Wednesday, 22 May 2019

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 in Sondela Lodge about 9 months ago.  “They want me to go and start up the business from scratch and then be the boss of it”.

I look at him.  “Permanently?”, I ask.  Because surely that is not what he means.  Already all the implications of that have run through my mind at the speed of light.

“That is the idea - it is a fantastic opportunity and you know how I love the Cape”, says aforementioned husband.

Yes, I think.  I also love the Cape and every time I used to visit Jess here before she came back to Pretoria, I would, I admit, think how lovely it would be to live here.  But that does not mean that I thought about it so seriously that I was going to up and move my 53 year life from Pretoria to the Cape.

I burst into tears.  “That is exactly the reaction I told my boss I was going to get”, says he.

I immediately say the obvious things - what about our home / the kids / my parents / my job / our church / the dogs / my hairdresser - nail salon - dentist - doctor - vet / all the places I know / a city I grew up in / my friends / my best friend .... the list was endless.  A whole shopping basket.

He tried to set it out in a positive manner.  The office would be at the Waterfront in a beautiful vdevelopment under construction.  I could look for a place in the Southern Suburbs.  The dogs would obviously come with.  Think how often my parents could come and visit.  And my friends.  And my best friend.  New hairdressers etc can be found.  There is so much for you to do in Cape Town .... he really tried.  In hindsight it must have been awful for him.  He was so excited and here I am just collapsing in a heap at the prospect.  He must have felt there was a huge struggle lying ahead.  As the months ticked by, it became more and more of a reality, but my joy was very very slow in appearing.

He had to go back to work in Jhb the next day and I stayed at Sondela with Nic and a friend for the next 4 days.  I was miserable.  All I could think of was moving to a place where I knew no-one except my best friends’s best friend (yes that was weird I know) . Hubby would go to work every day with colleagues and I would just be alone.

I came home and we never spoke of it again.  Perhaps if I ignored it, it would go away.   As the development got closer and closer to completion, hubby was travelling  up and down to CT all the time, pursuing business and looking at the progress with his boss.  The date kept moving .... first Jan, then March and then July and boom ..... suddenly a fantastic offer came up for furnished offices in Stellenbosch, the lease was signed and 1 April became the day.  He told me that he was not going to drive and sit in the traffic forever from the Southern Suburbs as he had already spent a lifetime sitting in the traffic to Jhb for 2 hours morning and night.  He loved Gordons Bay.

In the middle of March hubby and I flew down to Gordons Bay to look at houses.  We spent 2 days in Cape Town while he worked and I meandered everywhere.  We got to Gordons Bay.  All I could think of was seaside village.  Somewhat like Umdloti.   But this sea, this sea is unlike anything I have seen except in Mauritius.  Still, flat and on sunny days, as turquoise and navy swirled as you can imagine.  But it was a seaside village.  The main street along the beach had a book shop, coffee shop, all sorts of everything shop, an icecream shop, a vintage shop, an incredible fish take out shop, a hairdresser,  a few little eateries and a shop of gemstones, reiki and other stuff.  Oh and a vape shop.  That is all the walking distance stuff.  By car you will find a short distance away 3 brands of supermarkets, a Woolies Foodmarket, Clicks, Pep, SpecSavers, the usual takeaways and one or two more.  No big retailers, no movies, no other shops, no branded shops, no big clothes shops, no Mr Price - for that you have to drive to Somerset West ..... about 20ish minutes away where there is a big mall with every shop you could want in it and surrounded by the other upmarket stores and shopping centres .  My great love however was that I had googled GB and found that they had a 2nd hand book store.  This book store is more like a book hypermarket in an old house by the beach ..... it is mind blowing the amount of stock.

I clearly remember sitting at the little coffee place on the beach, tears running down my face and telling hubby “I will never fit in here” ... I am not used to living where there actually is nothing and maybe I am too loud for Gordons Bay.

How God must have laughed as he looked down at me, thinking my child if only you knew.  Do not worry about tomorrow - I am already there and I know the plans I have for you.

In between hearing that we need to move, and March, two major things happened.  I finished off at my job at the end of December, so that meant I did not have the trauma of having to leave my job to move.

