Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Mindfulness and my future introspection

"One of the buzzwords among psychologists and life coaches is the concept of "mindfulness".  More than just a new-age concept, mindfulness is the simple practise of becoming more aware, slowing down and really paying attention to what you are doing, thinking, eating, feeling and even how you are relating to others at any given time.  It can be as simple as choosing to take a break to eat your lunch outside, as opposed to rushed and hunched over your desk, or avoiding multitasking and choosing to focus on one task at a time"  Sunday Times Renew 28 Dec 2014 

Mindfulness seems like a wonderful concept to me .... I thought about it a lot today.  I also thought of what happens when you often put your heart out there .....Because sometimes trying to be all things to all people, multitasking and wanting to be irreplaceable to everyone is a big time waster.  The truth is that many people stop noticing.  You become so reliable and dependable in several spheres of life that it is not even a redeeming feature.  It is what becomes expected of you.  It can pass without a thank you or acknowledgement from some.  Those that display this reliability only occasionally, do not have this problem.  Because it is rare or randomly done, the impact on others is huge as is the thanks.

So mindfulness is going to see me breathe, observe, ponder, hold back, be aware,  but I will never shut myself off.  If this year has taught me something ..... and trust me it was a major battle and very hard for me to learn this ..... is that outgoing, bright and deeply caring are not always as great as you would think ...... because it can be described as too much, loud and hard work by others.   And I no longer want this. 

This is not a New Year's resolution - I have no time for them.... this is a change, I do not even know if it is a change that I want, but it is a change I am prepared to make .... because I learnt the hard way this year. 

I have a friend who blogs as well as an acquaintance who also does.  Both, particularly the latter, have taught me during 2014 that through blogging we can express exactly what we are feeling ... positive or negative or somewhere in between.  It was a great lesson. 

So as quietly as possible I say .... 
Happy New Year. 
May 2015 see you growing as a person with more blessings than you can imagine.  
I wish you the ability to love deeply and acknowledge those that love you
And I wish you mindfulness 

See you on the other side when 2015 arrives

c'est la vie xxx

Monday, 29 December 2014

New Year Resolutions - made to break

So it is THAT time of year.  When we make the list of all those things we are going to change / amend / start / stop / adjust in the New Year which is lying in wait on our doorsteps. 

Problem is that these "items" on the list are usually ones that you have been dragging with you for a number of years now.  Yes, it is possible that sometimes we come up with a unique and new one .... and then actually follow it through.  I too have had a few of those.  

But mostly .... mostly .... the Resolutions are strong and as the hours and days of the new year tick by, so our Resolutions drain away at the same speed. 

Now from chatting to friends, family and acquaintances I have gathered the following: 

  • Diet and weigh loss are almost always the top of the list.  This will be the year that we will eat less, eat healthier, stop carbs, increase protein, cut out sugar, eat 18 portions of fruit and veg a day, ignore the sweets at the tills, drink no coke and stop unhealthy snacking.  We will also join Weigh-Less, Weight Watchers, Diet Injections Inc, Fatbusters, FatLess and everything else.  We will throw copious amounts of cash at them and buy scales, shakers, measuring jugs etc etc.  We will weigh weekly, then monthly, then six monthly and eventually add these items to our already huge pile of Diet stuff. 
  • Exercising more makes the next spot .... Start out slowly .... once around the block at night ,,,, and then build up to 3 hours a day at the local overpriced gym.  Me, like many, are still at the gate, preparing for the once around the block of 2009. 
I also found out that stopping smoking, drinking less and a number of other things followed this amongst my friends. 

I would like to add more fun things like see more movies, drink more cappuccinos, laugh even more, sleep more, panic less .... there are so many. 

But I have decided to try out just one. 

Be on Time. 

till soon 
c'est la vie. 

Monday, 22 December 2014

my 2014 list including the most embarrassing moment

Every December, Bloggers who are hosted by Google have a list that goes around asking us for our favourites, our highs and lows, our loves and hates .... so here are my 2014 answers ..... 

TOP HIGHLIGHTS:  Moving into my new office, My daughter's new job in CT, My son's continual wit, changing my job.  

BEST SONG:  Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran

BEST MOVIE:  Gone Girl 

WORST MOVIE: There were several but I will go with Into the Storm and The Counsellor 

STUPIDEST THING SAID BY ME:  whahahahahahaha ..... Not even enough space here.  Probably any sentence I start with "I think ............."

LOW POINT: I know it.  Most people do.  

MOST EMBARRASSING MOMENT:  Getting my woollen scarf caught on a man's zip as I was exiting and him entering the Gautrain.  It was a ten minute battle to get it loose.  I had to get back on the train and travel to the next stop. 

BEST BLOG RESPONSE:   Highest readership was for my blog on same-sex orientation.  Followed by the blog on my daughter's luggage for her move to CT  and the one about racism and peanut butter 

BEST RESTAURANT MEAL:  Ummmmm...... not much restaurant eating this year ....... It would be Prue Leith Restaurant where the Fine Dining is excellent and  La Pentola as a 2nd where I had a great lunch. 

BEST COFFEE SHOP:  Three way tie between Abreu, Knead and Carl's Coffee Roastery

BEST READ:  Sandra Brown "Deadline" and "Good morning Mr Mandela" by Zelda le Grange 

FAVOURITE TV SERIES:  Game of Thrones (followed by Greys, Chicago Fire, Blue Bloods, Stalker, Criminal Minds, Major Crimes, Person of Interest) .... oh, we have to give one?

ONE THING YOU WOULD CHANGE ABOUT YOURSELF:  Not allowing myself to be made to feel "lesser than" 



DREAM FOR 2015:  Peace of mind 

Sunday, 21 December 2014

the open-handed random act of kindness

Tonight I chatted to someone at Mass.  Not a person really involved in my personal life, but someone who is aware of the sort of "main" things in my life, as one often is with certain people you regularly go to Mass with.  God has the most incredible timing when putting someone in front of you and inspiring them to say something highly relevant or helpful or kind at exactly the most perfect moment. 

