Chesty Stressy Misfit

So, I have a condition called costochondritis. It sounds scary, but in actual fact all it is is inflammation in the cartilage that connects the ribs to the breast bone.

 

I had no idea that inflammation in cartilage was an actual thing, but after having spent a small fortune, I’ve discovered it is. What’s more, the medication the doctor prescribed apparently has a “drowsiness” side effect. In my case it’s more like exhausted. I sleep at least ten hours after taking the evening dose, but during the day I am praying for my half-hour lunch break, so I can nap in the car. I am on day three of the minimal five-day regime (it may be extended with another five days if the pain isn’t alleviated soon).

I did a bit of reading up on the condition – it stems from either heavy lifting, or a blow to the chest, or a coughy-sneezy-condition, or stress. Yes, I rejoined the gym in June, but quite frankly I haven’t been there as often as I’d like and I’m not remotely close to the strength level I was when I left, so heavy lifting isn’t the cause, unless you count my handbag, which rivals that of Mary Poppins some days. I haven’t had a blow to the chest, because I don’t have the skills required to even shadow-box and I haven’t been a snot-factory for a long time, so that leaves stress.

I’ll concede, the last few months have been stressful due to certain things happening at work, and while I almost always appear unfazed, I was taking strain. The issues are still there and as time marches on, they will become a reality, but the stress is less as there is a clearer picture of what lies ahead.
Then of course, I add to the stress-shovel by deciding to have some kind of shindig for my birthday (which is still two months away). There are plans that need to be set into motion, a cake to be planned (I’m leaving the task to someone else way more capable than I am), canapés to be made (although Carmen says I should have everyone bring a plate and have a prize for the best one), bubbly to be bought, a costume to be sourced and whatever else goes into a fun night with good friends. The creative gods fortunately grabbed me earlier this week, so the ‘save the date’ and e-invitations are finalized.

Harriet and I were talking last night, and she made a very valid point – that I am constantly busy with people around me – if it’s not my bi-weekly nail appointment, it’s a catch-up with someone, weekends with my parents, quiz night (which was last night). Her exact words were, “You’re always around people.” Her observation is valid, I don’t deny it; I am a social person, but my circle is small, having shrunk exponentially in the last three years or so.

As I’ve got older I’ve realized that there are people who thrive on drama, others who are around when the weather’s fair (and I’m not talking about the sun shining outdoors), and those who judge. Others have just fallen by the wayside because their (or my-) priorities have changed and we don’t fit into each other’s moulds anymore, or merely because I got tired of putting in the effort all the time.

What she didn’t say, but what I heard was “you need some me-time” and she’s right. This condition is one of the ways that my body is telling me to take a time out and rest. Alone. Whether it’s a relaxing walk on the beach, or taking a drive to the point to feed the pigeons and the gulls, or a movie night complete with popcorn, chocolates and ginger beer, it needs doing and it needs doing with me, myself and I.

So, I’m heeding her advice – and going home tomorrow afternoon (the first time in ages I won’t be with my folks the entire weekend) and I’m going to have some special Misfit-time, and even possibly a few analogue hours on Sunday, I’ll see. One thing’s certain though, this Misfit wants to get back to normal because as benign as costochondritis is, the chest pain that goes with it is dreadful. I’m trusting that the R&R will aid a speedy recovery.

Have a good weekend y’all!

Advertisements

Inspiration to Travel Down Memory Lane

Last night I was reading The Brain Bleacher, the final short story in the second Sticky Fingers anthology by JT Lawrence, with whom I was at school with for a short time before moving to Mossel Bay.

I was chatting with Charlie after I’d finished the book, and said to him that one day I will write like that – as in short stories, because while I know I have a writing gift, I do not possess the mad skills to weave a tale in a limited amount of words that grabs you from the word go.  JTL just has it.

One quote in the story above really resonated with me: “While a memory is a mental snapshot of a moment, it carries with it layers of emotion and texture and scent.

index

It reminded me of quite a few mental snapshots and something my colleague, Carla and I discussed when we spent a girls’ night away at a local lodge about three years ago one November weekend.  She said when she looks back in time,  she doesn’t necessary remember the things that were around her at a time, but she does remember the smell of the air, or the warmth of the sun on her skin, or the song in the breeze; most importantly she remembers how she felt in that moment. Thinking about that outing, I remember being stretched out on a long wooden deck chair, with a book listening to the trickle of the stream nearby.  While I don’t remember the title of the book, I remember the feel of the parchment between my fingers and the smell of the ink.  I remember feeling completely content, even if only for a few fleeting moments.