Later on, a lot of stuff happened and my best friend and I parted ways.  It did not matter whether I was moving or not.  I was shattered.  And I miss that friendship all the time.  I like to think that person misses the friendship as well.

So the end of March rolled around.  Him, Nic and I packed up everything he needed to take and set off on a road trip to GB.  We slept over at Colesberg and Nic got to see an entire side of our beautiful country that he had never seen before.  Eug had by a stroke of luck found out that the owner of the guesthouse we stayed in in March, was not only an estate agent, but also had a beautiful place 100m from the beach, which she agreed to rent to Eug for 5 months.  Jess flew down when we got here and we spent the 4 days getting groceries and unpacking and sorting Eug.  We walked on the beach morning and night,  I made my mandatory visit to the book shop and us 3 returned home with a serious collection of books.  Suddenly it seemed a bit more homely.  I was at the coffee shop everyday.  We bought incense and gem necklaces at the beach shop ... we explored the neighbour hood.  Suddenly I found my heart turning.  It was everything that my childhood city was not.  Quiet.  Absolutely beautiful sunrises and sunsets on the water.  This little area on the beach road is where everyone hangs out and it was creeping into my heart. The thought of walking our dogs on the beach. The sense of community.  The cleanest place I have seen.  The lack of insane taxis.

We went home.  For Easter hubby came home for 2 days.  Then at the end of April Nic went to him for 10 days.  I have been here for the past week.  And just like this, I now call 2 places home.  Here and Pretoria.  I have explored and know everything around here.  The coffee shop people all know me by name.  When I come here they remember me.  The bookstore staff recognise me.  I also always come home with piles of books and when I go to GB I take piles of books for them.

I have already located a new nail and massage and everything else place - Gordons Bay Wellness - I went there today and was astounded to find that her life was so much like mine ... her husband came to work in the Cape.  He relocated from Gauteng alone and they followed afterwards, just like us.  Even more bizarre was that she not only grew up in the suburb we stay in in Pretoria but in the same street, just a block away.  Sometimes you just click with someone.  They laugh like you, they chat like you.  Somewhere in my heart I think that this is going to grow into a lovely friendship.  She has also told me where I should cut my hair.  Good sign. From her I also learnt where hubby can go and renew his licence disk and get a CEY number plate.

So now?  Now I am sad to leave tonight .... to leave my hubby and to leave GB.  I have a renewed sense of urgency to pack up 23 years of stuff in our house and get the damn painting finished.  It has to be put on the market because I cannot move until it is sold.

“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 in Sondela Lodge about 9 months ago.  “They want me to go and start up the business from scratch and then be the boss of it”.

“Oh what an exciting and wonderful new adventure for us”.  That is what I should have said.

Be good to yourselves.

