Friday, 26 February 2016

my fountain. the water. God. prayer. i close my eyes.

I am amazed at what joy the fountain outside my office door is giving me.

A round pond with three layers perched atop of it and a gurgling spout of water coming out the top. That fountain has become a complete part of my day.  At first when it arrived I heard nothing else but that water falling from level to level.  Now it has become like a "white noise" - I hear it all the time and it is like breathing.  But when it stops for a second that is when I notice it immediately.  But I always get it going straight away again.

I can stare at it unendingly and every time I find myself having to pause, or tired or irritated beyond hell or sad or whatever ...... then I just stare at it. Even when I am having a joyous day.  That fountain is my happy space.  I have been known to splash water from level to level and love teasing the dog with the spray from the borehole hosepipe when we fill it.

Suddenly that fountain has started to remind me of my relationship with God.  I gave this a lot of thought during my Adoration hour on Monday evening when it suddenly struck me.  God is like that. A constant.  Like that water he is always there, you know that, and you become accustomed to it, so that if ever you have a moments' doubt that God is not there, or has forgotten you ..... you are instantly aware of it.  But just like that water, if you look, he is there - perhaps you just needed to look a bit closer.  Or kick start your relationship.  A bit like when the mains board trips, switching off the fountain pump ,... you just need to click the switch.  

I keep my connection with the fountain by ensuring that the water is topped up all the time.  In just that same way I have to keep my connection with God by ensuring that I visit his home every weekend or in the week and that I "keep our water supply going" with prayer.  Regularly.  When I need to pause, or am tired or irritated beyond hell or sad or whatever ..... Even when I am having a joyous day.  This relationship and prayer is my happy space.

So when I look up at the fountain as I often do ..... I can almost hear God whispering in my ear ..... "I made that water".

How blessed am I.

Till soon
c'est la vie xxx

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Learn to Pause. Else nothing worthwhile will catch up to you. A silent retreat.

Sediba Retreat Centre.  Silence.  A retreat in silence.  A time when you, by choice, spend the better part of a Sunday listening.  Hearing.  Feeling.  Discovering.  Praying.  With silence in your head.  And heart.  I write this during our lunch pause. 

The less than 45 minute drive from Pretoria to the Dam is easy to make.  Once up the hill in Meerhof, on a winding road surrounded by bush, you find the Centre, overlooking the beautiful dam.  During the initial 20 minute meet up and coffee session you get to say hello, make new friends, eat the scones (with a story attached) and get a feel of what lies ahead. 

The morning has 4 silent sessions of 25 minutes each.  The meditation room reminded me of those seen in a movie ... slightly elevated off the ground - wooden floor, natural lighting only, plenty of big slatted doors fully opened to allow in the sound of nature, candles, the beautiful view and the heat.  There are cushions, blankets and little neat yoga type mattresses available in abundance. You find your space somewhere around the room against the wall and settle yourself down with whatever you need.

Three gentle gongs are sounded - the first to settle yourself, the second to feel fully present and the third to start the 25 session.  After each session the gong sounds again and you walk around the room very very slowly in a circle (I battled with the slowly part) to stretch your legs and refocus your mind. You can also dash out if you have an overactive bladder.  

You can take books in, water, rosaries, verses, anything that will make your time meaningful.  Or you can just sit - without any external stimulation.

The sessions are interesting, especially to notice what happens to both your mind and your body when you have no outside distractions.  No phones, TV, novels, family, traffic.  Just you.  As a "first-timer" who is known to be lively and talkative, I was apprehensive about how I would manage, I was also apprehensive about what I would find inside myself in those quiet periods. 

The first session was the hardest.  I found myself staring at the water 90 % of the time and staring at the other people the other 10 %. The nun opposite me sat as if cast in stone for every single session.  I admire the ability to do that.  My mind raced.  All over.  Simply because in my daily life as a wife, mother, secretary it has to.  I have a teenage son at home, the school run, sport, a very busy job and boss to keep up with, my friends and family, the Repository and of course the coffee shops.  I found my thoughts consumed by my job and the people related to it.  Many questions were flying. 

For the second session I chose to lie down.  With my head on the cushion and the great quiet I started slowing my mind and had dozed off by the end.  Thank heavens for the gong. 

The third session I used for reading.  I had written a prayer for someone who I think needs it for a variety of reasons and I used the session to read and reread that prayer for them.  I hope they felt that prayer and that it meant something in their busy life.   I also concentrated on my breathing. 