Another memory that popped into my mind was our visits to Mossel Bay when I was a child.  The Bean and I would catch the train from Johannesburg and travel to visit my matriarchal grandparents and all the aunts, uncles and cousins.  The one olfactory memory I have of these journeys is pulling into the station and smelling the oceanic saltiness in the air – a world removed from the Johannesburg smog that enveloped us during our time in that concrete jungle.  I remember loving the feel of the sea sand between my toes and being bribed out of the freezing cold water with what was probably an even colder ice-cream cone.

I recalled other memories too – and with focus on the emotions, texture and scent, I was transported back to those moments in time, and it felt as if I was there again.

In one, I felt the gooseflesh rise at the receipt of a gentle touch in a tender moment, even though my heart was racing with uncertainty and angst and flaming desire at the same time.

In another, I felt the dread and horrific realization induced by the smell of burnt chicken (I won’t live it down either, I promise!)

In another I was warmed by the soft heat of a gas heater with the fairy-tale lights of a Cape Town Waterfront Christmas display to illuminate my friend, Andrew’s face as we caught up five years’ worth of news over a chocolate-berry-spiced red wine and lekker South African fare.  I also remember the indigestion that followed shortly after seeing the bill.

In another I remember sitting against the trunk of a tree, after a particularly trying parkrun.  My hair was plastered to my forehead with glue-au-de-perspiration and my breathing was laboured, so much so I’m sure I could have given The Big Bad Wolf a run for his money (bacon, anyone?). A woman approached me asking about Herbalife (yes, I was branded for the walk – not my finest advertising moment) and we got chatting.  Eighteen months later, that woman, Harriet, is one of my closest friends.  I haven’t been able to do our routed parkrun since though because of my bum knee.

I could reminisce like this for hours, and I think each day I shall get in my time machine and take myself back to at least one happy (or funny) memory – where I can relieve the sensation, feel the grain, and inhale the fragrance of times gone by.  And sure, sometimes it’s necessary to revisit the sad and bad memories, to remind oneself how far you’ve come, but for the most part, I want to simply revisit the happy times, filled with laughter, hope, friendship, family and most importantly the love that surrounds all those things.

So, here’s to joyous recollections, all inspired by a single line, from an incredible book.

Cheers to you JTL!  I aspire to be an author like you.  You are a creative genius and an absolute legend.

The Beauty Within

My friend, Jenna, gave me the following brief:

“The Beauty Inside

How about something to inspire us who are not able to see our worth or beauty in a cruel world.”

I have been thinking about this since I first read her comment.  I had a few ideas I was toying with but decided that something unconventional would be the best route to go with this subject.

The Lady Without a Name

She is there on the park bench; the lady without a name

I see her every Friday, like we play some kind of game

 

Her sight is straight ahead – an empty, lifeless gaze

I see something on her cheekbone, it’s clearly a graze

 

She wears pretty clothes, but something’s clearly amiss

She’s a classic beauty, not at all a ‘Miss Pris’

 

Her eyes are dark pools, rich and deeply clear

It’s only when she blinks them, that I notice her tears

 

I wonder what she’s thinking, what’s making her sad

Or is she crying because she’s irate; flaming mad?

 

Excuse me. What’s the matter? Yes, I am bit nosy

Before she can protest, I hand her a posy

 

Oh, Sweet Girl, it’s my husband, you see

He words are cruel and hateful, and he beats me

 

I too have been there, I know her pain

But us women are warriors – rainbows after the rain

 

Tell me what he said, I ask, the reason you’re so blue

Men that treat women badly, they’re a Motley Crew

 

Her lips tremble as she begins to speak

Her voice is so quiet, barely an audible squeak

 

He called me useless: A whore!

He said I’m stupid,

A bad mother

Decayed at the core

 

The tongue cuts deep, a double-edged sword

That I do believe, as it is written in the Word of the Lord

I take her hand in mine, and give it a squeeze

Listen to me now, and believe this, please.

