Saturday, 30 December 2017

So that “Empty Nest Syndrome”.  How about it hey.  It comes.  If you have children it comes.  Sooner or later.  And mine has arrived.  Well sort of.  OK now that I think about it, it is 50/50 ish.  I had one child giving me ENS and the other one here.  Now the former is back for a while so it is a full nest.  For the moment.  So maybe it is more like “Last Child Out of School Syndrome”. So mine has not completely arrived.  How confusing.

Now I was expecting to fall down in a flood of tears and loneliness and confusion and regret and sadness and many other things as described by magazines.  And I didn’t.  Although there will be those that say I did.  I did way better than I thought.  And this is one of those things you can only fully fully fully understand when you have kids.  Who are now all finished in school.

I actually felt much sadder when my daughter finished Matric in 2013.  It was a “oh woe is me no more swimming galas, netball and hockey matches, no more Valentine’s Dances, no more this and that, no more Hospitality Studies dinners” etc etc.  Perhaps because she immediately after Matric went to a leading chefs academy, finished with flying colors and was nabbed by a top restaurant in CT and moved there 3 years ago.  During her studies it was chefs hours, including evenings, so she was not around like a Varsity student, she was there and when she came home late at night, she was too tired to chat before getting up the next morning and doing it all over again.  So her place in the nest was empty.  And suddenly my do our nails, watch chick programmes, tint our hair, girly type things buddy was gone.  Even in the time she was in CT, chefs have little to no time of their own, working from early morning to very very late at night, it was sometimes days before we talked on the phone.  Thank the Lord for Whatsapp.

She moved to CT and her and I spent lots of time crying on line.  Crying at the airport each time she managed to visit, which she could not in the first six months.  She did, as the top student, win a trip to the leading chefs academy in Parma, Italy where she went to spend a short time studying.  I never cried.  It was the opportunity of a lifetime.  But when she was in the Cape, I missed having her around.  I missed her bounce, her wit and everything that went with her.  Those that said “oh but luckily she did not move overseas” mmmmm when your child is not here and your only communication is phone and Whatsapp, it does not matter if they are 1600 or 16000 kilometers away.  And many of those with kids overseas or elsewhere in SA have been to see them there much more than I have been to CT.

So now my dear 18 year old finished Matric.  And suddenly after 17 years of driving to CBC Mount Edmund from Gr 0 to Matric for both of them in total, I was not going to drive to school in the mornings.  17 years is a long long time to drive to the same school with kids year in and out.  That is not a small adjustment.  After 17 years being an avid and very regular supporter of hockey, football, cricket and netball matches.  Swimming galas.  Speech festivals.  School productions.  Hotel evenings.  School meetings.  3 years as PTA Chairman, 3 years as Board Chairman, the making of 100’s of boerewors rolls at events, pouring tea, attending talks and supporting, it ended.  Then shortly after finishing his last exam my son got his licence.  Amazing how getting a car can make you perfect your driving and get a licence within 3 months of getting the car.  So now the dropping at indoor football, dropping at friends, dropping at malls and fetching everywhere is over.  Including some of the driving for Jess, as her and Nic are having a ball going places together and playing only their music.  So now it is feeling a bit more Empty Nest-ish.  Jess is home on a sabbatical from CT, plotting her next course and them two have spent the last 3 days in CT, packing up her part of her part of the apartment she shared, and putting her stuff into storage.  Thus two in the nest.  Sort of.  For now.

On 17 Jan Nic starts working at his beloved CBC where he has signed a one year contract offered to him as an Intern Teacher, in the Sports Department.  So he gets to do what he loves - sport - all day every day.  As a job.  In addition he will coach as he did in Matric, for the Soccer School of Excellence, where he both coaches and plays football.  He will live at home.  Score one for the nest!

Jess is taking up a short term experience after being offered a chance to manage a very popular coffee shop / bistro type place in Pretoria.  A wonderful opportunity to experience a bit of front of house and management as well.  Then it will be off to the formal chefs life again. She too is staying at home for now.  Score two for the nest!  And the laundry!

So now?  Whenever Nic tells me he is going somewhere, I immediately start planning my schedule around that .... what time to fetch, what time to drop.  So much to consider.  And then I realize he is simply giving me information.  I do not even have to pick up my car key.  Because he is going.  In his car.  Boom.

So now I have to make sure that he has fuel ... I always ask .... he always does.  I remind him when he leaves not to pull away from any major intersection robots without making double sure the cars in the opposite direction are not jumping the light.  For the first 4 times he left the house on his own in his own car, hubby and I stood on the driveway waving as if he was leaving on a road trip to the coast.  And then I came inside, lay on the couch and read my book.  Watched a series further.  Waited for the message to say he had arrived safely at Menlyn.  I will admit I felt a bit teary that there would be no more morning trips listening to the Pop Quiz on 94.7 and taking turn to be the DJ via the Aux cable.  But now we ride in his car and play DJ and sometimes they are still in my car ... when the family goes somewhere together, or to Mass or just out me and the kids.  Or adults as my friend reminds me.  I look at Jess and have to remind myself that she lived in CT for 3 years and lead her own life so now when she goes out I cannot be giving the 3rd degree x 12.

So it is all new.  Do I feel a tiny less useful.  No.  Do I seem to have less of an opportunity to give an opinion. Yes.  Do I feel like they do not need me any longer.  No.  Do I feel like we are losing some things in our relationship.  Yes.  But .... do I feel we are gaining many new things ... YES.

