A-Maze-Ing Adventure

I’m still reeling from Frances’s expected-yet-still-unexpected departure to the Other Side.  And tomorrow, Malcolm will also be gone for three years.  It feels like just yesterday that he too was sick one day and then gone the next.  It’s comforting to know though that they’re both in a Better Place, free from pain and the oddities of the world.

My last conversation with Frances was a long one, where we spoke about many things.  She said she had a few regrets but was grateful for the opportunity to be able to make amends and ask for forgiveness.  I asked her if she could give any person in the world one piece of advice, what it would be; her reply take the risk if it means you’ll be happy – as long as it isn’t at the cost of someone else.  I know exactly where this pearl of wisdom stems from, and why she gave it to me.  I’m going to miss her a great deal – after such a long time without any communication to the last nine months of intense kinship, it feels like I’ve lost a sibling.  I felt the same when Malcolm died.  He was my best friend for a long, long time.  I know that time heals all wounds, but it will never erase the memories, thankfully.

As an empathetic person, I don’t do well with negative emotions – be they hurt, grief, anger, sadness, anguish, guilt or (insert your own here) – so in an attempt not to wallow in the sorrow of losing my friend, I stayed busy.  Frances would have understood; in fact, she would have expected me to.

Work kept my mind occupied during the day, and most evenings I had something to do – getting my bi-weekly manicure, dinner with friends, that kind of thing, but Friday…that was an a-maze-ing experience.  Exhausting, but fun.

Every year, one of the main tourist attractions in our area, the Redberry Farm, where co-incidentally, Malcolm worked for a while, has an event called the Moonlight Maze.  Their hedge maze is the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere! Charlie and I did it during the day last year, in August and honestly, had it not been for him, I probably would not have found my way out.  So, bravely (or stupidly, seeing as the line is very fine) Elizabeth, Chantel, Yasmin and I set off on our adventure, donning sneakers, glow-in-the-dark-glasses, and of course, mandatory flashlights in hand, which  Yours Truly didn’t remember.  Fortunately, I’m a creature of the night, so just used my night-vision.

 

 

Now, the object of the maze isn’t to go in at one end and out another – it is to find seven different stations within the maze and obtain a stamp at each one.  Sounds easy enough, right? Uh, no!  We found the first three stations with relative ease.  Being in the maze even during the day is understandably disorientating.  Add to that the black of night and crowds of people – amongst them excited kids of all ages and well, you might as well have put me on another planet.  We spent almost the first hour of our time in the maze walking around in a circle around the very stations we already had the stamps from.  We knew we had to get to the other side of the large structure resembling a giant strawberry, but we kept taking a left, or it could have been a right and ending up right where we had been before.  All in all, we walked over 5 Km (a little over 3 miles) within the maze and with the help of one of the staff we crossed over to the side we needed to be to get the remaining stamps we needed.  As a token of our completion of the task, we were awarded these badges as a souvenir to take home.

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I had another souvenir when I woke up on Saturday morning – seriously stiff legs.  I think that next year we should do it again – in memory of Frances whose star I know will light the way for us.

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Friends: They Leave Imprints on your Heart

I rant when I’m particularly irritated or feel that there is injustice happening to those I care about – many of you who have been following my blog for a long time will know this. I feel the urge to rant, because I am tired of the same shit repeatedly, but realize that it isn’t going to solve anything; it is only going to steal my joy.

On the subject of joy, I’m going to share its opposite with you for a paragraph or two and then end off on a happy note, because while it’s normal to experience negative emotions, it’s not okay to allow them to take root in our minds – after all, our thoughts become our actions, not so?

Yesterday was an extremely busy day at the office, so when I got the news that a good friend of mine, Frances, had left this world for the next, I felt a pang of shock (although she’d been ill for a long while), but I couldn’t really think about it.  We hadn’t seen each other in a very long time, but for the last nine months or so, we’d reconnected online.  I often chatted to her about alternative things, and she always gave me her honest take –  No holds barred.  Even when she was at her worst, she always gave her best.  She listened without judgement and never hesitated to tell me the truth, even when it was hard to hear.  Now she’s gone, and part of me feels lost.  It’s odd really, because we were close for a short time, then so far removed from one another for over two decades and then close again.  A kind of ‘concertina friendship’ if you will.  She leaves behind an ex-husband, who despite the divorce, I know she loved ‘til her dying breath, and two children, who I’ve not met.  I’m devastatingly sad at her departure.  I’ve lost close people – even family – before, but with her it’s different.  I can’t articulate it, because I don’t know what it is.  The world is emptier without her.  One thing that is a relief, despite the heartache, is that she is finally pain free.

