You would be forgiven for thinking that I’ve a) gone AWOL b) given up on The List c) stopped writing or d) eloped with a sexy Frenchman following my recent dream-come-true trip to Paris. The reality is that none of the above are applicable, although option d) would have been a nice one to report back on. Okay, who am I kidding…I wouldn’t be reporting back on the sexy Frenchman, I’d be too busy having fun 🙂 🙂
While I know I’ve been very quiet on my blog, I have indeed still been enthusiastically adventuring through The List. But given that it’s now been a few months since my last post, I thought I could get back into the swing of things here by sharing a few snippets of the things I’ve been doing, and the progress I’m making through The List. Before I get to that, however, some quick admin. In a few weeks’ time, I’ll be forty-one, and the (dreaded?) year of turning forty will be behind me. So you would be justifiably confused that I’m still doing a “40beforeforty” List (and blog)! But while the title may no longer make complete sense – the concept behind it is still as relevant as ever for me. And so I would like to continue to blog about my journey in trying to live intentionally (even after forty :)), which includes continuing to do things on The List as well as things that are not on The List, but which are still part of my pursuit of living deliberately and properly being in each moment.
So onto The List…
About a year ago, I was at a friend’s house with a bunch of girlfriends and we were all chilling around the lunch table, chatting, connecting and just enjoying a lazy Saturday afternoon together in the winter sun. Sounds idyllic, right? It was – for much of the time – but the afternoon was marred for me when one of the girls made an insensitive (and, in my view, hurtful) comment about depression, mental health and, in particular, when people have to go to “the loony bin“. As you will know by now, I strongly advocate openness and understanding about mental health issues and I consider it part of my personal mission to try and lessen the unfortunate stigma that society attaches to mental health issues wherever I can. So on this day, when the comment was made, I spoke up, interjecting that I didn’t agree and that I found her comment “..was not fair“, only to be dismissed with “Oh, you know what I mean“. Yes, I did know what she had meant – in that particular context of the conversation she meant that someone who had been hospitalised for depression and related mental health issues wasn’t to be taken seriously in the professional world and people with high-flying careers justifiably didn’t have time for that. I was saddened. I was hurt. I was offended.
Over the weeks (which possibly stretched into months) that followed, I mulled over this conversation and what I should do about it. I felt that I was being hypocritical if I just let it go and pretend it never happened. But I also knew that if I brought it up again, I would probably just be labeled as being ‘oversensitive’ (which, to be clear, I have no problem with, provided that the right message ultimately gets across, and I didn’t think it would in these particular circumstances 😦 ). So what to do… because the conversation HAD happened, and it HAD affected how I was feeling about this particular friendship.
To make a long story short – I stumbled across an item on The List some time after that, which read simply ‘Forgive someone – even though you have not received an apology‘. And I knew immediately that item was intended for me at that particular time – that was what I was required to do – to forgive that friend, despite her not having apologised and not realised the extent of how her comments had hurt. And make no mistake I’m only human – it was hard for me to just forgive, particularly without any acknowledgment from the person on the other side. But I just knew I had to do it. And so, reluctantly at first, I did it. I made the decision that day – I forgave her, and I indeed moved on. And all is good in our friendship. (I carry the learning with me, however, that the battle to destigmatise mental illness, even amongst highly educated emotionally mature individuals, is still going to be an uphill battle, and one that I need to carry on fighting).
And while I know the particular situation I’ve told you about required forgiveness on my part (yes, even without an apology), and I was indeed able to forgive, let me not create any false impressions here that I can simply do that in any and every situation. I was hurt deeply towards the end of last year in a particular relationship, and I have not managed to forgive (and forget) that person and his particular actions yet. Too often I think back on conversations and memories from then that still hurt. A lot. So I’m by no means saying forgiving is easy – and my sharing my story of forgiveness in just one situation is not intended to trivialise what is a HUGE ask in many situations – it was just one particular set of circumstances where I was lucky enough to be able to forgive and move forward. I’m hoping forgiveness in other situations will come in due course, and I similarly hope that where I have wronged people (of which I’m sure there are many), I will similarly be able to hope to be forgiven.
Okay, let’s get to some lighter stuff that I’ve ticked off The List:
- ‘Eat ice cream straight out of the tub’ – did that yesterday!! Sorry Mands, hope you weren’t hoping for leftover ice cream in your freezer when you get home tomorrow… oops! (I’m spending a few days at Brett and Amanda’s home in the Cape, enjoying some time out and also looking after their beautiful dogs while Brett and Mands are in Joburg for a few days)
- ‘Pay for someone’s coffee at another table at a coffee shop as a surprise’ – a few weeks ago I was in Seattle at Grosvenor Crossing (remember I classified them as the best coffee in Bryanston in a previous post?) and overheard a guy at another table apologising to a business associate for his phone ringing during a meeting, but that it was because it was his birthday. So when his colleague left and he remained at his table carrying on with his work, I went and ordered him another coffee and delivered it to his table with happy birthday wishes. He was so surprised – it was awesome!
- ‘Buy a homeless person a bag of groceries’ – this will never be a once off for me as I often pay for the purchases of the person in front of me or behind me in the supermarket queue, at least once a week. And I seriously think I get more out of it than they ever do – it’s so rewarding to be able to bless someone unexpectedly, even in such a small way. It’s one of the things I love doing!
- ‘Have a close encounter with elephants’ – I was lucky enough to experience this with my folks in November last year. Close up with those gentle giants…wow! Something very special to experience as a family!
I have many more experiences that I’d like to write about and share with you, and hopefully I’ll be a bit more diligent about this going forward. But in the meantime – thank you so much for still being with me on this journey, it means a lot to me. I’d love to hear from you if you have any specific things you would like to see added to The List and, until then…. my story is not over, there is more to come.