Such was this conversation tonight. 

Wrestling with a number of things in my head at once, and a lot of time to wrestle with them now that I am officially on leave, I arrived at Mass with a very mixed head and mixed heart.  

I had prepared my reading for the evening  well by not only going over it several times, but by going to a Catholic site to have the meaning of it explained (love Google) because I believe that the infliction in your voice is affected by what you perceive the reading to mean.  Sometimes I feel myself emphasising certain words when I read, only to find out when the Priest talks about the first reading in his Homily, that I have failed dismally.  So I find this research helpful.  So I was feeling centred in my mind for this, but at the same time I had a lot of stuff spinning in it and I was trying to find the calm space.  In all this time I had a chat to a fellow church-goer. 

And in that 10 minute conversation he took such an interest in Jess' recovery, gave advice on the fact that we do not know where to have the staples removed in CT and just chatted in general about stuff I told him, that I was feeling completely in my calm space when the Mass bell was rung.  

And then straight after that our Priest spoke about closed fisted and open handed people.  And trying to be the latter.  And be it consistently.  It touched me for a variety of reasons, but it made me think on the way home of one fellow parishioner who had spoken to me for 10 minutes with an "open hand".  

Thank you ...... your random act of kindness came at the perfect time. 
Tomorrow I will try and pay it forward

"Nothing can make our lives or the lives of other people more beautiful than perpetual kindness" - Tolstoy 

Till soon 
c'est la vie 

Saturday, 20 December 2014

when a teenager moves to ct - the luggage thing

So the 19 year old, about to be 20 year old is leaving on Friday morning for CT for her 6 months' practical training in the crazy chefs' world. 

Now please understand that she is the person who goes to sleep at her BFF's house with a big suitcase in tow.  She is the one who goes to the coast with a large, and I mean LARGE suitcase which contains not only clothing for every weather condition from sweltering to snowing, but also a vast collection of her favourite thing .... shoes, plus a myriad of other stuff. 

So imagine when she moves to CT for 6 months.  Mango Airlines .... brace yourself!!!

Now firstly the chefs kit ...... 3 jackets, 3 check pants, 3 neckties, 3 hats, a pack of white tshirts, chefs shoes and lots of black socks.  That alone made up 10kg of the 20kg allowance of the airline.  Next the equipment of her own that she HAS to have with her .... which was tricky as she has a toolbox full of equipment she used at the chefs academy and had to be selective. 

 Next the chefs knives.  This R10 000 collection is the extension of any great chef's arms and hands, no chef is without them and they are worth gold.  You cannot take them as carry on and in some bizarre twist the airline would not allow them as booked in luggage lest they jump out and attack someone's suitcase whilst in the cargo hold.

So along came Craig.  Also posted to a upmarket restaurant in CT he decided to drive down.  And generously offered to take down a case for Jess.  So he became the "knife transport guy".  He has different rules to the airline.  Less paranoid.  He also does not have a 20kg case limit.  A decision he lived to regret when he arrived to collect the case.  I use the term "case" loosely.  Trunk would be closer to the mark.  He has the winter clothes and the first 96 pairs of skoene.  And the bulky stuff.  For someone who works 7 days a week she will have to get up during her 6 hours of sleep at least hourly and change to ensure she wears everything.  

That leaves the summer stuff, the balance of the skoene, the huge Winnie the Pooh, glasses, meds, a bag full of dressings since her stomach is full of staples from a double op last week, a lotto ball blow thing for her chest since the op, her journals, cookbooks, assignment sheets, photos, 2 goats and a sherpa. 

I can see that it will be necessary to prepay the R200 for an extra allowance of 10kg.  Note that this stuff has yet to be packed by Thursday.  By a young lady still battling to stand up straight due to aforementioned op.  She is also booked off till the weekend so the whole thing is shitty timing.  

But pack we shall.  Whilst we sluk back the tears.  This goodbye thing is hard.  Harder for a mom.  If one more person tells me it is ONLY 6 months I will throttle them.  For moms there is no such thing as ONLY.   Every time Jess and I look at each other we say "NO" which is our codeword for no crying. 

So Fri morn will come.  And we will load the cases.  And then it is up to the Airline to deliver her safely to her ouma in CT.  

And then the dream job starts.  Fly high angelface.  Because you can and you will. 

till soon 
c'est la vie xxxx

Saturday, 13 December 2014

be kind. for you never know what someone else is going through

In my job I this year interacted 3 times with a particular person I had not met before then ..... today I got his simple Tumblr quote below in my email box with one word "thank you".  

Mine is a job that literally most people could do, I know that ..... but it is all mine and I am proud to do it. 

God is not impressed by how many Bible verses you know, He is impressed by how kind, merciful and gracious you are to people you know and people you don’t know.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

the gift of wings

So.  The time has come.  It took 19 years and 11 months to get to this point.  It seems quite poignant that on the 26th of December it will be exactly 19 years and 11 months.  

The daughter child has now finished a year of intense, crazy hours, minimum sleep, maximum stress, sore feet, sore back, blisters and burns on a regular basis, long shifts, massive assignments, lots of research, hours and hours in the demonstration kitchen perfecting her skills and hours and hours in the restaurant kitchen at the Prue Leith Chefs Academy where she is a full time trainee chef. 

And then comes the practical placement.  6 months.  In which you get hand placed by the Executive Chef along with the HR Manager at Prue Leith, at a restaurant which suits your skills, temperament, work ethic etc for you to train under a Chef of note.  

She always wanted the Western Cape. That bastion of top restaurants and world class chefs.  And then the dream came true ..... she was placed at the Pot Luck Club.  A renowned restaurant at which the booking has now opened for July 2015 .... simply because they are full till then.  www.thepotluckclub.co.za.  She joins as a 3rd Commi chef, starting on 27 December.  

