Write on My Balls

Blogging 101, Day Twelve: Be Inspired By the Community

I have been inspired by so many of you. ID-10043163

Thank you.

When I signed up for the course with the Blogging University, I thought to myself, “Hmm, that looks interesting. I think I’ll do that!” I am so glad that I did. 

The assignments before this one asked us to visit blogs and make a number of comments and spread the love. I had already been doing that so the likes, follows or comments were out there. It was great to see that I was on track with the action that was expected of me. Feedback.

A couple of nights ago, I received a number of follows and so very early this morning when I had some down time, I sat with my filtered coffee in hand; an Espresso roast, black no sugar and spent some time visiting and reading. Something on Joe Seeber’s website caught my eye and I lingered on one of his posts in particular, even extending my stay by watching the video of him discussing the topic and elaborating further. He talked about not putting so much emphasis on what people think about you. He put it in his own way and if you have the time, you should go visit his blog.

I completely get the point he was making about not giving a shit. I think that people can be very fickle and if I were to base my actions and ideas based on what people might think of me, then I’m headed for ‘Doomsville’. I’d be Jekyll to you and Hyde to her because let’s face it, not everybody shares the same values or sees things the same way. I welcome different ideas and opinions, it’s the flavour of life. What I don’t welcome is someone trying to force their point of view down my throat and have me accept it in order to do right by them. Stuff that!

“But Morpheus, everyone doesn’t believe you”

“My belief does not require them to”                                        

I think that building a relationship with myself is more important than any other because if I don’t have that to begin with, I won’t have the others either. I now have a strong sense of myself and because of that, I have real relationships with many people. When we have conversations with each other, there is no need for anyone to be right or wrong. It is a meeting of souls that have had a variety of experiences and we are seldom attached to any one of them. Sharing and connecting is really our primary reason for reaching out to each other. A coffee, a dinner or even a phone call. We exit the scene feeling fantastic.

“Always leave a situation better off than how you found it”

In Greece, there is a saying, perhaps more so in the modern community but having said that, everyone there gets it. Saying it to your grandmother however, would not be appropriate.

“Γραψεις στα αρχιδια μου” (Grapsis sta arxidia mou) This literally translates to “write on my balls”.

When I first learnt that saying, I had a good laugh and I thought it was perfect. It encapsulated exactly how I felt about expressing myself when it came to this type of thing. A person doesn’t agree with whom I want to marry. They can write on my balls. A store attendant thinks she is all that and a bag of chips and is treating me like she owns me. She can write on my balls. An acquaintance thinks I’m an idiot for giving up my job and moving half way across the world because I’ve got such a good thing going. He can write on my balls too. You use this phrase when people are imposing or self importantly judging. Not because a friend may like chocolate and you hate it.

We were sitting at the beach and basking in the beautiful Mediterranean sun. A woman emerged out of the water and she was wearing a bikini that had watermelons on it. In fact, the bottom part of her suit looked like a serving of a big piece of watermelon. She was on the larger side and the swimming suit didn’t flatter her body. I actually didn’t even notice her. I was sprawled over the chair and had my shades on. I only looked up because Sakis, a friend of mine said, “I am never eating watermelon again!” with such utter disgust. The woman glanced over and it looked like she had caught his comment. She looked directly at him and slapped her inner right thigh with her palm facing outward and simultaneously said loudly, “Nah!” which is the sign for…yes, you guessed it…altogether now…write on my big hairy balls! It was classic. I burst out laughing and immediately jumped out of my chair, going towards her with my hand in the air signalling for a high-five. She gave it to me. God bless her. That was the only exchange we needed. She got me and I got her. And Sakis got it nice and proper.

Source: The Matrix Reloaded 

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Being Still

Blogging 101, Day Nine: Inspire Yourself

I’m still at it, working hard at being a student with the blogging university and having a blast! I am so overwhelmed by all the support and love people have in our community. It’s really all about sharing and connecting and I am standing, screaming, “Yes I get you!” or “Wow, just wow” or “Really? That’s amazing” or “Thank you for taking me there with that post”. I think if there was a webcam or some video device that showed us how we react when reading each other’s posts and blogs, some of it would blow our minds. Already the comments and interaction are a wonderful thing to have.