c’est  la vie xxxxx



Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Tentacles of anxiety

Anxiety
Anxiety attacks
Panic
Panic attacks
We read about them. We see programmes in which people suffer from it. In all probability you have a friend / family member who suffers from it. In all probability you have a friend / family member who suffers from it and you are not aware of that. In some cases you may have a friend / family member who suffers from it and you think they are overreacting / over dramatizing / looking for attention / pretending or as one former ”friend” of mine told me - you bring it on yourself. Clearly a fool.
If you have not felt the physical effects of a pending attack, if you have not suffered the horrendous feeling when the attack grabs you and if you have no interest or sympathy in this growing phenomenon in society, then this would be a good place for you to stop reading.
I suffered from panic attacks as far back as 30 years ago. It never had a name, it was never diagnosed - it was a dark hole that gripped me without warning on a regular basis and it created a part of me that lingers. I had to deal with it and where it originated from, on my own. It went away for 8 years and then in my 30’s it crept back, but sporadically. Then about 9 years ago it crept up again. And went away. And then 5 years ago it slunk quietly closer and closer. It is a slithery silent creature. It festers and grows on the overstressed, despair and feeling of being lost people. It does not set up a large warning signal ... it comes slowly and leaves you knowing gradually that it is pending. For me it arrives when I am in a traumatic or very stressed period. The unexpected shortness of breath, walls closing in, too big or under reaction to everything until one day in the middle of anywhere, it grabs you, usually sending people around you into a panic as they try to assist you, if it happens in a public space and you are alone.
Then followed many many years of me escaping from its claws - I was the winner, but I knew that it was there, quietly hidden wanting to see if I could beat it for good. Meds? Yes. Daily, taken with others for other reasons. The additional ones I only take when I know that I am in trouble. Medical research has found that taking these is like putting up a hand and holding the attack at bay.
Who do we share this and other issues with? Be careful. Most people are quick to play MD and diagnose you as a loony, a mental case or simply crazy. Foolish labels from foolish people. Last year I decided to share very openly with someone the real name of this disorder. Funny thing is that if you have cancer, you get sympathy and support and love. Same for any other disease. But you see, this one is officially recognized as well. Officially supported by medical aids to the extent that they are forced to cover it, so it is the same. Lifelong. Can it kill you? It could. Depending on when you eventually feel your back is against the wall. Back to the person I told. I trusted them and it took very long for me to tell this friend. And in return they very quickly used it as a weapon against me. Shared it with others. Used it as ammo. The fallout was quick. I then decided that I would write this. I am not alone. I am one of millions in the world who battle with this. Two years ago my parish hosted a talk by someone on this issue - everyone sat and nodded their heads about how awful this must be. I stood up and addressed the stigma in the Q&A session. Some people were supportive. One felt it was attention seeking. I have realised that by focusing on me, this person is avoiding dealing with his/her (to protect them) serious addictions. Mine is a disease. This persons’ is a repetitive choice.
In the last months I have had to work through something which flung me brutally against the wall. It broke me, then caused havoc in my health and then slowly, with the help of many reasonable people I dragged myself up to a place where I felt I had my footing back. Sometimes we find ourselves in a situation where we are partly to blame, but no matter what there are very very seldom situations where one side is 100% to blame. But very often someone is the “fall guy”. I learnt many lessons about loyalty. Get a dog. And please, before some of you get hysterical, don’t erroneously decide you know what I am talking about and wind up the rumour mill. Just get on with your own sometimes flawed lives.
So months of stress and issues were then escalated when we became a commuting family. My hubby 1543 km away working in a fantastic new position thanks to the company he works for. A blessing. A challenge in leaving Pta after 53 years but the grace of living in this little seaside town, peaceful and away from the city, and only 25 mins from Stellenbosch where the new offices are. That and the beauty of me and Jess (Nic is leaving to study in July) or perhaps even just me, having packed up, sold the house and got here permanently by year end. Nic and I visit as often as possible ... down at the seaside. Jess is in the restaurant trade .... that is more difficult to get away from. She is happy in her job but she, like us, misses hubby/dad awfully. We all came down end of March together to move him into his new temporary home and I am now on my 3rd visit here. It really is like my 2nd home. I have people that recognize me - in the book and coffee shop naturally - I know where everything is and he lives 100m from the beach which is fantastic. Literally everyone knows everyone else when you come to the regular hang out coffee place by the beach.
I came down because hubby had a birthday yesterday and because I needed a break from being without him at home. I was anxious. It had been winding itself around me gradually. And then it swooped, sensing my vulnerability. Panic hit me yesterday ... publically ... in the book shop. A lady came over. I managed to write down on a cash slip what was happening. I needed a paper bag. She went to the coffee shop to get one. I sat on a bench. She did not know what to do so she ran to buy tea. It passed. It left me breathless. I have for two days taken my additional meds that my absolute incredible darling specialist sent me a script for. The crisis I was dealing with for last week has been solved. I breathe. I tell the bands of anxiety wound around me to piss off. I breathe more. I have 5 days left here. My hubby is going to fetch me now after work and we are going to walk on the beach below where he lives. I will put my toes in the water. I will thank God that he is always holding my hand. I will remind myself not to worry about tomorrow, because He is already there. I cling to my Faith always.
I thank the friends and family who do not nag or question me. They just understand.
I bid farewell to those who don’t. They add to the problem.
My hubby, son and daughter are my permanent life jackets.
And I remember that tomorrow is a brand new day.
Be good to yourselves.
c’est la vie Xxx

Sunday, 13 January 2019

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 leave tomorrow and on Monday it will be a very weird feeling to not have my alarm go off and then get up and drive off to a place and slide in behind my desk.  I am sitting on the balcony right now, writing this as the waves crash onto the beach, just a short distance in front of me.  I am trying to think when last I never had a desk to arrive at.  I can’t .... it is thousands of days ago.  