So.  They are here lying on the couch, playing board games, playing with the pets, making us laugh, playing FIFA, watching Box Office and Netflix, spending our money for now, having friends over to sleep and visit.  All the regular stuff.  And we still live together.  And we are family.  But now we are all adults.

Lord help us.

Love Lives Here.

Till soon
c’est la vie

Friday, 22 December 2017

The best of me. The worst of me. Love and laughter. Victor and victim.


I love Christmas. For a lot of reasons. I can sit and stare at our Christmas tree forever.  My favourite is like now, as I go to bed (yes I know it is 3am but that is a story for another time), when I turn off all the house lights, leaving the tree lights until last.  In those moments, the lounge swathed in the glistening lights, I find myself completely mesmerised.  It seems as good a time as any to write my next blog.  In the dark, with just the lights of the tree. 

I have been thinking a lot about my year.  What made it unbearable, what made it awesome. What made me almost drown in laughter, what made me almost drown in tears.  The people who walked into my life and the people who walked out of my life. The joys and sadness's.  The shifting as our last schoolchild finished Matric (and got his licence) and our daughter moved home from Cape Town for a while. The completion of my almost 5th year in the parish office.  My hubby growing his business and his other involvement in a business which is keeping him very busy.  

I learnt a lot about myself this year. Some of it I learnt by myself. Some pieces were taught to me by others. Other pieces shoved at me. I have collected a lot of labels, some good, some less so.  I have made people laugh, I have made some crazy, I have challenged some, I have left some, I have been left by some, I have hurt some and been hurt by some, I have been called everything from fun, dedicated, compassionate, crazy, loving, loyal all the way down to being called someone who likes to play the victim.  I have learnt from them all.  Discarded some opinions, kept others. I have been discussed face to face, I have been discussed behind my back, I have sometimes been given the opportunity to give my version, other times not.  I have argued with some, disliked some and loved some.  I have been loyal to those who stick by me. I have been betrayed by people I love, I have been adored by people I love. 

I have been healthy, I have been ill, I have been physically injured .... all in this year. I have learnt to speak up, I have been taught how to be silent, I have protected people, I have kept people's secrets, I have been counselled, I have been betrayed, I have been spoilt, I have spoilt others. I have lay in the road next to a man and held his hand as he lay face down and bleeding after his motorbike accident, I have held the hand of a woman whose husband had less than a week to live, I have held the hand of a friend's new baby. 

I have learnt that life is not always fair, I have confirmed that Everything happens in God's time, I have had moments of great anxiety and moments of great joy, I have practised standing up to bullies, I have been bullied, I have faced narcissists and kind hearted people. I have never stopped learning, I have never stopped teaching my kids. I have watched them be joyful for others achievements, I have watched others not doing the same in return.  I have seen spite, I have seen kindness. 

I have reassured myself that not making New Year's Resolutions is a good thing.  I have made and discarded lists for 2018. 

I have realised that we need to practise kindness, warmth, love and compassion.  We need to practise and live out our Faith daily. It is no good that we are Sunday Catholics. We need to reach out, speak out and live in a manner that says "hey, I notice you".  We need to remember that if we cannot even attempt to be our better self every day, how on earth will we ever get to being our best self. 

I have looked through 2017, I look forward to 2018 ...... a journey to find my best self.  

c'est la vie
sleep tight

Thursday, 21 December 2017

There are no Saints amongst us. How Blessed we Are.


We need to learn to "Let Go and Let God" Fr Sibonelo at Ngome reminded us a few months ago on our weekend retreat.  It sounded like a great plan.  There, all rejuvenated and revived and spiritually excited I agreed that I would try.  

So here I am. A few months later. Thinking about Let Go and Let God.  Wondering if my motto should not rather be something more forceful.  And please do not ask me WWJD. 

I am under an unusual amount of pressure presently.  Mentally I sometimes find myself floundering in a newly changed situation, as so many areas of my life are currently altering and shifting and realigning themselves.  I am like a child in a learn to swim programme who has moved into the big pool.  I am familiar with the environment but still want the safety of the rail while I settle.  

I have been surprised to find that some people that I thought were the rail are actually those taking the screws out of it and shoving me under the water.  I have been reminded repeatedly recently of how easily we all forget about our own shortcomings, faults and stupid behaviours when we are busy focusing on these in others. There are no Saints .....

Let Go and Let God.  I spoke at great length to Fr Sibonelo about this in a quiet half hour on the one day.  It sounds so lovely ..... no matter what happens or what you do to me or anyone else or how you treat me or anyone else, I must just smile and wave, let it go and leave it up to God to deal with you.  Can you do that?  I mean you, the one reading this? Do you like to deal the cards?  Do you allow others to do the same?

We react.  That is what we do.  Yes including you, the one currently shaking their head thinking "not me".  We react.  It is so much easier to point outwards than inwards.  To say "you are" instead of "I am".  It is easier to point out faults than to deal with our own.  When this becomes largely one-sided, resentment breeds. 

I find myself questioning, challenging, studying, discerning, resisting, inviting and immersing myself in change. I find myself rebelling against those who neglect the messiness of their own lives, or refuse me the right to comment, when they however highlight messiness in mine.  I am however, more than happy and enthusiastic to engage with those who allow there to be some quid pro quo.

I have now decided that giving love does not necessarily mean getting it, giving friendship does not always mean you receive it, loyalty unfortunately does not beget loyalty, nor does trust beget trust.  Giving 100% does not automatically mean you receive 100% in return from people or situations. This does not make me a victim of some delusional vision of how life should be, it makes me a strong person, who can realise this truth. 