The exercise is about inspiring myself and using my About Me page as a tool towards creating that experience. When I read my page again, the mind is what shot out at me. After all, I have a header with a neuron firing and that only occurs when it responds to stimuli. All of this is very stimulating indeed. I believe that everything, good and bad is given birth in the mind. We are the creators of our own reality. I think to be the best human being I can possibly be, I need to have the highest relationship with myself which for me means a collaboration between my heart and my mind.

There was a time in my life where I was desperate to find that relationship but the more I craved it, the more difficult it seemed. Then one day in my search, I became so frustrated that I abandoned everything that I was doing and visited a Buddhist Temple. Just like that. The wonders of what spontaneity can do. This was a place that I use to pass on my journey in and out of a neighbourhood in my father’s hometown. I had often looked at it and wondered what it was like inside. The monks there were very open and friendly. I sat with one and we started talking. He asked me what I wanted for myself and why I seemed so perturbed? I told him that I was looking for enlightenment. He chuckled and smiled answering, “Why are you running so fast? Enlightenment is like your shadow. The faster you run, the further away it will be from you. Be calm, stand still and it will be right there with you”. I know it sounds so simple and maybe even a little cliché but the moment he said that, perhaps it was the way he did it too, something fell into place and this peace and serenity replaced the anxiety and frustration. I wanted to jump up and hug the life out of him but I knew better and just grinned from ear to ear, looking at him but saying nothing. He looked back at me with that perpetual smile and with cheekiness he told me that I was welcome which sent us both into a series of laughter. I will never forget that moment. I still remember the trees around us, some of them had signs with mantras written on them and others with phrases like “eat to live”, the lazy dogs basking in the sun, the smell of sandalwood from the incense burning and the both of us sitting there and laughing together. I had learned how to just BE. Just…like…that! My heart opened to his wisdom and my mind made it so.

The Laughing Buddha

The Laughing Buddha

That is what I am doing here with this blog. I am being me, sharing my thoughts and ideas in the form of posts with a group of people who do exactly the same thing but in their own beautiful unique way. There are no real rules, just guidance. There is no judgement, just opinion and sharing. It is an open space for us all to just be.

 

 

Ich Liebster Dich

Liebster

I received a second nomination for a Liebster Award but I waited to respond simply because I got both of them on the same day and had to tackle them one at a time in order to give them the required amount of attention.

Nikki Halliday is the wonderful woman who nominated me. She is incredibly witty and writes with such ease and what I would call a confident spontaneity. She’s funny without having to try.  She is also emotionally honest. It’s a great recipe isn’t it? In the space of a week, from the moment that I started following her, I have fallen in love and am now one of her biggest fans so getting this nomination from her is like my mother’s cooking. Sublime. Thank you Nikki. If you don’t go and check her blog out, then you will miss out!

The rules of the award are as follows.

1) First, you include a link back to the post or blog of the person who nominated you and you thank them because manners are everything!
2) Include 11 facts about yourself.
3) Answer the 11 questions that the blogger who nominated posted.
4) Post 11 more questions for your nominees to answer.
5) Nominate 11 bloggers that have less than 200 followers.

The purpose of this award is to spread some love to the nominees and increase awareness of their blog. You won’t be getting any gold statues to place over your mantelpiece or fancy ribbons to pin. What you do get is acknowledgement and appreciation. It’s great feedback and its a chance to get to know more of the community which is very important.

11 Facts About Moi

1) I suffer from hay-fever.

2) I love horses and horse riding.

3) I do not have a gall bladder. It misbehaved after a reaction to some medication I was taking and I got rid of it.

4) I can be a “stubborn headed goat”. As my mother would put it.

5) I have a fetish about watching how things are made. If I could visit factories just to observe, that would be perfect.

6) I use to play with my grandmother’s veins. I’d push them in and watch them turn pale and then fill with blood again.

7) Cooking and feeding people brings me a lot of joy.

8) I have Irish, Scottish, English and Asian blood.

9) Robbie Williams flashed me his bum.

10) I have met a Quokka and I fed it.

