If this was a chapter in a novel, would you buy it and read it?

What a day! One minute we were in each other’s arms, the next I was saying goodbye and driving off in tears.  Was it a goodbye? I don’t know, but I hope to G-d it wasn’t.

As I drove through the heavy rain, in traffic, surrounded by cars, and my face wetter than the windscreen, I reflected on just how much you have brought to my life in the blink of an eye. You appeared from nowhere, a blast from the past, a reconnection for professional purposes only.  Instead, you touched my soul in a special way. I wasn’t expecting that.  G-d knows I needed it and now it’s gone.  As quickly as it appeared, it has vanished.  No notice, no warning . . . gone!!  And the ache! Oh how it aches!

My heart bleeds now from the thought that I may never see your handsome smiling face again, may not touch your soft hands and may no longer be able to look into your deep green eyes.  Why?  Where are you going?  What’s the rush?

What has happened? How did you manage to get under my skin and turn my world upside down in such an unintentional way? You made me feel alive on all levels.  I was alive.  Sick from altitude sickness I was cruising so high and fast.

You lit a fire deep within.  Was it there in the past?  It has been so long I can barely recollect the last time I felt it.  I vaguely remember its warmth.  Yes, I recall how good it felt and I was just re-acquainting myself with that warmth.   It drove me out from where I was hiding.  The flame was enticing.  I was a moth to a naked flame. I couldn’t resist.  My defences were down and with a brave but willing face I embraced its warmth.  It wasn’t wrong.  But when it feels so good, when you melt in the wake of its flicker, you cannot resist the temptation it brings or the ecstasy it produces.

What seemed like a lifetime, ended with a zap.  And now… now I am speechless, dumbfounded and shocked with what I now see.  A dark space where the flame once danced.  A space that is now cold and bleak.  And I am alone, desperate and grief stricken.  No one gets this far.  No one reaches my person to such depths.  I have never let anyone get this far.  I have never allowed myself get this far. I’m an emotional wreck and I’m not sure how to even begin to deal with how I feel right now, considering my past.  I have been brave.  I have fought.  I have suffered.  I have been left beaten and wounded and I have overcome the turmoil of my past.  But now this seems different.  How can I endure this torment and why me?  I have been through enough! “Enough!” I cry.  There is no response, albeit a scary echo that confirms the confines of my cold prison.  I am lost!

You are an amazing human being, one of a kind, one with a purpose.  You surpass me with energy and drive.  You inspire all those around you to greatness.  You have changed my core in only 2 months’ and have taught me a number of important lessons, which I will carry with me regardless of whether there will be an ‘us’ in the future.  I search for “us”.   I yearn for “us” and the hurt only rips deeper to my core!   The ache!

I am feeling nauseated and sick. My knees hurt and feel cold as I’m leaning forward on the floor of my bathroom, with my face looking like its endured ten rounds with a street fighter. Damn, he packs a punch!  You pack a punch. Damn you!

I’m trembling at the thought of having lost you forever.  I want to see you now! I want to kiss you and to stroke your face. I want to bury my face in your shoulder and be hugged by you.  I did not realise up until today how much you actually mean to me.  What is this feeling of ill from within? My insides churn at the thought of my sudden loss.  I am sick.

I need you to be able to breathe.  Breathe with me!  I can’t breathe!  This cannot be the end…

My thoughts are racing as I wretch again.  “Why are you shutting me out of your life? I am your rock, your backbone and your support.  I believe in you like I have never believed in anyone and this belief is not about to change.  So why? Just because you are scared of how you feel and where this is going? Yes, I come with baggage, but my baggage is just that – mine. I’m not sharing it.  I am simply offering to give you 200%, which believe me will make up for anything else.  I know you are trying to protect me from being hurt and I know you have no idea where you are at, what you want and where you are going. I get that as I have been there myself!  You need me and I need you.  Please let me be there.  I am not asking for anything in return, just to know that you need me and want me in your life on some level.  I can do and take care of everything else.   You have become my oxygen and right now you have cut my air supply.”

