#EkOok

My friend, Yolandi Claassens, writes Afrikaans motivational, Christian-based stuff drawing from her own testimonies.   She has published one anthology already, entitled Padlangs (translation in context of her writing:  The Journey), which started as a blog and Facebook page (much like Reflections of a Misfit).  Padlangs and it as well as her second manuscript, Padkos (translation in context of her writing:  Soul Food) are currently being edited by a different publishing house for publication later this year.

The story of why she changed publishers is outlined in this book I purchased from her today.  It is entitled #EkOok (#MeToo), a collection of stories written by various South African women from all walks of life who share their stories of hope after disappointment and rising after defeat.

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Obviously if I only bought the book today, I haven’t done much in the line of reading.  I jumped to Yolandi’s story, where she had penned the message “Jeremiah 29:11 – make it yours”.  I then happened upon another story about a woman who found out about her husband’s infidelity when she received a text intended for his mistress.  She fell pregnant and came to after the birth, only to discover her husband and his mistress in her hospital ward.  But that’s not all, he went on to tell her that due to her disobedience, he would not be tending to her-, nor the baby’s needs.  If she wanted anything, she would have to ask his mistress.  If your jaws haven’t all dropped in disbelief, then I’d like to know what is wrong with you?!  The writer goes on to say that she has moved on, forgiving her (which I gather must be her now ex-) husband, in order for her to be able to live her life to the fullest.

From my own experience, I know forgiveness is hard.  Especially when you did nothing but care for someone who betrayed your heart so badly, you would rather have died than go on.  But (there’s always a ‘but’, isn’t there?) forgiveness does enable one to move past the hurt, resentment and anger – eventually.  Also, drawing from my own life, forgiving someone doesn’t mean you have to let them back into your life when they have (apparently) seen the error of their ways.  I wrote, well ranted, about such an instance here.

Both Yolandi, and the other lady’s story have one thing in common:  We are not always in control of what happens to us, but (this is a good ‘but’) we do command the power of how we react.  As someone who needs medication to keep Darkness at bay, I do know that I can either decide to let It envelope me, or I can take a rest and give myself time to regain perspective.  That is where my authority lies – in knowing that I need to heed the warnings and that having a boundary of I’m not able to (insert whatever seemingly normal activity may become overwhelming at times) is not a weakness.  I can choose to do what I need to do to remain strong.

There are seventy-one stories in #EkOok and my intention is to read at least three a day, because there are stories in it that remind me that no matter how hard things seem for me, there are women that have faced worse and reached a point in their life where they can share their story – that’s true healing, right there.  There are times when I feel unworthy or unloved and there, on the crisp pages of this book, ink dances to remind me that I am enough!

 

An Update on the Road to my Recovery

I’ve been tasked at work with something creative:  (Digital) Visual (Mood) boards.  They take some time to do, but I’ve found them to be a form of therapy.  What’s more is that I got “Good work!” from my boss.

There’s often the question during an interview: “What do you value more? Money? Or recognition?”  In the few times I’ve been asked this (it’s come up in about 80% of the job interviews I’ve had), I’ve wanted to reply, “Technically, that’s three questions” but have always opted for “there’s no right or wrong answer to this question.  Both money and recognition have their merits; it depends on you as a person, your value system and how you personally measure your worth.  Sure, money can make life easier, but recognition makes a person better.  I’m on the fence really.  Some days I would love a raise, other days I’d prefer acknowledgment of a job well done.”

Whether my diplomacy has been the reason I’ve landed the jobs I’ve had, I’m not sure.  What I do know is that of late (since my relapse) hearing “You did well”, “Nice work!”, “Our agent is so impressed with the mood boards you’ve done”, “Well done on bettering your skills” is worth more than any amount of money, regardless of the currency.

I am trying hard to get back into some kind of routine which entails (in no particular order of priority):

  1. Doing something creative
  2. Doing something non-creative, but that’s still relaxing
  3. Exercising
  4. Socialising
  5. Eating & drinking water
  6. Seeing my parents
  7. Less screen-time
  8. Sleeping
  9. Setting goals
  10. Doing something for “me”

On a scale of 1-10, I’m averaging about a 7, maybe a 7.5, which isn’t bad at all considering everything that’s happened, happening and possibly going to happen [I’m not overthinking things like I used to (but I am still aware of reality)].