11) Sometimes when I’m cooking, I pretend that I am on a cooking show and I always speak like Dame Maggie Smith when I do it. Ok, sometimes I do Dame Edna.

The 11 Questions Nikki asked Me

1) Who is your favourite literary character? Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest. (One of my favourites because there are so, so many)

2) Who is your weird crush? David Letterman.

3) In which period in history would you have most liked to have lived? The Renaissance but I most likely would have been a slave. 

4) What could you not live without? Fruit. I love fruit!

5) What is your porn star name? It would definitely have to be Tallulah and I’d sing that song from Bugsy Malone…”Lonely…you don’t have to be lonely. When they talk about Tallulah, you know what they say…no one in the heaven’s gonna treat you finer, Tallulah had her training from North Carolina”

6) What is your best feature? My eyes.

7) What would you have for your last supper? My mother’s coconut rice and condiments. Definitely some chocolate fudge cake too – warmed in the oven and served with vanilla ice cream.

8) Who was your first love? Benjamin. He was tall, dark and handsome with great integrity. 

9) Which song is your getting ready to go out song? I don’t have a particular song for this, just upbeat and one that I can sing and move to. 

10) What is your favourite smell? The way babies smell. 

11) What would your Archvillain name be? Medea. She is part of Greek mythology and was one ruthless ‘beatch’. 

The 11 Questions for my Nominees 

1) If there was one thing a person could count on when it comes to you, what would it be?

2) Let’s say there was a gadget you would like to see invented, what would it be?

3) What colour most represents your character?

4) If you could be a fly on the wall for a day, watching and listening, which wall would it be?

5) Your favourite ice cream flavour is…

6) If there were three things that you could change about the world, what would it be?

7) Finish this sentence. The smell of coffee is…

8) Imagine that you were an architect, which famous building would you have designed?

9) What’s the one word or phrase that you use a lot?

10) What is your earliest childhood memory?

11) If you were someone else sitting in a cafe and the actual you walked in, what about you would catch the eye of this someone else?

My 11 Nominees for the Liebster Award

1) A Garmont Confession

2) Diary of a Ragamuffin

3) Coach Monkey

4) Emily Miscellaneous Me

5) One Sparrow Sings

6) Pretending Reality

7) Misc Marsha

8) Meybynicolas

9) Gay Gringo Guide

10) Tea and Paper

11) Letters from Stonewell

I chose the above bloggers for different reasons. Some because of the work they have put into their blogs which inspired me to work on mine, others because I want to see more and hope this acknowledgement will encourage them to write, a few because I was learning new things and many because I liked what I was reading or looking at. That’s the great thing about the Liebster, it’s a tool and it paves the way for discovery with a little structure added to it. I look forward to finding out more about you.

 

Blogging 101, Day Six: Write to Your Dream Reader

I have the day off which is a good thing because I spent my night blogging, burning the midnight oil and passing out from the fumes. I promised myself that I would get to these assignments after signing up for the Blogging 101 Challenge. First thing I did was to backtrack and look up Day One in the list of assignments. I used it as a checklist and I’ve gotten right through to Day Six which is why I am here, writing this post.

Dear Dream Reader,

I am so glad that I found you and that through my writing, we have connected. I am happy that you get me and my thoughts enough to drop me a line and share your comments and ideas. You are why I started blogging. I wanted to find a platform to experience the connection I know we already have. We belong to the same species and you have so much to teach me about the world around me. I know that in this lifetime, I will not be able to see or do all the things that interest or inspire me and I am hoping that through you, I will get to live some of it. After all,  I have experienced entire eras and new worlds through the words of some great authors so why not you? In truth, it’s a whole new experience because I get to give you instant feedback about how your words moved me or what triggered which emotions.

I know that you are genuine. I thrive on the notion that my thoughts and words conjured up different feelings in you and that created a reaction…a comment, a laugh, a follow, a like, a nod or the act of wanting to read more. I am grateful and respectful of you and the time that you have spent with me. I know that I am feeding you but you know that you too, are feeding me. Open channels and enchanted energy laced with the real deal.