“What is that screaming?”  And then I realise…it is me!  Damn you!

Call me…maybe?  Remember this song? Please call me.  I promised not to contact you and I will keep my promise, unless you contact me first.  Hmm…I do not have any more in me to be sick again.

Oh no.  I forgot. How could I? I may not get a chance to speak to you again and tell you just how thankful I am that our paths have crossed.  If this is the last of our encounters, I would want you to know that I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all that you have done and for being in my life, even if for a brief moment.  I have learnt so much but I wanted to learn so much more.  I was just re-discovering my person and I was finding new things that made me tingle and you had no idea of your impact.  And now . . . with the flick of a switch it is gone!

I will never forget your description of me: “Funny, with a hint of complexity, together with a mixture and blend of good warmth, style and character to create the perfect dose of personality”. No one has got me the way you got me.  You understood exactly what I am about. You brought out the best in me, taught me how to smile and laugh again and to enjoy today without dwelling on yesterday or tomorrow.  You made me feel free for the first time.  I could tell you anything and not be ashamed or want to hold back the information.  You swept me off my feet with your wind of energy and showed me how to move forward.  “You had me at ‘hello’ and this goodbye sees me totally lost now.

I miss you Jake! Please call me again. I’m lying in pieces on the cold bathroom floor waiting… How I ache!

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Dealing with tough times

Life is by no means an easy road. Curve balls are thrown at us left, right and center when we least expect them. However, this is the way our personalities and our outlook on life is shaped throughout the years.  How you deal with each curve ball directly impacts on how you interact with the outside world, your friends and family and others who surround you. It determines your future life path and those who want to ‘travel’ with you.

Marriage breakdowns, illnesses and other unfortunate events have the tendency to either ‘make you or break you’.  It is almost impossible to see the light at the end of the tunnel when you are in one of those situations.  You go through a gambit of emotions, including anger, frustration, sadness and defeat.  You do not see how your life can ever get better and nothing makes sense anymore.

What we often overlook is that those tough times are a perfect opportunity for personal reflection and growth, which we all need to evolve. We try to teach our kids to grow up to be good and kind people, but we often fail to practice what we preach. We let our emotions get the better of us, which negatively affects us personally and all those close to us.

When I was little, my grandmother taught me a very good life lesson.  She explained to me that if you take one little stick, you can break it very easily. However, if you take many sticks, tie them together and then try to break them, you will not succeed. The lesson learnt is to surround yourself with people who love and care for you and who are prepared to listen to you, stick up for you and help you. Together with you, they make up that bunch of sticks that cannot be broken.  When you try to fight your battles alone, you have failed before you even started.

Always remember that although winning a war consists of winning many battles, it is not about winning all of the battles, just the ones that matter.  You can lose some and still win the war.

Thus, take each day at a time. Rejoice in all the good that you do have today, regardless of how tough things are.  Your kids, your partner (in most cases), your family and your true friends (you will quickly work out who they are) are your pillars of strength.  Cherish them and enjoy their company. It is all about appreciating what good you do have in your life despite all the negatives.

Lastly, remember to always remain humane and respectful to others, even those causing you grief. As for the anger and frustration – join a boxing class, go for a run, a walk, or a swim or do some other form of exercise. Turn your negative energy into positive and reward yourself with a healthier body in the process.

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Among people in my circles, this year has been filled with weddings, engagements and people finally meeting their ‘soul mate’, even when they have been married in the past. However, every relationship consists of two people working on it, contributing their share, whatever it may consist of, and wanting to continue having that special someone by their side. The romantic part of the relationship put aside, every relationship requires effort from both partners.

With age, experience, successful or failed relationships and marriages, other people stories and general observations, we evolve.  We learn life lessons and come to realise what we need from our significant other. We learn where we went wrong and what we should have done differently in the past. We also learn that as people mature and enter different life cycles, each person and their needs may change with time.  If both partners cannot embrace, accept or deal with the changed goal post, that is when such relationship is more likely to fail.

