52 weeks,365 days,8760 hours,525600 minutes,31540000 seconds

Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back. Harvey Mackay

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Save some, give some, spend some. It’s a good principle to apply in every area of life. Our time for example. We never seem to have enough of it and yet everyday we have the same 24 hours. “ There aren’t enough hours in a day” is the most used phrase I hear daily. Especially from my son or more accurately ,” Can I eat please; I don’t have time”. All in one breath. This is to save the time he doesn’t have ,by telling me he doesn’t have time.

Time is all we have. Everything else is dependant on time. How we CHOOSE to invest it is another story. Most of us don’t realise the impact of our thoughts. My daughter can spend hours on social media, “sorting out the trolls”. She doesn’t go online for the sole purpose of trolling trolls. That would make her the villain in the story of the Billy goats gruff . She just accidently happens to come across them. If she encounters one, she gets riled up. I love these exchanges between us. Sharing ideas and opinions and listening to her wisdom beyond her years. I wasn’t allowed to be that opinionated at that age. Which is why it doesn’t make sense to invest my time and energy entertaining the negativity. I benefit from it though. I get to go inside that beautiful mind of hers. I love the way Richard Grannon puts it,: “ Don’t ever go to the comment section;the comment section is where all the poopers go to leave their poop”.

I am amazed at what is considered news worthy these days. In some countries like Syria, children play in areas where bombs going off is part of their normal. It’s daily news .No one makes a fuss. The whole world pauses because Megan and Harry had an interview on Oprah. Not to minimise their suffering , more to highlight where and how we choose to invest our time and our energy. Whilst my friends were idolizing celebrities, I started my lifelong futile quest at people pleasing. It boggles my mind how we revolve our lives around someone who does not know we exist. It comes in all shapes and sizes and ends with no boundaries.

We have done it all. Invested more than our time without a second thought. Given our entire savings (100k) to a close relative who was about to loose his house. Relocated our family to take care of my sister’s children and grand children. Provided a roof for every family member and not family member that came knocking. We were happy to help because we loved making a difference. We still do. Like the side effects of bad medication, the failure to set boundaries caused a meltdown. Still stuck in people pleasing mode, I ignored it and pushed even harder. Cancer diagnosis couldn’t save me. I was pouring from an empty cup and kept pouring.

Photo by Tiard Schulz on Unsplash

Failing to set healthy boundaries compromises your sense of self and authenticity. A service of love becomes an obligation. The shift occurred when my niece asked if they could move in with their two children. We had the space and we agreed that they could take care of the house when we relocated. I love her two little ones as if they are my own. I love all children with such fierceness. I will not bore you with the details, but I ended up doing everything ,cleaning, washing etc for my family and theirs. I failed to set boundaries.

“We change our behaviour when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing. Consequences give us the pain that motivates us to change.” ― Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend

The biggest push was when they got a puppy and I had to clean up after their dog. She would smile and chat to me ,whilst I cleaned it up. I became resentful and started putting up walls, not boundaries. I didn’t know how. My niece and her husband moved out. Our house turned from headquarters to the furthest inconvenience store.

3 Years later I had to inform my family about my BRCA status. When I sent the letter to inform them they are at risk for BRCA2, nobody responded. That same year my brother was in and out of hospital. They could not determine what was wrong with him. He died of prostate cancer at the end of the year. It was too far gone for them to start treatment. The family chat went quiet. I left the group. My husband stayed and the jokes started rolling in again. I was miserable, lonely and hurt. I couldn’t understand how I could go from being the go to person to the black sheep. Most people would say my family is toxic. I choose to not be a victim and acknowledge my shortcomings. People process emotions dependent on their environment. Everybody has a story to tell. That is why it is so important to choose what you allow in your space and how you invest your time. 3 of my friends cried. After reassuring them, I never heard from them again. It is weird how we always tend to make someone else’s suffering about ourselves. One of them sent me a message 4 months later to enquire why I had not congratulated her for her birthday. I responded with “ sorry , I had chemo yesterday and was not feeling well ,but happy birthday. I chose to end a lifelong friendship. That was the first time I started setting boundaries. It was also my first lesson on toxic relationships. I had invested my entire life in caring for others. The operative word being ,invested.

My daughter suggested yesterday,:” Mommy ,you mustn’t take people so seriously. It will make them not want to be themselves around you.” I explained my responsibility in teaching her values. I then acknowledged that she is at an age where she gets to choose who she wants to be. If she chooses to laugh at people when they are down, I will respect who she chooses to be. She went quiet and I am sure ,she was processing the lesson.

When I started writing this the title was: You are only as good as you can do for people ; My quote “ the only people who get upset about you setting boundaries, are the ones who benefit from you having none.”

What has changed since I started writing? My entire being. It’s all about perception.

Every soul I encountered sowed into my life and contributed to who I am today.

I have learnt the importance of choosing how to invest my time. One can forgive and love people from a distance with perfect peace in your heart. I have learnt to not respond or engage with anything that is not in alignment with my soul. I have learnt to speak my truth and to always keep learning.

All metals have to go through fire to be refined. Meat has to be cooked for consumption. We can’t enjoy a cake unless it is baked. A seed needs soil, sunlight and water to grow. With the right ingredients(thoughts) and the correct perception(choosing), we can be live to reach our full potential.

Photo by Brienne Hong on Unsplash

Sometimes we have to go through it ,to grow through it.

Thank you for choosing to invest your time in reading this. Happy growing!!

Woman of Faith, Mom of two healthy human beings; Survivor . Hoping to pay it forward in lessons learnt!