So.  Am I glad?  Yes.  I am proud, boasting, impressed, wind knocked out of my sails about the dedication and sheer gutzpah she showed in what was a difficult year.  There is no student life, like at Varsity, when you study at a Chefs Academy.... no periods off,  only a tiny bit of time for socialising.  It is a training time of 12 to 18 hour days, including Saturdays, on your feet.  It is a career of having to come home at 1am and then still work on huge assignments and study.  It is a career where in every moment that you are not at the Academy you are trying to catch some sleep.  It is a career where in those hours you are there you grab 30 mins to wolf down your sandwich.  I watched her sacrifice so much in this time.  Outings with us, time to relax with us, literally all time to be with her friends.  But boy did she reap the benefits of her talent. 

So.  Am I glad?  No.  Because I am a mom.  Who has had Jess at home, sleeping in her room, for 19 years and 11 months.  Driving her around.  Having a TV buddy for midnight movies.  Waiting up for her to return from her shift.  Going for cappuccino at Abreu and doing the crossword puzzle on the odd Saturday she has off.  Going with her to the hairdresser while she tries the next colour.  Watching her hang out with her brother in either his or her room, laughing for hours.  Every birthday, every celebration, she was there.  Listening to that laugh of hers, that fills our house because it is so loud.  Sharing jewellery and perfume.  

It is only 6 months I know.  But that is 180 days.  And who knows what lies after that? 
So on 26 December, exactly one month before her 20th birthday, we will put her on a plane to CT, where she is very fortunately, going to stay with my mom-in law, sister-in-law and 2 cousins.  At least it will be more like home.  Getting all her luggage there is proving to be a whole other story :)

My hubby reminds me that this is the natural flow of life.  I could happily whack him. 

So as the poster says: 

Child:  "What if I fall?'
Mom:  "Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?"

And you will.  I know.  Higher than you ever could have imagined. 

till very soon
c'est la vie  xxx

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Can you taste Christmas?

So deck the halls with boughs of holly. 

On second thoughts perhaps don’t.  And no fake snow. 

Because it is December.  In Pretoria it is 36 degrees outside.  Not even the slightest indication that snow is a-coming. 

I am a huge fan of Christmas trees and decorations.  Of all things sparkly and twinkly (although those that know me will tell you that I am a sparkly and twinkly fan 365 days of the year).  I love Lebkuchen and Christmas cake (why can we not eat it in other months?), I love tinsel, chasing lights, candles and incense. I know the words to all the carols and can be seen singing along merrily in my car.
I just do not want to do or have anything in the above paragraph on the 29th of October already.  Which is when I saw the first Mall Christmas tree.  In the 2nd week of November I found myself singing along to Silent Night in another mall until I realised what the hell I was doing and switched to something more current.  Like Eminem. 

Our tree will go up this weekend, which is late for us.  I have a load of 15 year olds descending on our home on Saturday for a sleepover.  One that is apparently lasting till the following Friday.  Aforementioned teenagers will be roped in for the tree event.  We did the same last year.  My hubby has one job and one job only each year – to unroll the Christmas lights and place them on the ground in a straight stripe for putting up.  In the first 5 years of our marriage this was a fun task which he did with great glee.  We were “newly-weds”.  Then in the next 5 years he started to look a little testy ….. showing me how we should “rather have” packed them away.  In years 10 -15 he displayed less patience …. Christmas light unfolding fell into the same category as packing our luggage into the boot when going on holiday.  We nearly had to go for couples counselling.  He muttered some stuff whilst unravelling the lights …. It was NOT the words to Santa Clause is coming to Town.  Between 15 and 20yrs of marriage I considered hiring a handyman to sort out the lights and now after 22yrs we have it sorted.  I roll them when the tree comes down and I unroll them when it goes up …. Wish I thought of that 2 decades ago.  He checks the bulbs and we carry on. 

Do we have rules.  No.  When our kids were 5 and 1, our tree looked like it was done by kids of 5 and 1.  As it should be.  Over the years the symmetry of the ornaments, the evenly spread lights and decorations have increased greatly, as their ages did.  Now at 19 and 15 we have perfection. 
I believe the way the tree looks should “grow up” as your children do.  I hope they come and decorate it every year once they have both left home. 
We do not do Gluwein.  We would rather have our fondue forks stuck through our eyes than drink Gluwein.  At a party about 15 years ago our host was thrilled at how much of it we kept having as she refilled our glasses.  Her potplant in the passage was saturated as we were pouring it out in there.  Nor do we do Eggnog.  Just so we clear.

Another thrill is the Advent calendars with choccies.  No, you are not too old at 48 to have one.  It is the best thing to slip that choccie in your mouth en route to bed.  I would not have it any other way.  Advent calendars are always in our home.  The trick is to not have eaten 1 to 9 Dec when it is only the 4th.   And Christmas cookies.  Every house should know the smell of Christmas cookies in the oven!  

And then the most important – the real Christmas joys …..one is our Nativity Scene.  This too has grown over the years.  Our initial one got smaller and smaller as little hands dropped a sheep, the one Shepard and eventually the manger …. It was becoming tricky and when we accidentally lost Mary’s head, it was time for a new nativity.  And now we have a lovely one with 25cm figurines, and the kids lovingly pack it out each year.  It almost takes longer than the tree. 

They went through the blessings for the Advent wreath and on Sunday as we lit the first candle, they read the pieces that were relevant to the lighting of the first candle.   We think a lot about what Christmas means in our house, not the sparkly tree and gift part, but the sparkly in our hearts bit, the love we feel, the great event that is coming soon, the warmth of a manger that is bringing to us such a wonderful gift, wrapped in love and eternal compassion and understanding.

Taste and feel it .......