So I shall focus on Fr Sibonelo.  Let Live and Let God.  I will allow other people's behaviours, habits, idiosyncrasies, messiness, lies, judgements and other be theirs.  People must each live their own way, God will take care of the reprimands.  

But for heavens sake, allow me to have some messiness, just like you do.  Let Live and Let God applies to me as well.  God will reprimand me as He sees fit.  And I shall speak up if I do not agree. 

There are no Saints. Is that not wonderful!

till soon 
c'est la vie xxx

Thursday, 7 December 2017

label me, label you

Labels.  You find them everywhere.  On all kinds of things.  Even people. 

Tins, Bottles, Boxes, Containers and much more - all have labels telling you what is in there - descriptions that usually match the contents quite well. 

The same cannot be said about human labels.  They are very often given to us by others, and very often do not accurately describe the person behind it.  

What labels would you give yourself?  Beautiful? Talkative? Passionate? Warm? or do you fall into the trap of giving yourself negative labels - Fat, Incompetent, Tiring, Boring .... the list is endless. Why do we find it so easy to believe the negative labels others give us, yet so hard to accept the positive ones which we know to be true?

One of the most soul destroying things I experience is those who label me, incorrectly, and in the process make me believe the labels to be true. 

How is it that we are less inclined to believe the positive labels than we are the negative ones?  I think that if we receive them in a balanced way we would, but human nature is such that negative labels are easier to give out. 

Situations often arise in life where we find ourselves in a circle, like a hamster wheel, when repeated negativity comes our way.  If you tell someone constantly that they are too this and too that and reinforce this daily, over a plethera of traits of theirs, they will gradually start to believe you.  And if they believe you they will constantly be trying to change something, which in your mind is unacceptable.  The same is true for many people.  

Strong personalities excel at this - by focusing continually on others, they ensure that their own shortcomings and faults are never highlighted or addressed.  Very often their own lives are far messier than the lives of those they criticise. 

So labels - you will always receive them.  Discern about what you should accept and what not.  Hold onto the labels that fit and gently slide aside those that do not. Yes, some will be true, some will be ones that you need to face, however do not get caught up in a situation where you start to believe every fault highlighted.  There is no person so perfect that they can be entitled to criticise others without allowing that person the same liberty in return. 

So as annoying, loud, overreacting, self-absorbed, inefficient, self-pitying, depressed, hysterical, crazy and behaving as if I am always wronged I am ..... (there are many more labels, but word count is limited) ... I am also kind, caring, warm, ridiculously loyal and protective, dedicated, funny and so much more.  

I will try and remind myself daily that I am actually quite ok. 

Stay true to yourself. 

much love 
c'est la vie 

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

the journey. myself. musing. karin is here.

Every time I travel 1600 km to visit Jess, the same thing happens.  It happened now and it happened last September and it happened the September before that. 

I find Karin.  It seems that she hides here in CT, in these beautiful little streets, the old houses, the shadow of the mountain, the streets that you can walk down and find dozens of quaint little coffee shops, laundries, Internet shops, vintage clothing shops and much more.  Every corner has a little eatery of sorts and if you are living where we currently are, we can just as easily cross the road to a Centre that is beautiful, not huge and has every store, including a delightful French Bistro, as we can meander down the hill and find a plethora of little coffee shops and other.  

I have fallen in love with a little wooden gate, a door with a brass doorknob and the view from my bedroom window.  This gate is a small, white, well worn, wooden garden gate, painted in semi-peeling white paint, thigh high and the entry to our little apartment/townhouse whatever this is called in the Cape.  I get a thrill every time I open it.  It is not a motorised gate like at home, surrounded by 6ft palisade fencing.  From the gate it is 5 steps to a beautiful old house door, with a brass doorknob, old fashioned, and every time I open that door I know that the beautifully restored wooden floors, high ceilings, old fashioned desk, old balcony and that view will be here. The two owners have done restorations yes, but they did so while keeping the very essence of this jewel.  Many think the mountain is overrated, but from every window of every room in this gem, we see it and it is a beautiful sight.  I find myself looking every morning to see if it is boldly facing the blue skies, or lying under the white tablecloth.  

I have a lot of time every September to read.  To muse.  To write  To journal.  To colour.  To spend with Nic and whenever she can be off, Jess.  This time she is ill, so we have to do many things without her on her days off, whilst she is bundled up on the couch, resting.  We never do the September visit without a visit to her beloved Pot Luck Club and tonight that wonderful experience lies ahead as we visit her work environment and the kitchen she gives most of her life to.  It is a taste experience and we wait all year for it.  We are blessed to also include a dear friend in our visit tonight. 

In this down time, I get to find me .... the one that gets swept up in the pace at work, the demands of being a wife, a mom, a friend, a confidante, a counsellor, a secretary, an ear to listen, a blogger, a person who sleeps very little, a coffeeholic. Sometimes making me be completely consumed by it all. 

It is like my "reset" button waits here for me each year.  And funnily enough I do not find that during the December break when our offices close, or during any other little break in the year.  I only find it here.  I people watch, and in doing so I realise once again, how I battle when I am not in an environment where other people are present on a regular basis.  Not necessarily talking to me, but physically present - being alone for long periods, when not by choice, is a challenge for me.  Deezer has not ever been played so much in my life.  

My family thus get the "chatty me" when I am around them, every detail of every moment of my day and anything else that I saw or heard or observed that I want to share with them, unless it is confidential.  I babble on.  

