“Forgiveness: It is about fact and fiction”

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Forgiveness; it does not change the past, but it sure does change the future. Some people get so caught up in the grip of forgiveness that is paralyses not only who they are but also who they ought to be. A full fruitful and happy life is not possible without forgiveness.

Anger, unforgiveness and bitterness are the three things in life that will stop you from living a full, happy and free life. To live our lives to the fullest we need to deal with these “three giants” sometime in our lives, that is if we want to be free.

Have you ever heard of the medical term “Rigamortis”. Well, I am not going to get into the medical explanation of this, but basically it refers to muscular stiffening following death and it can last for up to 5 or six days and then decomposition of the body begins. You might think, what on earth does this have to do with unforgiveness? Well, let me tell you.

When we are hurt, when our trust is betrayed or we are hurt spiritually or emotionally in any way, while nothing has physically been done to us, our brain literally tell our body the pain is real and that is why we sometimes experience that pain so intense. In a a medical study it was also established that the area of your brain that lights up when you’re hurt physically is the same area that lights up when you suffer “social rejection.” That makes the term “heartbreak” so much real doesn’t it.

Recently I had to deal with this, the act of real and honest forgiveness. Friends, believe me when I say, this is tough. If you want to do it right, if you want it to be lasting and not just a habitual act, then it is tough. In John 20, verses 22 and 23 I found the very foundation of forgiveness. Jesus breathed on the disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit!” His next instruction was about forgiving people, when He said, “If you forgive the sins of anyone they are forgiven [because of their faith]; if you retain the sins of anyone, they are retained [and remain unforgiven because of their unbelief]” (Amplified Bible) Friends, only through the work and the help of the Holy Spirit is this action possible. We have to depend on the Holy Spirit to help us with this because it is so hard.

I did a lot of reading and Bible study about forgiveness because I knew in my own power this was not going to happen. I remembering thinking one day that forgiving in itself felt more painful than the hurt I suffered, but was also reminded about the fact that there were not going to be any peace without forgiveness. I was blinded by anger and feelings of betrayal and at time I found it really hard to even read about this and what is expected of me, yes “me”, not the other person. I was reminded that forgiveness was not really about the other person; the act of forgiveness does not in any way justify the other person’s actions against you, but it sets us free. We do it for ourselves, to get well and to move one, to create that moment in time where we create the opportunity and space for new beginnings. When we talk about forgiveness, it means letting go, not excusing the other person or even reconciling with them or even condoning their actions or behavior, it is just an action, a moment in time, where you decide to let go of your own suffering.

I got all this. I was ready to take that step of faith and let the Holy Spirit guide me through this, but this was where I had one of those aha-moments. I knew what I was experiencing, I knew what I felt in my hart and I also understood why it was so hard for me to move on, it was not only because of what I knew, but more about the stuff I did not know. When we can pin point an issue or a incident it is easier to address it, but it the uncertainties in our lives that the devil use against us. God clearly show me that forgiveness was not only about what I knew, but it was also about that which I did not know. Thát is where I came up with the statement, Forgiveness is about fact and fiction, in other words, “fact”, what we know, “fiction”, what we think we know. Fact is based on true happening whereas fiction is based on imaginative happenings.

The latter is dangerous because we have no concrete evidence or basis for this, it is just something out there, and we can change our mind and interpretation of what we think we know as often as we want and to whatever we want, fact remains, it is a non-truth, unfounded. The devil will continue to use these fictional thoughts and ideas we have to try to convince us that they are true. It consumes our minds and start to poison our whole being. Just think about the multitude of bed time stories out there starting with, “Once upon a time”, what followed that was fiction. Sometimes parents will change the story as they go along. Fiction.

So, God clearly showed me, when you forgive, forgive for both what you know to be fact, but also to what you think you know, and this is what I did. I repeat, Forgiveness is about fact and fiction”.

Friends, this conscious action of forgiveness, when you do it right and for the right reason(s) will set you free and give you the ability to start afresh and begin to shape a better future for you. It is however important to know what forgiveness is and why it matters, and for this there are endless resources available. One thing I can tell you is make sure that you exercise the act of forgiveness when you are ready, don’t just do it because it is demanded from you. The Greek word for “forgiveness” literally means “to let go” and when you do this, letting go, you need to be sure that you are willing to leave behind “fact and fiction” and move on.

One last thought. Ben Greenhalth wrote these powerful words, Forgiveness is a sign that the person who has wronged you means more to you than the wrong they have delt.”

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Making Miles and Moments Count

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I’ve been using this tag on social media for quite a while now and I still appreciate the value it adds to my life and to the lives of others.