Christmas is a-coming.  Look towards your church.  Live Advent.  Look at your family.  Pray. Prepare and wait in excitement for that wonderful moment.  Drench yourself in joy and thanksgiving.

Can you feel it? 

till soon
c'est la vie xxxx 

Monday, 17 November 2014

One racist, One peanut butter and One good heart

Something pretty sad happened this weekend.

I went off to Pick 'n Pay with my BFF on Saturday after spectacular cappuccinos at Abreu (again - thankyou).

I only bought 2 things so I sped through the Express till (sped is an exaggeration, there is nothing Express about that till in this branch).  The less than 10 items sign seems to mean nothing to most people.

While hanging around opposite the end of the tills, waiting for BFF, I was lazily watching the people paying.  Along came a guy.  Nice clothes but obviously old and extremely worn everywhere.  I judged him to be about early 20's.  The reason I watched him is because he had 2 loaves of bread, one tin of fish and a small bottle of peanut butter.  He looked like he really needed it.  It made me sad for reasons that I am not going to talk about here.

When time came to pay there was much money counting, from every pocket.  There seemed to be a problem.  He counted again.  The cashier counted.  You could see his deliberation of the items bought and the peanut butter was handed back and voided by the supervisor.  He picked up his items and walked out.

That jar of peanut butter lay there on the side, waiting to be returned to the shelf.  I looked at it and suddenly it represented to me so many things, injustice, the gravy train, corruption, unfairness, greedy people getting rich at the expense of others and in turn a lot of personal feelings ... shrouded in a grey cloud of hurt that I was carrying on that day.

I closed the distance between me and the cashier in record time, to enquire how "short" his money had actually been.  70c.  Seventy cents.  Only 70 paltry cents stood behind him and a nutritious spread for his bread.  And trust me this was not a scam artist, he was hungry.  I will not allow my new found cynicism about life make me think otherwise.  I grabbed R20 out my jeans, shoved it in her hand and told her I would be back for the change.  Grabbing the jar I dashed because I had to catch him now (it is a big centre and running is not my forte').  In an attempt to help the cashier shouted to security at the door to catch him.  Perhaps not the best assistance.

Picture this.  A weather beaten young black guy (and the fact that I highlight race, which I hate doing, is relevant to the story), walking whilst two (one would have been fine) security guards run after him, followed by a white (yes it is relevant) woman clutching a Black Cat peanut butter jar.

Catching up to him in a trio, he turned and looked at us.  I saw fear.  And that made me gasp.  I quickly planted the jar in his hands and said to him "Here, I saw you were short, I have paid it for you".  As luck would have it his English was minimal, he could not grasp what I said and was probably scared to death as I had the security with me.  I did ask them to "stand down" haha, but they remained steadfast.

Now this is where it got tricky .... along came Mr White Guy.  PT shorts, boep and tshirt with a picture of a former flag of a country that changed its flag in 1994.  I quickly told Bambi in headlights aka my peanut butter guy again that he must take it because I knew "hier kom moeilikheid".  "Wat het hierdie ***** gedoen Mevrou" came the instant question.  Now some of you more "serious" readers may say that he was coming to my defence.  Very noble, but perhaps he should have asked if he could help, before he threw the racial slur.  Along came man number 2 "Nice language", he commented to Mr Tshirt, "I think you owe an apology".  I knew that there was more chance of Zuma showing his face in Parliament than that happening.

By now the security guards were translating in 2 Black languages the frikken peanut butter story and I was wishing I had paid more attention to the Sotho classes in school.  Suddenly the light dawned.  Keeping an eye on Mr Racist with Boep on his left, his eyes lit up and he said "Thankyou",  3 times.

He went on his way, but the security stood fast.  Kudos to them.  "Happy with yourself?"  I asked my huge friend.  "Proud?".  "I bought him a damn item of food".  "What the hell have you done for someone else today? "

Would I do it again?  Yes.  I have done it before.  For White ladies, White men, White kids, Black ladies.  Black men.  Black kids.  Hell can you believe I even bought a Checkers cashier and packer a Coke each earlier this year when it was 6pm and they obviously had a torrid day behind them.  How could I do something so shocking".   My kids will tell you that I remind them almost daily that there is always someone worse off than each and every person in life.

So I urge you all .... do it ...... pay it forward.

Because maybe one day that person at the till returning an item will be you.  Don't be so sure that your life cannot change in an instant.

Till soon
c'est la vie

Saturday, 15 November 2014

This is how it works

For those friends that I will never walk away from.  And who will never walk away from me.
And also for my friend who I need to remind constantly that there is a lot of love from many people for. 

“This is how it works. I love the people in my life, and I do for my friends whatever they need me to do for them, again and again, as many times as is necessary. For example, in your case you always forget who you are and how much you're loved. So what I do for you as your friend is remind you who you are and tell you how much I worry about you . And this isn't any kind of burden for me, because I like who you are very much. Every time I remind you, I get to remember with you, which is my pleasure.” 
― extracted from paragraph by James Lecesne

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Cracking open the Bible Books

I have had a number of friends be part of a Bible Study group.  I was never sure what this was.  A continuous group reading of the Bible? A quiz like situation where you were lost if you did not know all the Books in the correct order? 

I went to a Bible Study group many many years ago.  Twice.  It was a mixture of the two scenarios above and I battled to fit into either.  I found myself paging frantically through my Bible, trying to look as if I knew exactly where the Book being referred to was located, repeating in my head what we all know, Genesis and then... Matthew, Mark, Luke and John ..... and hoping to spot Hebrews along that last route, which of course I wouldn't. Because it isn't.  I never went back.  

This year our Parish started Bible Study and feeling enthused I decided to join.  Well.  Look. At. Me. Now.  

I know that all the "ians" are together ... Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Thessalonians ... I call them the Ian family.  I know that when I get to James, Peter and John that I have just missed Hebrews one step before.  I know that any name that I probably battle with slightly is more than likely in the Old Testament.  I know that Psalms and Proverbs are there and a myriad of other little laws for myself.  I won't be able to recite the order, but at least I do not look for 1 Timothy around the Song of Songs area :).  Why?  Because T comes after S.  Simple hey?