Creativity is important to me because I’m predominantly right-brained. I am trying to blog more (granted it’s not necessarily creative per sé, but it can be), and I am doing the mood boards for work and I’m doing the adult-colouring-in thing too.

Self-awarded grade: 6.8/10

f9505e33a4540d8ed19cb87786fe50c5Doing something non-creative, but that’s still relaxing: For the most part I’m trying to read more.  Nothing too emotional, although The Tattooist of Auschwitz is on my TBR pile.  I’m busy with Queen Mum by Kate Long at the moment and when I’m finished, I’m going to read The Woman who went to Bed for a Year by Sue Townsend next.  Besides the fact that the title sounds like something I sometimes feel I could do, her Adrian Mole books got me through my teenage years.  I also try to do a home-spa Sunday at least every fortnight.

Self- awarded grade: 7.3/10

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Exercising: Personal training with Steve twice a week is gruelling, but the burn is so worth it!  Last night I managed heavier weights with an additional set of reps which means I’m already a bit stronger than I was last week.  Steve told me a few times, “Well done!” which made me feel good about my achievements (as small as they are). My abs are stubborn though; they still don’t want to make an appearance, and that after I did 80 sit-ups and 80 crunches.

Self-awarded grade: 7/10

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Socialising: When I’m in remission, I’m quite the social butterfly – always up for a get-together of some sort, and no need to mentally prepare myself. Now it’s different: I have to logically consider the impact a social engagement is going to have on my energy levels, both physical and emotional, and if there is a polite exit strategy should I need to use it.  If I look back at the last six weeks, I’ve been out to various gatherings.  All of them have gone well, even those where I’ve been amongst crowds of people.

Self-awarded grade: 7/10

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Eating: The theory behind my getting back into the gym is that it would accelerate my appetite. I’m eating, but not as frequently as I should.  On the flipside, when I do eat, I opt for healthy, protein-rich foods that aid muscle recovery.  Drinking water:  It’s getting colder now, so I am consuming less water, but a lot of rooibos tea, which is loaded with antioxidants and health benefits.

Self-awarded grade:  7/10

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Seeing my parents:  I used to spend a portion of every weekend staying over at my folks, on the couch, with half my body in the kitchen and the other half in the lounge.  Since my stint in the hospital, I have been to visit them, but not stayed over.  It felt strange in the beginning to be in The Cave on a weekend, but it has proved to be good for me because I rest as and when needed.  It has also allowed for me to be able to treat my folks to some time out, even if only for a cup of tea.

Self-awarded grade:  6.5/10

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Less screen-time: Blue-light addiction is a real thing.  One of my favourite things to do is binge-watch a series on a rainy day, or a Sunday, so when the doctor told me I’d have to refrain from this pastime for a while, I was disappointed.  He explained his reasoning and medically, it makes sense.

It also allows for more time to read, take a walk or do something else that’s relaxing.  I also no longer have my phone next to my bed at night.  I often used to wake up during the night, to “check the time” on my phone and end up scrolling through Facebook, reading a Kindle book, chatting to one of my night-owl friends or playing some mindless game for hours.

My phone is still close, in the kitchen, and only set for certain important people to be able to get hold of me during the night in case of an emergency.  I’m pleased to report that what I though was going to be one of the most difficult tasks on the list is the one I’ve fared most well at.

Self-awarded grade:  8.5/10

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Sleeping: One of the signs of depression is either sleeping too much, or not sleeping at all.  Before my episode I suffered both these afflictions.  About a month before I finally cracked, I spent as much time as I was able to be awake during the day, asleep and vice versa.

I told Elena one evening while having my nails done that I’d turned into the proverbial dormouse and she said, “It’s not healthy. And you’re getting so thin. Something is wrong.”  I knew there was truth to what she’d said, but rather than admit something was amiss, I waved my hand and said, “It’s nothing, I’m just tired.  This too shall pass.”

I’ve learned that there is nothing wrong in admitting that I’m not strong all the time.  I’m sleeping a lot better – at least 8 hours a night.  Granted, the sleep meds help, but I am slowly weaning myself off them, because less screen-time, more exercise, healthier eating habits and relaxation hobbies are aiding rest too.

