Don’t follow just because someone wants to lead you

The world is growing increasingly partisan.

The political middle ground seems to have fallen away, leaving people clinging to the edges of extreme political thought.

But I’m saying, don’t follow simply because someone wants to lead you.

When longstanding friendships come to an end over political disagreements, and people are “unfriending” their friends and family on Facebook over who they may or may not have voted for, it has all gotten out of control.

Partisanship serves nobody, except those who would divide us all on petty issues.

The truth is, our differences are minimal. We most of us want the same things:

We want our children to grow up safe and whole…
We want our communities to thrive and be healthy…
We want good healthy food, clean air, clean water…
We want access to good doctors and good quality education…
We want affordable, quality homes…
We want to be safe from war and terror…
We want secure jobs that give us dignity and don’t compromise our integrity.

If you’re like me, all of these things are important. All of them.

Divide and conquer

It seems that many of those in power – across all parties – would seek to focus on the little things that don’t affect us day to day.

“Divide and conquer” is working well.

They seek to turn us against our neighbours. To encourage us to label and view them as Not Like Us, and to divide our communities.

That way, we don’t look too closely at what those in power are doing, do we!

Work together

I’m saying, Stop.

Stop the partisanship.
Stop labelling people as Them and Us.
Stop giving some leaders a pass on bad behaviour while others get held to the wire.
Treat all people equally and fairly.
Uphold ideas, not ideology or parties or celebrities or leaders.

It’s time to look on the old world with fresh eyes. Reconsider our long-held beliefs to check if they still hold merit for us.

Don’t follow simply because someone – or something – wants to lead you.

Lead yourself, with your own mind, and you will find the best way to travel.

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Open inspections and beachy friends…

We’re finally here. Open inspections on our farm next Sunday, and our agent thinks our home will sell like lightning.

It’s been a long road. When we first bought our farm eight years ago, I never imagined ever leaving. I think nobody ever expects to leave a new home, do they?

It’s been a terrific home too. Our children have grown from being tiny (son 4 and daughter 2) to being strapping young people on the verge of being teens. I’m fully expecting our son to shoot past me in height over the coming year, and our daughter to do the same in the next two or three years.

They’ve grown up here, and we’ve all been very happy. But it is time to move on.

We’re staying in Dunedin. After the sale goes through, we’ll know what money we have to buy a new place, and we’ll start looking seriously then.

The house is so clean and tidy now, it feels like all we’ll have to do is move our furniture once we have a sale confirmed. One of the benefits of being a minimalist, I guess, is that you don’t have that much stuff.

I do feel a little like our furniture should maybe be fancier or newer – so many of the houses on the market seem to have “new everything” that I can’t help wondering how much debt their owners have! By comparison, the newest piece of furniture we own is our sofa, which is nine years old. We keep things forever!

I do believe we’ll make a great sale. Our views are spectacular and this is a truly special part of the land that we’re on. They’re not making any more land, and there are very few lifestyle farms like ours, fewer still on the market. Demand is high, and we hope that someone will fall in love with our farm, just as we did all those years ago. We’re also fortunate to have a great agent who has been with us every step of the way, and who I hope will guide us to a great conclusion.

Regardless of how busy it was, I took some time out last week to host a dear family friend who was here from England, and we went to the Moeraki boulders together, among other journeys. Sometimes, no matter how busy things get, you just need friends and the sand between your toes 🙂

Moeraki boulders...a brief respite from selling a home!

Moeraki boulders…a brief respite from selling a home!

Decluttering relationships: 7 types of friends to let go

If you’re like me, neighbours, workmates and even old schoolmates have all become good friends over time.

But sometimes we hang on to friendships long after they’ve ceased to be a positive force in our lives. Or something happens that makes us view a current relationship in a completely new way.

That’s when it’s time to look at the relationship and decide whether it adds to our lives in a meaningful, supportive way, or whether it is dragging us down, and possibly even depressing us or bringing out the worst in us.

So here are 7 types of friends you can do without. While everyone has faults, if you recognise these behaviours in someone you know again and again, and they’re bringing you down, it’s time to let them go. No-one has the right to bring unnecessary nastiness into your life.