I am now working on finding and knowing which stories I will find where.  I would love to have someone talk about Jesus Healing a Man Born Blind ... and BOOM I know exactly where it is .... now that I know where to find Jesus Talks with a Samaritan Woman, I am waiting with anticipation for someone to mention it and I can throw into the conversation "yes, mmmm John 4, one of my favourites".

Our Bible Study group is lead by our Parish Priest.  I am the youngest attendee (I think) so I am surrounded by a LOT of wisdom.  This is a wonderful group of women, plus Fr Chris and sometimes Deacon Tony.  Fr C knows the Bible as well as I know the best coffee shops in Pretoria.  Beyond extremely well.  There are ladies in the group who can cross reference like nobody's business - I still look a little like Bambi in headlights at some stages. 

But these Thursday morning classes ........ they make the Gospel come alive ... we learn that the initial reading is always pretty superficial and then we do what Fr C calls "scratching Scripture" and we break open every word and every nuance of that piece .... finding new meaning, new expression, forcing us to think out the box.  We look at the map in the Bible and we get totally immersed in the stories we read ..... when Fr C says "isn't this amazing?" .... we agree ..... damn, this is!   This usually leads us to a related debate on a more modern day issue and it really is an hour of sharing, interaction and learning. 

No get together at a "kerk" is complete without coffee and cookies.  We are no exception.  We huddle around the little Nespresso machine and discuss the day to come and then we go our separate ways .... me being fortunate that my office is only ten steps down the passage ....... and all day I mull that particular Scripture piece in my head. 

So, how do you feel about "The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed"...... do you know where to find that?? 

till soon 
c'est la vie xxx 

Monday, 13 October 2014

Same Sex Orientation

So this month is Mission Month.  In our Parish our very forthright Priest has arranged a series of Tuesday Talks.  Taking place in the church we are going to hear, and discuss, several issues of importance in our modern day lives.  In fact these are not new issues, they are here since forever issues, but they will force many people out of their comfort zone. 

This is a good thing. 

Tomorrow night we kick off with "Same sex orientation and the Family of God" .... I hear a lot of cheering ... I also hear some "ongemaklike" squirming and fidgeting. 

Come with an open mind, asks Fr Chris.  I hope this is heard by all.  Come ... come and listen .... parents, kids, young adults, pensioners, middle aged people, for and against, come and listen.  

Remember that wonderful verse John 8:6 "He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her."

I will be there.  My kids will be there.  It is an issue we feel strongly about.  I get quite feisty and my daughter even more so.   

And before you tell me "that everyone is entitled to their own opinion",  I agree, but I will never agree with those who use demeaning terminology, judgemental comments and generalised misperceptions and stereotyping.   He who is without sin ........ 

The following week we discuss Divorce, Annulment, Remarriage and the Church ..... I love October!! 

Till soon 
Be open minded 
c'est la vie 

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Letters from my heart

My daughter cooks.  I write.  She puts her heart and feelings into her cooking.  I put it into my writing.  She cooks when she feels great and she cooks when she is sad.  Ditto for my writing.  Her cooking makes you think as you savour every mouthful.  My writing will make you think .... it either touches you or it doesn't, but hopefully it stirs something in you.  Maybe you do not like every single dish my daughter can make, the same for my writing ... she cannot cook for every palate, sometimes people think I am writing about them when I really am not! 
 Her life is as a 2nd Commi Chef, training full-time.  My writing started when I took Journalism for 3 years during my studies and got the opportunity to write for Beeld during that time.  

And I write letters.  Good old fashioned letters, on paper, by hand, that get put into an envelope.  Yes I blog and email and type normal letters on computer, but when I write from the heart, for a purpose, to someone specific, I like to do it by hand .... because every pen stroke happens with passion and feeling and I place a little bit of me in that envelope with that letter.  I write to all kinds of people for all kinds of reasons, but these are not business letters or such, they are Karin letters.  And I always hope that the recipients appreciate and understand that Karin-ness.  

Over the past 2 weeks I have written several of these.  I love handing them over or delivering them, I love the reactions I get from the recipients and I love nothing more than the times that the reader understands with what consideration it was written. 

My hubby always chuckles when I sit down to write these.  Because he sees my intense concentration, my attempts to get my large loopy handwriting readable and recently when I wrote some letters of several pages he kept peeping over his laptop to say "still writing?". 

Now recently amongst my letters was one written to someone we have known for a very very long time ... a dear family friend and I wrote as I always do .....all my letters are straight from the heart .... I don't do a trial letter and then correct it and write a final draft.  I simply write.  

And then I wait. 

This recipient arrived at my office this week.  Sat down opposite me.  Looked up at me with tears in his eyes and told me that no-one has ever written such a letter to him.  He called it "soulful and honest" ... it clearly touched him.  He said he would treasure it.  I had taken at least an hour to write this particular one and when I saw the light in his eyes I knew that he got from the letter the same feeling that my daughter wants people to get from her cooking. 

So stationery will always be a big love of mine.  And when you get a letter written by my hand,probably with glitter somewhere,  know that I put a little bit of my heart in that envelope.  And a lot of effort. 

till soon
c'est la vie xxx 

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

the secrets we keep for others

How far would you go to protect a secret of someone else? 

"What kind of secret" is going to be your immediate answer I think. 

Because there are so many of them.  I have been reading a lot on this subject lately as I have been pondering over the weeks.  I seem to ponder all kinds of stuff lately.

Secrets that are quite trivial but someone wants to keep it under wraps.  Secrets to do with life-changing decisions, secrets that will shatter lives, secrets that will end careers, secrets about childhood, secrets about adulthood, secrets about behaviour, big ones, small ones and many many other types. 