Self-awarded grade: 8.2/10

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Setting goals: This is one thing I’ve always abhorred, because I feel like I’ve failed if I don’t reach a goal by the deadline I’ve set.

Sure, I got my Internationally Accredited Qualification in International Trade, but it took me 12 years to finish a course that should have taken only three.

I had a goal to be driving a Mercedes or a Lexus by my fortieth birthday, so unless something miraculous happens, that will be another thing that will be on the “crashed” list.

I had a goal that by the time I was thirty I’d have travelled to London (because I have a weird fascination with the Union flag – and before anyone stones me, it’s only the Union Jack when hoisted at sea (Thank you Dr Who!).

The Steel Magnolia and I also had a goal to go to Verona in Italy before she turned sixty.  Neither of these goals has been reached because life happened.  I’ve become so used to virtually everything not going as planned, that setting goals is something I try to avoid as far as possible.

Therapy dictates though that I must set goals, so I have a list of daily, weekly, fortnightly, monthly, quarterly, bi-annual and annual ones.  I feel disappointed in myself when I don’t achieve the really short-term ones, but I have to look at the bigger picture.

It’s easily said, but it’s a struggle, so I decided to do a digital visual “goal” board.  I’ll post it when it’s finished – that way I’ll be accountable to not only myself and my doctor, but to you, my loyal followers as well.

Self-awarded goal:  6/10

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Doing something for “me”: I’ve always joked that I’m high maintenance.  I’m probably one of the most low-maintenance women God ever created.  I’m not big on make-up, my hair is long, but hardly ever gets close to a hairdryer, not to mention a straightener, and I wear whatever I feel comfortable in.  Some days it’s a dress, some days it’s shorts, some days it’s sweats and sneakers.

Part of it stems from having never been seen as pretty.  This is something that I’ve finally admitted with the help of therapy; that I attach my worth to how people have seen me in the past.

As an elementary school child, I always wore my hair short and I hated wearing a dress.  As a teenager I had bad skin (so much so that Shayla-Rae bought me acne concealer cream for my 16th birthday) and the worst overbite imaginable which earned me the horrible name of Cliffhanger.  I was brainy too, which didn’t help matters.  Suffice to say, nerdy, pockmarked, haasbekke are not popular. I will say this though, when I do have to “clean up”, I do it well and I am a right stunner, but part of me feels a little false.

Again, this is something that will be dealt with in detail as psychoanalysis continues.

Forgive me, my brain went off the rails for a while there…

Something I do for “me”:  Every fortnight I have my nails done, and twice a year I have my hair properly tinted, highlighted and trimmed.  On the odd occasion I treat myself to peanut butter in some form or another.  And cheesecake.  And ice-cream.  And every year, I buy a book.  I don’t necessarily read it, but I will – one day!  Maybe I should put the title of a book on my goals list, and set a date to have finished reading it?  Yes, I think I’ll do that 😊

Self-awarded goal:  7.8/10

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Gracious Old Soul

I have a few photos on my fridge; Happy Memories – Carmen & Ewan’s wedding invitation, Mary and Martin’s too. Sandra in her bikini on the one day years ago in December that I ventured out to the waterpark with her (and learning that I’m not as young as I thought I was!), Jack and I when I still had my braces (at 28!), an outing to a local wildlife ranch ages ago with The Bean and Aunty Carol one Mother’s Day (when The Toppie was still working); Lesley was with us that day, having lost her mother shortly before, so there is a photo of the two of us too, and another photo of Charlie and I, taken last year at the same place.  There are photos too of Aunty Carol, Uncle Barry, The Toppie, The Bean and I taken while we waited to board a passenger liner for a holiday, one of Elizabeth and her two sisters taken at Lesley’s wedding (which was on my 33rd birthday), Emma, Nathan and I at his 40th, and one of my precious little Mouse (which is the nickname I have given to my beautiful godchild, Lily-Rose).

Now, I see these photos every day, but honestly, I don’t notice them anymore. Except this morning I did, and my Mouse’s smiling face transported me back to the day she was christened, December 10th, 2017 – and the message the minister gave that day:  What’s in a Name?  Your Name…

I’ve thought a while about putting my real name here, and for the sake of this entry being authentic, I’ve decided to do so.