Regardless of the above, the following points (in no particular order) seem to be the key in a good relationship and in trying to ensure that a relationship lasts the distance:

1. Communication.

Learn to speak your mind. Males and females are different when it comes to communication. Most females give hints, looks, sighs and feel that a guy “should know” what is on their mind and what is wrong at a particular moment. In reality – no, they should not and they do not.  If you have not expressed your feelings about an issue clearly, in most cases guys will have no idea there is an issue or that something is wrong. I am the first to admit that I have been guilty of doing this, but being aware of it now, I try to speak my mind and voice any issues as they arise.

2. Respect.

If you do not show respect to your partner both in private and in public, apart from probably not being with the right person, you are making friends and others around you uncomfortable.  There is nothing worse than seeing one partner belittle or disrespect the other in public.

3. Actions speak louder than words.

Tell your partner you love them often. Do small things that you know would make them understand how much they mean to you. Be there for your partner in their time of need.

4.  Ego breaks relationships.

A lot of relationships break up because of ego. You are not above other people and, unless you are a legitimate member of the Royal family, you are not royalty. No one, whether you are a male or a female should put themselves on a pedestal, where you come across as a more superior being than your partner.  No one owes you anything or has to do anything for you.  Partners do things for each other because they want to make the other partner happy.  This brings about the next point.

5. Expectations are evil.

Do not have expectations or at least ensure your expectations of your partner are realistic. Yes, if at the beginning of living together you both set and divide the household ‘chores’, then each of you should be doing what has been agreed to.  In all cases – come back to number 1 on this list and communicate if there are issues or things are not working out.  I  personally have adopted a policy over the years that if something bothers me that has not been done, then it becomes my problem. If I cannot deal with something not being done, then I just do it. This in my mind shows your partner the higher level of care when you do something extra that is ‘not your job to do’ and, in most cases, they will repay it trifold. The truth is that the right partner will appreciate you more for it and the wrong one will take advantage of it. You will be able to quickly ascertain which category your partner falls into. Either way, without having a fight over each unemptied rubbish bin or unwashed dishes, you are saving yourself a lot of grief, as these are unimportant things in life, which  are often given too much time and required attention.

6. Taking the other for granted.

Never take your partner for granted. Make sure you let your partner know they are appreciated. Thank them for what they do, thank them for what they may do, thank them for just being them.  Your partner should be the most wonderful person in the whole world for you.  If this is not the case or not how you feel about them, you may not be with the right person or at the very least there are issues in your relationship that should not be left unattended.

7. Honesty.

Honesty is always the best policy. Trust takes years to build and a few seconds to lose. Being honest is not just the best approach for trust, but it will also ensure that you are not eaten alive by some secret(s) that you are hiding from your partner which may resurface in the future and threaten your happiness.

8. Intimacy.

Ensure that there is intimacy (and lots of it) in your relationship. This does not mean being promiscuous in public. It means creating intimacy at home. I am sure lots of couples with kids would jump at me at this point and scream that they do not get any time to themselves.  The truth is when there is a will, there is always a way.

9. Do not expect your partner to change.

If you are entering a relationship with an expectation that your partner will change over time, your relationship is doomed. People can change and do change but only as a result of their own desire to change.



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Mind over matter or the power within

In the past few years I have faced many cross roads and stumbling blocks, including a bad health scare two years ago. They say “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. As true as that statement is, my approach has always been “mind over matter”.  This proverb has proven true in every aspect of my life. Even when things seem hopeless, you can always use your mind to create a different reality and possibly a different future outcome.