So ..... what would you be able to hold, and what not?  I am not talking about anything mindblowingly illegal .... but I wonder about secrets that have major effects on people's lives .... secrets they live with.  And thus so do you.  

I find myself pondering this .... because I think that you need to ask yourself what relevance the person has in your life, would they even acknowledge and appreciate what you are doing (because that is important), is it illegal (then I am out and will say so directly), is the person aware that you are carrying it?  One of the biggest things I think you need to ask yourself is why you are prepared to do this and most importantly if you agree to keeping it, or keep it in silence without them realising .... can you do so for good.  Through arguments and fall outs. Whether you see each other all the time, or not at all.  Can you keep it when the person perhaps treats you dismissively and not use it as a weapon then? Or out of anger. Or hurt.  

Perhaps secrets are about deep compassion and understanding for someone else.  Perhaps the secret is one that is justified to you.  . Or fear of recrimination.  Perhaps you keep it for friendship.  Or love.  Or pity.  Or fear. The reasons are endless.  Perhaps you keep it for family.  For friends.  Perhaps you keep it in the hopes of someone caring for you as you do for them. Perhaps you do it out of loyalty.  Or stupidity.  What if you find out that the secret is not so secret ..... 

Ponder on this dear readers, ponder. 

“People always knew more than you gave them credit for. Perhaps, in the end, no one had any secrets at all.” 
― Paul RussellThe Coming Storm

Me?  If I give you my word, then you have my word.  And if I give my word silently without you acknowledging it, then still I give my word.  Even if it is out of nothing else than loyalty.  

till soon 
c'est la vie xx

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Bullying for grown ups

We all know it, have done it, been party to it or suffered under it.
We tend to associate bullying with school ... and thug like behaviour ..  those who hold the perceived power towering over the bullied person, whether verbally or physically.
And then you leave school and live happily ever after right?


Adulthood brings a new playing field.  There is an extension to the bullying roster ... a game that I am sometimes prone to being a victim of ..... mind games.

An older friend of mine, a counselling expert with wheelbarrows of experience, was happy to meet me for cappuccinos a short while ago, in the hope of helping me - I wanted to explore this topic in the hope that my questions would find answers.

People have strange habits and "almal het hulle nukke" but the answers I received that morning were interesting .... I was told that mind games are one of the foremost adult bullying tactics.  It manifests itself in people who deliberately express themselves or say things (or deliberately not say things) only having one goal in sight ... to hurt the person in their sights.  Because this makes them in some way feel good and gives them a feeling of power.  And I am talking about adults doing this to other adults.

She was not able to clear up for me why human beings desire to do this.

So what now?  Bullies must be stood up to ... so next time someone aims at you ... tell them they have achieved a bullseye in the "hurt you department" ... and ask them if they truly feel great now.

Even clap if you need too.

Till soon
c'est la vie

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Reach Out

For the past 3 weeks I have been carrying some stuff with me ... sometimes in my heart, sometimes in my head, sometimes clearly etched on my face.  Those that are close to me noticed ... it is the down side of being a chirpy and lively person.  The reactions were odd .. some of those that I care for simply turned a blind eye, their body language making it clear I was an irritation.  It hurt.  Because this is not the way I would deal with their hard days.  It is not the way I am taught.  Others, even some who are not that knowledgeable about me, did the little things ... a hug, one kind word, a little warmth.  It went further than sarcasm and indifferent attitudes. On Friday late afternoon I found myself on my knees in church ... in the furthest point from everyone because I did not want them to see or hear my tears .. caused so quickly by something that I should have laughed off as trivial and petty.  I told myself that there in the parish I have such an incredible bond with, I would find solace, answers and calm.  It was not to be.  And then someone came up to me and squeezed my shoulder.  Pulled me against them and said " I hope whatever caused this incredible heartache I have watched now, will disappear soon".  A man's voice I did not recognise. I never looked up to see who it was, my face never left my hands.  I know when I came into church there were 6 or 7 people in the pews.
I left as I knew the church was going to start filling up soon.  But I was touched by that kind person.  I lit a candle for you today at church.  For stopping and doing what God expects us to.  For not walking past. For not looking past.  For reaching out to someone.  I think that is what He tries to teach us.  Especially in His house.  We should listen.  And tonight I unexpectedly got a poem, from a new friend, as if she had climbed into my heart and found the pain.  Just like the man in church, she reached out.  And I am so grateful.  Let us not be so hesitant to show compassion when we see hurt or sadness.  Not so quick to grow irritated.   Not so quick to not be bothered.


By Douglas Malloch

If you can’t be a pine on the top of the hill,
Be a scrub in the valley – but be the best little scrub
 by the side of the rill;
Be a bush if you can’t be a tree.

If you can’t be a bush be a bit of the grass,
And some highway happier make;
If you can’t be a muskie, then just be a bass -
But the liveliest bass in the lake!

We can’t all be captains, we’ve got to be crew,
There’s something for all of us here,
There’s big work to do, and there’s lesser to do,
And the task you must do is the near.

If you can’t be a highway then just be a trail,
If you can’t be the sun be a star;
It isn’t by size that you win or you fail -                 Be the best of whatever you are!

till next time
c'est la vie

Thursday, 14 August 2014

How do women dry their tears?

You know that men and women, Venus & Mars thing?  I was dubious.  I now believe it to be true.  
Now I know my girlfriends damn well .... and let me tell you, they all have their thing.  I am not talking about when they are punch you in the face angry ..... I mean when they are hurt ..... in tears ....... they do stuff. 

Now me .... to drive me to tears .... and I do not mean happy ones ...... the number one winning trigger is meanness.  Simply for the sake of being mean.   And especially if you know this and still persist.    

I have a friend who cleans house on such occasions ..... top to bottom even if it means staying up till 3am.  Everything is cleaned, floor to ceiling.  She would lift the tiles if she could.  I should have her over.  And make her cry. 