Hello World, my name is Priscilla Anne.  If The Bean had had her way I would have been Avril.

I never liked my name, until I realized that its meaning is spot on – Priscilla means “Of Olden Times” and Anne means “Grace”.  Avril means “Opening buds of Spring; born in April”.  The Bean sent my biological father (aka The Sperm Donor) to register me, and he came back telling her, “her name’s Priscilla Anne”.  For the record I was born in September, on the Equinox, so Avril clearly was never meant to be, although I doubt The Sperm Donor had the savvy to research any name meanings.   Avril though to me is worse, because in my warped mind I hear a tinny-airport-announcer-intercom-voice saying, “Ladies and gentlemen, please fasten your seatbelts as we prepare our descent.  Thank you for flying Avril airlines.

When I decided to start this blog years ago, Reflections of a Misfit just popped into my head and it stuck.  I still have difficulty sometimes accepting that people see me differently (and I mean that in the most positive sense) than I do when I see my reflection in the mirror.  I’m the piece of the puzzle that doesn’t quite fit, quite literally a Misfit, but my given names are perfectly suited to the person I am – I am an Old Soul, who has Grace with everyone, often at the expense of myself (but I’m working on that as part of my therapy).

Thinking back to Lily-Rose’s christening, the reading was Isaiah 43:1.

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The minister explained that each of us have a name (some of us even the same one), but that our given names have meaning and speak to who we are, and that God knew what our names would be, long before our parents even knew of our existence, referring to Jeremiah 1:5.

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Today when I looked at how happy little Mouse is in the photo on my fridge, it stirred something within me, and that is that this Gracious Old Soul is loved and cared for, not only by the earthly angels that I am surrounded by, but by God too.

There’s comfort in that 🙂

 

 

 

Direction = Up!

I watched an episode of NCIS: Los Angeles on Sunday at Harriet’s place.  It was about a cult called The Church of the Unlocked Mind.  I’ve been told that watching TV is not conducive to my recovery, but I didn’t think forty-five minutes would do much harm. Well, I had nightmares the entire night about being held captive- and attempted to be brainwashed by an inescapable sect that I was quite exhausted when I woke up on Monday morning.  I decided that reading is a more suitable pastime.

Today marks my one-month anniversary since I was discharged from the hospital.  For the most part, I’m feeling better and I’ve been likening myself to a Phoenix.  I even had Elena do my nails in the theme.

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I’ve shed many tears the past thirty days, but I remember in the second Harry Potter book that Professor Dumbledore told Harry that Phoenix tears having healing properties.  My own tears have contributed to my rise from the ashes; granted, crying isn’t the only thing that’s been a catalyst to the improvement of my mental health, I’ve also changed my ringtone to Katy Perry’s Rise.  But that too isn’t all:  It’s a combination of factors – the medication, going to sleep with the fowls and people respecting my boundaries.  At some stage I will make a concerted effort to get back in the gym, but not to become obsessed like I did the first time I did my nut.

I’ve also reached a point of tossing my hands in the air with a screw-this-I’m-over-itattitude if things beyond my control start to get me down.  Sometimes it takes a day, sometimes a week, sometimes a month and sometimes it takes literal years, but it happens.  When it happens, it is like something within me awakens and I have an urgent need to do something that will enhance my self-esteem or better me in some way.  I think that makes me human?

One thing that is a clear indicator of me being on the mend is that I’m starting to get excited about things again and I’m planning.  I love planning – whether it’s a meal, an outing, a party or a trip.  One of my colleagues has a milestone birthday coming up, in August, and I’m already thinking of something special that can be done to surprise her.  I’m also making photobooth props so that everyone in attendance can join in the fun and I’ll make a nice collage for her as a keepsake.  No, I’m not letting the cat out the bag here, because I know she doesn’t read my blog.

There are also plans in the pipeline to attend a bachelor auction at the end of May (I won’t be bidding on any would-be suitors though because the tickets are a bit steep), but it’s for a good cause and it’s a proper formal affair, and a night out on the town with my girl friends will do me good.  Shayla-Rae and Rowena have both hauled out formal dresses for me to try on, so I’m spoilt for choice.  I forgot home much fun playing dress-up can be.  I also realize that I look amazing in the colour green.  Maybe there’ll be more opportunities to wear evening dresses down the line, who knows?