1. Psychic vampires. Psychic vampires do nothing but drain you emotionally, sucking the life and joy out of everyone around them. They’re needy, self-obsessed and unable to see anyone’s viewpoint but their own. Even if you’ve known them for years, psychic vampires need to be let go, or they’ll drain you dry. Garlic them!

vampire

2. Financial vampires. Everybody understands when a friend is on hard times, and we all do our best to help out when we can. But financial vampires are those people who always seem to be asking for a loan, or who go out with you and – at the end of the night – suddenly have no money. Or they skive off just before the bill arrives. Financial vampires always need more help, and never seem to get out of their monetary woes – they just keep needing more. Ditch ’em!

3. The mean friend. Have you ever had a friend who is always saying mean things about people? Who says sarcastic remarks about you, or people you care for? Sure they might be fun to be around, but have you wondered what they’re saying about you when your back is turned? Unfortunately meanness doesn’t end at high school, but nobody needs friends like that. Declutter them!

exist

4. The jealous friend. This is the friend who cannot seem to support you in your success. They always have to criticise your wins, and attack your gains. You achieve something? They’ll be right there at your side, ready to tell you how unimportant it was. You succeed after a lot of work at an important personal goal? They’ll be right with you, telling you how your success will be short-lived. Or worse, they’ll pretend to be pleased, then undermine every step you take from that point, just to bring you down even more. Nobody needs that kind of attitude. Get rid of them!

5. The unstable friend. Will you catch them on a good day, or a bad day? Will they be your best buddy, our spitting venom at you? Will they be hating the world today, or loving everyone? You need stability in your friends. Nobody needs a roller-coaster of a friendship. Let them go!

6. The blamer. They had a personal problem. Guess what? It’s YOUR fault! They had something bad happen? Yep, your fault again! This type of person can’t ever accept that bad things happen, nor can they accept that sometimes the bad things that happen are their own fault. They need to grow up real fast, and it’s not your job to be their parent. Into the garbage chute, flyboy!

star-wars-into-the-garbage-chute-flyboy

7. The generally insecure horrorshow. They’re insecure about, well, practically everything. So they criticise and make nasty comments about everyone else. They don’t have anything good to say about anyone, and nobody is as good as they are. They’re an expert on everything, but have nothing to show for it – and they’re especially an expert on the stuff you’re good at! Throw them away!

ferns

Simply living with a strong moral compass…

I believe the world is really quite a simple place. There are good things, and there are necessary things we need, and there are people that help us grow and be happy.

These are the things we need. Everything else is just noise.

When I think of what makes me happy, what nourishes my soul, I think on my friends and family.

I think of the time I spend outside, at the beach, or walking locally around my home time lost in my thoughts. I think of the beautiful sunsets I have seen, and of the warm saltwater when I dip my feet in on the first warm day of summer at the beach.

Simple living is about recognising these basics. But its about more than that. It’s also about standing up for what is right in our lives, protecting the weak, and having a strong moral compass when the whole world seems topsy-turvy.

It’s about knowing what is right, and doing what is right, even when that is the hardest thing to do.

moral_compass

Sometimes it seems easy to follow the herd. And it is. Sometimes it seems easy to take the fast decision, or to say yes when we mean no. But only when we stand true to ourselves can we be our own, honest selves, and give the best version of ourselves to the world.

Only then can we be truly happy.

Friendship and trust…how easily things get broken

I learned a valuable lesson over the past few days: You can tell who your your real friends are when the going gets tough.

I won’t go into the details, but a friend of mine – or someone I thought was a friend – went through some rough stuff this week. As ever, I was there to support her. But my actions were misinterpreted and, instead of understanding and accepting my apology, she presumed the worst possible about my character, my intent, and my actions.

Not only did she tell me in no uncertain terms to leave her alone, she made some really nasty comments about me and began a character assassination that seemed to come out of nowhere. My partner and other good friends were left reeling. None of us could understand it.

True friends have disagreements. Nobody agrees on everything, not ever, not even soul mates. But when someone you believed was your friend believes the worst of you, not the best, and goes on to attack you based on that assumption rather than believing that maybe your intentions were good and genuine and caring, then that hurts. It hurts deeply.