Your mind is your most powerful tool, as it controls your body and how it functions.  There are hundreds of examples of people surviving deadly diseases or recovering from accidents when doctors have lost all hope.  Willpower and perseverance can overcome many life limitations. You can learn to walk again after a horrendous accident and you can train yourself to be immune to pain.  The power is always within.  Even age is not a limitation. As Mark Twain put it, with a little bit of humour: “Age is a case of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”

Remember that although you cannot control the outside influences and some life events that happen, you can always control your attitude. Next time you are facing a major life dilemma, take time to sit down and reflect.  Positive thinking and determination have proven to do wonders for many, myself included.  You may also need to rethink your immediate support and friendship circle and eliminate the people who bring you down and cast a shadow over your otherwise bright spirit.

According to Henry Ford, “If you think you can do a thing, or think you can’t do a thing, you are right.”


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What is happiness?

We all seek one thing in life and that is happiness. Defining it, however, proves a rather difficult task as each person’s approach and understanding of what it means is different.

Wikipedia defines happiness as a mental or emotional state of well-being characterized by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.  Although the general definition of happiness would be the same for everyone, the ability to create the required positive or pleasant emotions would stem from different sources for each and every person.  For some, feeling loved by another creates the feeling of euphoria, for others being successful in business achieves the same result.

Like with any comparisons, you can only achieve the desired results if you are comparing apples with apples. Therefore, happiness should be measured as the state of mind when you enjoy your life circumstances and your daily surroundings and you go about your every day with a smile.

Unfortunately, human nature often makes us wish for more than we already have. We see that someone has a bigger house, a nicer wedding ring, a more attentive partner or better behaved kids and our immediate reaction is, in most cases, “why can’t I have that too!”. The main flaw in that thought process is that the person with a bigger house may not have anything else going for them, or they may have poor health or be very unhappy in their relationship. Also, a person who appears to have a more attentive partner may only get such attention in public or their partner may be unfaithful.  You never know what someone is going through or has sacrificed to have the one thing that you are so jealous of.

Therefore, it may be best to work out what are the few most important things for you to have in life and try to achieve having those things. Anything else is a bonus.

Personally, if my family is healthy, my kids are happy and I am in a loving relationship, that is all that matters. Winning Tatts Lotto would be nice, but my life is euphoric without it. Money come and go but money cannot buy happiness, or at least not in my case.

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Can you be selfish in a relationship?

I have recently come across a very interesting blog by Seth Adam Smith titled “Marriage isn’t for you” which raised a highly debated point.  Seth stated that “you don’t marry to make yourself happy, you marry to make someone else happy”.

After thinking about it for a while and debating it with some of my friends, I have decided that I am in total agreement with Seth, as this is how I would treat any serious relationship with a person I love.  The concept of love goes against the natural human desire of seeing what is in it for you, as it is a concept of giving (of time, affection, consideration and appreciation) to another human being.

The theory goes further to suggest that loving someone for them (rather than just caring for your own needs) achieves 2 things: it makes your partner happy, as you are doing all you can to please them, and it makes them want to reciprocate, which would in turn make you happy. The natural extension of that thinking is that each partner in a loving relationship should want to make the other partner happy and should want to do all that is in their power to achieve it.

One of the arguments against this particular theory, which I have come across, is that “if you are unhappy in a relationship, you shouldn’t be in it and you should go and look somewhere else”.  The whole principle of this statement seems flawed, as if your partner is only looking out for their own interests, then how could they possibly make you happy or expect that you would be able to be happy in a relationship with them? In the words of Oscar Wilde: “selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.”  Whereas, the concept of love has been described as: “you can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.”

Good relationships are all about achieving that golden mix of giving and receiving between the partners. If you are in a relationship and you have no desire to do anything for your partner, only wanting to do what suits you, and somehow expecting that your partner should be happy with this scenario, you may be kidding yourself to think that your relationship will last. By being selfish, you are not in any way catering for your partner’s needs (as the only needs in your consideration are your own) and thus you doom your relationship for failure sooner or later.

After careful consideration, I have concluded (for myself) that adopting a selfish attitude is mutually exclusive with the concept of love and being able to sustain a long-lasting relationship with another person.  Your partner can only be happy in a relationship with you if you actually take positive steps in trying to make them happy, especially if they uphold their end of the bargain. 