With Love and Light,

Jules

 

The Liebster Award

liebster_award

Leaping Liebsters…I’ve been nominated by Ivan. That’s a whole new way of getting to know someone. A nomination and then a chance to read their thoughts from their written word. I’ve always loved reading but this is like a live performance. If I had to describe Ivan’s blog, I would use the words innocence and sensitivity.

Thank you Ivan for choosing me. Please check Ivan and his navigating skills out by clicking on this link! 

The rules of the game are simple enough and they come in elevens. I’m not sure what the significance of 11 is to the award but it looks good when written down so who am I to complain? Here I go. Look Ma…no hands!

11 Facts about Me

1) I can wiggle my ears (not enough to take off but it still counts).

2) I speak three languages fluently.

3) I have fractured my skull.

4) I have lived on different continents of the world.

5) I once read Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” in its entirety, aloud to my younger sister during a half term school break. Different voices and all!

6) Big Mountain (the guys who sang “Oh Baby…I Love Your Way”) once helped me push my broken down car to the side of the road.

7) There are only two things I absolutely hate in this world. Pedophiles and cockroaches. Scum of the earth.

8) I have double jointed toes.

9) I love Ellen DeGeneres.

10) I have very long eye lashes which one of my best friends use to threaten to cut off whilst I was asleep.

11) I am blessed and ever so grateful for my friends and family.

11 Questions from Ivan

1) What did you feel when you were informed you got nominated for the award? I felt humbled and happy that I had connected with someone through my writing.

2) What is the best achievement you can have in your life? Enlightenment.

3) Do you play any musical instrument? If yes, what instrument? The piano. 

4) How do you value life? By being present and grateful. 

5) What country do you want to spend your life? In as many as it is humanly possible.

6) Do you believe in reincarnation? Ask me again in my next life. 

7) What is the best blog (not post) you saw? This is a tough one because I am still wandering and am so new to this terrain. I haven’t had enough time with WordPress. However, one of my favourite blogs or websites ever is The Pioneer Woman Cooks. 

8) Do you like history? Yes very much so. I love learning from the stories and imagining the life that once was. 

9) When was the last time you went to church? Last Easter.

10) Do you believe that aliens really exist? Yes. In fact, my father was an alien according to the stories he use to tell us growing up.

11) Why do you blog? I have a voice and so do you. I would like to be heard and also to listen. We are all connected so let’s connect. 

And the 11 Nominees are…

1) A Boy Named Sue 

2) Bob and Emily

3) This is Life

4) She Writes

5) Mostly True Stories of K. Renae P.

6) Living, Learning and Letting Go

7) Pretend to Be Nice

8) The Cosmic Carousel

9) Traces of Spaces

10) Getting those Creative Juices Flowing

11) Distinctly Denise

The 11 Questions for My Nominees

1) What is one of the best books that you have ever read?

2) If you could go back in time and have a meaningful conversation with someone, who would it be?

3) If you were a car, what kind of car would you be?

4) Do you believe in soul mates?

5) What is one of your most favourite places in the world?

6) Is music important to you and if so, why?

7) If you could only take one pair of shoes with you on a holiday, which pair would it be?

8) Your favourite ingredient in food would be…?

9) What do you think attracts you to an individual?

10) What is the first word that comes to your mind when you read, “beautiful?”

11) What makes you happy?

It is way past my bed time. My eyes are watery and my head feels heavy. Time to get some shut eye. All I know is that I got carried away with reading, searching and visiting all of you fellow bloggers out there. I feel good.

Goodnight. Peace and Good Vibes.

Jules

Little Miss Scarcity

Do you know her? She’s not part of the Mister Men or Little Miss clan I’m afraid. I loved them when I was growing up. I thought they were so cute and interesting with all their different personalities and characteristics. I never questioned their dissimilarities, They were exciting and unique. I was innocent and very accepting of the world around me. Everything was about discovery and nothing was impossible. I remember that when I was ten, I had the idea that I could be a doctor in the morning and a lawyer by night. Nobody ever told me that I couldn’t so I only ever knew that I could. Then I met reality and her very sharp teeth.