In short, if I look back at where I am now vs where I was a month ago, renewal is clear and that’s good news.  One step at a time…

Weekend Wins; Healing’s (Slowly) Happening

I very seldom check emails on a weekend, so when I got into work today, I quickly scanned through my inbox, noticing that someone had commented on my previous post.  I haven’t had this person comment before, but I was deeply touched by his/her kind words, because it confirmed that my putting my feelings out there did help – maybe not someone else, I don’t know, but it helped me, even though I didn’t realize it at the time.

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It also inspired me to write about where I am vs where I was last week.

It’s been a week since I spoke up about my relapse.  In that time, as short as a week is, there has been improvement.  The only thing not going as well as I’d hoped is sleep restoration; whether the meds are not working as they should, or I’m going to bed too early I’m not sure, but most nights, before 21:00 I’m exhausted and so I sleep.  0300 I’m awake again and I try to force myself back to sleep, telling myself stop thinking about whatever you are.  It’s three in the morning!  Even if you could do something about it, now is not the time!  Sometimes it’s easy. Most times it’s not.

Yesterday was the first time since my relapse that I didn’t cry.  In my book, that’s a win.  I’m not discounting the cathartic properties of tears – I’m just tired of bawling my eyes out at a song on the radio, a mere sentence in a book or during my morning shower because the prospect of another day is simply too daunting.

This past weekend I ventured out of The Cave (which is what I affectionately call my flat, because it doesn’t get much light and when going into the back rooms, the lights must be switched on) and attempted to be part of social activities with group dynamics.

I was off on Friday, so made plans with Harriet for lunch.  In my half-awake state, I got the time wrong and ended up at the mall an hour early.  I walked through every single shop in the mall before I met up with her.  I was a bit nervous because of all the people milling about, but I didn’t do my nut, like I did in the pharmacy the day I was discharged from the hospital.  I had a healthy meal – admittedly I couldn’t finish it.  The meds suppress my appetite, so I took what I didn’t eat home and ate it later.

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Warren and his wife, Lara, are visiting from their new home which is 1100 Km (683 miles) away.  As they’re only visiting a few days, and have many friends here, the plan was to meet at a local restaurant on Friday night and catch up.  There were quite a few people at the table when I arrived, but being the amazing people they are, they did the rounds to chat with everyone.  I had told Warren I wouldn’t stay long and sent him my previous post to outline why.  He understood.  I lasted a little more than ninety minutes before the noise and people got too much for me to handle and my hands started to shake.  I felt overwhelmed and anxious and made a beeline for the exit.  I’m not sorry I went; it was great to see them both, the view of the Bay at night was breathtaking and I pushed my limits a little.

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Saturday morning, I popped in at Carmen for a quick cup of tea.  It wasn’t a long visit because she and Ewan had plans, as did I with Harriet.  When Harriet arrived at The Cave, we took a walk to the local church fête, but by the time we got there (both of us were slow out of the blocks that morning) all that was left to buy was second-hand books.  Not a problem for either of us, because we are total book sluts.  And at R2 (US $0.15) a book, we went a little overboard.  Afterwards we stopped at the vetkoek (a South African food made from deep-fried dough and filled with anything from curried mince to cheese to jam to marmite to chicken-mayo and anything in between!) and went down to the beach where we sat on a bench watching the people taking in the summer sunshine.

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The rest of the day I spent in The Cave, on the couch with The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules by Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg, which I’d started the afternoon before.  I read until my eyes felt like the entire beach had been blown into them.  The book is so funny in parts that I laughed out loud – for the first time in a long while.

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Yesterday I took my folks out for lunch to a place that’s been around for yonks, but that we’ve never been to.  Rustic, but with fabulous fare.  I got a little sunburnt too, because we sat outside, but the warmth on my skin did me well.  A little calcipherol never hurt anyone, now did it?  It also did them good to get out of their flat a bit, because they’re quite isolated where they live.  An old friend, Stan, also happened to be in town for the night on business, so I popped by one of the beach bars and we had a quick drink – well he did, I had club soda.  We haven’t seen each other in going-on four years, but both of us were knackered, so the visit was quick.  I finished the book last night, intent on finding another one in the series.  Laughter is good, cheap medicine.