I am not afraid of being alone, but only at times that I choose it to be so.  I am known to go to the Art movies on my afternoon off, happily alone with my popcorn and my slush puppy.  Yesterday morning the kids slept late and I went off to the French Bistro down the road, had a glorious croissant and 2 cups of the good stuff and read, and people watched and reflected.  I even spoke via DM to the author of the brilliant book I just finished (The Fifth Mrs Brink).  I attended her book launch and was mesmerised by her beautiful marriage and love for Andre P Brink.  It was by choice I was alone.  In that way too I happily have breakfast by myself on Monday mornings at my regular coffee hangout in Pretoria.  I do my crosswords (I am addicted to newspaper crosswords) and again people watch. 

Back to my musing about CT - here I find that I have a voice, that I sleep well, I do not mull over every opinion I and others have, 22 times, I speak up, or not.  I do not seem to be apologising as much. I slow down.  I breathe.  And whilst I am on holiday yes, and should feel relaxed yes, this is not that kind of relax your shoulders and take it easy kind of relaxed.  It is just a reset my mind, don't make excuses for who I am kind of relax. 

Imagine if Jess never moved to CT and I never came here every year.  

So just like I do every year, I will try and make sure that this Karin comes home with me next week.  That she be bold, that she flaunt the fact that she cares too much about everything, that she demands the same in return, that she stops letting people who take her for granted, do so, and that she remembers every day to breathe. To pause. To muse.  

At least I know if I lose her along the way, she will be waiting here for me next September. 

Much love to you all ..... try be you. 
c'est la vie 

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

The grip of addictions, rehab and a simple bench

Do you know someone who suffers from an addiction?


Then you are not paying attention. 

Addicts do not all move through life with huge illuminated signs in front of them, declaring their addiction.  Addictions and addicts are around us, amongst us, known and unknown at different times. 

Yesterday I had reason to visit someone in a Rehab Centre.  Not a family member, perhaps not even a friend, more of an acquaintance.  I think I have spoken to him face to face only once, the rest of the time the interaction is by phone as he calls me just, I think, to have me listen to him for a few minutes.  A reaching out.  I don't actually know. 

This is not his first visit to Rehab, nor do I know if it will be his last, but he is there, being visited by his family, but no-one else from his life.  It is sad to think that there is not a colleague from his office who will visit, not even a friend.  I wonder how you get to that point. I don't know if he has used up his last, last, last chance with everyone, or whether they don't know how to deal with it.  I think everyone reaches the former sooner or later, and tough love sets in. 

So armed with some biscuits, chips, chocolates, some reading material and a Bible, I set off for the Centre yesterday afternoon.  It is not my first experience at visiting someone in Rehab but it has been almost 20 years since I have.  By the time I turned into the gate, I found my heart beating a little quicker and felt a slight nervousness.  What would I say? What would we talk about?  Would he be lucid?  Would he talk to me? What if he hates biscuits? I managed to mentally race through 27 questions in under a minute.  

You are not allowed to park inside, so having got out, I walked down the path to the reception.  The setting is pretty.  Lovely lawns with benches, little streams, fountains and beautiful tall trees of all types.  The buildings are neat but still gave me a little sense of old-school hospital meets boarding school.  Nothing indicates the severity of why people are there. The guard walked me all the way and just as I was hoping that I would recognize the guy, he saw me, jumped up with a shout and bounded his way over.  We are not talking about a teenager but a man in his 30's.  

I was starting to feel that it was going to be ok. 

Once the nursing sister had checked all the items that I had brought him, he suggested we go and sit on a bench in the gardens.  It was sweet how concerned he was that we should not sit on a dirty bench as he did not want my clothes to get dusty.  

I had intended to stay for about 30 minutes.  We ended up sitting there for over an hour and a half, almost till sunset.

Having found out how he was feeling, who he shared a room with, how the schedule worked, what therapy sessions he was attending, all about the art classes, about the specialists, how the food is, how the medicines are controlled, how their religious needs are catered for, how many people are currently there, what he does during the day .... I felt that all those "administration" questions I had, had been answered.  

So I did what I think I know how to do well in such situations (thank you LifeLine for 14 weeks of training, 3 years ago, it has stood me in good stead time and time again).... I said nothing ......I waited.  The lull in conversation would decide which direction we would take now. 

He started talking ........ and in the 90 minutes I found myself probably talking for 20 of them in total.  

It was, all in all, a sad story.  One that can probably happen to any of us, any of our family, our kids, our colleagues.  He told it in depth and with great honesty.  Every now and then he said "this may really shock you".  No.  I work with people every day in my job.  Happy people, hurting people, sad people, joyful people ...... I know a 1000 stories from a lot of people.  This is life. 

I thought about the many addictions in life.  There are all the serious ones like alcohol, drugs and pills that lead to Centres like this one.  But there are others - social media, pornography, sexual selfies, caffeine, food, smoking, promiscuity .... go and Google, you will be amazed at the lists. Some of those addictions, whilst not putting you in Rehab, also start to rule your life, affect your family and friends and even hurt you.  These do not make you a bad person, they don't make you an "addict", they simply show us all (including me) how easy it is to have something in your life that you think you cannot live without.  