Another stage was born in my life and I only learnt about how difficult and tough things were. How I had to work really hard for whatever money that I would make. How life could be painful and full of disappointment and that’s when I learnt how strong I really was because I fought. I refused to give in and accept that kind of pessimism. My friends would tease me and call me ‘The Optimist” but they did it in jest because I think secretly they wanted some of what I was having. They didn’t want to feel as defeated and low as they sometimes did. They would occasionally ask me, “Are you high?” And I’d reply, “Yes. I’m high on life!” I became the agony aunt for many of them. I soon realised that the majority just wanted to hear themselves talk. They weren’t really looking for a solution. They just wanted to be dramatic and be the center of some attention. They continued to do the same things in their lives and feigned helplessness. I didn’t understand it and it became frustrating and energy draining. I started to become what I was surrounded with. I guess that’s why they the say, “Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are”.

Then something magical happen. I was made aware of two tools that would change my life forever. I learnt about perception and choice and all the power they would bring into my existence. It was liberating. I no longer had to feel angry at the traffic. I didn’t have to say yes to doing something that I didn’t want to do just because someone thought I ought to do it. I learnt how to say no and be okay about it. I didn’t have to do anything. I had a choice. I could choose and I became a phoenix, rising up from the ashes. It was as if I was given wings.

This was the part in my life where I came full circle and I realised that reality didn’t have to bite. That I had the power to create my own world and that it could be anything that I wanted it to be. I became a little of that child again and the possibility was limitless. Sure I am not the doctor by day and lawyer by night but I truly believe that it is that way because that is the way I want it to be and not because I can’t achieve that. If I wanted it, it would be. Sometimes I still get teased and I’m told, “Well, I want a Ferrari!” My answer to that kind of statement is usually, “Well obviously, you don’t want it badly enough” And then we laugh.

Perception is everything. Not to make Choice jealous but really it is. I wouldn’t have created a new relationship with choice if it weren’t for perception. To further illustrate, I want to introduce the star of this show. Little Miss Scarcity. She is a lovely girl and she has a warmth about her that no one can deny. However, she is also very afraid and insecure and because of these elements, she can be infuriating. I coined the phrase for her because I understand that her reactions are based on one main thing and that is that she feels there is just not enough. And so when someone feels that way, they become greedy or stingy and she is almost manic about it at times and over such petty things.

One evening, after a dinner she had cooked for us, her mother and I had decided to clear up and dish out desert. When I opened the freezer to get out the ice-cream, there were several tubs in there and her mother caught a glimpse of one particular flavour which took her fancy. “Oh I’ll have that one” she said excitedly. Sadly, her daughter quickly answered, “No, you can’t have that one!” Her mother looked disappointed and a little taken aback, “Why?” Her daughter replied, “Because that’s the good one” and her mother looked at me and shook her head with disbelief. I ignored the whole thing because something like that coming from her was not surprising. Fancy telling your mother that though? That saddened me. Especially because her mother is one of the most giving women I know.

Another incident was when I was cooking dinner for them. She called me up and left a message about an hour before they were meant to arrive, saying that she wouldn’t be coming because she had to finish some work that was overdue but that she would send a container for me to prepare a “doggy bag” for her. It was more like a bucket. And yes, I filled it to the brim and when my sister asked me why I had done that, why I didn’t just put in her portion and leave it at that? I smiled and calmly said that it wasn’t a big deal and that it was only food. She then told me that I shouldn’t have because she wouldn’t have done the same for me and that she was just being greedy. After all she even wanted some of the dessert they had brought along for the meal and sent specific instructions to bring some back. Her boyfriend told me that if he didn’t bring some back that he would ‘be in trouble’. I ended up giving whatever we hadn’t eaten back. I understood the frustration that my sister had felt and how ashamed she felt for Little Miss Scarcity but I told her that it didn’t matter what she would or would not do for me and that I do not do or give in accordance to what others will do for me or give back to me. The important part in all of this was that this is who I am. Never mind about her. My legacy is much more important to me. And my sister gave me a hug and was silent. I knew she understood and that she got it immediately.

