If you rustle up a pan of eggs and one or two go a little wonky, who gets the bad eggs? Who gets the perfect ones?
When you have a choice to give or keep the best of things where does your heart go? Does your head agree? Do you find conflict there?
Don’t all eggs taste the same ?
We recently visited a favourite charity shop .
Ten years ago the man who ran it helped us rebuild our home.
From bin bags of ridiculously bargain priced build- a- bear treasure , for a wide eyed little girl, to cosy patchwork blankets, and spotty teacups , wellies and mittens, story books, props to draw from in art classes ,warm woolly jumpers , and glittery vintage handbags at a fraction of what they should cost.
Steven saw us coming and saved us lovely things. He quartered the till receipt. And smiled his lovely big smile as he loaded our bags into the car . He made us feel like we were special and that money changing hands was less important than us having these new shiny belongings.
And as we absorbed and marvelled at this incredible warmth, we realised that it not only radiated to us, but to every one of the customers and strangers entering the shop. Like an octopus with supersonic peripheral vision, he juggled new and old faces, their questions, needs, and deliveries with the same joy and kindness. Steven was just kind.
When we moved house, most of the belongings we no longer needed were returned as donations to the shop, and it occurred to me that plenty of loyal customers must circulate their things, feeling as we did that it a gave a little of the positivity so freely given by Steven himself.
Then sadly, a couple of years ago, after being out of the area for a few years, I heard that Steven had passed away. This legend I’d always imagined saying hello to another day, popping in next time we visited the town, enjoying another wonderful rummage in his Aladdin’s cave, this lovely person was just gone.
Tragically Steven’s smile and energy masked his underlying health conditions and a weakened heart . Hearing this news felt like there was a gaping gap in the universe where his enormous kindness and thoughtfulness helped so many people .
Why am I telling you this now?
Yesterday we went into the shop for the first time in about five years. It was quiet and neat and tidy. A lovely lady asked if we wanted the light on in the changing room, and was attentive and helpful
At the desk with our purchases , she enthused about how nice they’d look. I took the opportunity to say how sorry I was to hear about Steven, their colleague. The lady nodded and breathed deeply. This smiling welcoming woman was Steven’s mum. We talked and I told her how proud she should be of all the joy he brought, the lives he impacted on and I probably only knew a fraction of his legacy. She gave me a hug, both of us barely holding back the tears. But, rather than sadness, it was joy she felt.
She told me that conversations like this one, (because I was not alone in my impromptu affection) A lot of customers loved her son; and knowing she was still living how he lived was her tribute to him, and how she could get up each day and feel him with her. She was a wonderful lady, of course she was, she had to have been. And we were sad to leave that day.
In life we are thrown the challenge of every possible personality type to try to understand, appease, blend with, help, teach, parent, care for, love, respect or fear. People don’t come with rule books and often wisdom; so innate in the young is lost somewhere in the middle of our complex lives. Within homes, friendships, work situations, we can battle on, trying to impress those who have chosen to look the other way. People who for their own reasons try to dull our light.
Sadly, we can often find pivotal relationships some of the hardest. The big ones are the make or break of our foundations, which we either model our behaviour on, or endeavour not to mimic. These relationships should be the glue in our lives. The mortar to our bricks. There is often a sense of power in the mix somewhere. It is no surprise then, how hard it is to walk away.
Positive energy is infectious.
Unfortunately so is the opposite
Once the floodgate opens to negative flow, you don’t want to stand underneath.
Just as good stuff grows, so does the bad. Affecting us physically and mentally..
My studio ceiling recently spring a huge leak in the storm. KP has spent days scrubbing away at the black ceiling. Horrible stinking mould spread in blossoming storm clouds and it stank. The damp air crept into bags of art materials and fabrics. Without his intervention and no nonsense attitude with bleach and gloves, the mould would have killed everything in there.
Positive and negative energy from human beings is not dissimilar. Would you rather stand down wind to a bucket of mould spores or a packet of wild flower seed?
So let’s reflect upon the often very difficult decision to redirect our good energy. The shedding of harmful characters in our lives, even those we might be related to , who perpetually feel the need to squash, scar , crush, and undermine us, wrapping their beliefs up in love. Those who mask bad behaviour as love.
A healthy respect for another’s existence and ways is a wonderful thing. Providing space to flourish and develop as a human being is how we begin , how we then teach, write, get out and do things and establish another generation of grounded humans. As an adult, we get to re create some well walked paths, especially if they weren’t as solid as they could have been. Now, if a battle ensues when you look nice or have a new idea, or create a piece of work or express an opinion: causing doubt in your own beliefs and identity, are you sure its you that needs tweaking?