It gave me an opportunity to look back at the many desks I have sat at - 6 years at a big Catholic Parish as the Parish Secretary, 3 years at Irene Homes for Mentally Disabled Adults, where I was the Corporate Fundraiser (what a completely different world ... heels every day and negotiations with donors for amounts in excess of R500 000 each time), 3 years before that working for all the Embassies in Pretoria as the liaison between their duty free fuel purchases, SARS and the service station they purchased from (I got to have a tea appointment one on one with 11 Ambassadors, which was great), a stint working for my husband in his consultancy, 12 years as a Director, along with my parents, of our two Shell Service Stations, 3 years as National Public Relations Manager of Vista University and so many little ones in between .... and before that my studies.  What a wonderfully rich life of learning to do all kinds of stuff.  But it has taught me that organizing, counselling, public speaking, writing and being in charge of a situation/job where I can use my initiative, is what I love.  I am the consummate all rounder. I love people, and I intensely love being involved in dealing with them.  I don’t do mousy and withdrawn, that I know more than ever.  I am out there and full of sparkle.  And I do not apologise for it.  

But I digress.  Monday, just so I don’t sleep in and get lazy, I have to take my folks to the airport at 7am.  Which means leaving my house at 615am (thanks mom and dad, so grateful that you chose this absurd time to fly, just to make me feel secure) whahahahahah.  They shall however reward me with an obscenely wonderful cappuccino at ORT (is there a wonderful cappuccino there?).

I do not let the grass grow under my feet.  I am already involved now in the Deanery MAP course, which is to be attended by all engaged couples of all parishes in the Deanery, busy with their marriage prep at their parish.  The course is run by Fr Peter Switala, who also never let the grass grow under his feet, to nab me to do the admin and organization for him.  I know church, and I know it and the priests in both our Deanery and Diocese, and other Diocese, very well.  And this works with all couples of all parishes, which widens my scope.  So I can really be of use here.  It is a part time thing as the course is for one day, every 3 months, in a venue at CBC Mount Edmund, but someone is definitely needed to cross the t’s and dot the i’s.  Ta da - good choice Fr P.  

This is a good start to the idea brewing in my head and I am taking this on as a service being delivered by me as a private admin/secretarial consultant.  Watch this space!

So we came on leave straight after New Year, and I kept wondering how I would feel when we went back, when the reality of been desk-less as such, sunk in.  How do I feel?  Challenged, invigorated, motivated, cautious, nervous, excited, curious and so much more.  I chose to be here, in this new space and I intend to make use of the lessons learnt to forge my way forward. 

Seize the day, cometh the hour - cometh the man (or woman), I am right where God intended me to be, and all those other quotes ..... watch out world, I am coming at you.  

Till soon, be good to yourselves
c’est la vie 


Tuesday, 8 January 2019

beaches, speedos, big talking, teddies and other fun stuff

The beach. 

The beach is a place of great entertainment.   And the beach has a people culture, just like a 5 day cricket Test, which is the subject of another blog. 

So in order to form a clear picture for you, I am blending together various people experienced over the past 4 days on the beach. 

1.  The Big Talking, Small Costume Alpha Male and Family Group - You know when they arrive on the beach.  Because he all but makes an announcement.  Setting up their area is loud.  He is instructing his wife, his kids, his mother and anyone else around them.  Loudly. He can be recognized by some of the following phrases - “Ja I told Person A that Umhlanga is the place to be, the okes here all have money, cos you gotta have money to be down here boet” and  “xxx put that towel further away from us we don’t want sand on us” and “I must just remember to call the bank and ask them to check the balance on my investment”, “xxx call your brother and tell him to get his arse down here, we came as a family and he is gonna sit here with us”.  Then he arises, in a small black Speedo.  Should he wear a Speedo .... uhm usually not ...... but he struts down to the water as if he is the poster boy for  Speedo whilst saying “everyone come and swim .... we came here as a family, don’t make me buy the whole beach for us to be together”.  He talks, non stop, on the beach.  No-gets a word in.  He is the master of their universe.  PS if you own a Speedo, as many of my friends do, this is not an indictment on you.  Simply a comment for this blog.  I know many people love Speedos, or guys in Speedos. 