I said to Charlie yesterday that I think I have only a single photo of Frances and I together, and that if I do, it is in a dusty album in storage somewhere. I hope one day I’ll find it and be able to have a proper reminisce over it. Until then though, I’ll remember her for the amazing person she was: mother, fighter, friend.

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Onto a less sad subject, Saskia, who “adopted” me as her big, but thin sister (we met in the gym…) is tying the knot in November and asked Yours Truly a while ago if I would be a bridesmaid. I was like, “is a duck’s arse damp?” followed by unexpected tears, of both joy, and surprise – because she has so many friends, and well, in comparison to them, I’m old.  She and her beau too live far away, but they are here for a few days, and she, her best friend of the past eighteen years (and Maid of Honour), another bridesmaid and I are getting together for dinner this evening to talk about the shindig.  I’m counting the hours because I just know we’re going to have a great time.

As I type this post, thinking about these two incredibly special ladies, I am reminded that making memories is important.  The digital era in which we live affords us the ability to capture those memories at the click of a smartphone button.  Sure, it’s amazing, but we need to caution against being lost in that action, as opposed to being lost in the people we’re with – so tonight, while I know the young ‘uns will be doing their millennial selfie thing, I’m not going to even take my phone with me. This evening, I’m going to imprint memories of this jubilant occasion in my mind’s eye.

Here’s to a night of uproarious fun, hysterical laughter, and most of all, the love of friends!

 

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.

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The Bleeding Heart of Rejection

I have the most awesome friends, and blog followers! I’ve received a few topics after my request for assistance, and I’ll get to all of them, even if it means writing every day for the next decade.  Okay, that’s a hyperbole, but still, I have stuff I have to write about. Yippee!

My friend of a quarter of a century, Kerry, gave me four topics to write about:

  1. The Meaning of Friendship
  2. The Bleeding Heart of Rejection
  3. One Wish, and;
  4. Simple Little Things

Number 2 is what caught my eye first, because honestly, we’ve all been there. If you haven’t, then you’re either still a child and shouldn’t be reading my blog, or you’re a Cyberman.  If you don’t get the reference, you need to brush up on your British Sci-fi, otherwise we can’t be friends…LOL

Jokes aside, rejection comes in many forms, but none so sore as the loss of someone who owns your heart, because you decided to give it to them, trusted them to keep it safe, not to rip it to pieces and stab you continuously with its shards. After every heartbreak, there is healing, but the scars remain.

Before you all stop reading here, thinking God help us, this is going to be a morbid post, it’s not – because after every rejection (regardless of the shape it takes), something better comes along.  I’ll admit it sometimes takes ages, but it does happen.

The very first sting of rejection I can remember was in 1986, my first year of school. I always finished everything last – because I wanted it to be absolutely-, faultlessly perfect. Virgo trait, which today, thankfully, I have learned is not the be-all and end-all of everything. Organize chaos is a thing, and it works; for me at least, anyway. Every month there would be an election of Class Captain, and every month I’d be passed over. I couldn’t understand why. I was also the kid that always got chosen last for a team. I couldn’t understand why trying my best, wasn’t good enough. It confused me, but more than that, it hurt. At the end of the year though, during prizegiving, I received a book prize for First in Class: Grade 1.

My first heartbreak happened the year I was to turn twenty-one. A lot happened during the time Peter and I were together, and many things were said (and we all know that the tongue is a two-edged sword) that left me feeling not only rejected, but utterly worthless. I wanted to die. I lost almost 2 stone in a matter of a week, and I didn’t even want to shower, nor bath (and if you know me, you’ll know I cannot go a day without washing my hair).

Years have passed, and there’ve been some other disastrous relationships in between – all of which have ended because they chose not to be with me. Each time has been hard (I’d be lying if I said it gets easier), but looking back, I learned valuable lessons from every single one of those guys.  Their behavior towards me, I came to realize quite late in life, is not a reflection of who I am, but who they are. I have come out stronger, more confident, and for the most part, happy – albeit it sometimes lonely. I’ve learned to love me and bask in the uniqueness of the person I am.  Some people see it, others don’t, but as I said here I’m over what people think. I’m loved by the people in my life now – because they value me and appreciate my individuality, even when I sometimes doubt myself.

In closing, I want you to look at these two images:

Both hearts are clearly wounded – the choice lies with us whether we pull out the knife and continue to let the wound bleed indefinitely, or whether we bleed for a while (which is natural) and patch the wound and try again.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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