I do wish that Little Miss Scarcity would get that there is enough. That you don’t have to take so quickly from your neighbour. That taking in that way will ultimately perpetuate her feeling of emptiness because I can see that she is unhappy but pushes it aside and pretends that all is well. There is obvious imbalance in her life and a lot of fear. If only she would change her perception and free herself from the prison of desperateness she has created. She is essentially a good person. Would it be naive of me to say that I actually think that essentially we all are? Flawed definitely but also good. I know that eventually life will teach her that people do not gravitate towards takers. That sharing and giving is so much more rewarding. In the mean time, I will continue to love her and if she ever asks me for my opinion, I will tell her outright what I think but until then I will send her joy and peace and be the example. One day she may be inspired and reinvent herself with a shift in her perception too. After all, it starts with just a little twist in thinking and then everything starts to unravel and life can change dramatically for the better or worse. That is part of our power and ultimately, we choose.

Haunted House

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Our family home was huge. It had seven bathrooms to it and a garden the size of a small field. We had maids and a gardener, guards and drivers. My father was a self made man and he worked very hard to build his little empire. He had an architect help him design and build the house we lived in.

I remember that we had to rent another house for a couple of years in order for the work on the home my parents designed to be completed. The newly built house was beautifully done with wooden beams and warm lighting and different levels and parts to it which was excellent for entertaining. My father being a businessman had to do a lot of that. We had people coming from all over the world and staying with us too.

The contractor that was working on the house was a very superstitious man and after studying the house plans, he told my father that there was a tree in the way and that he would not be responsible for cutting that tree down. He believed that there was a spirit that lived in the tree and that if we took it’s home away, it would disturb the balance of things. He suggested building around the tree instead. My father who thought it was all poppycock, took it upon himself to saw the tree down one evening. When we sat down for dinner that night, I asked him, “What happened to your hand Papa?” There was a deep red scratch that ran from the lower part of his arm all the way up to his shoulder. He looked at me and said, “I was sawing down the tree and this hand with long thick nails came down from it and scratched me” I think I stopped breathing for a few seconds and just stared back at him whilst my Mum and he laughed out loud. He then told me that he was joking and that it was just an accident whilst he was out there in the back garden with the now felled tree.

When the contractor returned the day after, he was mortified. He said that it was a big mistake and now that spirit will have to find a new home. Our home. My father brushed it off and told him to get on with things and let him deal with the rest.

We had that house for about 20 years in all. We didn’t live there throughout those years because all my siblings and I were sent overseas to boarding school and further education at different stages. Nevertheless it was still one of our homes.

Most of the disturbance or haunting took place in the early years. After that period, it died down a lot with spurts here and there. The spirits weren’t malicious or evil. Just playful. There was this one room which started off as Maria’s and Talissa’s room, then later was passed on to each sibling at different stages of our lives there. I had it for a very short time when I was 12 years old. I had a slumber party there with my girlfriends one night and whilst we talked throughout the night, the lights were being played with and later when we fell asleep our legs were pulled, awakening us abruptly. We were very brave because we were a big group I guess and unlike those stupid movies, we stayed together, huddled and protected. Also, it was my home and it was familiar to me. Whatever scares I did experience melted away within a few days of the incidents. Besides I was always more afraid of wicked people and what they could do then a few restless spirits.

I know that room had some negative energy because any one of us who would stay there for long periods of time would become introvert and reclusive as if we were being sucked in by some dark force. After all, there use to be a tree that stood at the very center of that space.

When we sold the house to a large family who paid a lot of money for it, they stayed there for 6 months and then sold it again. That kind of pattern ensued and families came and went. The house still stands as is but was never a home again. It’s now an office for a production company and they use parts of it for filming apparently.

One fine day my younger sister, Ariana was out for an event and she was sat at a table with some people in the film  industry and there was this one lady who was relating a story. She said that her staff had gone bonkers and were constantly complaining about their office premise. She added that they say things go missing or are moved and that they can hear children playing upstairs. Ariana felt a rush and goosebumps all at once. She looked at the lady and asked, “Is your address number 43, Biddulph Mansions?” The lady was startled and with a shocked look on her face she replied, “How did you know?” Ariana smiled reassuringly and gently answered, “You should listen to your staff!”