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The power of positive thinking

The power of positive thinking has been described as the way in which many people are able to get through their day and face the tribes and tribulations of their life paths. Being positive has been described as a synonym of being an optimist.  Optimism, in turn, comes from the Latin word optimus, meaning “best,” as an optimistic person is always looking for the best in any situation and expecting good things to happen.

Whether you are an optimist by nature or not, and whether you see your glass as half full or half empty, the law of attraction dictates that if you  make positive thinking your habitual way of seeing life, many great things will come your way.  On the flip side of the coin, negative thoughts attracts negative energy.  

Some of the benefits of positive thinking that have come out of numerous researches conducted by scientists include being able to make a great first impression, reducing stress and therefore improving health.  Like the name of this blog, turn your problems into projects, look at them as an opportunity to grow and eventually things will work themselves out.

The phrase “you reap what you sow” seems very fitting to this topic, as complaining and mourning about your destiny, without appreciating the things that you already have may result in you losing the existing good in your life. Appreciation and gratitude, on the contrary, can bring more of good things to be thankful for in life.

Abraham Lincoln once said that “we can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” Being a big lover of roses and an optimist by nature, I can definitely relate to that saying.  So dream a dream, look at life challenges as stepping stones rather than stumbling blocks and remember that happiness is an attitude. As Francesca Reigler stated: “We either make ourselves miserable, or happy and strong. The amount of work is the same.”

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Living “happily ever after” – myth or reality?

As a child, I was always a big fan of fairy tales, especially the ending of most of them being “…and they lived happily ever after”.

I have never given a second thought to the concept of “happily ever after”. However, as I was reading “Cinderella” to my own children the other day, it made me stop and think. What does it actually mean? Does anyone have a fairy tale ending?

After looking into this area more closely, speaking with many people in and out of relationships and reading various publications on the topic, I have seen some common issues, assessment of which  aids in understanding whether you are “living the dream” in your relationship.  These include:

1. Defining what happiness means for you. This is a very subjective assessment and will have different answer for each and every one of us.  Once you have created a definition of happiness, look at your life and assess whether where you are in life and your partner satisfy that criteria. If the answer is “no”, then you need to look closer at what changes need to be made in order for you to be happy.

2. Assessing your general life expectations and expectations of your partner. Are these expectations realistic? Do you need to rethink your expectations?

3. Examining your relationship. Speak to your partner to understand whether you make him or her happy and what is required to achieve their happiness. By the same token, you must explain to them what is required for your happiness.

4. Remembering that communication is the key.  Ensure you express your feelings, positive and negative, as they arise, as bottling up emotions will only result in resentment and a massive fight at a later stage.

5. Leaving the past behind. There is no need to dwell on the past.  You must be able to let go of anything that is holding you back in order to move forward. Learn from your (and other people’s) mistakes and recognise when you have successfully moved forward.  This is a continuous and evolving process.

6. Keeping the romance alive. Do not under any circumstances take your partner for granted. Show them your appreciation. Ensure that there is no lack of effort from you towards them. If you feel that there is lack of effort on their part, you must discuss it as soon as possible to eliminate any possible future issues.

7. Finding the balance of interests and favourite activities for both you and your partner. Relationships are all about ‘give and take’ and compromise. You must ensure that your relationship is not heavily geared towards satisfying the needs and wants of only one party, as it is then almost guaranteed not to last.

8. Ensuring that you do not give up easily. If you have hit a rough patch and your relationship is worth fighting for, then fight for it with all your might.

Remember one thing – “happily ever after” is not the end, it is the beginning. It is up to you what happens in the next chapter and whether you can live out the fairy tale.

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The art of appreciating others

Appreciation of another is a concept discussed at length but too often forgotten in relationships. Appreciation is defined as the recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone and the showing of gratitude to such someone.