The fourth session I took to alternating staring at the water and reading.  For me to dedicate my attention to one thing at a time as opposed to reading and my phone, reading and watching TV ... that was a challenge.  I admit to feeling fidgety. 

After that we strolled down the hill to another Retreat Centre and joined them for Sunday Mass.  The Priest was very different to our own and it took adjusting, however he delivered a brilliant Homily about pausing long enough to listen.  In silence.  It rained.  Beautiful moment.   Lunch is then taken in silence .... scattered all over and I write this as I eat. 

Three more sessions follow ...... I know that it will get a little easier now.  But to still and focus my thoughts will take practice according to the lovely and kind people from our parish that I went with. They gave me tips on focusing my mind and on how to deal with the racing around of thoughts that the stillness brought. 

Will I go again?  Most certainly.  Sometimes God leads us to something just when we need it most. Since I battle to pause in my everyday life, He probably decided that I needed a more than gentle nudge to find that Pause.  In silence.  I am still dealing with two issues around my car accident and in addition I am struggling to find my place in two friendships where I so desperately want to be cherished and needed. And more so to know it.  

I hope that some of my parishioner friends will consider joining me next time.  All it costs is the lunch you take along.  And one day a month. 

Be loved
Till soon
c'est la vie  xxx

Title quote Learn to Pause.  Else nothing worthwhile will catch up to you.  Courtesy of Doug King. 

Adult bullies. Narcissists. Call them what you like.

I wrote a blog on Sunday evening and then this one last night - I am placing them in reverse order .....

Adult bullies.  Yip you get them. 

It's usually defined as behaviour that is repeated and intended to hurt someone either physically or emotionally.  It is the latter one I refer to.

I returned and looked for and re-read in a friend's book recently a chapter about Personality Disorders and especially Narcissism.  It was an interesting read because I looked at it with different eyes this time around. 

I am always sensitive to bullying, because it took me such a very long time to recognize and acknowledge them for what they are.  

And particularly during this Lenten period I am having greater challenges than normal to understand why someone will willingly and knowingly choose to make others feel "lesser", thereby making themselves feel powerful.  Why you will be happy to never tell others (not everyone, just hand picked ones) that they are important.  Our Priest teaches us about #bestself.  I sometimes wonder if these people look in the mirror each morning and pat themselves on the back. 

Such people very often are seen by a great great many people as being even-tempered, loving, warm, kind and generous all the time.  But the unlucky select few who always seem to feel the wrath, be it silence or sarcasm or whatever, for every little thing they say or do that may be annoying to the other person, they tell a different story. 

Let me give you a very basic and stupid example - You tell someone that you really love when someone asks you how your weekend was.  That person then makes a conscious and concerted effort to make sure they NEVER ask you.  Best self?  I think not. Grown up?  I think not.  A good example?  I think not.  It is very much like "kleinmannetjiesindroom" - petty and self-centred.  Perhaps we need to pray harder for them.

Or just a good old-fashioned bully. 

How to rid yourself of the hold they have on you?  Trust me when I learn, you will be the first people I tell. 

Till soon, stand strong
much love
c'est la vie 

Thursday, 18 February 2016

irritating little things

So what irritates you?  I do not mean the big major things that happen daily in our country and our world which may be unfair / inappropriate / disappointing and annoying to you - I mean the mundane every day things - what really gets under your skin and turns you from zero to 100 in a millisecond? 