#MakingMilesAndMomentsCount obviously refers to my running, but it involved more than just running, it represents the whole “package” if you will; races, places, people, medals. It is about getting there, the people you meet, the event itself, the medal. There is always a story to tell after every race we do and these are the memories, the miles and moments we get to remember. I also love taking pictures and sometimes going through the pictures it fires up lost memories and rekindle stories almost forgotten.

[ Click on the images below to enlarge ]

Today, a year ago, I was in Toronto Canada for the ScotiaBank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and this morning when I went through my photos to put together a Tweet to all runners, to wish them well, it brought back so many memories. The interesting things about going through these pics don’t just bring back memories about the marathon, but also about days preceding the race, the days before, on and after the race. I remember so many wonderful moments with new friend I’ve made, places I have seen and the city of Toronto I got to explore by myself for three days. My pictures tell a story of so many wonderful moments. For me also to get to share this event with my friends Karen and Chris, who for the first time attended a marathon event like this and because I was there and I was part of this, they also got to make memories of their own. This to me is what it is about.

In a few weeks I will jet off to Athens Greece. I won a trip for two, a competition run by Discovery Vitality during the Rio Olympics, and the prize, a trip for two to Athens Greece. Winning this prize opened the door to new opportunities to go and gather more memories. When I started to plan for this trip and was busy on Google and searched for races in Greece and I discovered that the Athens Authentic Marathon was coming up in November and better even, entries were still open. I was entered for this race even before we had any flights and or accommodation booked and confirmed. I just had to do this. So this means that Pieter and I will be in Athens for the 34th Annual “Athens Marathon. The Authentic” which will take place on November 13th, 2016 – marking 120 years from the first contemporary Marathon race, an event inspired by the ancient course of the legendary Athenian soldier hemerodromos (courier in Ancient Greece who would run for a day) after the Battle of Marathon. This will definitely be another awesome #MakingMilesAndMomentsCount opportunity.

I guess what I am trying to say is that we have to live life to the fullest, savour every moment and make every moment count. Today is all we have and it the gateway to tomorrow; make the most of it. And yes, if you can, take pictures, lot of pictures. These become so important later; when we go through them they trigger so many memories.

Have fun making memories !

A welcome “Thank You”, years later

thank-you-pageThis week I was surprised by the power of a simple “Thank you” even if it only came years later and that is when I realised how welcome a simple “Thank you” can be, even if it a delayed one.

An old colleague who left UNISA in 2007 already came to say hi this week and we spoke about the old days, how things were and how things changed over the years. It is ten when she started to talk about one of the most difficult times in her career, when she had to reapply for her own job. This was tough and she was competing with a, let me just say, “more favourable candidate”.

Although we were now nine years down the line, I recalled that day as if it was last week. She called me that day, just to talk to someone; she was very upset because the interview did not go according to plan. She was shaken up and very upset. I got into my car and drove to the main campus, went to her office and asked her to come with me. We went back to my car where I played her my calm song,God will make a way by Don Moen. I assured her that things would be okay.

Well, long story short, she did not get her job back and decided to leave UNISA, probably the best thing she could do for herself given the working conditions she had to endure and challenges she had to face. Here she was, nine years later, thanking me for what I did that day for her. Her eyes teared up when she start talking about that day and said to me that this was probably the most wonderful thing that anyone has ever done for her.

I realised at that moment the power of a simple but sincere “Thank you” even if it is years later.

If you need to thank someone for something, find the time to do it. Let people know if they touched or changed your live in any way and you will find that it will also encourage and inspire them to share more of that kindness.

Be true to yourself

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Today’s #simplifyyourlife image is all about being true to yourself. But what does this mean.

In short, it is all about being you, who you are and what you believe in. If you are at peace with yourself you will find being true to yourself will be much easier than it is for those who are not.

Don’t be afraid to be who you are.

Like many things in life, this is something you need to take care of yourself. You need to give that first step forward to make this happen. A good start is to learn to accept yourself for who you are and not for who others want you to be. Don’t act on what others want you to be, not even so you can feel accepted and or to fit in. I always say, we are not here to fit in, we are on this earth to stand out. Being different and unique is a gift; embrace it.

It is when we start doing the things that are not genuine and or a real and true reflection of who we are, what we believe in or stand for, that we will guide ourselves onto a road we were never supposed to travel on. You will end up unhappy and confused.

Respect yourself and others will respect you too. People will see you as a strong and capable individual with a true identity. It will boost your self-respect and others will also get to respect you more.

Always remember that you are unique in so many ways and when you start to be true to yourself that uniqueness will shine through. Being true to yourself however does not mean that you are superior to others, it only means that you are true to who you are and what you believe in, but you should still respect the opinions of others without necessarily conforming to it. Yes we can listen to advice and we should, but we should make up our own minds.

