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  • Writer's pictureAndi


Tomorrow in the US, we will be celebrating July 4th and many of us will find ways to experience the beauty of the traditional fireworks display over Manhattan or in our local neighborhoods. As a child I always loved fireworks and still today I find the sparkling bursts in the sky wonderous. I get excited anticipating how the sky will light up. I am rarely disappointed. Since I did not grow up in US, our day of fireworks was celebrated in November “Guy Fawkes Day”. This is a British tradition which is what many of the South African customs are based upon as the country was under British rule for many years. I remember my parents lighting fireworks in our backyard (now that I think about it, this was quite dangerous) and I loved it. Memories are flooding back of “jumping jacks” that bounced across the lawn as we ran next to them, hand-held sparklers that could have singed our eyes, and even lighting rockets and running for cover in case we kids angled the rockets incorrectly!

In other happy moments we feel fireworks bursting through our bodies. That first moment when you know you have connected with someone special, or we receive great news that carries us happily through the next several days regardless of what is going on. This is the greatest feeling, if only we could bottle this elixir up and drink when we need it.

Fireworks do also come in moments of severe anger or fear. When I am very angry, I see black and bursting fireworks in my head. Has this ever happened to you where you are so aggravated that you find yourself shallow breathing, shaking, and seeing stars in front of your eyes? In the past, I would be quick to react and often be left with the regret of my response. I would then only focus on my response and my guilt would get the better of me. I would relive the situation over and over to justify my reaction.

I have learned to become more aware of these fireworks. I can’t control them from entering my body, but I can now control my reaction, which is to take a deep breath and do NOTHING. This took me a lot of practice but it’s very affirming. In the same way we go to the gym to strengthen our muscles, our mental muscles need to be built over time. Use this practice when fireworks enter your body. Acknowledge it happened and use it as a mental gym workout, pause, take a deep breath, and do nothing! Often, we don’t regret what we say, but rather the delivery in which it was said. Yes, an apology goes a long way, and shows maturity, but its best if caught before the words come flying out of our mouths.

When it comes to a family crisis surrounding health, my natural reaction is to go into slow motion. I am so afraid of not being able to think clearly through the steps that I literally go into a bubble and shut out the rest of the world so I can think slowly and logically. This would happen when one of my children got hurt. I feel blessed that this was something that just came naturally to me, I think the fear of not being able to be effective in the moment keeps me in this slow processing state. If you talk to me at that moment, it’s likely I won’t even hear you.

Getting back to happier moments and with permission from my yogi friend from last week… “Sunglasses guy” did come back and they had a sweet exchange. There appears to be a spark, but time will tell if fireworks are to follow. I’ve realized that when I see fireworks for happy occasions, the emotion comes from my heart. When I see fireworks for negative reasons, it’s all up in my head. I am definitely in a happier state when my heart is leading the way.

For Parents: it’s so important we role model our reactions in front of our children especially toward our partners, not only how we react to them but how we speak about them in front of our children. Try not to use negative phrases like, “you sound just like your father/mother”. To us it’s a meaningless comment, but our children are absorbing this tension. Think about the message that is being sent. “Your parent sucks and so do you in this moment”.

I really like this quote and I hope you do too.

If this does not feel doable for you and you would like to work on your mental muscle, I am here to help.

Enjoy the fireworks tomorrow, I hope they are only for July 4th celebrations or other happy occasions!

~ Andi

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