2.  The I Have the Best Body on the Beach Group - this is interesting.  I have noticed this for years.  Woman over 40 with fantastic bodies, just walk to the sea and swim.  Or lie on the beach and tan.  People notice them but they just keep on carrying on.  Now and then I see a very “oh everyone look at me” type, but not often.  Woman over 40 with less fantastic bodies, either strut up to the water, or try and remain fully dressed right up to the water’s edge and then drop their towel and run into the sea in one movement.  I have got less and less perturbed over the years.  I just walk across the beach and into the sea.  Yes I wobble.  And if you commenting while I do so, you better be damn sure that you do not have a single jelly part yourself.  Young girls also do the above I mostly see.   BUT the male species of “I have the best body on the beach” ...... jirre ... the first is the all over intense tan with a small costume guy.  Six pack.  Rippled Muscles.  Tats.  Strolls to the water.  Slowly.  This is very important.  Small steps and quite a lot of flexing.  Cos that is important when you approach the water.   Then the interesting part ...... turns around at the waters edge and faces the beach.  More flexing.  Studious expression looking out into the distance.  Weather report?  Took off glasses and is confused about which side the water is?  Then the sea gets entered.  With a dive.  The water is only 3cm deep there but it’s okay.  After swimming, the exit is dramatic.  Emerge from the water like James Bond, shaking your hair, flexing, again the “look”... walk out and pause, briefly and then go up the beach.  

3.  The Came To the Beach But Never Get Off My Phone Peeps - not sure why they come to the beach.  They land on their spot ... out comes the phone .... and that is the end.  They do not look at the beautiful water, talk to the others they are with, look at anyone, swim or move.  Even if they are alone.  They just text.  And you can see when some is typing and exiting, typing and exiting.  So it must be a plethora of social media and whatever other sites.  Addicts to the bitter end.  Not just the status post “look another day on the beach” ... no, hours of uninterrupted screen time. 

4.  The New Parents Group - and Eug and I chuckled today because we have been new parents and first time parents so we recognized this group.  They arrive at the beach carrying 23 bags.  A tent gazebo kind of thing, baby bags, baby slings, baby shawls, the actual baby, change of outfits, creams, lotions, hats, baby monitors, weather monitors, beach sand heat monitors ... alles.  Today we watched a mom hold a baby the size of twice her hand, while dad ... obviously for the first time, put up the gazebo.  It took 35 mins.  And then a further 35 to pack all their stuff under there.  They take 300 photos.  They are allowed to. We reminisced about 23 years ago when we took Jess to the beach for the first time.  Went down with our 23 bags, put out the blankets, the bucket and spade, the cool bag ... alles .... and when we put her down on the towel and her feet touched the sand she said “I no like it” and that was that.  No amount of cajoling helped.  30 mins later we were back in the flat. 

5.  The Entitled Group - This person/group do not have to do things like everyone else.  On arriving at the beach, needing an umbrella and chair, you usually go to the hire section, right on the beach, pay for your stuff and they walk with you to your spot as they are brilliant at putting in the umbrella in a non blow away way.  Also, when you want an icecream, you wait until the ice cream seller passes you and then ask them to stop.  You wait until the cold drink guy passes you and then ask him to stop.  You say please and thank you, just like they do.  However this group does not wait.  Or walk.  Or ask.  I have seen it on every one of my 4 days.  They arrive on the beach.  Put down their stuff and then proceed to shout ... across quite a distance ... “hey, hey you, umbrella guy, come here” ... “hey bring us 2 umbrellas china” ..... now the guy putting them up must come over as well as the guy controlling the money and the tickets.   Not long after we had “hey ... ice-cream, ICE-CREAM, come here ... she was about half a beach away”.  “What you got, don’t open the box too close, you bringing sand on my towel.  How much are they, why they so expensive” and on and on.  To the cold drink guy.  To the guy who had the bucket and spade for his grandchild. Sigh. 