When my daughter was between 1 and 3 years old, my hubby and I fostered 4 young unmarried girls (at different times) who had been in Fatima House for unwed mothers. Once the baby is born, the girl has to move out and this is where temporary fostering comes in, whilst a place is found for them.  All the girls we fostered has elected to keep their babies and not have them adopted.  Most of them were between 17 and 21.  They knew nothing about babies and had nothing and we ended up having to teach them the most arbitrary things we take for granted and supply their needs, personally and for the newborn.  These babies were usually a week old when they arrived at us.  One of these girls, who lived with us for 5 months, had a boyfriend who was in rehab and she herself was a recovering addict, clean for a year, who had a relapse whilst in our care because caring for a baby was just beyond her emotional ability.  Her parents lived close to us, but refused to have anything to do with her and so that was one of our additional tastes of rehab and her uncontrolled, non-reasonable behaviour and stealing to feed her habit. After trying everything, we too had to eventually apply Tough Love. 

So driving home yesterday I had a lot of time to reflect on the visit, I even shed a few tears. It was emotional, it was sad, it was an eye-opener to how easily certain things are available through both official and unofficial channels.  But I was glad I had gone.  He needs to know that God has not forgotten him, that although he has been to Rehab a few times, he always checks himself in, which although not great, means he realises what he is doing wrong. 

I cannot imagine what it must be like to deal with this in your own family. I have seen and heard of families destroyed by people whose addictions turn them into unrecognisable, violent people who will do anything to feed their addiction. 

I will pray for him.  I will pray for all others too. 

The only thing I can do, is simply sit on that bench, and listen. 

till soon 
c'est la vie xx

Saturday, 12 August 2017

depression - "just get over it" - and other stupidities

Do you have a friend who suffers from depression?


Then you are not paying attention.

Research is stating more and more often that in every one of our friendship / family circles there is at least one person who does. 

Either it is openly known or seen, or carefully hidden by that person.  

Depression is an illness.  It is not a choice like what movie to see, what day to go to the dentist, what colour top to put on or whether or not to have a 2nd cup of coffee.  

Depression does not jump up and wave a large flag in your face when it is about to swoop. It is either there all the time, or sidles up to you every now and then, usually without warning, visits for a while and then slithers off.  You do not get to choose, it is not like a hotel booking where you say "five nights please". 

When diagnosed with any other serious illness, people would normally find themselves treated with great sympathy and genuine caring.  The person who has the sickness did not ask for it, and has to live through / with it, sometimes without a solution, sometimes being made well by meds and sometimes not.  It can be sporadic or a fight every day. But society is kind and sympathetic. Sadly this is not always the case with depression, which causes the same situation as above. 

Depression (and I spoke to a lot of people before I wrote this article) is very often seen as the sufferers' fault - are any of these familliar to you - either because you have to hear them or because you say them to others - Pull yourself together, Don't worry it will be better tomorrow, Think positive thoughts, Don't worry we all have sad days, Find a hobby, Remember there are people with worse illnesses etc etc. 

Depression seems to give some other people a very strange opportunity when it comes to dealing with depression sufferers - the opportunity to always blame everything on that person. 

We had an argument?  I was unkind to you?  I treated you badly?  I treated you disrespectfully?  I hurt you?  I do not have to apologise because YOU suffer from depression and thus are oversensitive, over ridiculous, over reactive, weepy and annoying.  Some people find this weak spot and utilise it to the full.  It gives them the opportunity to treat you however they wish, when they wish to, because they never have to apologise or rectify what they did - they can simply blame you and your depression. 

The question is - the person with depression is fighting an illness - what is your excuse?

Yes it can be hard to deal with someone like this, no denying that, but before you judge them, ask yourself what about your mood swings, your bad days, your irritability - are these acceptable because "you are just human" and why does this not apply the other way around? 

Many depression sufferers have the situation well under control, usually with medication, sometimes combined with therapy.  Yes they have "all fall down days", but so do all people in the world.  Yet the depression sufferer is judged for it. 

The stigma associated with depression, especially in more serious forms, often leads people to hide their condition so they do not have to hear the stereotypical comments when it does not go well in their lives.  Believe it or not - when a depression sufferer has a real shitty day at the office - it can be just that - a real shitty day - it does not have to be linked to their health.  It is just a normal healthy real shitty day. 

So if you are a depression sufferer, pick those you tell with great care, because that is how you buffer yourself against it being used against you. Sadly society has a long way to go.  If you are having a depressive bad day, week, month, please remind yourself that this is an illness, not a choice.  If you are having a normal bad day, week, month simply because it is just that, then revel in it. 

And next time someone blames your depression on your reaction to the way they treat you, just quietly remind yourself in your head "what the hell is their excuse". 

So I wish you love and laughter and light, especially on the dark days.  

And remember ..... you are perfectly normal ...... maybe a little crazy sometimes .... but perfectly normal. 

see you soon 
c'est la vie xxx

Friday, 4 August 2017

professional purpose - so what is your daily work mantra?

When someone asks you what you do, what do you say?

Do you give them your official job title, do you give them an informal reference to what your job is, do you describe your tasks and leave your job title open or do you simply shrug and mutter something about your job, making yourself sound as irrelevant as possible?

I read an interesting article recently, via Twitter and that got me thinking about the above. 

How do YOU see you, in your job.  Because how we see ourselves can either be better or worse, or sometimes exactly like others see us. 

That brings me to the point of professional purpose.  S Poswolsky says that in work we should learn our purpose, instead of just trying to find it.  Your job may have general definitions of what you are supposed to do.  And you could spend years trying to find your purpose in the what and why of your job and those definitions.  He has a strong point in saying that you should learn your purpose .... in your more defined tasks, ask yourself, "whose life do I affect when I do this task efficiently, how do I make the company look better when I do x, y or z".  

