Slow Life – looking at LOVE, with a slow lens

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Don’t we all wish as we reach our middle age that we had a little bit more information about this often misused word, love, when we first fell in love and experienced heartbreak. I know that my journey to find love was long and sometimes unbearable. It took tremendous introspection and revisiting painful and confusing childhood experiences to truly grasp the meaning of love. To grasp just how little our parents and their parents understood about true love. It took forgiveness, not just other people, but forgiving myself for not looking deeper for answers and simply blaming others for not understanding what love means.

When I grasped that life will love you back as soon as you start loving it, everything changed for me. A world opened where I could be free to accept kindness and love from a man, after so many failed attempts. So many times of giving away too much too soon, just in the pursuit of receiving some form of acceptance and appreciation for who I was. But I was not a whole person, and every time I tried to heal by entering into a new relationship I just lost more of myself. It reached a point where I simply did not want to love anymore. Until I stared hard and deep into my own shortcomings, and admitted that all the work has to start with myself.

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Today I am a wife and a mother, two things I once thought I don’t deserve to be, but I thank myself for taking a chance on myself, and finally on love itself, shared with a husband, and now with my daughter. I can transfer what I have learned, lovingly, and with kindness and patience because it took me half of my life to understand.

I have read many books on these topics, but one book that sticks with me, and that I still pick up every now and again, paging to a chapter that I need reminding of, it is my little reference book on all the big dilemmas in life: The Road Less Travelled.

So today, on the day of Love, I want to share this with you from Scott M. Peck’s gem of a book:

The act of love – extending oneself – as I have said, requires a moving out against the inertia of laziness (work) or the resistance engendered by fear (courage). Let us turn now from the work of love to the courage of love. When we extend ourselves, our self enters new and unfamiliar territory, so to speak. Our self becomes a new and different self. We do things we are not accustomed to do. We change. The experience of change, of unaccustomed activity, of being on unfamiliar ground, or doing things differently is frightening. It always was and always will be. People handle their fear of change in different ways, but the fear is inescapable if they are in fact to change. Courage is not the absence of fear; it is the making of action in spite of fear, the moving out against the resistance engendered by fear into the unknown and int the future. On some level spiritual growth, and therefore love, always requires courage and involves risk.

Read it again, and then read it once more, because every sentence, every idea is so huge, so deep, it needs to find a little place in your heart where you can go back to as often as you need to, especially when you are challenged by your loved ones, and to remember and understand that when you love, you extend yourself, you break free from the fear to share your vulnerabilities and accept and understand theirs.

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I leave you with this:

We want someone that we can be at our weakest with, and not feel so. That our vulnerability isn’t taken advantage of, but taken care of.” – Dae D. Lee. How beautiful, but the question is, if this is what you want, is this also what you are willing to give?

May you slow down, and look at love as both a gift to receive and hand out.
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The M word

We became aware of the concept of mindfulness when our lives started moving too fast for us to make sense of it. One moment you are dating and living in a little apartment, the next you have a home larger than you ever imagined, a child in pre-school with activities every afternoon, keeping up with the Van der Merwe’s and just charging through life. It’s when someone else stands in your garden and admires the beautiful green haven, you realise, I don’t even notice it anymore, I don’t appreciate this enough. Then all the other questions follow, the ones bringing you to a stand-still and forcing you to ask what are we doing?

DSC_9299Fynbos crowns by The Flower Scene. Pretty dotty dress by The Curators 

 

It took us two years to plan our exodus, our liberation and freedom from all of this stuff, the racing about, towards more and more stuff.

In the process, I started reading up on mindfulness, because I heard it somewhere or stumbled upon it on social media, but it struck a chord. This is what it basically is:

 Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.” Mindful.org

 

That in itself is so much to grasp. It translates to not being too caught up in the noise, in the hustle, but to understand that you are here, in THIS moment, in mind and body.

Reach Out explains it as:

“Mindfulness is about training yourself to pay attention in a specific way.

When a person is mindful, they:

  • Focus on the present moment
  • Try not to think about anything that went on in the past or that might be coming up in future
  • Purposefully concentrate on what’s happening around them
  • Try not to be judgemental about anything they notice, or label things as ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

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Feather & Lace Crowns @opgedollie

To me, this is core, non-judgemental. What does it mean? Try to imagine not judging a person, or an experience or a product.  As James Davis puts is:

Mindfulness is really the beginning, the first steps of soul consciousness. In order to see ourselves and others in a non-judgmental way, we must see ourselves (body, mind, emotion, world) from ABOVE. So mindfulness is taking control by going off-automatic-pilot, and it is the soul that does this.

Are you convinced yet? Me neither, it is still very abstract, an idea. How do we implement this? How do we live this? To clarify it for me I had to go back to an old time favourite source, which helped me all through my ‘wonder’ years (I wonder why this, I wonder how this) – How to for Dummies!

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According to dummies you should try and understand the three aspects of Mindfulness:

Mindfulness has three different aspects that operate together seamlessly to bring about a state of mindful awareness. Print out and pin up this list to remind yourself of what these are.

  • Intention – Your intention is what you hope to get from practising mindfulness. You may want stress reduction, greater emotional balance or to discover your true nature. The strength of your intention helps to motivate you to practise mindfulness on a daily basis and shapes the quality of your mindful awareness.
  • Attention – Mindfulness is about paying attention to your inner or outer experience. Your mindful attention is mainly developed through various different types of meditation – either formal, traditional or informal – when talking, cleaning or driving, for example.
  • Attitude – Mindfulness involves paying attention to certain attitudes, such as curiosity, acceptance and kindness.

Okay, so now I understand the concept, but how do I utilise this knowledge. Because when you are dealing with a real issue, can you go back and think about the three aspects and magically feel better?

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Mishka’s 1930’s dress by Romantiques

Dummies helped me again! With the RAIN formula:

R – Recognise the emotion you’re feeling. Name the emotion in your mind if you can.

A – Accept the experience you’re having. Yes, you probably don’t like the feeling, but the reality is the emotion is here at the moment.

I – Investigate. Become curious about your experience. Where do you feel the emotion in your body? What kind of thoughts are going through your mind?

N – Non-identificationSee the emotion as a passing event rather than who you actually are, just as different images are reflected in a mirror but are not the mirror. Different emotions arise and pass in you, but are not you, yourself. The most powerful step is non-identification. Have the attitude ‘anger is arising and will soon pass away’ or ‘sadness is coming up in me, and at some point will dissolve’.

Sometimes you just need to do one step, whereas at other times you may want to work through the whole formula. Practise using the formula whenever you can, so when things become challenging for you, you’ll find it easier to use.

 

We are still a long way from perfecting this practice, but we do it daily, at one moment or another, just reminding ourselves to recognise the beauty of our surroundings while rushing to be on time for a school activity, or accept that we have a challenge living through a drought but understand that our attitude will determine our outlook and possibility to find solutions for it.

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Gillian Coetzee

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A very special mention -Justine from The Curators picked out Mishka’s beautiful dress with pink ribbon,  the dotty dress and the skirt and shirt for our photoshoot

 

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One of my first suppliers was Bear Bear & Me. Comfortable and pretty shoes are irresistible! A beautiful vintage inspired footwear collection created by award-winning fashion designer Carmen Rochelle. Our footwear collections are classic, stylish and sometimes quirky and are inspired by shoes worn throughout the decades. Our brand aims to focus on hand-made artisanal footwear aesthetics with each […]