Tonight I’m going to the gym, but not to train.  I am not in that frame of mind yet.  I’m just having a fat percentage test done because I’m a little concerned that I’m melting away.  I haven’t needed to wear a belt in ages to keep my jeans up, and now it’s on the furthest hole from the buckle…BUT I’d rather have that, than pick up a huge amount of weight like I did the last time.  My appetite will eventually come back.  I just have to keep eating, albeit like a bird.

I’m not sure when I’ll post again because I am trying to focus on me and my recovery.  All I can say at this stage is thank-you to each one of you that reads my ramblings.

Until next time…

2018: It Did Have Some Highlights

2018.  By far not one of my favourites. It was stressful, challenging and exhausting and the result of that combination amounts to every new hair sprouting on my scalp being grey and many, many tears. But as I do every year, I try to reflect on what was good about the year, even if that means that I had one sunny day in a dismally cold July.

January I know I must have rung in the New Year somehow, but I honestly can’t remember where, or with whom I spent it.  I quite possibly may have been at home on my folks’ couch, blissfully when the witching hour struck, signaling the end of 2017 and the start of 2018.  One thing I do remember was going back to work, enthusiastic and hopeful about what lay ahead for me.

February was the month Elizabeth introduced me to liquorice-flavoured ice-cream.  It sounds gross, I know, but as I tell people about many things: “Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it”.  It’s not always available at the parlour we frequent, so when we see it, we treat ourselves.

I also went away for a weekend to Rheenendal, close to Knysna. I did a woodland hike, which is something I love.  Few things restore this Misfit’s equilibrium as the smell of pine needles and mulch on the forest floor. I also love the different types of fungi that grow on the treestumps.  I also had a daily visitor to the cosy bungalow in which I was staying at a place called Fern Gully – the Knysna Loerie.  I also stopped in at one of my favourite places in the area, Jubilee Creek.

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March was a quiet month, as April was going to be a jam-packed one.  I have gone through my photo archives and can’t find any kind of activities.  This would have been the month that candle-lit baths and early nights were the order of the day.

April was a busy month.

A group of friends and I attended the annual sundown festival at Jakkalsvlei, a local privately-owned wine cellar.  There were local artists to entertain the patrons and the pizza and wine were the perfect fare for one of the sunniest days of the year.

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The following weekend Harriet roped me and two other friends into a treasure hunt which took us to various landmarks in- and around Mossel Bay.  The trio was blissfully unaware of my competitive streak and Formula 1 driving skills.  We got second place, which was a two night stay at a local guest house.  We opted to take use the prize in September given that my birthday falls in that month.

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I also went to Johannesburg to visit an old school friend, Kayla for the final weekend of the month – it was a five day weekend, courtesy of the State due to public holidays.  We went to the country’s largest amusement park, Gold Reef City, which I’d visited over 3 decades before.  We had so much fun.

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It was also a weekend of firsts – I had a Rocomamas burger, Krispy Kreme donuts and a Starbucks coffee for the first time ever.  I rode the Gautrain and also did a bus tour of the CBD where I spent nine years of my life – so many things were familiar, but sadly, the City of Gold is very neglected.

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Still, it was a memorable weekend and I left there feeling rested and extremely grateful for the opportunity to see Kayla and meet her son, Trevor, who at eleven is already a fine young man.

May I was pretty much broke after all April’s shenanigans, so I didn’t social much.  It started to get cold so I did many early nights which contributed to much needed rest – both physical and financial.

June my God-daughter turned a year old.  Sadly I couldn’t be with her on the day given work commitments, but her mom sent me lots of pictures and I got to visit a few weeks later.

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As always, Shayla-Rae made me feel so welcome, and allowed me to just relax which is what I always so desperately need halfway through the year.

Elizabeth, Yasmin, Carla and I also did the Moonlight Maze at Redberry Farm in George.  Charlie and I did the maze in the day last year and that was a feat in its own right.  At night it is ten times worse, but we did it, with a badge to prove it!

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July I took one Sunday for myself to recharge my batteries and headed down to the local hotel not far from where I live.  I had an alfresco lunch – the most phenomenal surf & turf ever, next to the sparkling pool.  I also devoured one of my favourite authors, James Patterson’s books.