The world may be cruel, dark and dim

But you have a special light, that shines within

You are unique, special and I can sense, kind

Don’t let anyone who can’t see that make YOU feel blind!

It may not be easy, but you have the power to leave

No person should choke your living, disallowing you to breathe
Despite the rank darkness of the world today

You are important, you have a fated role to play

I also know it’s easy for me to talk

I don’t wear your shoes, I don’t know your walk

What I do know is this, we’re women; warriorly fighters

We sacrifice of ourselves all the time, to make others’ burdens lighter

There is beauty in you, and hidden gems too

You work to fill others, it’s what we do

Be hopeful, be happy, choose to be free

Others have done it, you can too!

She rose from her seat, no tear in sight

Thank you, she said, woman of might!

It’s been a year since that Friday, her bench has been empty

But she’s moving and shaking, with good deeds a-plenty

I’ve heard she shares her story, no longer with shame

That incredible lady, without a name.

images

I Need YOUR Help! Yes, You!

I should write more. That’s the consensus among the close friends I have that read my blog.  It’s not that I don’t want to write, it’s more a case of The Muse being a bigger hibernator than I am.  But, they’re right *sssshhhh don’t tell them I said that*; I’m not doing what I love on a daily basis.

25-waystofindyourpassion-19-728

In an attempt to write more, an in so doing, pursue my passion – whether poetry, prose or anecdotes – I’m going to need help. Please would every one of you that reads this particular entry, leave a comment of what you’d like me to write about – it can be anything – I will do my utmost best to do right by you.

So, who’s first?

The Winds of Change are A’Blowin’

Sometimes, something happens, and you find yourself (for lack of a better term), different.  Out of this Misfit’s book, I give you two personal examples:

Dining Alone

EatingAlone

I’m not sure which one of my girl friends it was, but she said, “It’s like when you reach 40 you just don’t give a rat’s ass anymore what people think.” Pretty much everyone 40+ in the company agreed.

I’ve always been one that enjoys my own company; growing up as an only child in a building where there were no other kids taught me quickly how to keep myself entertained.  As I grew up, I became an extremely social person; I was a relatively well-liked teenager (albeit a book nerd) and post-21, I had many people I considered friends.

As we all know, life happens, and people’s paths diverge – there is no definitive turning point, or fork in the road.  One day you’re still cruising on a Sunday-roadtrip-to-nowhere with your best friend, a year later you’re sitting in a coffee shop alone, having an oversized brunch, chased by a double-thick-peanut-butter-milkshake.

If anyone had told me a year ago, that on the brink of thirty-nine, I would be that person, I would have laughed because I’ve always been of the opinion that there are certain things nobody should do alone – like have a meal in a restaurant, or go to the movies, yet yesterday, I was that person. And it felt surprisingly good. I paged leisurely through some tattered magazine while waiting for-, and during (my mother would just die if she knew I was reading at the table) my meal. I was lost in my own little world, oblivious to what was happening around me, until a stranger accidently bumped my table on his way out.

The point I’m trying to make, I suppose, is that I’ve reached that point, where I’m okay to go out on my own (although solo-movies are still daunting) and not be fazed by what the people around me think.

It boils down to acceptance of self, but more than that love of self – because face it, if you don’t love and accept who you are, how can you expect others to?  I’m confident and independent – and that epitome is the greatest thing ever; just a pity it’s taken me almost forty years to realize it.

Social Media Slow Down

life-without-social-media1

It’s been eleven years since my friend, Vixen, nudged me to join Facebook – the magical world where I could play Texas Hold ‘Em Poker without losing any real money, stay in touch with friends, plug my Herbalife business, share photos & random thoughts (some of my memories have me wondering, What. The. Actual. Fuck?) and Lord knows what else.

Round this time last year, the appeal was just gone.  I woke up one morning thinking, how many people really bother with checking up on me there, as opposed to getting in touch with me by other, more immediate means? I’m not saying I’ve become a total social media luddite, I’ve merely tapered down my use of almost all the apps related to it, except Whatsapp, because it is my main go-to means of comms, mostly because I use my almost ninety-five hundred percent of my allocated 100 minutes of talk-time on my contract to chat to my friend Trisha, in Durban.