Somewhere in there you may find that you swing from "do I have any real purpose here", to "this is the great impact I make simply by what I do and the way I do it". 

Let me tell you something I know for sure, simply because I struggle with it - more people recognize and appreciate what you do than you generally give yourself credit for.  Yes, there will always be those who work in a situation where you are one of hundreds and no matter how much dedication you show, you slip under the radar. But generally, we short sell ourselves. 

I am still at work right now.  Because I was told to be? No.  Because I was asked to be? No. Because I wanted to be.  I simply cannot bear anymore driving today so having 4 hours to kill (mother of an 18 year old) I have come to work to pass that time.  With the buzzer at the gate not ringing and the phone not ringing etc, I got through a serious pile of work.  And then decided to clean up my office of all the little stuff I have - my candles, little cactus plants, my stationery all over the desk, my little that and little this.  My office just screamed Karin, those who know me will confirm.  Boom - colourful, out there, one candle always burning. It now screams Secretary and first person you meet as you walk through the door.  Perhaps a change in professional purpose.  You can't be lightening covered in glitter forever.  

So maybe you need to give this a think - and then ask yourself what your mantra is?  And if you do not have one, what would you want it to be?  I had a week to think about this, before writing this blog. 

Mine is simple.  Do all things with kindness. 

I am going to stick it on my computer so that I see it all day. 

And remember - wherever you are - your feet are not cast in concrete .....

till soon
c'est la vie 

Monday, 3 July 2017

Gentle words, kindness, niceness and other challenges

So this thing about being nice, or as our Priest so sweetly reminded us a few weeks ago - being gentle with our words. 

Pfffft.  So easy to say. Let he or she who manages this all the time, please stand.  Oh look, we are all sitting. 

So I am driving from school to work and on the single lane road that crosses the bridge en route, a road that is choc-a-block, the taxis do their usual thing of riding on the side of the lane and then shoving themselves in front (I have ridden this route for 4 years now) .... I do not mean one or two taxis, I mean ten or fifteen taxis driving bumper to bumper.  I used to get supremely heated, even now and then moving my car slightly into that lane to prevent them from doing so.  It does not bother them, only me, so I have been practicing to simply, when the road narrows, allow the taxi that is at that moment 2 cm ahead of me, but on my left, to slide in in front of me.  I even flash my lights and say come across.  Because I support simply breaking the rules of the road?  No, because I support staying sane and trying not to swear like a sailor at 715 am in the morning.  So he is happy because he can race ahead, and I am calm - gentle with my words. 

Now particularly over the last 3 weeks, and starting with a discussion with someone I know, I have realised that being nice (and loyal and having some people's backs), is maybe equal to just being stupid.  Simply because when you are like that you get ridden over roughshod and often find that you make most of the effort in some relationships. A sort of well you are nice to have and very convenient to have around, but hey, you do all the work in the relationship Karin, I will just be present.  Use your words!  Now I have found myself, as I said, in the last 3 weeks becoming increasingly irritable about this issue and despite having addressed some issues head on, the result was a 4 day improvement and then the status quo resumed.  So - do I play nicely, speak nicely, doormat nicely, or do I say (in a gentle and loving tone, using nice gentle words) - if you want me in your life, best you step up.  Nothing worse than watching someone lavish attention on some, but not on those who deserve it. Use your words please!! 

No - actually I cannot address it - nice words fail me.  This one will require more work. 

What about in your office?  Being gentle can fail us there.  We get tested and tried and all too often it is easy to lash out at those who cross our doorstep, sigh and roll eyes in certain instances, when we could actually practice the pause and answer in a more gentle manner. To those we work with, work for and in serving others.  We need to lead by example in our words.  All of us. In all fields of work. 

And so it goes with friends, family, colleagues, associates, acquaintances and so on and so on.  

I have realised that I, like most, have to continue to practice the pause, the 1 2 3, before we answer, retaliate or react.  It is so easy to take our moods out, not on the person who caused the mood in the first place, but on the persons who least deserve it. 

Pause, pause and more pause. 

Oh was it simply to easy. 

Chat soon again .... be gentle on yourselves and others 

c'est la vie 

Thursday, 15 June 2017

All in, Donkey from Shrek, Balls to the Wall and other such notions

So it seems that I am multi-limbed, multiple personalities and a multi-tasker that needs more than one body to deal with it all. Fantastic hey?

How the hell did I get here?  

It appears there is sometimes a lot to be said for people who do just what they have to, nothing more and nothing less (or even sometimes less, if they can get away with it).  I however have not been given that gene or that personality trait or characteristic or whatever it is called.  Perhaps the title should be sometimes a sucker.

I cannot be that, nor do I want to, but good grief the habit of balls-to-the-wall (not possible but such a fabulous phrase), take whatever you heap on me, get involved, get things done, can sometimes be a piece of concrete around one's neck.  

Please, this is an observation, not a complaint, before anyone gets all twisted and hysterical.  

My darling son, he of the dry sense of humour, whilst shopping for festively coloured plastic tables and chairs for little people in our "Sunday school" at church, commented - "Mom you love a project" - he says it is very cute - I throw myself in 100%.  And I do. I don't do halves.  Anyone who really knows you will tell you - I am all in or all out.  

I am sure many many men and women reading this have seen the movie Shrek.  Remember that scene where donkey is amongst the crowd and when someone must be picked for something he is throwing his hoof up in the air shouting "Me, Me, Pick Me".  Well this is a little like that except that in addition I also seem to have "Her, Her, Pick Her".  Now if you crappy at organising and inefficient at getting things done, you don't have that. 