August I got back in touch with an old school friend, Chante.  We’ve stuck to our agreement to have a catch-up at least once a month, despite hectic schedules.  We’ve had some interesting conversations and many a good laugh. I’m very grateful that our paths crossed again after such a long time.

September I got to meet a friend-of-a-friend, Linda in person.  She brought me a beautiful personalized artwork during a visit to a friend of hers, Tarryn who lives here now. It has prize place on my bookshelf.

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It was also my birthday, which meant the breakaway with Harriet and our other friends, Yusi and Mark.

October my amazing friends Eleanor and Nathan hosted a belated birthday party for me.  It was a film-based theme-evening and everyone who attended went to great effort with their costumes.  Fun was had by all.

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November was also a memorable month.  Charlie was back in the country, almost heading back out again, so I twisted his arm to join me on a weekend away at local lodge in the ostrich capital of the world, Oudtshoorn.

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The town is known for its extreme temperatures, but the particular weekend we went, it was even hotter than usual given devastating veld fires that raged throughout the entire region.  As with my April weekend away, this weekend held many firsts of its own.  We both ate crocodile, and Charlie opted to eat zebra, which he still talks about.  We also attempted to fish in the dam, with zero success and we went swimming in one of the lodge’s two chilly swimming pools.

The following weekend, my former roommate, and sister-of-the-heart, Sasha got married and I was a bridesmaid (also a first!)

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I’ve seen many beautiful brides, but Sasha was by far the most breathtaking, and her groom, Shaun looked dashing.  I unfortunately had to be strapped into a corset as I’d injured my back (again!) two days before the wedding.  It didn’t stop me from dancing though.

December I had the privilege of being able to treat my parents to an outing at Outeniqua Moon Percheron Stud Farm where we learned all about the Draft Horses of Old.  What incredible creatures – true gentle giants.  The owners of the farm, Peter and Christine Watt do incredible work to create awareness about these amazing animals that are on the verge of extinction.

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I also got to take my folks out for lunch on Christmas Day.  It was good to be able to forget about all the awfulness that has surrounded them (and me by extension) lately, if only for a day.

Shayla-Rae and her hubby Shaun also treated me to a concert at the local amphitheatre.  There were over 12000 people in attendance and the atmosphere was electrifying to say the least.

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So yes, while 2018 was not the best year of the twenty-teens, it did have some good times, and those are what I’ll remember, because in the words of Victoria Holt, “Never regret. If it’s good, it’s wonderful; if it’s bad, it’s experience.”

Here’s going into 2019 with a positive attitude and hope that the negative things unfortunately having to be carried over will be sorted out, so that life will be happy this year.  Cheers!

PS. I’ll be blogging more this year, I promise!

 

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.

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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.

Versatile Blogger Awards

The sun is shining a bit brighter today because for the first time since I started blogging, I have received a blogging award! It looks like this:

 The blogger who bestowed this honour on me is Granny, whose blog home is here

Traditionally, when one receives an award like this, he/she graciously passes it along to someone else with no strings attached, but The Versatile Blogger Award comes with some conditions, listed below.

If you are one of the recipients, please understand there is no pressure to accept it – just know that we enjoy visiting your blog.

Conditions:

1. Thank the folks and link to them

2. Share 7 things about yourself

3. Pass along to 15 bloggers (and link to them)

4. Comment on their blogs to tell them of the award

I will admit that I was not at all aware that I was even in the running for such an award, and thus was not able, at the time of receiving the award, able to give a proper acceptance speech, but…now that I have had time to gather my thoughts after copious amounts of celebratory champagne cocktails, here is my acceptance speech.

Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”

Courtesy of:  

http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Knowledge

The first time I came into contact with this quote was in 1993, when I was in my first term of standard six at Ladysmith High School in Natal. It was on a poster in my History class. It has been firmly entrenched in my mind ever since. Having imagination allows for an escape from the confines of what society dictates and what it expects of us.

Many of you know that for the first nine years of my life I lived in Marshalltown, Johannesburg with Mom and my biological father. The flat we stayed in was in the same building where Mom worked and thus, there were no other children for me to interact with.