Being a complete social media hermit is not normal in the age we live in, so I’ll still log in and check what’s potting in Facebook-land, sometimes I’ll even post something, but quite honestly, I’d much rather save my data to chat with the circle of people on Whatsapp that matter to me, as much as I do to them.

Maybe it’s also because I’m almost forty, who knows?  One thing’s for sure though – there is a change in me, and I’m embracing it.  I feel like a new person – more accepting, more open and sure as hell, more awesome.

Change is not a bad thing – sometimes it is more necessary than we’d care to admit, and it’s a part of growing up, and enjoying life.

It’s Cold, but it’s Good…

I think my spirit animal is a bear. Not a polar one, one that hibernates. Oh, and eats when it is only necessary. Yip, a bear, definitely a bear.

882709431831

I’ve always said that if I could have a single season all year round, it would be Autumn- the days are still long and relatively warm and there is a golden hue to everything around me, like an angel’s halo, glowing in the light. The trees dance a gentle waltz to the song of the breeze as their leaves change colour from green to red, red to yellow, yellow to brown, and eventually fall to the ground, their naked branches a stark fortune-teller that reminds us for rebirth to happen, death must occur.

Winter is not my season. At all. The days are short: it’s dark when I get up for work and in the height of the season, it’s dark when I get home in the afternoons, just shy of 17:30. For the most part, I’ve learnt to appreciate the darkness. Many a winter night I will get into bed early, with a hot beverage and just listen to the stillness that only a winter’s night can bring. It’s during these times that many of my troubles come to the fore, but also because of the clear blackness not only around me, but in my mind, I am able to think of systematic solutions. It is also a time when my Creative Muse seems to surface from her den, inspiring me to create something, anything, beautiful.

Just this past Saturday, while under a blanket on the couch at a friend’s place, I got the urge to cook – I’ve laid my hands on quite a few recipes, and am excited about the smells and warmth that will be emanating from my oven, or from the bubbling pots atop. I also unpacked all my cake decorating tools not too long ago too.  More importantly, I’ve indulged my true passion a bit more: I’ve been writing!

Looks like winter may be my season after all… hearty soups, hot chocolate, Port, stunning sunrises (because I’m awake to see them), time for self, time to create and above all, knowing that when it’s over, Spring springs and a cycle of new hope and new life begins.

Winter-Warmer3-960x360

Virtues: Kindness

Many years ago, when I was doing my novel-writing course, my tutor, Alex Smith, said that if a character needs a bit of development, I should use this Proust questionnaire as a starting point. Every so often I take it out and have fun with my friends, “interviewing them”.  It’s also fun to look back at what original answers were vs what they are now.  Some things change, some things stay the same.

One of the questions that always fascinates me is “what is the most overrated virtue?” It is a question that, at first glance, seems easy to answer, but in reality, it isn’t, because not everyone has the same understanding of what a virtue is, nor do their moral compasses face the same True North.

virtue

So, instead of working it from that angle, I’ve opted to discuss what the underrated ones are – in my misfit opinion, but also in the opinions of others who opted to reply to a post I put on Facebook in an attempt to research more about the topic.

To start, I’ll talk about one of the virtues that ranks really high on my list, but that is very often disregarded by others (whether intentional or not, it doesn’t matter): Kindness.

What has become my motto in life is this quote by Ian Maclaren:

321474

Face it…  Every single one of you reading this post has had it tough at some stage of your life.  Would something as simple as a smile from a stranger, a hug from a friend, an encouraging word from a colleague, or a gentle squeeze on the hand from your spouse have eased the trial, if even for a fleeting moment? I believe so. I’m not in any way trying to say that kindness is the key to solving the problem, but merely that it lightens the burden, if only for a short while. It opens the door for other virtues, like hope and perseverance.

Do I fail at being kind? Sure, I do.  I’m not infallible. Honestly, I fail at a lot of the virtues that will be blogged about during the course of this month. My creativity sometimes leaves for months on end; I can sometimes be selfish instead of selfless; sometimes I am conceited, instead of modest…

In closing, I challenge you to be kind to everyone who crosses your path today, bearing in mind that kindness, like every other virtue, does not require a grand exhibition of self, but a pureness of heart and a humble spirit.