Being true to yourself takes a whole lot of courage and it will require from you to be honest with yourself about everything. It will also require from you to do some serious introspection to find the true you. This will define who you are and it will mean that no one will make decisions for you. You are in control.

Live your best possible life and be true to yourself, to the very core of your being embodied by your highest possible values and beliefs. Learn to express yourself in creative and inspiring ways and by doing this touch lives and inspire people to follow your suit.

I encourage you to be true to yourself, discover who you are and who you were meant to be and then go out and live your best possible life.

[ Join me on Instagram and Twitter and be inspired ! ]
[ Find the other #simplifyyourlife images HERE ]

Live Your Best Possible Life

I stumbled upon these words and really wanted to share it with you all. These words of Jackson Brown Jr. are really inspiring

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Hope you enjoyed it. Share it and let’s all live our best possible lives.

If you are on Instagram, follow me on @myownjourney_sa and share in this month’s special “simplify your life” images I share. Our lives are so cluttered with stuff we often don’t need, so this is to help you add a little simplicity to yours.

Finding Lasting Motivation

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Often people ask me how I stay motivated and how I manage to push on through my own journey, and today I want to share a few thought on that, maybe not giving you the answer you were hoping for, but know this, it will be my honest view on this and how it works for me.

I think in an ideal world we would all like to find enough motivation each day to keep us driven, to keep us going and to make each day and breeze. Well, that is hardly ever the case, in fact, to find motivation and to keep being motivated is not always possible. I personally would love to be motivated every day, but the truth is, I am not. We are all human and we are not always on that motivated high. That is life.

In our busy and demanding lives it becomes increasingly more difficult to find motivation, not to mention staying motivated.

For us to live a positive, productive and meaningful life we have to submit ourselves to constant change. That is the only way to grow; the only way to reach our full potential and the only to reach those personal life goals and dreams.

I personally think because motivation is a feeling and it comes and goes like all other feelings one set yourself up for disappointment when we entirely rely on motivation to get us where you want to be. When we feel motivated and inspired by something or someone we are on an emotional high and we feel like we can do anything and we want to take on the world. But after a while this will wear off and the excitement leaves through the back door. Ever wondered why New Year’s resolutions never last? This is why.

I have seen so many people starting a new year or new term with all the right intentions, maybe to lose weight, start training for a specific event, their first ten kilometre run or marathon, or just to get healthy and then, just a few weeks or months later they are back where they started. No progress. No change. Stuck. Again. Often more miserable than when they started. When I start to talk to these people to try and get to the bottom of what went wrong, 99% of them will somehow end up saying that that feeling is gone. They don’t feel like going to gym so often, they don’t feel like having to eat all that healthy all the time, they don’t feel like getting up early for those Saturday races. That takes me back to that statement, motivation is a feeling.

Because motivation is a feeling we cannot solely rely on it.

When I woke up that morning and realised that my life was a mess, the very first thing I did was to take action, there and then. I went to the gym and got myself a personal trainer. Why did I do this ? Well, for two reasons mainly. I had to take action and take that first step forward and secondly because I knew that that was going to be my first stepping stone towards a new me. Lesson here is simply this, decide what you want to do, and then break it down into smaller steps. When we think “too big” we are often overwhelmed by it and this can easily stop us before we even get started.

A while ago I posted a quote on social media and it said, “It is the start that stops most people.” Think about it. The bigger the gap between where you are today and where you want to be in a few months of year from now, the more overwhelmed you will be and to deal with that, you need to break this process down in smaller chunks and by doing this, it makes the whole process instantly more doable. I realized that it took me years to get to where I was, to be overweight, sick and miserable, and so I realize that it was going to take time to get me out of it and by breaking down this massive overwhelming task ahead of me into smaller chunks just made the whole task ahead more achievable. If you go back and read about my journey [ READ IT HERE ] you will see that I had various stepping stones in place to take me where I wanted to go.

The second piece of advice I love to share with you is to always make sure that you know why you want to do something. Be honest with yourself on why you want to do something; ask yourself why you want to lose weight, why you want to live a healthier lifestyle or train for a marathon. For example, the reasons why we generally want to lose weight and live more active lives is so we can lower stress levels, so we can be more energized, healthier and more productive, just to mention a few. The means to an end here is to change your lifestyle in order for you to achieve all that. Whatever it is that you want to achieve or reach for, know why you’re doing it. If the reasons why we want to do certain things and achieve certain goals are not personal and not strong enough, it will just make it easier for us to let go of it along the way. When we slip out of that emotional high we spoke about earlier, the reasons why we do something have to serve as a safety net to keep us afloat.