Another one irons.  Everything.  And when she runs out of ironing, she simply re-irons stuff from the cupboards.  I pray that I will never be so teary that I have a desire to iron something. 

A 3rd one drives.  Gets in her car and drives.  Like a trip to nowhere.  Music loud.  Tears streaming and she rants.  Then she goes home again. I love this idea.  But fuel is simply too expensive.  Plus I would have to go through the tollgate.  Ugh. 

Then there is eating.  Nothing like a slab of chocolate washed down with something great to lift your spirits.   Some I know of, paint.  Walls, landscapes, their nails ... whatever. 

One friend even cut up 2 of her husband's shirts and a pair of his work pants ..... Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned ne'. 

Me?  Usually I watch TV.  Catchup, programmes, soapies, movies ... I don't care.  I simply sit and watch back to back for hours.  I concentrate hard and do not let myself think of something but the story.  And crying. 

Yesterday?  I cleaned something.  A metal stand on wheels, waist high, that has 10 colourful drawers that slide into it.   It has stood in my study, untouched, for the last 6 years.  Everything in the 10 drawers is so dirty and faded it got turfed to paper pickup .... and then I scrubbed the drawers, and the stand and re-assembled it.  And now finally I have an additional place for all my glitter (someone I know is laughing), glitter pens, baubles, ribbons, tapes, scrapbooking stuff, stickers, decals, shimmer stuff, cards and on and on and on.  I truly can rival most craft stores.   

And yes I cried.  Because that is the drift of this story.  

However all's well that ends well.  I cleaned the damn rack that has been on my to-do list forever and a day.  Tomorrow is a new day.  

So ladies how do you dry your tears.  And if it involves cleaning, cooking and ironing .... you are welcome here anytime. 

till next time
c'est la vie xxx

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

New beginnings

Today was my first day .... fulltime in the parish office.  It felt a little strange ... I sat behind my table working and thought "this is my job" and then the strangeness of realising that this was now my place, gave way for delight    ... that I no longer had to go through the Zambesi tollgate in the morning    . .. no longer had to pass through 4 eToll gantries every day.  No more driving on the highway to work.  Just simply pop over the hill.  14.6km to be exact.  No more riding from one appointment to another .... fuel, parking and toll costs soaring.  Being a 5 min drive from Nic's school ... literally up the road.  Working opp my church so I can pop into Adoration chapel every day and spend ten mins with the Blessed Eucharist.  And a job that I am excited to do.  The day passed in a blur of baptism and funeral docs and requests, admin, brides via email, filing and a non-stop phone.

I left late afternoon.  Mind spinning.  But my heart was smiling.  Thankyou Fr Chris, I am exactly where I am meant to be.

Till soon
c'est la vie xxx

Friday, 4 July 2014

Leap of Faith and the Winds of Change for my career

So I am down to the final 10 days at Irene Homes after 5 years here.  Feels a little strange.  I am used to driving the 30kms to IH and had just started to make peace with the Etoll gantries I pass under to get here.  The ladies of the Homes, whom we take care of, have crept deeply into my heart, as have the friends I have made here over the years amongst the staff.  Mentally disabled are two words that are a natural part of my vocabulary as I spent my days Fundraising for this very worthwhile NPO. 

But God always sends opportunities in His time, and that time for me is now. 

I am going to work fulltime as the PA for a very dynamic parish priest.  We have a unique relationship and working together is going to be a big blessing in my life and the opportunity to be in and around my faith all the time.  He will tell you I am like a whirlwind of glitter and craziness ..... and he means it with great kindness.  In addition I am going to freelance as a Fundraiser, predominantly within the Catholic community. There is much need for this. 

So as one chapter draws to an end in my life, I stand on the brink of turning the page onto a new exciting chapter. 

A piece of my heart will be left at Irene Homes, and so it should be.  I would like to think that I have touched all their lives in some way.  And I will visit, because the staff say they still need to hear me shout "hello aunties" whenever I arrive.  

I am grateful.  Grateful for the time I spent there.  Grateful for my new jobs.  Grateful for God steering me where He thinks I best belong. 

Till very soon 
in a Leap of Faith 

Friday, 27 June 2014

Single sock party

Yesterday my son showed a friend of ours that he had a pair of socks on that were both black but the toe part was red on the one sock and orange on the other.  I commented that my black socks seemed also to be mismatched.  My son blamed it on the "laundry department" i.e. me.  My friend commented that he would never wear mismatched socks.  And seemed to have great sympathy for my son.  Ugh.  

This quickly lead to a discussion about the "single sock laundry syndrome" which is one that will be familiar to all moms ...... what the hell happens to socks in the wash ...... because in my mind they go to that great sock heaven, along with tupperware lids. Our friend looked completely stunned when I told him that we currently have 68 single socks in a basket in the laundry. 


Did we originally buy them in a pair - Yes
Did we wear them in a pair the first few times - Yes
Did we throw them into the laundry basket in a pair - Yes
Were they washed as a pair - Yes
Did they come out the washing machine / washline as a pair - No 

And therein lies the age old question ..... who has that other one?

So we decided that a "single sock party" is the way to go.  We get a group of  people together who all bring their single socks along. ..... we throw them in piles together according to colour and adult & kids socks.  And then you see if you cannot marry your single socks as close as possible to someone else's. Once this is done we roll up the newly married pairs and donate them to the church Soup kitchen initiative so that when they go out on Friday evenings to feed the street people, they can also give out socks.  

If I have 34 mismatched pairs, can you imagine how many pairs 10 or 20 of us can make?

So come on parishioners and friends ..... let's find a date for the single sock party.  Bring cake, bring colddrink, bring yourselves and most of all --- bring the socks!!!! 

till soon
c'est la vie xxx

Monday, 23 June 2014

Retreating into myself .... the Corpus Christi weekend

This weekend past I went on a Corpus Christi retreat with mostly members of my own parish, along with some from other parishes.  The retreat was led by PIE with our very own Fr Chris contributing greatly on the Eucharist, Order of the Mass and of course celebrating our daily Masses over the 3 days. 

