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!

 

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We Sat Next to Each Other in Fourth Grade

You’ve got each other’s numbers, you live in the same sleepy-hollow little town, yet you never see each other… Sounds familiar to many of you, I’m sure.

Chanté and I have known each other since fourth grade I think – her memory on this is slightly better than mine.  I went to her 21st birthday party, and her wedding, but when she told her husband she was having coffee with me, he had no idea who I was.  I don’t blame him – despite being quite extroverted around people who really know me, I am a wallflower where crowds are involved.  She told him all he needs to know is that when she and her family moved here, I was the first person she sat next to at school.

Shortly after tying the knot, she and her hubby went overseas and while we were connected in Facebook-Land, we lost touch in the real world.  When they moved back a few years ago, I saw her for coffee twice, but we didn’t really reconnect.  Whether it was timing, or that we were at different phases in our lives, I’m not sure, but something was a little (for lack of a better word) “off”.

I’ll admit, she’s been way better at touching base than I have, sending me the odd motivational/inspirational message, that always seems to come through at the perfect time.  On Monday though, I felt the need to see her, if nothing more than just to say a proper thank you in person.

So, we got together at a local franchise restaurant last night, originally intent on a quick coffee.  We got talking and the conversation flowed, as if no time had passed – whatever had been “off” before was definitely “on” now!

Two lattés, and hours later, we’d covered a myriad of topics, including how women in general seldom take time for themselves because they’re tending to someone else’s needs – whether parents, husband or kids – before their own.  With that in mind, when we eventually left to go home, we undertook to do a coffee-catch-up at least once a month.

I’m glad we got together – it was good, and it was needed.

A long-standing friendship rekindled is a true gem; and by that token, if you’re reading this, Chanté – you’re a diamond, and of course…

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Soul-Recharching Sunday

So, I did what I said I was going to with my previous post and relaxed.

I had a decent lie-in until after nine, a lazy hot shower at ten and made a decision to go somewhere sunny.  At first I thought of going to the local farmers’ market, but the idea of people put me off.

Armed with my phone (for photo taking purposes only – the data was off so nobody could bug me) I ventured down to the Riviera Hotel, close to my house where I spent some time in the sun, reading Humans, Bow Down by one of my favourite authors, James Patterson.  For a long while I was the only soul there and it was bliss to hear the tranquil ripple of the pool and the river and the ocassional cheep of the wagtails.

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Given that the meds I’m on are somewhat potent, the doctor warned against using alcohol with them, so I opted for a Lime ‘n Soda, because for all anyone else knows, it could have been a vodka 😉

I heard the seagulls squawking, but not overhead.  Turns out, they were having a Mexican stand-off with a cormorant close by.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a seagull just sitting on the water like that.

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The sun got hotter, as did the bergwind, so I moved into the shade, thinking to myself, “You should have brought your bathing costume.” How inviting doesn’t the pool look?

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Hours passed before hunger struck.  I went a little overboard, but when I saw prawns and steak, I knew I just had to order the surf and turf.  It didn’t disappoint!  I’ll definitely be having it again sometime, with a glass of wine!

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Today though, is Monday, and not a regular one… it started with protest action 😦  Every one is on edge and yesterday’s R&R seems like a distant memory already 😦  The only way to rectify that, is to have another Me-Time Sunday, and soon!

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!

Subconcious Manifestations of Conscious Truths? Indeed…

Tickey, Patch Adams, Tobo, Bozo, Laffy … Cathy even had her own one according to the Everly Brothers… If you’re still not sure what I’m talking about, maybe Pennywise will ring a bell with you, although It isn’t a happy one.  If you haven’t got the at least one of the references as yet, I’d like to know what planet you’re from.

One of my fondest childhood memories was visiting the circus.  Yes, now that I’m older, I do understand that in some instances the animals are ill-treated, but when I was a starry-eyed innocent, knee-high to a grasshopper, the circus was nothing more than a big magical tent of happiness, awe and laughter.

I seldom remember my dreams, but when I do, they haunt me.  Last night I had not one, but two, vivid HD dreams, both of which I remember.  The first one was about the letter I wrote to my sixteen-year-old-self and the other about me being a clown of all things.  The most vivid part of the vision was how I meticulously applied the make-up, creating the perfect alter-ego.

My first thought upon waking up this morning, with salty residue on my cheeks was Robin Williams, one of the most versatile, legendary actors that the world has ever seen.  I have seen almost every movie in which he appeared, with Mrs Doubtfire, Dead Poets’ Society and Patch Adams ranking as my top three.

540df624a3657There is an exponential amount of ways to interpret dreams, and just a quick Google search gave a few examples.

According to Dream Moods dot Com:

“To see a clown in your dream symbolizes absurdity, light-heartedness, and a childish side to your own character. … Alternatively, a clown is an indication of your thoughtless or insincere actions. If you have a fear or phobia of clowns, the clown may represent a mysterious person in your life who mean you harm.”

According to Dream Meaning dot Net

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“Dreams of putting own clown makeup, suggests that you are putting up temporary façade or smiling faces towards situations that you may not particularly like. You are trying to make people believe that everything is okay and you are enjoying your life, however deep down you may feel depressed and sad.”

According to the media, it was no secret that Robin Williams was depressed when he died in 2014.  It’s also no secret, although I’m not sure if there is any medical research to back this up, that the saddest people are generally the biggest clowns; the ones that are able to get the largest laughs out of their peers are the ones that are in the darkest pits of their own minds.  It’s tragic irony.

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I’m not going to deny that I’m sad at the moment – there is a lot happening that is causing unease within me.  I’m not going to spill my guts here as to what, because the nature of the situations is sensitive, and in some instances, quite personal.

Suffice to say though, despite everything that is going on right now, these gloomy trances that disrupt my rest, will be a thing of the past.

In the meantime, I will keep my eye on good things I know are coming and spend time with the people I love, laughing with them.  After all, that is the best medicine.

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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.

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!