vastly different.

The truth is that we may do enormous damage simply be pulling away. But we don’t realise it. So we don’t operate with compassion. We don’t soften the blow – because we don’t know there’s a blow to soften. We don’t believe we matter enough to have had an effect.

be kindAnd when we’re wrong about this, the damage can be significant.

The truth is: we all matter. We all have impact. We all need compassion.

Be kind. Because you matter.

tests teach us we're wrong and badHere’s the thing: what does a TEST actually measure? You see, when I was at school, I aced tests. I really, totally, was awesome at passing them, as evidenced by the 90% average I maintained for pretty much all of school. Academics came easily to me.

I was one of the lucky few.

But just because I passed tests didn’t mean I could do, or understand, the work. As it happens, I could and did, but that had no bearing on passing the test. Or at least, very little.

In practise, all tests did very well when I was taking them was stress me out – and, as I said, I was one of the lucky ones. Less academically-inclined students were reduced to near panic. In fact, when we were in matric, a student in a nearby school killed himself as he sat down to write his Maths paper, by jamming two pencils up his nose into his brain.

Seriously?! Can it POSSIBLY be that important?? Surely, if you can do the work, you can do the work, and there are more effective, and far less deleterious (because it’s a cool word) ways to measure that?

I’m no expert, so bear with me here. But what if, say, the teacher observed the kids, and saw who could do it and who couldn’t? And what if (and yes, I know it’s “out there”), the people who couldn’t do the work, instead of being ridiculed and penalised, were taught – gently – to actually be able to do the work? It’s just a thought.

Maybe if we had MUCH smaller classes, more teachers, and more focus on imparting valuable, useful lifeskills relevant to each specific, UNIQUE learner, they’d actually learn stuff?

And that, my friends, assumes we’re talkiong about schools AT ALL.

I mean, when last did you use long division, or trigonometry, or advanced calculus? I really do want to know. And yes, I’m even talking to you architects and engineers out there. Because even the ones I know personally don’t use the stuff. (No, Maths teachers. You don’t count in this particular poll. We all know you use Maths. You’re paid to.) Even my accountant uses a calculator – and he has a head for numbers!

So, let’s say you’re not great at spelling. Now, this is not even a thing I relate to because, like, spelling, dudes. It totes rocks! (See what I did there? That’s just how I roll ;)) Okay, I’m back. You’re not good at spelling. Or at least, you’re not good at spelling hard words. Like tourniquet, and epithet and halcyon. You know: every day words. And then you write a test to see whether yoou are good at spelling or not. (You already have an idea on the outcome, mind you.) You fail the test. Or even – you just don’t pass well. The message your brain gets is NOT: oh, wow. Thank heavens I have spell check and the inifinite wisdom of the web should I ever ACTUALLY need to write words like that when I compile those ambulance hand books and grammar usage guides I’ve been dreaming about. No. The message you get is a lot more succinct, insidious, short, and evil.

“You can’t spell.”

In preteen this is sometimes abbreviated to: “You suck.”

The result is NOT a sudden urge to study the dictionary (yes, it happens. no, it’s not a disease). The result is a fundamental alteration in how you see yourself, and what you believe you can achieve. Which is: nothing. Your brain gets the message “I’m an idiot and I’ll never be able to spell”. This cancer grows and destroys everything it touches. Soon, it becomes “I’ll never be able to write a book”. From there, it’s not a big jump to, “I’ll never be able to write a report”. Then, “I’ll never be able to write a letter … an email …”.

I know it sounds extreme. But I work as a writer and let me tell you: every day – every single day – people tell me they can’t write. They apologise for their grammar and spelling and vocabulary and phraseology BEFORE they even contact me at all. Just so that I don’t judge them or something. And because they are so sure they won’t do a good job, they also waste no effort trying to do a good job. They don’t look up spelling and grammar – they don’t even know where to start. Their communication is stunted and immature, and it doesn’t have to be. It’s all because they don’t believe in themselves. And why not? Because they’ve been measured and found wanting.

The truth is a different matter. We all have value to offer the world. Any of us could communicate it in writing and, with today’s amazing (MOSTLY FREE) tools, easily get the writing RIGHT. Or at least good enough. We all use Maths every single day. And we do it well: we buy groceries and balance budgets and plan petrol consumption all the time – and we’re all still here, doing it. We just don’t think we can.

Tests teach us we are wrong – and that that’s bad. But, folks, life is all aboout making mistakes: grand, glorious, bold, beautiful, colourful mistakes of enormous chaos and value. Mistakes teach us. Tests diminish us.

And that’s why I hate tests. Because they are artificial measurements of a reality that doesn’t exist, and the only thing they achieve is to diminish us to the point of being too afraid to share our glorious value with a needy world, simply because we’re so afraid we’ll do it wrong.


be kindThe Word tells us to be kind to one another. Clearly, we need reminding, or we wouldn’t have needed to have been told in the first place. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another.

We battle to be these things to ourselves. Yet we have been forgiven. We are still alive, and we have abundant lives to live. Carrying around a whip to beat ourselves with all the time is hardly helpful on the journey to abundant life. Gentle kindness, compassion, understanding: seeing ourselves with all the grace God shows when He looks on us – these things will give us a gentler, more tender heart.