The Petticoat Wars

I have four siblings. One of whom is adopted. She is actually my first cousin from my Mum’s family and after her father passed away in a car crash, she came to stay with us. I remember that day quite vividly because we went to the hospital and he was the first dead body I had ever seen. It was surreal.  He just lay there, lifeless and I recall feeling scared and anxious.

Maria was about fourteen when she moved in and she was a troubled teenager. Her mother had four children, each from different men and when she was younger, she was passed from one house to another growing up. My mother who was her godmother put an end to that when we took her into our family. I was very young when she came to our home. I didn’t have a problem with it. I thought that it was all very exciting and I loved her very much. Of course I didn’t really understand the dynamics of it all. She was ten years older than me and I already had a sister who was the oldest until Maria entered into the scene. They were only a couple of years apart and so they had more in common or so we thought. The truth is my sister, Talissa, was a bookworm and was very different from Maria. She didn’t care much for attention nor was she bothered about boys at that time. It was only later that I truly understood how annoying my sister found Maria and how her becoming part of the family would have an effect on Talissa for a long time after.

I was just a kid with my own issues and growing pains. I remember how Maria would drive me insane with her antics. It was always one thing or another. Believe it or not, we use to fight about petticoats. I know it sounds pathetic but I was a bit of a control freak as a child and I always had things in order. So much around me was beyond my control so I had to have that much. I was obsessive. I remember every dinner where it was compulsory in our household to sit and eat together at precisely 8.00pm, I would take the plate off the table and go to the sink to wash it and dry it before using it. My mother would always tell me to stop being silly and that it was already clean but I had to do what I had to do and so it became a routine that soon everyone was use to. The only time I couldn’t wash my plate was when we had guests so I would usually identify where I would be sitting and do some preparation before guests arrived. Understanding this, you will realise that the idea of someone coming into my room, rummaging through my drawers and choosing an item she liked to wear without my permission was a nightmare for me. That’s when the petticoat wars began.

It was just silly squabbling over nothing really but because of her heightened sensitivity and her deep insecurities, it was impossible for her to deal with me rationally. Everything was always blown out of proportion and she was ever the victim. This in turn lead to handling her with ‘kit gloves’ which would not help her deal with her demons in the long run. We felt bad for her and we wanted her to feel welcomed so tiptoeing around Maria was something we mastered very well. It was only later on in life that things changed and that happened because nobody can tolerate having to be careful and constantly on guard with their own family. We grew up and she had to catch up or be left behind. I soon realised that although I never had any issues with acknowledging her as my sister and it was never something that I debated on, it was a point of contention for her. She had the problem with that, not us. Even though my parents had done everything to ensure that there was no division or difference in their treatment of all of us, it didn’t matter. Her issues were too deep for her to see just how good she really had it. You couldn’t win with her. It was a constant test.

She was allergic to aspirin and I recall one particular evening when she had taken a pill that contained the ingredient and her whole face looked like it had been through a boxing match. I was hiding in the corner of the room because there was so much commotion and our aunts were all around her, getting her off the bed and rushing her to the hospital and for a child, that whole scene haunted me for a while because I didn’t know what was going on. I was petrified that she was going to die and I would see her lifeless body just lying there like her father did on that operating table years before.

For Maria, anything and everything is always about her trauma and her experience. You will never have it as bad as she has had it. Although we were close as a family, these issues would constantly be apparent and more wars would ensue. She harboured a lot of resentment and jealousy towards me, thinking that I always got what I wanted and things always came easy to me. She felt that any triumph or success that I enjoyed was some sort of negative for her. As if there wasn’t enough for everyone to share. There was always some bitterness involved and I let it get to me for a long time.

Maria taught me so much. I learnt that having everyone’s approval is really overrated and that self-love and recognition is the best kind of acknowledgement I could ever attain. She also taught me so much about unconditional love because til this day, I can say that she is my sister and that I send her the best of vibes and buckets of love. I learnt tolerance and acceptance from her too. Honestly, the list goes on but for the sake of a conclusion, I would say that one of the most priceless lessons I gained from having her in my life, is that I would never compromise my authenticity for anyone ever again. I owe that to myself and to the person involved. I am who I am and if you don’t like it, in the words of my marvelous mother, “You can lump it!”