Mom nurtured in me a love of reading. I would spend hours reading, living myself into the story, imagining myself as one of the characters. My imagination allowed me to escape into worlds beyond the confines and dictations of knowledge.

Everyone knows there is no such thing as The Magic Faraway Tree, but believe me – I climbed that tree many times in my youth and I can regale the tales of my adventures in vivid, rainbow colours for you. M

y primary school reports all had a common thread, “MTM exhibits signs of imagination / fantasy / escapism” and “MTM is extremely talkative during class.”

The latter is understandable considering that I didn’t have other children my own age to interact with after school, but eventually I conjured up an imaginary friend called Penelope, who spent a tremendous amount of time with me and whom I was able to confide in.

Sometimes, like now (as I type this), I can see her – her long white-blond hair braided in two pigtails, her blue eyes questioning my next step with excited trepidation and her laughter ringing through the clear blue sky.

Strangely though, when we left Johannesburg all those years ago, Penelope stayed behind. I know she had another lonely little girl to look after, but when I imagine what they are getting up to, I can only smile.

As I got older one thing that I continued to nurture was my imagination. I remember having to write an essay in Standard nine using the lines:

“Is there anybody there?’ said the Traveller,

Knocking on the moonlit door;

And his horse in the silence champ’d the grasses

Of the forest’s ferny floor”

From Walter de la Mare’s The Listeners

I eventually gave up writing the essay in ink and typed it – it was over seven pages long.

The comment I received from my English teacher was something in the lines of, “you have a vivid imagination MTM. Continue to feed, entertain, recognize and foster it – you will not regret it. You have a talent to paint a picture with words. Your imagination is the paintbrush.”

While my blog has become an outlet for all sorts of thoughts, emotions, ramblings and even rants, I have a burning desire to paint masterpieces of imaginary excellence with my words, but all life’s mundane happenings have seemed to stifle my imagination, leaving it almost catatonic.

Receiving this award today has reignited the fiery heat of my imagination, and for that I not only thank Granny as the awarder, but all of you who visit my blog, whether daily or on the odd occasion. I know I’m writing for a reason, but I’m imagining the thoughts running through your minds and the expressions as you read my posts – and that gives me unbridled pleasure.

So, one last time…thank you.

Right, onto the next condition: seven things about me (although I think I probably covered seven things about me in my speech above):

1. I don’t eat fruit. Ironic when you consider part of my job is tasting strawberries. I love chocolate though. I wonder if Cadbury needs a chocolate taster…

2. I can’t have a Sunday snooze if there isn’t a Sunday newspaper in the house. Seriously! No newspaper = no nap.

3. I am totally besotted with David Caruso, David Tennant and David Duchovny. I think I will most likely end up marrying a man called David. Or not…considering it rhymes with rabid. Hmmm Rabid David…sounds like the next Cujo novel.

4. I want to visit Cardiff just so I can see the places where Dr Who and Torchwood were filmed. Is there any other reason to visit Wales?

5. I adore Abba’s music. I could have been Meryl Streep’s double in Mamma Mia, except for the fact that she’s tall and blond and I’m short and mousy. I would definitely not have had a problem kissing Pierce Brosnan or Colin Firth, or the other guy whose name escapes me at this very moment.

6. I have a love affair with two gents called Jack and José. Both have the knack of getting me in the mood to party. Jack even helped me get rid of my last boyfriend, although he’ll never admit it, because we partied so hard, neither one of us can remember what happened.

7. I have seen Fatal Attraction nine times. I still can’t believe that Glenn Close didn’t win the Oscar for her performance of the bunny-boiling lunatic. It’s shocking!

Now for 15 bloggers (I know some have already received the award from other bloggers, but they deserve one from me too)… I haven’t been here at WordPress so long, so I am linking to external portals as well.

The Only Cin

Granny

Lyndatjie’s Blog – It’s Not Easy Being Green

The Barmaid Blog™: Life for a 20-something Manhattan Barmaid

Simon’s One Eye Only

Libra’s Child

Madmom

Don Juan de Kaapstad

Supagran

Lime

Ambi

Colonialist

Adeeyoyo

Zalina Alvi

Confessions of a Coffee Shop Whore

Now, I’m off to go and spread the sunshine and let the bloggers above know that there is something for them to see here.