  • Not being greeted.  By cashiers.  In my office, when someone walks in, I am the one offering the service.  So I greet.  Nicely.  With a smile (mostly).  And when it is a crap day - I still greet and do my utmost not to grimace - because that is my job.  1 in 4 supermarket cashiers do not get this.  And I seem to attract that 1.  It is always the same pattern.  I step up to the counter, the cashier either says nothing, makes no eye contact or is extending a hand blindly to find my items whilst having a very animated conversation with the packer, who is after all the one who deserves her attention, not the customer.  The only thing that riles me more at that moment is when that one word "plastic?" is tossed my way.  I tweeted a major supermarket yesterday after a cashier behaved in such a way for the 4th time since Saturday ... their return tweet and call were lightening fast.  
  • People who change lanes without indicating.  And then when they cut you off, or simply push in (usually because the high value of their car gives them the right to) and you flick your lights you get some very interesting gestures.  For goodness sake .. indicate and when there is a gap, take it.... or wait for someone to let you in.  I mostly do ... but heaven help you if you do not say thank you!! 
  • Taxis.  Just that.  No description needed. 
  • People who speak to me as if I am somewhat a person of limited intelligence.  Who confuse the word Secretary with one meaning "I have no actual thoughts of my own, so please do not speak in sentences of more than 5 words and do not think that I can do anything except type."  The shortest route to getting NOWHERE with me is that attitude.  Do not confuse the job I choose to do with my level of education or the positions I have held in the past.  Thinking that this is a walk in the park says more about you than about me. 
  • Bad coffee.  Just that.  No description needed.   And if you cannot serve your coffee hot then why do you list it under Hot Drinks???
  • People who repeat the same question over and over again until I give them the answer they expect.  If I answer you, then that is the answer.  Asking me the same question over and over again for 5 mins will not make me change.  If you want me to give you your opinion as the reply .... you got the wrong girl then. 
  • Anyone who says a sentence to me beginning with "Everyone says .... Someone said ..... People are saying" ...... especially in a negative context - because my experience is that usually it means it is actually the person who is asking you who says it .... but they hide behind Everyone, Someone, People, Anyone ....   Don't.  For the Love of my Sanity.  Don't.   In my 3rd year of studies I had a lecturer who always told us that when we get a person who says "Everyone" we must ask them to give us 3 names of who.  I have used it often.  I have yet to encounter someone who has the chutzpah to give a name.  
  • Telling me to calm down, be quiet or that I am overreacting.  Expect a nuclear reaction. 
  • People who talk or whisper loudly during movies at a movie house.  If you want to chat, go for coffee.  Ditto for those who cannot make 90 mins without quickly checking their social media and answering their Whatsapps.  Unless you are on call to perform brain surgery, your friends can wait.  That light is bloody annoying. 
Right so having said that ..... what annoys you? 

till soon 
c'est la vie xxxx

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

giving our kids wings - and wanting to clip them at the same time

So lately a lot of people have been waving their daughters goodbye at the airport.  First a year ago Jess took up a fantastic position in CT as a professional chef.  Then my BFF's daughter moved to Kazakhstan several weeks ago to be with her fiance'.  Yesterday a close friend of mine bid her daughter farewell as she moved to the UK to chase a future there.  

So many moms and daughters.  So many dads and daughters.  So many siblings bidding each other farewell at airports. 

Which made me think of the saying which goes roughly like we give our kids roots to grow and then we give them wings to fly.  That sucks.  The roots to grow bit is fun ... they around all the time, even when they drive you crazy sometimes.  Then the wings to fly part comes - great sentiment ... awful feeling. We want them to fly, but would prefer it if they do it within a 20km radius of their childhood home. 

When I commented to my hubby that at least our child was still in SA, he wisely replied that it does not matter whether your child moves to another province or another country, if they are not home to kiss goodnight or to be around with you on weekends etc, then it is the same.  And the flippant thought that she is just 2 hours away by plane makes no difference.  I have friends whose kids that live overseas have been home several times over the past year, as much or more than my daughter has been.  As Eug says - when they are more than 500 kms away then there is no popping over. Unless free flights get handed out randomly.

The UK child and my child moved literally a year or so out of matric, which means that we had them around as schoolkids and for a year after, and then they were gone.  I miss the chunk that I missed out on inbetween.  To have time with her as a working girl.  But then I think of a girl who decided in gr 3 what she wanted to do as a career one day and stuck to that faithfully. Studying hard, graduating top of her class and working her way religiously into a fantastic position, for which she sweated and worked incredible hours and very much deserves.  And siblings that are joined at the hip - these goodbyes take their toll. I know how her brother misses her, and she him. 

But these kids take on a new home, new jobs, new circumstances, they feed themselves, do their own laundry and make their own way.  They sort out their SARS registrations, their bank accounts and their many other responsibilities. They do us proud.  And remind us "mom don't baby me".

This year I have made a conscious decision that by hook or by crook we will see each other more.  We have Skype ... strangely enough we have only done so twice since she moved 15 months ago.  We do Whatsapp, every day .... first message at 7am and last one after midnight.  During the day we sometimes get one quick one .... as a chef the restaurant consumes her all day so she cannot get time for saying hi, and that means her passion as a chef is first for her which is fantastic. 

So to the moms and dads and siblings out there that kiss their daughters goodbye (or sons) on a regular basis ...... we are a unique club.  We gave them wings ..... how brave we are ..... perhaps more so than them.  

Jess 21st 

till soon 
c'est la vie xxxx

Saturday, 13 February 2016

prayer. giving. pause. just love me.

So Lent has arrived.  Sooner rather than later this year.  We hardly seem to be over Christmas and New Year and boom we are into this part of our lives. 

