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Reflections and Lessons from 2012

Not every opportunity that I am presented with is an opportunity that I need to take. There was a seemingly good career move that I chose to forgo because it did not speak to ‘who’ I am, what my plan is for the next few years and the true happiness that I derive from my work. It took 3 months for me to come to that realisation but the universe, by creating detours and roadblocks, led me to acknowledge that this was not the path that I needed to take. The path I have chosen is not necessarily the easier one but I know that one day I will look back and appreciate the lessons learnt.

Lesson learnt; opportunities will present themselves, not all of them are meant to be accepted. 

I will no longer give anything to anyone if I am giving grudgingly. I was reading one of those ‘agony aunt’ columns in a magazine and the reader had written in saying that she resented the fact that she had to provide for an irresponsible family member. The ‘agony aunt’ gave the reader advice, saying that there’s no point in giving if you resent the fact that you have to give in the first place. I’m presented with the same situation in various contexts, whether it’s giving financially or of my time, where I’m giving to someone and I feel that it’s not appreciated, that my generosity is being taken advantage of or that it’s an unfair expectation of me, which leads to me giving whatever it is that I giving with a lot of mumbling under my breath. After reading that column I resolved to no longer do that. What I am giving, I must give with a ‘smiling heart’ in order for it to be a true blessing to the person that I am giving it to. I have adopted this and I will stick to it unwaveringly.

Lesson learnt: give willingly or don’t give at all. 

Love is respect. If someone says they love you, whoever they might be, but they do not respect you, that person does not love you. If a person does not appreciate you, they will not respect you. They may be comfortable with you, they might enjoy what you give to them in the context of your relationship but that person does not love you in the true sense of the word ‘love’. I knew this but I only understood it fully when I got the respect that I know I deserve.

Lesson learnt; there is no love without respect.

I will not allow selfish people in my life any longer. I distinguish between two types of selfishness. There are people who are selfish in that that they do not consider others or the effect that their actions may have on others or how others feel. Then there are those people who are selfish in that they take away from other people. They may take away, actual tangible things or they may take away happiness, however it is that they do that. I have decided to allow neither in my life going forward. My eyes were opened to this a few weeks ago when I realised that someone had interfered with a relationship I had with an awesome lady that I consider to be a mother figure in my life, causing a breakdown in communication between me and her. I was disappointed in that person but I am so glad that I now know what they are capable of.

Lesson learnt: selfish behaviour cannot be excused and I will never allow selfishness into my life again. No more understanding and accepting hurtful behaviour. It stops. 

I lived with my maternal grandmother, uGogo uMaSangweni, for the majority of the time that I lived under ‘parental supervision’ before I went to university. MaSangweni passed away in 2009 and I’ve missed her terribly, My heart has a huge hole that no one in this world can ever fill. For some reason, call it a delayed reaction, I wept this year, more than I have ever wept, for my precious Gogo.

Lesson learnt: there is no time limit on allowing yourself to feel pain from losing your loved ones.

My uncles hardly ever called me by name when I was growing up, they would call me ‘shani shani kaMalume’. For some reason, after the longest time of using my proper first name, my youngest uncle (who is just over 10 years older than me) sent me an SMS saying ‘kunjani shani shani?’. Memories of my childhood came back and I realised then that to them I will always be ‘shani shani’ because it’s not just what they call me, it’s them saying ‘you will always be our little girl’ and that feels good.

Lesson learnt: grown women are allowed to be little girls too. 

Cooking and baking make me incredibly happy. I spend a fair amount of time in the kitchen, especially considering that I don’t have a family to feed every night, but it’s time well spent. But I realised in the past year that for a while, because of work and other commitments, the time I spent in the kitchen was time spent doing what I know. I wasn’t experimenting with my cooking and I was doing it more to feed myself (and whoever else happened to be around) and less for the sheer fun of it.
So, in the second half of 2012, I decided to spend more time really indulging myself in the kitchen, by trying out a new recipe, or two, every week. That makes me an indescribable kind of happy. I hope I can keep it up in 2013. In fact, I WILL keep it up in 2013 and beyond.

Lesson learnt: indulge in what makes you happy. My motto is, as long as it doesn’t hurt you or anybody else, if it makes you happy, do it.


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