Live, learn, grow is my motto. It always has been. But I had some other motto's I held on to dearly as well, namely don't forget, don't forgive, use it instead. Fuel for change and growth, to be better than the hurt. I still believe in using energy, no matter the source, for better. But I see in the details, something else. Not only the actions and the intentions but also the reasons count. How deep does the well go?

I used to say 'it's OK, you don't have to say sorry as long as you do better next time' and 'you don't have to understand me, just let me be my worth'. These sentences will never slip forth from my lips again nor longer live in my soul. How can you do better if you do not acknowledge the reason for doing so? It will not last past the first hurdle. Leaving someone in their worth is not possible without understanding it, is it? You can't treasure and protect without appreciation. But you can forgive and forget, which to me means forwards.

To be clear, I have not found nirvana. I can swear right up there with the best of them, have bouts of road rage and nearr-parlyzing panic attacks. Why then? Because I need to. It's not about the other person. It's about you, your person. Someone I barely knew was so undecidedly cruel to me recently. I'm talking mean-spirited and person crushing spite. Apparently and sadly in life this happens.The difference is me. While I can't wipe the slate clean (memory like an elephant) and I can't say that for a good, maybe even long, moment I wasn't livid, I can still choose how I respond (after the red leaves my eyes and my tongue returns to cheek). Even apologise for my part..though that was mostly wasting time, my time. Like I said, haven't reached nirvana yet. 

But the poignant reminder, the one that matters, was when my precious little girl broke now in the ugly cry for the most trivial of reprimands (no, you can't smack you backpack repeatedly on the ground because you cant take all your brothers raisins without asking), a small injustice done to her at bath time by the 'feisty one' known as said little brother or a heartbreak when her bestie wanted to have a playdate with another friend. I used to sigh deeply inwardly for the drama of these events because I didn't understand nor really try. I understand now that these are not little things to her, but moments of extreme importance. Things that break her little heart and it is my job is to protect and if need be heal her little heart. So I drop the bags, the keys, the laundry and get down on my knees to hold her little sobbing body and say I'm sorry. The lesson behind the reprimand can wait, as well as the load of laundry. If I can teach her only a handful of lessons, let it be compassion and love. These are my lessons:

20.000 Leagues People make mistakes, hurt you, maybe even disregard you. You do to, but don't let them think for a second, not even have a tiny little seed of doubt that they are loved. Say it, show it, live it. If you do it right, chances are they will give it back. The hug I got from my little girl is priceless.

Show & tell The time you take is often an investment with longterm and immediate returns. I love planning and making surprises for my kids, for anyone who has a spot. But I love the littlest things just as much and more often than not so do they. I know a smile and a giggle waits for me if I read 'Kikker en Eend' for what feels like the billionth time with voices and tickle fingers. Or the smiles that awaits when we make the cupcakes with pirate decorations. Small things, that cost me next to nothing in money, are the ones that go in the vault.

Present! This one I have always had but called it 'quality time'. Being here is not the same as being here. Spend the time intentionally. Those minutes reading with my son and those talking with my daughter are purely theirs, not even shared with the other. When we eat, the TV goes off as does the phone. I also try and drop the baggage in my mind at the door. We are together. Being together means being present and available.

Skindeep The key is not to look but to see. I remember so clearly my pleas to be seen. I remember clearly the moment I saw feelings again. You can look and not see. See straight through someone or even only see what you project. Look for the person. The character, the heart, the soul. Respond to that as much if not more than the shell. Trust me, I know that's hard when the shell is one tough nut to crack or one 'only a mother could love' but do it anyway, most (not all) turn out not to be bad nuts. They say the things that are most beautiful or the ones most deeply hidden. Find it, bring it to the light. Eyes wide open.

As the world turns.. I used to say this sarcastically when someone was being self-involved. The world doesn't revolve around any single individual, though it is so easy and nice when it does. I deeply want to be understood and valued but in it's own way that is as deeply selfish as other forms. I can push my right right up someones nose but for who am I doing it, who benefits? Take a moment to see, understand and respond to someone else. Their needs, the place they're at, their value. This is a hard one, granite tough for me because I always felt I was still waiting for my turn. But maybe, I need to keep giving, whether or not I get some back or not. More often than not you maybe just have to look a little closer to see it.

Two words I'm sorry and forgive me. Back where we started with this one. Most people are trying their damnedest and life can be demanding. Everyone, me included, seems to spend an awful lot of time on social media showing how wonderful it all is. It is, but for every baby smile there is a good chance of spit-up and diaper explosions and no matter how much you love that sucker you don't the throw up (in your mouth after being thrown lovingly into the air). So cut them and yourself some slack. When I'm curt with the kids because I'm tired, upset or hurting, I apologise and I mean it. Mean it because saying it through gritted teeth is not enough, not by a longshot. Show it with an intensity and force that can not be mistaken. There are no buts in sorry. Chances are they will forgive you...but you still have to try harder the next time. The next time starts that moment.

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