Love does not judge. We can spend our lives trying to attract the attention of a ”loved one” or an audience still crammed into plastic school chairs. Waiting for the moment when all our frantic waving and performing, on the literal and virtual stages of our lives , is met with loud clapping sounds and roses. Waiting for the loudest clap of all from the ones whose backs are turning to leave. We can wave until were not waving anymore, we are drowning.
Love isn’t rationed by your worth. Appreciation of you is reflected by the company you keep, not the stick you bet yourself with. You were put here to have choices. And to believe in them.
Imagine not lugging around that feeling of not knowing if you’re good enough. (because somewhere deep down, you really know you are). Of trusting yourself and your choice of company because you realise most people are kind. And some are wonderful.
We often don’t notice the kindest souls, the shining lights, the inspiration right under our noses because our minds are spiralling off on tangents about a tiny fraction of the company we keep ( possibly with the biggest ability to steal our thunder and joy. ) At the root of many of these waspish hurtful relationships is a common thread. We want to please these people the most. We are in that nativity inside a cardboard costume, jelly-like, reciting the line we’ve practiced 100 times to all the neighbours and all our patient pets. And euphorically searching for a pair of eyes in the audience squeezed onto those tiny chairs , when we remember our words and want to validate our moment of glory.
Why don’t we notice the discrepancies? Because important relationships are meant to provide a mirror for all that you are. They might not agree with you, or approve or even like what you do. But they should respect your life and what you add to theirs. If an adult hasn’t been taught these fundamental skills, it can sometimes be like being parented by another child. You may find that a person meant to be in your corner is unfathomably jealous or angry when you get shiny and show your colours. Contrary to how it feels, this isn’t to keep you safe or crush your spirit intentionally. Although this might happen anyway. Fear drives others to halt our flow of joy.
They see you, but they choose not to let you know that. And all a child wants (needs) is to be seen. Recognised as part of something difficult to describe, safe, loved. Without judgement, a parent (or care giver) sees and nurtures that light. The opposite of this is a sort of resentment and pushing away. A jealousy maybe, or inability to connect. A child cannot solve this riddle, and internalises this struggle as a personal failure.
Sadly, without a willingness to understand ourselves or others, the status quo remains, worsens, and becomes toxic. If a solution can be found through mutual effort, it is obviously of benefit to everyone. But, changing a conditioned behaviour, or a belief is sometimes incredibly difficult. Ways of perceiving can go back generations, and if you asked why exactly you aren’t allowed to wear those clothes, be gay, go to church, dance on a table, climb a mountain, start a circus, write a novel; the answer would be vague. Because the belief isn’t theirs. It has just always been there. Like the smell of boiled cabbage.
Fixing anyone causing sadness in your life isn’t your responsibility. If it keeps harming you, and you feel you have ticked all the strategies, choose you. Years can go by trying and failing, waving more frantically . That old adage of there’s no pleasing some people is very true. Sometimes, you’ve done all you can.
Sometimes doing more is perpetuating a vicious cycle . And to do the turning away yourself starts to heal, not only you, but them too. Our own responsibility lies in breaking the negative pattern of pain and not creating more.
The trick to happiness is gratitude. Closing a door is very scary to start with. But on the other side is so much more. Without unhappiness getting in the way, there is space to savour people, taste, light, beauty, ideas, and new shoes. Carry this with you. Be kind first to yourself in a way that you haven’t been given. An exchange can be given to a stranger in a word or a glance or a gesture. Or you may find it in a lifetime of acceptance and listening with one lovely soul. Trust your instincts to know who has your best interests. Surround yourself with good people.
When you know your own kitchen you make the best eggs.
And when life enriches our world with positive people, we too become richer. A way of thinking that builds us, not breaks us. It gives us strength. If we are positive even when we are scared, amazingly it still works, vulnerability creates action and becomes catching, other doors open, your tribe will come along.
Ten minutes in the company of someone like Steven, was a true blessing. His kindness, and selflessness was unique. Making someone’s day with your own particular magic wand is never wasted. There are amazing people out there, who can change your life. I know Leah and I won’t be alone in feeling so glad to have known and been inspired by this lovely man.
Get back on stage, no matter who is watching. Blast your words from the heart, share your ideas, share your creations, share your skills. Trust someone. And see what happens. Look up. It might be your audience have been there all along .
The thing is with eggs, that like life, we all mess up getting the perfect centre. Look a little closer and there’s enough to go round. Mix it up. Add in something extra. Better to scramble with everything you love thrown in. Share and enjoy xx
All our love, Liz at the beach hut