So like many others moms (sorry dads I cannot comment for you) I end up doing my job which places a lot of demands on me, whilst being a mom (which has a lot of work but is a massive joy in my life), being a wife, being the laundry department, baking a cake, writing my blog and several other things which demand not only my time, but my personal hand and attention.  Which is fine, but often sees me baking that damn cake at midnight. So when my husband says "are we going to sleep or are you first going to bake a cake", he actually means it.  So every now and then you will see my Instagram status saying "Can everybody just leave me alone for 5 mins".  At night I lose myself in TV series and books (inbetween re-loading the washing machine, sorting a drawer and other things simultaneously). 

Because it is my only time I have now found that watching the series, doing a crossword, being on my social media and washing and drying my hair at the same time works.  

Would I want it any other way?


Would I want to just be appreciated for this multi-tasking?


So remember if you want something done - pick the donkey from Shrek .... 

much love till next time 
c'est la vie  xxx

Sunday, 4 June 2017

the boot contents, the variety and the mobile Makro

Let's talk about boots. 

No actually, let's talk about my boot. 

Now personally I have issues with people with empty boots.  That is freaky .... like you keeping the space open should you have to transport a body wrapped in a carpet or a large piece of furniture.  

That empty boot, with all your tools and stuff under the carpet.  And nothing on top. Weird. 

Now my hubby and son and one other friend (weird how they all guys hey) have told me (rather smugly) that my boot looks like a branch of Makro.  Personally I think that is a bit of an exaggeration.  Life happens.  And the boot content grows. 

Every other week I take my car to the car wash for that just short of a valet wash.  When I approach I already see the car wash staff, who do the inside of the vehicle and the boot, playing ching chong chi for who does mine.  It is not a game they wish to win. 

On that morning, I do empty my boot.  I either unpack it at home or into the spare garage at work.  It takes about 30 minutes.  I find all the stuff I know is there, a lot of stuff that I did not know the whereabouts of and then I also find stuff that I have no idea who it belongs to.  My husband has also suggested that Osama Bin Laden may have been hiding in there the whole time.  He also thinks we could solve the issue of "Where's Wally" by going in there. And then my ever amused boss & friend also has his 5 cents worth about what all could be lurking in there.  Every time I look for something, be it a massive thing, he suggests I check the boot first.  So glad I amuse them. 

Once the car has been washed and returned to me with a completely empty and shiny boot, the challenge of what to put back starts.  So in goes the practical stuff first - an umbrella, 14 fabric shopping bags of various designs - glittery ones, book quote ones, those made by charities etc etc. The fact that I always leave them in the car and have to pay for plastic bags is another story.  Then the Instax camera because you never know when a "moment in time" pops up.  Then my cap as I have to put one on whenever I watch Nic play sport, 2 spare magazines and a new novel for when I have time to kill (you know I am a crazy fast reader), the book I am currently on, my crossword dictionary (I am an addict), a knee rug (it is winter okay), a spare jersey (hot flushes not always present) and one or two other odds and ends. 

Then the growth begins - first a pair of sports shoes of Nic's gets left in there, and a hoodie.  Then a friend's lunch box and her sketch book.  Then a pair of shoes that till this morning we do not know whose they are. Then some friends give me items for the church Outreach which then get transported in my car.  In addition I am running the Princess Project and the items donated to that are then given to me and get transported in the .....boot. 

Then an empty Powerade bottle or two sneak in via Nic, and one of my insulated coffee mugs.  Then I print out some stuff and it ends up in there, plus the two Beelds I am still trying to get to.  A scarf.  A beanie. Some dog cookies to entice our husky from running out the gate.  Oh and of course an extra bottle of perfume.  Another jersey.  And then the random stuff ..... like a pine cone.  3 bottles of glitter (those that know me well will be laughing) or a pile of Autumn leaves.  A brochure on underfloor heating.  Really ... I live in the North, the home of natural underfloor heating. 

And so the cycle begins.  Until the next car wash. 

Yesterday I loving unpacked the boot and Nic and I went off to the regular car wash.  Which had closed as it was 3pm.  So we went to Plan B .... also closed.  Tomorrow morning I will get the car washed.  Tonight I decided to sort through the boot haul which is now in our spare room.  I have made 2 piles.  One that HAS to go with me tomorrow and one that HAS to be returned to the boot when the car comes home clean tomorrow night.  It seems to be 2 reasonable piles.  And yes, it is necessary for me to carry the entire craft box with all the glitter, bling, pens, kokis, tags etc etc with me. 

I cannot promise it will stay like that. 

On Tuesday I travelled to Jhb at noon to get stock for the Repository.  As I passed through Kensington I got stopped in a major roadblock.  I had to show my driver's licence and he checked the car licence.  He then asked me to open the boot.  I was at maximum capacity in terms of the assortment of the contents.  It was the 30th and the cop looked at it, then at me and said "My G*d mammie, are you moving?".  I told him no, it looks that way.  He replied that he would not try and look through it as he was "going off in 4 hours".  Funny guy.  My family were very amused. 

18 months ago I had a very serious motor car accident.  When the tow truck could eventually remove the cars from the scene of the accident, my hubby and 2 of my friends had to remove all the items from the car before it could be towed.  I will never forget the look of disbelief on my friend's face when he explained to me the following day how awkward it was to unpack 187kgs of stuff without any bags to put it into.  Tsk.  Such an overreaction. 