In my case, I’m left to doubt. I’m wondering – along with my partner – why my now ex-friend thought so little of me that she chose to believe the worst. Why she thought I was malicious and nasty. How she could have ever thought so little of me.

I’m left wondering if all I ever had was a fair weather friend – someone who liked me as long as everything was fine and good, but the moment things got rough she’d be ready to turn and attack and get nasty. It sure looks that way.

I want to believe the best in people. I wish I could believe the best in my friend. But this isn’t the first time this has happened with her, although it’s the worst case of it. And I’m now in a situation where I can’t help thinking that I don’t want this stress in my life. I’m here to support my friends, but there is only so much hatred and nastiness I can take before I turn away. Because I have self-respect too, and after saying sorry countless times for the statement I made that was misinterpreted, I can’t say sorry any more. I don’t have any sorry left in me.

Instead, I’ve spent most of the week since crying and leaning on other friends that I hope I can trust. But now I’m looking at all my other relationships, all those friends, and wondering if they, too, will treat me the same way when things get rough.

I can’t help but think of that line from the Bernstein Mass: “How easily things get broken.”

I don’t think I can be friends with this person any more. I need friends I can trust and rely on, not friends who will lash out and hurt me and go on the rampage, and character assassinate me, and throw vitriol about.

Being in pain doesn’t give you the right to be an asshole to the people who care about you.

So I’m done. This friendship is broken. I wish it weren’t, but it is. Eventually I’ll stop needing shoulders to cry on, and I’ll move on. But it’ll be a while yet.

brokenvase
Image from Phil DiBona PhotoBlog.

Clutter and depression

I’ve got two friends who deal with serious depression issues.

Both of them also deal with uncontrolled spending, eating, debt and clutter problems. I can’t help but think that these problems are all one and the same.

We don’t just buy things when we need them in our society. We spend to make ourselves feel better, to try to convince ourselves we’re something other than we are, to impress our friends, to create an image…the list goes on. Most of our buying isn’t to do with need.

Neither is our eating. Food is tied to social events, birthdays, culture and religious celebrations, generosity (e.g. a parent giving food to their children), happiness (the ads on TV that tell us a chocolate bar will make us feel good) – it’s not just about physical hunger.

All of this results in debt, overweight, clutter that we can’t control in our homes – a huge downwards spiral that can lead to depression. So what do we do about it? We eat more to feel better, we buy more to heal the hole inside ourselves that we don’t understand, we give more gifts we can’t afford to make ourselves feel better about ourselves because we are generous to others.

I went on a road trip with some friends a couple of years ago. I was the only person in the car not on anti-depressants. These were all healthy young women, all below 30, all on drugs to deal with their lives. It was awful.

It made me sad, and I couldn’t help wondering why. I didn’t ask, of course. But I felt a strong empathy with my friends. I care about them. And I wondered how many others in our society are also on anti-depressants.

What is happening in our world, and why? What can we do to heal ourselves? How can we help our friends and support them?

I believe not giving gifts is part of the answer. Not pressuring friends to go eat out and spend more money is also part of the solution.

Maybe if we see a friend in need, just being there for them is a good start. Don’t say anything, but just invite them over for a cup of tea and a chat. Be a friendly ear, and a quiet confidante. Be a friend. Don’t offer help, but if they ask, be available.

Gandhi said, Be the change you want to see in the world. I think decluttering and leading a simple, debt-free life is a big part of that.

Be-the-change-you-want-to-see

If we have something new, don’t show it off. Instead, being frugal and humble about what we have and who we are is a better, healthier path.

I think the cure for depression is strong community, and stepping away from consumerism. Finding health in a simple diet and a simple life. I’m not saying it’s the complete solution, but it sure can’t hurt.

We live in a fractured world where too many people judge each other by what they own. Maybe we should start caring for each other and accepting who we are instead.

These cluttered lives we lead are making us sick and sad. It’s time we embraced a simple, wholesome life. And it’s time we learned how to be good friends to those we love again.