One more thing you can do is to celebrate those small achievements. Set smaller targets along the way to your main goal and then celebrate those small achievements – reward yourself for what you have achieved. Appreciate your small achievements. Don’t take these for granted.  All the small achievements along the way will help to keep you focused and it will serve in itself as small doses of motivation along the way. Use these small achievements to also track your own progress.

I little last piece of advice from me to you. “Be open to change and new ideas.

When I started losing weight I never planned to become a runner, this only came later. I lost a lot of weight first and then I did my first 5 km walk / run and I loved it, and that day I decided that I want to take up running. Let me fast forward. This year I have successfully completed my third Comrades marathon and I am planning to do number four next year. Also, as part of being open to new ideas I grew into a space where I am able to inspire people on various levels and platforms and that to me is so rewarding. I love to see people progress and grow towards their personal goals.

Friends, go out there and find your motivation to live your best possible life. Set goals for yourself and push forward towards those goals. Work hard to achieve it and remember, the first step towards it is your responsibility.

Please, if you have a story to tell, then get in touch with me. I love to hear about it.

[ Follow me on Twitter : @myownjourney_sa ]

When Life Happens

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I always tell people that life will go on regardless; regardless of what happens today, regardless of who said what, regardless of whatever plans you had or may have, life just happens. Life does not stop and wait for you, or me.

When life happens we are often hurt and scared and we ask all kinds of questions to try and make sense of it all. Well, let me say this first, nothing wrong with that, it is okay to try and make sense of life, to try and figure out why certain things happen to us, but be warned, life happens and it will continue to happen for as long as we are here.

One of the life lessons I have learned in recent years is that pain is part of life and ultimately it is part of growing and evolving. The sooner we realise this the better. Sometimes it is life itself that closes doors on us, but we have to see past that, see the bigger picture, see it as an opportunity to move forward. Sometimes that slammed door is all we need to get us exploring new opportunities and move forward. It is important to move on from what hurts you but never forget what you’ve learned from it. There is always a lesson there.

One more lesson, when life happens, remember that everything in life is temporary. After night there is day. After getting hurt there is healing. After the storm there is sunshine and often a rainbow. Unfortunately this cuts both ways, into the positive and negative side of life. If life is good to you right now I encourage you to enjoy it, make the most of it, because also that won’t last. There will be times of trials and tribulations, but that also will pass. See life’s moments for what it is and never seize to live your life to the fullest. Grab every moment and make the most of it knowing that it will also pass. Lost opportunities cannot be relived, so make the most of it.

I spoke with a friend a while ago and we were talking about people always complaining and worrying about things. In December the suicide rate is also sky-high and this is because people do not know how to cope anymore and people worry themselves into a dark hole of depression and that is where they just don’t see a way out anymore. Complaining about things won’t help either because what we say today will not change what happened yesterday and chances are good that it will also not change the course of tomorrow. Instead, practice learning from the past and figure out how you can use that knowledge to shape a better tomorrow.

Another reality of the fact that life happens is that we often get hurt and these bad moments often leave us with scars. That too is part of the reality of the lives we live. Smooth sailing is not always possible, but friends, remember, a scar in fact is a closed wound. Looking at our scars should remind us that we’ve moved on and we have chosen to move on. Healing has begun! When you look at your scars, most of the times you can say, “I made it. I moved on.”

Last year when I did the Comrades Marathon up-run I constantly reminded myself of the words of Comrades coach, Lindsey Parry, “Whatever you do, make sure every step you take is forward.” People, this is also a life lesson for life. When life happens, when you face a challenge or go through a difficult time or maybe are left with a scar, whatever you do, make sure the steps you take away from that are forward, small steps forward. Just say to yourself, “All I need to do is take one small step forward.” Life is not about waiting; it is about living and moving forward. Small steps.

One last life lesson I want to share with you is this. Other people’s negativity towards you, towards your situation, towards life, towards anything or anyone, is not your problem. It is easy to fall in that dark pit where people try to drag us down to, but we have to be vigilant and aware of this very danger and stay away from that as far as we can. When people treat you poorly, keep on being you. I always say, “I am here to stand out, not to fit in.” Do not allow people to drag you down and become who they want you to be. In short, do not change to please or impress people. Only change when you know it will make you a better person, when you know it will make you stronger and happier human being. People become destructive when they are bitter and hurt and they will do anything to drag others down with them – do not conform to this. Believe me, in the past year I have learned this lesson and be warned, it will often come from those you expect it from the least. Do not let a pretty face or a fake smile trick you into compromising who you are or who you are destined to be.

Here at the beginning of a new year where we all have some idea of what we want to do and achieve it is important to share this message. Live your life to the fullest, live your best possible life and let the good and the bad times guide your steps to a better future.

I close with the words of Mae West who said, “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”