So if you pass me on the road, and have left anything at home, wave to me .... I will open the mobile branch of Makro for your perusal and possible assistance. 

Till soon 
Much love
c'est la vie xxx

picture for illustration only ... not my boot!

Saturday, 8 April 2017

the sea, the body surfing and that costume

The beach.

Brings images to mind of vast areas of golden sand. The smell of coconut suntan oil, the sea and the vision of toned bodies, splayed on beach towels, soaking up the sun whilst buff speedo clad men run along the sea edge, eliciting sighs from women of all ages ….

Screeeeeech …… stop the vision.  Because the reality is indeed vast areas of golden sand, and the smell of suntan lotion, but the toned bodies? All bodies are here – toned, untoned, over toned, thin, fat, in-between and everything else, in costumes of all sizes and styles, whether appropriate for that person or not.  Speedo clad men? Yes, but perhaps for many of them a switch to baggies would be more appropriate.  Speedo and huge boep?  Not so hot.  A bit like me rocking up on the beach in a tanga.  Not so hot.  If you are without a huge boep or highly confident or have always worn a Speedo – high 5 to you.  If not – better not.  I have a wonderful friend who tells me that Speedos are meant for illicit trips to Thailand with hot “others”.  I will take your word for it TS.

So yesterday we went off to the beach in the morning.  All 4 of us to swim and then for the 2 female members of the family to stay on the beach for the next 3 to 4 hours.  The male members of the family swim for long and then hibernate from the beach.  This is our daily ritual.  We parked ourselves in a spot, umbrella up, towels down and headed towards the water.  At this stage I wanted to tighten my one-piece costume which had a strap around the neck.  As I reached to do so, whilst walking with the other 3 across the beach, I realised that my costume was on inside out.  “How Laverne, how?” asked my poor long-suffering husband.  My costume is black.  Completely.  So inside out it is still black.  Completely.  I gave a sigh of relief and then something struck me as we were halfway across the sand.  All costumes have doubles crotches …. I suppose so that the sea sand has a place to gather whilst swimming – because I see no other reason.  I glanced down and yes, the thin crotch “net” was now on the outside and left no doubt as to the fact that it was inside out.  I walked right up behind my hubby which made us look like we were doing some strange sort of left right goosestep.  “What the hell?”, he asked.  “Just walk dammit, I have crotch net”, I hissed.   We raced into the water and had a whale of a time for the next 45 mins and when I left the water I walked right up against him to the towel. 

So today I double checked the costume angle before leaving our flat.  Hubby stayed home (traumatised) and me and the kids went down to the beach (22 and 18 so I say kids sort of loosely).  Normal ritual, umbrellas up, towels down and into the water.  Now today the lifeguards were taking special care because the waves were pummelling and the drag was incredible, pulling one continuously out of the flagged area. 

It is imperative at this stage to tell you that there is permanently a huge dip as you walk into the sea on this beach.  You step into the water and walk 6 steps ankle deep.  The 7th step finds you waist high in the water, then neck high and once you manage to get through the pummelling, you reach an area where you are waist high again and can have fun in the waves.

The downside is the getting out part.  You now have the waves behind you, so when you enter the deep part and are walking through it waiting to suddenly find the ankle-deep entry to the sea, the waves are whacking you from the back due to the depth.  So, the step between waist high and ankle high needs crucial timing because if you get klapped by a wave at that exact moment …… well ….
So, the 18-year-old son gets through this with his usual nonchalant way (I suppose the fact that he is 125% fit helps) and turns to hold out his hand to me.  My daughter had managed to steady herself behind me.  It was going quite gracefully at that moment.  I was waist deep and waiting for a break between waves to step. 

Then it went pear shaped.  And very pear shaped.  Very quickly.

As I started to emerge from the sea like Ursula Andress in that Bond movie, a stealth wave came from the back and it whacked me as I took the crucial step.  I was knocked forward into a body surfing position and shot from the waist to the ankle depth area like a surfer who was now in 8 inches of water.  As Nic tried to grab my hand and help me up, that incredible current and drag kicked in and sucked me backwards … forcing me into Jess who was now standing and knocking her over and, with me, back into the sea.  I got up only to be whacked again, but as I was now closer to Nic, the strength of that wave coming through the dip made me body surf again, except that I now did so from 8 inches of water towards the beach – of no water.  This meant that I body surfed in the ankle high water but due to my momentum, never stopped when I ran out of water.  I just kept going.  In the process, I knocked over a little boy like a skittle, who was standing on the edge of the beach and ploughed up, sand everywhere until I came to a stop about a metre from the water’s edge. 

Nic was crying.  He put out his hand but since he was absolutely dying laughing, he could not help much.  I struggled up, apologised to the skittle child whose father had picked him up and turned to see Jess, choking on sea water as she shrieked with laughter.  “You washed onto the beach like a piece of debris”, cried Nic.  “Yes, like a beached whale”, I retorted.  I was laughing so much I could barely walk.  And the first row of people sitting on the beach, there was a LOT of laughing going on.
It is important to mention that I also had 14kg of rough sea sand and stones in my costume which now made it look like I had 100 boils on my skin as my costume was so lumpy.

So, I entertained the beach goers, I entertained my kids and I entertained myself.

Thank heavens I am a person of great confidence.  But I think I need a new costume.  And a more elegant exit from the water.

Laugh often
Till soon
c’est la vie xxxx

Okay so lets move to another province

“The company feels that there are great growth opportunities for it in the Cape” says hubby whilst we are sitting on the stoep of our chalet...