There are many quotes and sayings on this topic. Two that come to mind are “you never know how much someone means to you until they are gone” or the opposite side of the spectrum being “treat them mean, keep them keen”.

Many people in relationships seem to fall within one of the two categories described above – one that makes an effort and another that takes full advantage of it without much gratitude, appreciation or other types of affection. One party not being able to express appreciation is one of the main reasons for divorce and relationship breakup.

When appreciation is shown, it reinforces the positive behaviour and creates a greater bond between the couple. However, as we know, men and women are very different species, which means that each of them can express appreciation in different ways.

Some men would only resort to showing their ‘appreciation’ when things go sour and their partner is close to calling it quits by way of lavish gifts & expensive gestures. Not that there’s anything wrong with gifts and grand gestures. However, it is the daily behaviour that makes or breaks a couple.

There are also women, who act like they are doing the world a big favour by just getting out of bed in the morning. Women, who do not treat their partners nicely. Women who do not see just how fortunate they are and that their partner adores them. And then there are other women, who do everything in all aspects for their partner and get nothing or close to nothing in return.

Being through it personally and seeing many relationships  break up and seeing those couples who still make it work after many years, I have seen some common patterns of the ‘right’ things to do for both men and women.

Some suggestions may be to give your partner a kiss and a cuddle just because it feels good and to tell them you love them more often. For a guy – buy her some flowers for no reason (they cost as little as $4 and most girls love it!) and do something in the house that would make her smile. Other general suggestions for both men and women include planning a nice day out, watching sunsets together or doing something that both of you enjoy. The main thing is to show each other your love and adoration.  Remember, once your partner starts feeling they have been taken for granted, your relationship may be in great jeopardy. So if you are with someone amazing – get out of your comfort zone and start showing your gratitude. You may just save your own happiness from walking out the door.

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Are you too proud to right the wrong?

Going through life, many occurrences teach us lessons. We make mistakes and hurt others with or without intending to. We do things we are not proud of. We upset people close to us. This is because we are human. Our perceptions are subjective and often selfish.  This is how we are wired.

Many people I have come across find it very difficult to apologise for hurting someone else’s feelings. This is normal. It takes guts and courage to say ‘sorry’ to another person. We teach our children to respect other people’s feelings yet often fail at it ourselves. It is as if we feel that apologising to another lowers our personal standing in other people’s eyes.

There is also a group of people who, in their mind, are always right regardless of the scenario. This is the pinnacle of human selfishness. These people never apologise or see another point of view.  Unfortunately for them, a day will come when they have burnt all their bridges and they have found themselves totally isolated from family and friends.

My personal belief is that if you are human, then you cannot possibly be always right. You, like billions of others, have wronged someone at some point and therefore an apology is an order.

Many believe that a key to a happier life is acknowledging our wrongs, attempting to make them right and learning from our mistakes.  Often it may be too late for an apology and it is something you may have to live with. But without such acknowledgement, you cannot grow as a person, move forward with your life and give closure to the other person who feels betrayed / wronged / taken advantage of etc. Even if anything you bring forward is rejected, it is definitely worth your while.

Circumstances often make it impossible to apologise to someone in a timely fashion. However, with time, opportunities will present themselves when you can find a way to reach out and relay how you feel. Even if all you get back consists of nasty and unpleasant comments, it is definitely worth the hassle.

Like every other human, I have done things I am not proud of and upset people who cared for me. Would I have done those things if I had to relive my life – definitely not. But I live with no regrets and the mistakes of the past have molded me into the person that I am today.  As for apologising, usually I am the first to admit when I am wrong.  However, in some situations it is not an easy task.

I take this opportunity to sincerely apologise to those who I have hurt in any way and have not had a chance to express my deep regret in person.  You know who you are.

So think about anyone who you may have wronged in the past. Today may be the day when you swallow your pride and apologise.  Do it not because you are dying or as part of some rehabilitation program. Do it because it is the right thing to do.


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