What did I leave at home?  Laundry, lists, TV, social media, questions like where is this and where is that from kids, cooking, driving, working, emails etc etc. 

What did I find there?  Peace, quiet, God, fellowship, Worship, friends, SLEEP, the Rosary, insight into my religion, prayer, music, Mass and in many ways .... myself.  Me.  Just Karin.  Not Karin the mom or Karin the employee or Karin the whatever.  Just Karin.  

I know this because during the Mass I cried.  All 3 days.  Why?  Who knows .... it felt like I was a big over-inflated balloon and when you took all the stuff as listed in the 2nd paragraph away, it was like pricking me with a pin .... and as I calmed down, slowed down, breathed .... I cried.  And the best thing is, no-one chuckled, no-one judged, because many were crying themselves.  

When I left there it was with somewhat of a heavy heart ... I would have liked a day or two more. 

When I came home I found all the regular stuff ..... but I did the laundry slowly ..... I took time to do things for me.  Monday came around and my life was chaos again .... at one stage during the morning doing 32 jobs at once I wondered if the retreat had helped.  But I breathed and I switched off the radio on the way to work so that I could listen to God.  Not talk to him, but listen to what he was telling me. 

And sometimes I am not going to look for something or clean something or wash something.  Sometimes I will simply say tomorrow it will be done.  Because now is me time. 

Give yourself space as Fr Chris says ... 

c'est la vie xxx

Friday, 13 June 2014

One ball. Millions of people

So life as we know it has come to a temporary halt.  World Cup is the central theme of our home --- meals taken in the lounge .... chefs kits steamed in the lounge .... update of each other's lives ..... yip ..... in the lounge.  Armed with 4 new sherpa blankets ... one for each of us, we have entered the football zone.  

We are not "only during World Cup" soccer supporters.  We are all year round soccer supporters in our house .... so World Cup is huge.  We have drawn our teams in our family pool (yes as per previous blog I have every crap team that somehow managed to drag themselves kicking and screaming into the tournament), we have the chart up ... not the one only entering scores from quarterfinals, we have the large oversized one which shows every result of every match and in addition we follow the updates online and watch every other related programme during this time.  Eug and Nic judge the players on skill alone, Jess and I are inclined to value them even more highly if God has blessed them with wonderful looks, severely powerful thighs etc etc.  We all have our own grading system not so?

Meals than cannot be cooked in under 20 mins will not be served during this time.  Calls unrelated to soccer will not be answered.  Any activity that cannot happen during halftime, will not be happening.  The Nespresso machine has been pre-programmed for optimum cappuccino delivery speed.  Everything has been moved to within arms reach from the furniture in the lounge.  

My son tells us that Soccer is not Everything, it is the Only Thing.  Sometimes he is so wise.  

still hoping for a win by Honduras
c'est la vie xxxx

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Returning ... And the wisdom of a friend

So I went on a small sojourn.  To think and regroup.  To look at what I want to blog about.  I looked at who reads my blog in which countries.  I managed to speak to some of those people simply because their comments on my blogs gave me access to their email details.  It was amazing to discover what draws them and often how people in different countries are drawn for different reasons.  Some like the humour.  Some like the pain.  Nearly all love the honesty with which I write.

The harshest critics are often those who know us the best .... Simply for the reason that they know me.  I read a lot of blogs .... Especially those that are forthright, honest, blatantly stating pain and challenges and concerns.  Sometimes I too have to remind myself that I am not part of the problem when people I know bluntly state what hurts them or has hurt them.  And I have emerged from my break more resolute than ever to remain honest ... Because it is what keeps my readers reading.  And to remind those that know me ... If you read something you think is an issue I have with you ... Please remember that if I have not, prior to the blog post, raised it with you directly, then I am not referring to you .... So don't react as if I am.

Help comes from the most amazing places sometimes.  Like the answer to a prayer.  I would probably still be pondering had it not been for a new friend, also a blogger, who completely unexpectedly contacted me on the weekend.  Our chat went back and forward for quite a while.  This person revealed some very personal things about their life to me ... Which both surprised and touched me.  And as they too are a very open and honest blogger, I listened to the advice and will be mindful of their viewpoint.

So to you, and you know who you are, Thankyou.  You alone are the reason I returned today.

Till very soon
Be an authentic you, always xxx

Monday, 26 May 2014

FIFA World Cup 2014 to be won by Honduras. Please.

So we did the family draw in our house for the World Cup. 

Simple system.  32 names in a bowl.  4 family members.  We draw in rotation.  8 countries each.  

There are enough superb teams in the World Cup that the spread should be ok for all right? 

No.  That is a fabulous theory.  Somehow the actual "draw the folded paper from the breakfast bowl" reality was somewhat different. 

I held my breath each time I dipped my hand in ..... Would it be Germany?  Brazil?  Spain? (who I have supported year in and out for a loooong time now).  Would it be .... Would it be ....... 

In all my "would it be's" I never once mentioned the following teams:

Costa Rica

But somehow I managed to pull them out of the bowl.  For myself.  To support. 

How wonderful.  How lucky.  How Blessed.  How flippen unlikely that I will win the pool. 

I did get England.  Make me proud boys.  

I am begging. 

So if you see someone in the mall wearing a World Cup t-shirt with Honduras on the front.  It is me.  Their supporter.  Die hard soccer fan. 

And how the hell is it possible that given the countries above, Bafana did not qualify.  Hummmf. 

Can't wait for the next family pool. 

till next time 
c'est la vie xxx

2019 - new beginnings and other excitement

2019 is a big year for me.  For the first time in probably 30 years I am not in a fixed Monday to Friday job.  This is huge.  I return from...