A friend asked me last year if Lent is made more difficult for me because I work for a Priest, and thus "do I feel that mine has to be perfect".

Allow me to step away from my blog for a moment .  whahahaha haahahahahahah whahahahahahahahahahahaha haha hahahaha heheheheheheheh whahahahahaha. 

OK I am back. 

Short answer No. 

Is anyone's Lent perfect, including Priests? 

Short answer - I think not.  Lent is not a competition.  I do not get allocated marks for mine. It is an effort we make.  And we falter.  Because we are human. 

There are no perfect Lents.  In fact there are no perfect anythings.  God does not expect that from us.  Lent is not a test at which one has to obtain a perfect 10 score.  Lent for me is a trip .... a pause ...... a slowing down.  We pray more, give more, fast more.  It is a time of reflection .... and quiet ..... for me it is also a time of looking at who we fill our lives with ....... and what we fill our lives with.  To me it is a time to look at who I give my love and energy to - and how much love and time they give me in return.  No friendship, no relationship, no anything can survive when one person has to work harder than the other at it.  And I need to pray about that.  Hard. 

I am not about giving up coffee .... or my favourite mag or such ..... we were reminded that we need to give up a luxury item .... we should be feeling the burn in a few weeks when Lent is well on its way.  And I have, given up something that I battle with, a default that I keep returning to - and I am determined to see it through although yesterday and this morning I found myself sliding back into a certain role again.  And I will pray hard. 

So Lent will be in my head and in my heart - and I will try and do all the Faith inspired things, but most of all it will be a time of introspection for me - who and what do I give my time to.  And why. Because that is worth praying for. 

till soon 
c'est la vie xx

Sunday, 7 February 2016

4 cars. 3 colours. and a confused driver

So I have really had to focus over the past weeks when it came to vehicles.  

I am the permanent driver of a VW Polo sedan.  In white. 

Then I had an accident and it seemed it would be the demise of that poor car which was only 2 years old.  

The insurance then set me up with a car whilst they did their thing.  That decision was to spend R75000 fixing the car as opposed to having to pay out a biggish amount for it.  

The hire car was an Etios.  In white. 

Now this proved challenging.  I drive a lot.  Every day.  And me and the Polo had bonded.  Well.  I knew him (Marco) ... yes the Polo was called Marco, as in the pool game ... Marco .... Polo ..... Marco .... Polo ..... some of you are obviously going to have no idea what the hell I am talking about.  I knew Marco, and he knew me.  Now suddenly I had to remember that I had an Etios.  Also white. I came out of the Mr Price Home Store, into the parking, stood next to the car and pushed the remote.  "What are you doing?" a lady asked.  I was trying to open her car.  Her white Polo sedan.  I have an Etios.  Awkward.  I explained and backed away.  I hunted for my Polo in the Superspar parking, outside Pharmavalu and at many other places .... each time out of habit. 

Now I am slowly, after 6 weeks with the loan car whilst mine is being repaired, getting used to it.  I find it, regularly.  Then on Thurs I went to a meeting at a nearby coffee shop.  When I came out I stood next to the car and pushed the remote. "That is not your car", my friend laughingly told me.  It was not.  It was white.  But it was a Hyundai.  I stepped around it and pushed my remote at my white car.  "That is not it either", said my friend, now collapsing with laughter.  Yip, cos now I was trying to unlock a little white A class Merc.  Finally I got to the right damn car.  I just keep aiming for anything white on wheels. 

Now today the insurance wanted the hire car back.  But my car is still at the panel beaters.  Friends very generously offered one of their cars to me (they offered the day after the accident already). They are away and I can fetch it tomorrow.  So today I drove my hubby's little car because I had much to do.  It is blue.  

Now you are probably thinking that this would be simple.  I no longer had to keep my head straight about the white Polo and the white Etios.  This was blue. A totally new game for me. 

I came out of the supermarket and pushed my trolley around the bottom level parking for almost ten mins.  I had now finally got accustomed to looking for the white Etios.  At last.  Except that it went back in the morning.  And I was now in the blue Hyundai.  It only dawned on me when I recognised something about it.   

Tomorrow I am fetching my friend's car.  Make and colour unknown.  Please Lord let me concentrate. 

And then later in the week I am getting Marco Polo back again.  

I am going to tape a picture of my car onto the back of my cellphone cover.  Six weeks and 4 cars in 3 colours.  No wonder I am so confused.  

till soon, 
much love
c'est la vie xxxxx

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...