But the beach has many other beautiful people as well.  The elderly couple walking on the waters edge, holding hands.  The clearly newly married couple, who just ooze romance.  The young kids who play that age old game of running towards the water and then running away from it as it runs up the beach, the people introducing their kids to the water for the first time, the ones having costume malfunctions in the sea ... the list is endless. 

I had two special ones today ...... a man came along the beach with his little girl, maybe 3 years old.  She was carrying her teddy and he was explaining that teddy did not like the water and had to sit on the beach on the waters edge while they went into the water.  It took a lot of coaxing before she sat teddy down a little way in front of me.  The tide was also coming in and the water edging up closer and closer on the beach.  Within a few minutes the water reached teddy’s paws so I fetched teddy and let him sit under my umbrella, but where the little girl would be sure to see him.  When they came out the sea I heard her dad say ... “oh look teddy is with that lady” ... I explained to her why teddy had moved and her dad told her to give me a high 5.  She did, and whispered “thank you for saving my teddy”.  Day made. 

The other incident was while Busi was still on the beach with me.  We hear the lady next to us say “no put it away, PUT.IT.AWAY” ... we look at her to see where she is looking, and there at the waters edge is a child of about 5, facing us, with his, uhm, privates, hanging over the top of his costume while he goes “wha wha wha wha wha” whilst swinging his hips from side to side.

Life is a beach. 

Till soon, be good to yourself

c’est la vie xxx 










Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Mo Salah, My car and other stuff

Each year a group of bloggers circulates a questionnaire around this time, intended to be answered by bloggers on Google and other forums, telling a bit about themselves.  This year’s one is loosely based on questions from a magazine.  I received mine last week ... so here goes

If there was one thing you could change about your life, what would it be - Trusting people too easily
What makes you angry - Bad coffee, disloyalty, arrogance, abuse of children, abuse of animals, racism, the increasing lack of morality on the internet and social media and number one on the list ..... adult bullying.  Also people who hurt my children.
In trying times how do you stay positive - my Faith. My family.  Belief that I am a compassionate person and can be there for others
What makes you laugh - Family and friends with great sense of humours, when my kids tease me, Mona & Lynette, Strings of Love kids, our dogs, my many church friends and those ludicrous requests (not from them)
If you could leave school now and choose a career, any career, what would it be - Advocate
Favourite saying or quote - Always in God’s time
Ultimate car - the one I have right now
Ultimate holiday - would love to go to Croatia
Ultimate hero - God
Ultimate drink - need you ask .........cappuccino
Ultimate food. Perfectly cooked fillet steak.  And Mac n cheese.
Favourite movies - Shawshank Redemption, Father of the Bride, Love Always, The Blind Side and Seven Pounds.  And just to be ridiculously laughing - Weekend at Bernie’s
Favourite sport to watch - Football ... Premier and Champions League
Favourite sportsman ..... Mo Salah Mo Salah Mo Salah and Lovren - both soooo handsome (and you of course Eugene ... sooooo handsome) - oh and Mo and Lovren can also play great football which helps
Favourite music - Any and all except rock and opera
Favourite authors - Dozens.  Especially love forensic thrillers.

Anything else you want to know?

Be good to yourselves
C’est la vie
Xxxx




Friday, 28 September 2018

Kitchen Conversations and the joy they bring

For many years I had a very special daily routine in my life.  The Housekeeper of my boss, who additionally is also regularly in my office building, is a wonderful lady .... like me she is married, has kids and all the challenges of balancing work, marriage, grown up kids (plus her one in school as well as also a grandchild). We understand school and all that goes with it, grown kids with girlfriends and boyfriends, family life and many other common things.  We are moms.  We are colleagues.  She calls me by my nickname, K, and we have spent many moments over the past 5 years, laughing at things, getting tears over things, getting angry over things and enjoying the daily kitchen conversation we used to have. Amazing how important the “basin” chats became.