Only we can truly know the extent of that grace and that forgiveness. Only we know what we’ve done. As we realise the extent of His compassion and grace towards us, and truly live in each moment’s expansive blessing, that grace cannot help but pour out of us and into the lives of each person we meet.

We can be kind.

We may not understand. We don’t need to. We can simply KNOW. Another person’s unkindness is never the result of a happy and blissful life. There’s pain there. Just a drop of kindness from our infinite reservoirs could heal some small part of that person’s soul.

Do it. Don’t hold back. Heal.

A gentle word. A sweet smile. A sincere thank you. The cost is not nothing, but the cost is not great. And the results could well be great – especially if it catches on.

They need your kindness. You have it to give.

Give it.

Be Kind.



what I should be doingThe thing about patience is that it means WAITING, and we just all hate to do that.

I know I do.

Having a refreshed idea of where I’m headed and what I want to achieve is great, only … could I perhaps have the results, like, NOW? Not in three or four years? Anyone?

Nope. I gotta wait.

Being patient assumes certain things:

I am doing exactly what I am meant to be doing. I am where I am supposed to be.

I can wait for the best, because I don't plan to settle for anything less.As I live the life of faith, the right things wil happen at the right time, and all will be well.

All is good and perfect in my world, and I am safe. My life is safe.

It is safe to be me.

The things I want are good and will benefit my life. Because they are good things, they will come to pass. Good things happen in the order they should at the the time that is best.

I can wait for the best, because I don’t plan to settle for anything less.


We have peace. It is a gift. If we don’t FEEL it, it’s because we’ve chosen not to use or receive that gift.

Whenever someone gives you something, you have two choices: accept it or reject it.
If you accept it, you have two choices: be gracious, or be ungracious. Be grateful or be ungrateful. It stands to reason that gracious gratitude is ALWAYS the right answer.

Whether you think you can or whether you think you can't, you're right.

Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.
– Henry Ford

If you graciously accept and appreciate the gift, you still have two choices: open it, or don’t. (Obviously, implied in the initial acceptance of a gift in this context, there’s the idea that you KNOW WHAT YOU’RE GETTING. Although even when you know what you’re getting, you don’t know what you’re getting. But anyway…)
If you DON’T open it, there’s not much point in having it. It might look very pretty in its wrapping, but it’s just going to sit there being ornamental, not doing anything.

So, you open it. Now (you guessed it) you have two choices: use it, or don’t use it. Gifts are a bit like well-intentioned advice in that way.

If you don’t use it, all you have is an ornament. And that’s most of us with peace. We HAVE it, but we don’t use it. Why not? Well, maybe we don’t know how. It could be that we haven’t read the instruction manual, or that we read it but it was too confusing to put into practical action.

If we don’t use the gift of peace and it’s not a “couldn’t-understand-the-manual” thing, we’re fooling ourselves when we say we want peace. We don’t. We love the drama. We feed off it. It’s all we really know and understand. It makes us feel whole. it’s familiar, and peace would be strangely unsettling. Perhaps we even fear that it would be dull. I know I’ve done that.

But let’s say we have peace (and we do). We’ve graciously accepted this amazing gift. We’ve OPENED it, and we’ve even read the manual. Now what? How do we put that learning into action?

There’s something about peace that is very important to understand: it passes understanding. In other words, your thoughts can get in the way of your peace if you let them. Don’t believe me? Let’s do an experiment. Try this for the next five days: every morning the minute you wake up, every evening, just before you sail off to the land of nod, and every single time you feel even the faintest flutter of anxiety, panic, anger, fear, stress, worry, sadness, loneliness or concern, repeat these words:

I am serene and at peace.

Say them at least ten times, out loud if you can but in your head is fine, too.

Easy, right?

There’s a catch, though (you knew this was coming) … allow yourself to BELIEVE it. This is just for five days, remember. What have you got to lose? But if you SAY “I am serene and at peace,” but you THINK “as if! I WISH I was serene and at peace but there’s way too much chaos for that EVER to be true!” well, you’ll be right. You won’t have any peace at all.

Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.

So, for just five days, CHOOSE to think you CAN.

Let me tell you how this is working out for me. I have a reputation for being highly strung. I’m a control freak, and I have continual little flares of anger and frustration every moment of every day, because nothing in my life seems to conform to my will. In “You Can Heal Your Body” by Louise Hay, she links acne and cysts to continual flares of anger, and playing that old, painful movie over and over in your head. Since I have had a lifelong battle with acne, I decided to give it a go. That was about ten days ago. My skin is almost completely clear, and everyone comments on it. In fact, last week someone told me I had “beautiful ivory skin”, and asked me what my secret was. An unexpected benefit has been that I tic and twitch MUCH less than before. Sometimes I think about that, and think I should be even MORE serene so that I can tic even less, and then I get tense about not being serene, so I tic even more, and so it goes. The main key to remember is that it is a process, and you need to trust the process.

Here’s another affirmation that is really working for me: “Be still, and KNOW that [He] is God.”

Just let that sink in for a bit. Just think about what God means. Good. Infinite. Love. All those things, and He’s on OUR side. How incredible is that. If you just gently, lovingly meditate on that, with no preconceived notions or judgements, for at least five minutes, you’ll be amazed at the serenity that floods your life.

Give it a go. I’m keen to hear your results.

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