We had a special ritual ..... I would come to work and find her at the basin in the kitchen.  Whilst I threw some yoghurt and muesli in a bowl (I find it impossible to eat first thing in the morning before I go to work) and made a coffee, we would catch up on the past 24 hours.  We went through a wide array of topics in every week - the political situation and who had done what, stories about our kids, concerns we had, fun things that had happened, what we had done on our leave etc.  It was just 10 mins, but felt like so much more. I remember when she went to the sea - first time ever - her son sent me blow by blow photos .... first step into the water, first time knocked over by a wave.  On Sunday she leaves to the sea again ..... I cannot wait for the pics.  When I took Setswana lessons she helped me with my practising.  When her daughter had to do a school assignment for LO incl gynaecological instruments (yes you heard right), I was the researcher.  When the baby shower rolled around, I sat at home and made colour printouts of all kinds of pics for the party.

I see her in my office now on Wednesdays and between her time in my office and then the boss’ office, making them smell wonderfully of furniture polish, we try and keep up our ritual.  Sometimes it is hard to be working, answering the phone and talking to someone who is in and out, also while she tries to bring some order to my very full desk .... but we are trying.  Even she misses our kitchen chats I was told today. We keep each other up to date as much as we can in the time we have ........

but those Kitchen Conversations ...... they will be in my heart forever.

Cherish the special moments ..... it is the little things that are very often actually the big things in our lives.



Till soon - be good to yourselves

c’est la vie xxxx

Monday, 24 September 2018

Strings of Love - my dream is now real


I combined a plan that was a long time on my personal wish list, with a crazy moment of “now is the time”, and recently started my young adults discussion group, Strings of Love.

I have always found a gap in society for this.  Even in schools.  Even in my church.  A place, even in a church, that is not a Youth Group and all that goes with that, but is also not the place for professional counselling, like Lifeline.  A “half way stop” for chatting, discussing, sharing, asking and interaction.  A more structured space, with a specific starting topic each time, but with enough space for a brief social chatting time and a snack at the onset.  But structured talk had to be the focus.  This is not intended to be the Buena Vista Social Club kind of gathering.

For years I have been chatting to young people who seek me out.  Via my own kids, through their school they were at, through church, through friends of friends and all sorts of ways.  This has gone on, on and off, for the past at least 20 years.  Some teenage kids that turned to me for space to talk are now in their 30’s, married with their own kids.  Many of them still keep contact with me.  Some are still in my life, 12 years later.  And from this, always, I wanted to have a more structured space.

This year, prompted by something really horrible said to me (it seems strange that the ugliness of one person who is supposed to be way better than that, can spark something so positive), I knew that this will be the year in which this will start.  In May, on a half day retreat at the Jesuit Institute, there was discussion about the ties that bind us to various people in our lives.  During the individual reflection afterwards in the garden, I was thinking of this and my mind leapt from ties that bind us, to strings, to love and there I had it “Strings of Love” ….. I knew that my months of prayer and discerning had been answered.  The times that I had asked God ….. will I manage?  Will they come?  Will I know what to say?, had been dealt with.  The name leapt up.  I wrote it down and walked back to the common room and told the young girl who had come with me …. “I have a name”.  

I set about to start my planning.  The venue was easy, my office at the church is 10 steps away (in the same building) from the Adami Centre, which forms part of the house in which our offices are.  I am the parish secretary of a large Catholic church and part of my “personal ministry” time is also to run the Repository for the parish.  The Repository is in the Adami Centre, so it is all intertwined.  It has chairs and tables and a little kitchen area and is ideally suited also for the young adults in this centrally located area who have no car and need to walk there.  The hire cost that the church charges the public is affordable and so I looked no further to hire a place.  My group is also very beneficial to the church as many of my members are parishioners, so as parishioners there is a “community programme” right on their doorstep that they can attend, and feel comfortable in.  There is no other group like this available in a big radius, so although not included as a parish ministry, the fact that the young people know me and know many of the others there, has made it easy to get going and to include people who are not in our parish, as our young people are very welcoming.

Next up was the fact that I know that young people love to eat.  And no matter what the age, hotdogs and Oros are always welcome.  So I ensure that I have enough viennas and rolls to give at least 2 (sometimes 3) to each one, lots of Tomato Sauce and a big Oros.  This is a great “hello and how are you” catch up time at the beginning and I usually allocate the first 30 or so minutes for everyone to arrive, eat and get ready.  Trust me this gets very loud.  But it is a wonderful heart-warming gathering of young people filled with joy.  It is also a good time to welcome new people, or people who are not from our parish, not Catholic, not known to others etc.   And our young people never let me down in this welcome.  This time we even had an exchange student from Chile.
I pack the chairs out in a large circle and each time I buy / make a little bookmark / purse sized card with a message on.  I encourage them to put it up on their pin boards, in their cars, in their wallets or anywhere else where they will see it regularly over the next month.  This month I also bought and gave each one of them a little cross.  My heart leaps when I see how kids of all ages get this excited about this little thing I give them.  After the first meeting, the youngsters took to social media, posting pics of where all they had their cards.  There were pics at work, varsity, school, church, sports camps …. The cards went as far as Swaziland.  Heart-warming indeed.

The youngest currently attending is a Gr 10 pupil, followed by a gr 11 pupil and then there are 3 pupils in Matric, with the oldest member being 26 years old.  We have a great spread across 19, 20, 21 and 22 years, and then about one or two of each 23, 24 and 26 years.  Almost an even number of males as females (which is very interesting to me) and a mix of pupils, students, part-time students or people working in internships, or a full-time job.  The older ones are still very student-like, if that makes sense.

We settle down in the circle, I find out who has anything big that has happened to them since we last met (good or bad) and I tell them the same.  It is lovely that in any discussion they always want to hear my personal answer as well.  The first time we met I was pretty anxious.  I had started a Whatsapp group explaining my dream and the response had been good.  But would they come?  As the starting time arrived I found myself pacing up and down between the kitchen and the entrance, somewhat anxiously.  My son says he was just starting to feel heartbreak for me ……and then ….. I heard car doors slamming ….. footsteps ….. voices ………. And my dream became a reality …..

Trust is imperative.  That I have theirs. That they have mine. I made this clear. This group is not a catalyst for a gossip session the next day on social media.   To prove my willingness to bare all to them, I put a plastic dish in the centre of the room at the first meeting, along with some pieces of cardboard and pens, and told them each one was to write down one thing they wanted to know about me.  They did not have to put their names.  I did not want trivial questions like favourite colour.  I told them to dig deeper.  I would answer unless I had a very good reason not to, and I would say so.  The youngsters did not disappoint, and the type of questions they asked showed me that such a group was needed, and that many of the questions they were asking themselves, were ones they asked me.  I was honest, brutally so, I never left a single question unanswered.  Some made me teary, some made me have to think very well before I verbalised an answer, some made them laugh.  But I answered.  Because they need to see that I am serious and prepared to be there.

This past Saturday we delved into a list of “17 things not to give a damn about”.  It was a good framework for issues of gossiping, the “what-ifs” or life, body image, body shaming, being right all the time, the ability of social media to destruct relationships, trust, social anxiety etc.  The thing that made me the most emotional was how eagerly all of them gave input, honestly, no holds barred and that many of the issues that the guys raised, were previously thought to only be concerns for girls.   It was wonderful.  And proved that the fact that we once again spoke non-stop for over an hour, meant there is a need.

The group is not only open to our parish.  It is not only open to Catholics.  It is not only open to Christians.  My group has only one criteria ….. Be You. We pray when we end the meeting. It is our way.  No one is forced to join in.

So I am currently discerning over my plans for the October meeting.  I spend a lot of time on the phone or meeting (outside of work time) with young people who want some one-on-one advice, help, or most often of all ….. someone to listen.  They know that I am just a number away.  I am happy to meet them in my lunch break or my off time, because very often just telling their story helps them sort it in their heads.  I offer them space.  You do not know how important that is.

My own kids (19 & 23) attend the group and their pride in me is so special it always brings me to tears.

I have been blessed that so far someone always steps up and says they want to sponsor the hotdogs and Oros because they love the concept I have come up with.  I am so grateful for the assistance with the costs.  However I have promised the kids that even if I have to pay the hire and food myself, this group will always go on. 

So to those who said follow your dream, to those who take a genuine interest in my planning before the time, to those who are interested in hearing my thoughts after the meeting, to those who actually ask what I experienced ……. You are the wind beneath my wings.  And I treasure you.  Sometimes the most support comes from those we least expect it from, and vice versa.

I hope to have more and more people join.
Follow your dreams …. I did.





Till soon
c’est la vie  xxxx

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